Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's.. Eve

You didn't think I'd post it in the morning did you. I'll be sleeping til at least noon after drinking strawberry daiquiri's and Arbor Mist Blackberry Merlot tonight with my beautiful wife, obstinate son (cider only), mother-in-law and father-in-law.

It has been quite a year. My wife has headed back to school (yes, she's just now learning how brilliant I know she is) for her next career. Our son got his second set of braces (yes, I had no idea straightening teeth needed more than one set.) Our dogs learned the 'down' command... (as long as I'm holding food.) The show is going great and this week starts its 4th year. I am nowhere closer to completing the book but I'm reading tons of them (so many, that I really need to update the reading list on the site.)

May this new year be the start of something special or a renewal of good things for you and yours!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Haven't been posting as much as I'd like but I wanted to wish all of you a very merry Christmas. It's been a great year for our family but I can say that nothing has filled our hearts with as much love as the two little girls you see above (Bella on the left, Tulip to the right.) We've even started taking them to the dog park daily as we do our walking.

Expecting a great day with my side of the family as we kind of gathered with Kerry's side a few days prior. (David had a fever, so I stayed home with him while Kerry was there in our stead.) The best gift we can hope for this holiday is the health of our family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh, Sh...Shampoo

With Thanksgiving only days away, Kerry and I took her mother to Costco to do a little shopping. Found some goodies that we had been wanting to pick up. Anyhow, upon our return, we saw what you see in the above photo... all over the house. Now, Bella (our young little puggle) has had some previous potty training issues in the last year that we've had her but we thought things had massively improved. But, something about this looked strange. This was a big area with a lot of these spots.

So, as we wandered through the house to assess the extent of the damage, we breathed a sigh of relief. Then a little fear set in. Chocolate and dog stomachs don't exactly play well together. Bella had gotten into the pantry and broken into a box of Jello Chocolate Pudding mix. It does seem that the amount of chocolate is small (and most wound up on the carpet) so we may be in the clear. (For some reason Jell-O would not tell us how much cocoa is in a box as it is a proprietary measurement. Yeah, I laughed at that too.) Now, the fun part is trying to clean it up and getting the dog to vomit. I sound excited don't I?

Update: She heaved, she pooped, she barked... and repeated the process all night. Tomorrow will be better, I expect. That is if our nerves hold out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

12 Is A Magic Number

Today my son, David, turned 12. It was at the end of the day that I made one of those mental leaps that leaves me lost in thought for hours on end. I've often told people that my favorite year for music was 1983. I've looked at it over and over again but some of the music just connected for me. That was the year that I turned 12.

What makes it more interesting is that, just the other day, David did something he's never done before. He asked his mom if they could stay in the car to listen to the end of a Taylor Swift song. Usually, he just asks us to turn the music down or off. Now, he's enjoying Swift, Carrie Underwood, Rodney Atkins (especially "Watching You") and a few oldies that we've slipped in.

So, I'd like you to take a moment and do some math for me. When were you 12? How close was that to when you first really started to appreciate music? You see, some people believe 12 is a magic number. But, I wonder if our listening habits finally come into their own. Do we understand the lyrics more? Just thoughts to ponder for the next 12 years or so.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

People Waiting For Us

Forever is a big word. I used it twice when I said my vows to my wife because I didn't feel it was big enough. When I married Kerry, I inherited an even larger family than my own. Kind of daunting when you gain 3 father-in-laws that each give you the long stare, considering if you are worthy of their little girl. One of those men was Fred Sicks.

There are always things you hear within a family about how 'so and so' aren't speaking to each other or how 'so and so' weren't the nicest of human beings in their past. Since I didn't have a past with this new family, I didn't have anything to compare the present with. But what I did know is that after a long absence in my wife's life, Fred and his wife Sandy moved to Las Vegas to be closer to his family. Fred had been dealing with type 2 diabetes and heart issues.

