Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow Day

I woke up this morning and had a text from Bobby that was received at 3:38am: Just took a shower. going to sleep until Dan gets here, supposedly at 5.

Oi. The man works too hard, I tell you. I'd hardly seen him all week, and now I wasn't going to see him all day again. I'd committed to helping Keith & Tania move their stuff out of a room in my parents' house into a storage unit, and on top of that, said I'd watch my 3-year-old nephew Jonah for awhile. Bobby had committed to taking Emma and her sister Lily up to Big Bear for the day.

The doctor had told me on Tuesday that I was to do no lifting for 2 weeks. I wasn't sure how much help I could be to the cause as it was. Then Tania said it: If you don't want to help, don't worry about it. Up until that point I was sad that I wouldn't see Bobby all day again, but I was accepting it, but now the mutinous seed had been planted.

Shortly after, I decided to walk (the two whole houses down) to my brother's house and ask Patricia if they would be okay with me taking my nephew up to Big Bear. I had decided that if they were okay with that, I would flake out on the move (since I couldn't do a whole lot to help anyway) and go with Bobby and the girls. She said it was fine and bundled and packed him up.

Jonah and I helped with what we could until Bobby arrived a few hours later with the girls, and then we all packed up and started on our way. We met up with Brian and Caelyn before driving up the mountain, so we didn't actually make it up there until a little after noon.

Big Bear was apparently a popular destination today, because there were loads of people about. We found a little spot where the kids could make snowballs and dig around in the snow and hung out for a couple hours. All the kids seemed to have a good time. The snow was kind of hard though, so we decided to see if we could find a better spot.

On the way to this better spot we had in mind, we stopped somewhere with go carts and a louge. We took turns so all the kids could go on the go carts. Lily and Jonah were gung-ho, Emma was cautious as usual, and only decided to go at the last minute. They all loved it though.

After the go carts, Bobby wanted to take the kids on the louge, but Brian and I decided to sit out with the younger kids. Emma even agreed to go down alone. The line for the louge wound up taking over an hour, so by that time the sun was going down over the mountain and it was starting to get really chilly. We were there at the bottom, because they were all supposed to be coming down soon and I wanted to get a picture, but Jonah, who had not complained all day, started telling me he was too cold repeatedly. I literally walked inside and started texting Bobby to tell him where we were when he and the girls walked up to me.

Jonah is a relatively mild mannered kid, and even though Emma and Lily were bundles of energy, all the kids were really well behaved for the whole day. On the way to the car we dreamed of hot cocoa (why do I feel the need for hot cocoa when in the snow?), so when we stopped for gas at the bottom of the mountain, I bought a couple cocoas for the 5 of us to share.

On the way down, Lily asked if she could stay the night with us too. Emma really wanted her to come home with us too, and we said that when we got to her house, we could ask if it would be ok, since even if it was she'd still need to go home to pick up an overnight bag. She started saying how much she wanted to stay, and that she wanted to go everytime Emma was with us. She must have asked five or six times if we could call and ask if she could stay the night, and each time we said that we could ask when we got there.

When we got around to drop off Lily, Emma asked if Lily could stay overnight with her. Unfortunately, the answer was no, and both the girls started crying. Not loud, give-me-what-I-want crying, but the quiet tears you cry when you know there is nothing you can do to change the answer.

As we left, I called Tania. We had tentatively planned for she and Keith to come over to our house for dinner, and I wanted to see if they were still up for it (and if they remembered). She sounded not really sure (and clearly very tired from their busy day), and mentioned that they didn't know if the parentals were expecting them to be home for dinner. I checked with my mom, and she suggested that since we were still near their house, why not come over there for dinner. So we did. I called Aaron & Patricia and told them I'd have Jonah there when they came home. So we wound up having an impromtu steak dinner for 11.

As I sat there digesting my meal, feeling my eyes droop a little, watching Bobby's eyes do the same, my mind left the conversation and I asked if he was ready - he was. We packed Emma up and said goodbye to everyone. Bobby and Emma both passed out in the car on the way home, so not long after we arrived we were all snuggled in.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Searching for Bobby Fischer

I checked out Google News when I got in to work today and one of the top articles was announcing the death of Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fischer was a chess prodigy - attaining the level of grand master at the age of 15, and becoming the world champion when he was still quite young. Then he disappeared for long periods of time - occasionally coming back to defeat everyone.

Until recently, the only knowledge I had of him was from the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. It's an amazing movie, that really isn't about Bobby Fischer at all, but about Joshua Waitzkin, also a chess prodigy. Here is the synopsis from

Though he's only seven, Josh looks at a chessboard and anticipates moves that mature chess players don't even see. He's a malleable young boy with an incredible talent for the game of masterminds. When Josh begins honing his talent, playing a speedy version of the game called "blitz" with hustlers and hobos, his father decides to take him to world reknowned coach Bruce Pandolfini, who claims Josh may well be the second coming of chess legend Bobby Fischer. But family struggles ensue when the mother worries that in cultivating the genius, they may be hurting the child.

It really is a wonderful movie, and very family friendly. I don't know anyone that I wouldn't recommend it to. I always think of it when I see people playing chess, especially in a park.