The Fred that I knew was jovial, smiled wide when he shook your hand and had a twinkle in his eyes during the holidays. He enjoyed politics and was active in his community. Of course, this is the side I will remember most of him. Fred lost his life yesterday. My promise to watch over his little girl is fresh on my mind. His family is hurting but one thing is assured... he will be one of the people waiting for us, greeting us with a warm smile as we enter heaven.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Walking The Family

Kerry and I have been working on getting more exercise in and have come up with a plan. We are 3 days into our program already. We are walking for 30 minutes around our complex every day. We plan to add 5 minutes every month to build up to 45 minutes a day. The 30 minutes that she walks the dogs in the mornings is too stop-start to get any cardio out of it but we're trying to include the dogs in the walk. Bella has made it through the last two and Tulip made it about 15 minutes before we had to drop her off at home (but did so without delay.)

I keep thinking back to Lora and her late night walks and how it has helped her. I don't have the nights free but currently Kerry and I have daytime together and are using it appropriately. So far so good. I want to stay around as long as I can. B)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats - Meet The Meatbats

It isn't often that a respected long-time member of a band to start looking for side-projects. It's not often that they release albums by two projects in one year in different genres. One such project, Chad Smith's Bombastic Meatbats, which takes the Red Hot Chili Pepper into the area of jazz. Can a funk drummer make a smooth transition into the technical genre?

If there was a song to lead this set with, it could only be "Need Strange" as it is almost a frenzy of Schroder playing the Peanuts theme and the theme from Sanford and Son. Each instrument has a showcase and there is something more than fusion jazz here. There are many other highlights including the musical journey of "The Battle For Ventura Blvd." with enunciations, lulls and tensions that take you for the ride. "Oh! I Spilled My Beer" touches on some rock guitar in some flourishes but is dominated by a keyboard groove that can be inebriating. "Death Match" starts with a little posturing and a struggle develops midway with a triumphant conclusion. All starts casually with "Night Sweats" with a few nightmarish moments, some relief, tossing and turning and the rhythmic beat of your heart as you awake. Great to see the Latin-feel of "Lola" amongst the set adding to a very diverse album.

Is Meet The Meatbats a casual album for any Red Hot Chili Pepper fan?  No.  This is what I would put in your hands if you told me you wanted to stretch your musical palate.

3 out of 5

Alias - Never Say Never

There are some things that never see the light of day. Artists get funded by a label to record an album and if the label isn't happy with the finished product, it can sit on a shelf gathering dust. This happens. The rise of grunge affected many rock releases in the early 1990s including Alias' Never Say Never which through fan fanaticism and bootleg copies has become a veritable 'holy grail.' So the album finally being released after nearly 18 years is well worth reviewing.

Alias' potency bursts out of the gate with the machismo challenge of "Woman Enough" and passing the torch to the Steve DeMarchi guitar-heavy yet chantable "XTCOI." This really does set an energy level for the release heading into the plaintive "How Much Longer Is Forever" which is one of many stand-out songs on the disc. Instead of just back-to-back rock tracks they interject the feel of a Victorian waltz on the ballad "Give Me A Reason" which also makes the next transition to the swaggering "Wild Wild One" more perceptible. "Pleasure And Pain" starts sultry in a David Coverdale delivery yielding into a few Black Crows-like moments -- vocally, this is a Freddie Curci highlight reel as well as a band that can merge genres and deliver solid songs. I could go through each of these 13 (as well as 4 assorted bonus tracks depending on which version you are purchasing) songs and inundate you with too much information.

What you need to know is Never Say Never is a bold rock album that is as diverse as it is deep. No song sounds alike or dated and each shows Alias as an act in their prime. It's a shame the album didn't get released when it was ready but maybe it took some time for people to recognize a good album for what it is. The only negative to the delay is the lack of a follow-up.

4 out of 5

Monday, August 10, 2009

Master And Servant

I enjoy watching NBC's The Biggest Loser. I'll admit it. I think there is no show like it that at the end of each episode you see someone that has fought to make changes in their health for the better. That being said, trainer Jillian Michaels kicks butt. I currently picked up my DVD of her 30 Day Shred workout and started sweating again. Yesterday, it was the whole family. So, after seeing Jillian talking about her new book about a month ago on a morning show... it wound up on my reading list.

What needs to be said is that Master Your Metabolism isn't a workout. She 2 has books on that already. This one talks about her battle with her weight and clarifies the misunderstanding of 'metabolism.' Think about it for a second. How many friends have you commented about having a 'high metabolism' and that they couldn't put on weight if they tried? We've come to believe that metabolisms are high, low or inbetween but don't talk about the hundreds of hormones in our bodies that affect our metabolisms making them effective, ineffective or stable. This book does just that and a lot of it is what we are feeding ourselves. It does read more like a science text book but well worth pushing through.

After reading the book (and reading certain sections with my wife), we decided to entirely remake our shopping list. We started by pulling foods out of the pantry. We started shopping for items that had fewer ingredients (meaning less preservatives and other byproducts.) We then broke the news to our son that certain ingredients would not be in the house and that if he found an alternative, we'd consider it. So far, we are doing great with the change and feel some of the benefits already. Every great journey begins with a step.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Your First Interview

I can still remember the first time that I filled out an application for a job. I can also remember sitting down with that store's manager for the interview. First impressions really are everything and learning to handle yourself in front of a possible employer is a skill that must be developed. I got that first job. I think Shakey's Pizza really needed me... but I know that I needed them more. I know now that I learned so much from my short time there... much more than how to decorate and bake a good pie.

So, it was time for my son to have that same experience yesterday. His grandmother Sandy (pictured with David above) works at the county wetlands park and they had a need for volunteers. My only words of advice for him were "Listen carefully, answer respectfully and save your questions until asked if you have any." It seems that things went pretty well as he will be starting after he returns from vacation in Washington. It should be interesting to ask him 20 years from now, "What did you learn from your first job?"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Change Is Gonna Come

So, I am returning from a trip to Mesquite, NV, to celebrate Kerry and my first anniversary. Had a great time. Kerry tried golfing for the first time and may want to continue playing. We'll work on that in the future. Stayed the night at the Casablanca and caught a really bad lounge act called Vision. (Let's correct that... the band were amazing, the vocals weren't.)

During the trip home yesterday, I get a call from work. Kerry and David are in the car and we are going to pick up the girls (Bella and Tulip) from the Petsmart hotel. I am told that my shift at the hotel has been eliminated. Only one of the choices would give me the same day off as Kerry. I'm driving, she's really shaken but writes down all the shifts and we proceed to a parking lot to discuss it. David keeps voicing his concern that 'family dinners' will be affected (as we only get to do that on Sundays and rarely on Saturdays) with tears in his eyes. I turn to him and tell him, "David, a decision has to be made and we don't have time to worry about family dinners." The stress definitely brought the joy of our anniversary to a screeching halt.

The decision (our choice of 6 shifts) was to have Monday and Tuesdays off and move up an hour to a 4pm to midnight shift. The consequences of this are far-reaching and undetermined at this time. The show on Saturdays will probably have to be moved earlier to allow time to edit before work. This also ruins one of my favorite events which is going out to Teri and Lloyd's on Saturdays to see UFC fights. Our family gatherings for birthdays on Sunday nights... are in limbo but could be moved earlier. At least, I'll have Mondays off with the wife and can still pick up my son from school before work. Speaking of that... I gotta take care of that right now. Thanks for letting me vent.

Update: Got to work and found out that all the stress that we went through the day before didn't really matter and that I've been assigned a shift (4pm-midnight Fri-Sat off.) Expecting to hear something new tomorrow as they obviously don't know what they are doing now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gary Wright - The Light Of A Million Suns

Gary Wright recently released his follow-up to 1999's Human Love album. Well, two follow-ups, in fact -- The Light Of A Million Suns EP (a 4-track set that includes one re-recording) and, the 6-track instrumental set, Waiting To Catch The Light. Let's take a closer look at Wright's new EP.