Awhile back, I saw an article about Bobby Fischer. He'd been invited to live in Iceland, and the article touched on some bizarre behavior of his. Out of curiosity I looked up his article on Wikipedia. It seems he was not just a recluse, but, in my opinion, definitely on the crazy side.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Making Plans

As I've mentioned before, I work for a firm that searches for private companies for private equity firms to aquire. I work with a really great bunch of people, and when we close a deal (when a fund purchases a company we've introduced them to) the company does something to celebrate. How we celebrate is tied to how big the deal was.

In December, we not only closed 2 good sized deals, but the last deal of the year was also the 100th deal closed by our firm and it's partners. This was cause for a larger than normal celebration. On the docket - a weekend of skiing/snowboarding in Park City, Utah.

Just thinking about this trip led to so many decisions. - Did I want to ski or snowboard? I've never done either. I polled the people around me, and instant messaged some friends for their opinion. Of course, all the skiers said that skiing was easier, and all the snowboarders said snowboarding was easier. Finally I found someone who did both - he said that skiing was easier to learn, but harder to do, and snowboarding was a little more difficult to learn, but easier to do once he had it down. I went with his recommendation and told them to schedule me a snowboarding lesson early the first day.

But then - I don't have decent shoes for the snow! I've lived in Southern California my entire life, and rarely do I go up to the snow. None of my shoes are really appropriate to be trodding around in the snow with - they either aren't warm enough, or they aren't waterproof, or the bottom has no grip. I was going to need some shoes. Forced to shop. Woe is me.

So I visited and looked around for some good snow shoes. I found a few pairs I liked and tried to decide between them. There was a pair I really liked, but it didn't seem like the most sensible choice. So then I read the reveiews on the "sensible" looking pairs and found them to be not so sensible. Laces breaking repeatedly, dissapointment regarding the comfort of the shoe, etc. The reviews of my not-so-sensible shoe, however, were glowing - warm, comfy, sturdy. Perhaps it was meant to be.
But that's not all I need, right? The company is renting a board for me, but I'll need pants, and a jacket, and snowboarding boots, and thermals, and oh-my-god this free trip is starting to look expensive.
But I've never been snowboarding, and I don't even know if I'll want to go again, so I really don't want to spend all this money on gear I may never use again. Even if I do, how often do I really expect to use it?
Thankfully, it all seems to have come together. My sister-in-law wears the same size shoe I do, and said I could borrow her boots, and my longtime friend happens to be about the same size I am and has all the necessary clothing - pants, gloves, beanie, and a jacket. I'm set! And I didn't have to shell out $600. :)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hot Water

Before we went to the movies last night, we'd left my parents at our house installing a new water heater. Our hot water heater had been leaking from the top for awhile, creating a small but consistent stream of water down the side of our garage. Since my mom manages the property, she and my dad had come to fix it. Apparently it wasn't fixable, so they were there to replace it.

When we got out of the movies last night I had a voicemail waiting for me. My mom had called to tell me that she and my dad had tried for over an hour to light the pilot on the new water heater, but to no avail.

Now, my parents are pretty capable people. It is not like them to have such trouble with something like this. I called my mom back, and she explained that they must have read over the instructions and double checked every step about 20 times. She was going to call the manufacturer as soon as they opened this morning, but we would have no hot water for the evening.

Well, at least we'd both showered recently. An evening with no hot water wouldn't be too much of a trouble, right?

This morning, the manufacturer said that they could call out a plumber to light the pilot, but because it was still the weekend, the plumber would charge a weekend rate (instead of the visit just being covered by the warantee) equal to about 1/3 of the cost of the water heater. My parents decided that they would just take the water heater back and try another one instead.

We got the old-new water heater packed back up and in the truck, and after a short time my parents returned with new-new water heater. We hooked this new one up, but when we got around to the pilot light - it again wouldn't light.

My mom checked the serial number on this one, and the manufacturing date. Apparently they were both manufactured on the same day (Jan. 1st, 2008 - a mere 6 days ago), and were only about 50 units apart from one another. We spent about an hour, taking turns, reading through the directions for this piezoelectric ignition system, attempting to light it. But alas, we were destined to not have hot water for another night; the plumber would have to come tomorrow.

At this point I was starting to really want a shower, but I wasn't about to take a cold one in this weather. So we headed over to my parents' house to clean up. Hopefully the hot water will be back tomorrow...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

Katie and Erica made the trek out to our place so they could go see The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything with Emma, Bobby, and I. Here's the synopsis from

From the creators of 2002's wildly successful Jonah--A VeggieTales Movie comes a new story of heroism in the beloved VeggieTales' world, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything Now, we follow the comic misadventures of three animated veggie pals who reluctantly set sail for adventure and discover that real heroes don't have to be tall, strong, handsome...or even human.

Garrrrr! Working at the Pieces of Ate Dinner Theater is less than exciting when you're a busboy. For three moping misfits-- Elliot, Sedgewick and George (Larry the Cucumber, Mr. Lunt and Pa Grape)-all they dream of is the day when they can ditch their dishrags and take stage to star in the big pirate show.