The Light Of A Million Suns opens with the explosive hip-hop/soul flavored re-imagining of Wright's 1976 hit, "Love Is Alive," with son Dorian Wright. The song is an absolute gem. I'm not saying the other songs don't hold up. The subtle use of steel drum and pan flute add an island atmosphere to "Little One" yet it retains lyrical depth in dealing with a cycle of isolation. Wright showcases another level of his vocal talents on the energetic and driving "This Heart Might Break Tonight." The Light Of A Million Suns closes with the emotionally aspirant "Hold On." The stark opening, keyboard solo, lush orchestration and anthemic chorus make this very memorable track.

The new version of "Love Is Alive" is a terrific launchpad for Dorian and would alone be well worth the price of purchasing the album. The only questions that Gary Wright's Light Of A Million Suns leaves me with is: "Why doesn't everyone have this in their collection yet?"

4.5 out of 5

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Drug Test Me, We Got Another Puggle

After going to the dog park and seeing all these dogs with a compatriot (not a lot of solo dogs), I mentioned to Kerry the idea of a possible second dog. Fast forward to last night, a friend and co-worker comes up to me and says, "Want another puggle?" I had one of those tilt-your-head, raise-your-eyebrow moments. He had recently been down to Lied Animal Shelter and later his wife saw this puggle online at their site.

Well, I told Kerry about it when I got home and we agreed that I'd go check on her today. I got an email from her when I got up this morning saying, "The dog is still there with the number and information." I guess, she was more excited about the puggle than I first thought. Anyhow, went down there and, after a little searching, saw her. A little lighter-haired, bigger and older (she's 3 years old) than Bella. But the whole time I'm there everyone is saying how good a dog she is and how excited they are that she is finally getting a home (she has been there since Jan. 30th.) I sent a photo to Kerry and got a text back saying, "Awww... she's so cute. Get her. Get her NOW!" That I did. And here's a few photos of our two adopted daughters getting to know each other.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Life Update: 030309

Need to start giving you more updates as... ummm, this is the longest I've ever gone without posting anything.

Stress can be infectious. Kerry's family has been going through a lot of it and we've been trying to not bring it home. The only thing that I can do is tell her that we will do all we can to help but, as it is a relationship issue, remind ourselves that it is between two other parties. We hope that things will come to a resolution soon.

Went to Sacramento for my grandmother's 90th birthday. We stayed with my aunt/godmother and were able to introduce my cousins to my wife and son. I need to see them more often. The 1200 miles driving (600 each way) wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We expect another trip there sometime to really enjoy ourselves (and stop by to see Tracy and Jason in Reno.)

Bella is doing amazingly well. She's now about 7 months old and really likes chewing on things. Everything...flesh, metal, wood, paper, rubber, plastic, wire, fabric. I get a scowl out of the spouse when I call the 'little one' a carpet muncher but... she's been having a lot of fun in our hallway. Often we call her and she comes prancing in with a braid of carpet hanging from her chin.

Been scheduling some great interviews for the show. The best interviews always have 3 key components: knowledge of your subject, good questions and a willing subject.

I'm becoming a bit more cognizant of my time issues and have been starting to get more organized. (I'm a work in progress as time management isn't one of my best skills.) When you have a family, you need to remember those simple projects together mean a lot. On Sunday, we decided to check out a nearby dog park. Bella had a blast and we discovered Italian greyhounds are freaking fast! Bella couldn't keep up with them but she never gave up. Kerry, David and myself plan to take Bella there on Sundays (maybe bring a light lunch with us.)

Life has been good to us. We both have our jobs and we are able to get by during a time that both of our industries are hurt. Our family is amazing, all of them. We celebrate our first anniversary at the end of the month.

Expect posts more often. B)