But with Elliot's timidity, Sedgewick's laziness and George's lack of self-confidence, it seems as if the day to prove who they really are will never come...

Things are about to change when a mysterious ball drops from the sky and lands at the unlikely seafarers' feet. A "Helpseeker" sent from the past in search of heroes, the artifact sets in motion a series of events that drags the friends back to the 17th century--and into the belly of certain danger. The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything must each face their fears--becoming unlikely heroes in a battle to rescue a royal family from an evil tyrant, and themselves from living the life of common couch potatoes.

The latest in a franchise that has sold more than 50 million units since its 1993 inception, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything--A VeggieTales Movie continues the hit series' values-based lessons in teaching kids what it really means to be a hero. --© Universal Pictures

The movie was by no means amazing, but it was cute and enjoyable. Better than some of the terrible children's movies I've seen in the last year or so. If I had the DVD at home, it probably wouldn't be the first children's (or even Veggetales) movie I'd pull out, but I wouldn't be opposed to someone putting it on.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Locus of Control

I had a conversation with someone today that made me think back to my Organizational Behavior class in college. I didn't really enjoy that particular class, but there was one concept that really stuck with me: Locus of Control.

This is from the Wikipedia article on Locus of Control:
Locus of control is a concept initially used to distinguish between two types of situations – those in which outcomes are determined by skill in contrast to settings where chance is the main determinant of success and failure. For example, in games such as chess, sporting events such as tennis, and exams in fields such as math, it is reasoned that positive and negative outcomes are determined primarily by ability and level of skill. This does not imply that chance has no influence whatsoever on what has transpired. After all, perhaps the tennis match was affected by a gust of wind blowing the ball, or the math exam score influenced by a guess at a true/false alternative. Nonetheless, outcomes in these events primarily are determined (or, are perceived as determined) by ability. Ability is located within the person; hence, the so-called locus of control is internal. On the other hand, if a “head” or a “tail” will be showing in a coin toss, or whether red or black will be the place the ball stops in roulette, is determined (or, is perceived to be determined) by chance (assuming the game is “fair”). Of course, some may think they can sway where the roulette ball stops or that they can guide the appearance of a head or a tail on a coin toss, so that ability may be conceived as influencing task outcome. Nonetheless, most individuals on most occasions believe that success and failure at these tasks are chance-determined. Chance is regarded as external to the person, resulting in the external locus of control label.

This term has also been used to describe people's personality. Based on whether one perceives his or her fate being driven by inside or outside factors. Again, from Wikipedia:

Internals tend to attribute outcomes of events to their own control. Externals attribute outcomes of events to external circumstances. For example, college students with a strong internal locus of control may believe that their grades were achieved through their own abilities and efforts, whereas those with a strong external locus of control may believe that their grades are the result of good or bad luck, or to a professor who designs bad tests or grades capriciously; hence, they are less likely to expect that their own efforts will result in success and are therefore less likely to work hard for high grades.....This has obvious implications for differences between internals and externals in terms of their achievement motivation, suggesting that internal locus is linked with higher levels of N-ach. Due to their locating control outside themselves, externals tend to feel they have less control over their fate. People with an external locus of control tend to be more stressed and prone to clinical depression.

I find that this personality trait is one of the first things I take notice of in my interactions with others. I listen to the things that they say, and how they perceive the world around them and the events in their lives. My experience has pretty much supported the above observation - that Internals tend to be more motivated and acheive more, while Externals tend to be victims and either flirt with or fully enter severe depressions.

I wonder what it is that causes the difference in perception for Internals and Externals.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Spa Day Redeaux

Dad has been spending all his spare time working on the brewery lately. Mom's been home alone a lot.

My New Years vacation was consumed by my the flu, and I'm not sure where it went.

Mom and I both love Glen Ivy when the weather is cool like this. Hot tubs just sound so much more appealing when it's cold outside.

I worked at Glen Ivy during high school and the beginning of college, so I could go anytime I wanted. Then my sister worked there and it was the same. I still knew most of the people, and I would just drop by whenever. Now my sister-in-law works there as an esthetician, so I still have an in. So I asked Mom if she wanted to go with me to the spa, and had my sister-in-law book a facial for me with her that day.

It was just what we both needed. We spent some time in the hot pools, and the sauna, and the steam room; I had my facial and we went down into the Grotto. It was so wonderful and relaxing. When we left at the end of the day, we decided to treat ourselves to a sushi dinner as well.

I love spa days!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Setting Up

When I got into work today I was completely distracted by my need to set up my new Blackberry Curve.

Because I'd only been using Outlook to track my work calendar, and Google Calendar to track my personal stuff, I had some consolidating to do. And some clean up. I had to update some personal contacts' information to be current, add in some birthdays, delete any duplicate calendar entries related to the contacts, etc. Then I went through my GMail contacts to make sure they were all there.

And categorizing. Oi, I categorized tasks and contacts and calendar entries and notes. I added some personal tasks and tasks relating to Bobby's new business to my task list. It was all a very cleansing exercise. Like cleaning up your desk.

I installed the software and synced up my phone. I filtered the tasks so that only tasks marked Personal or for the new business would sync. This way I can use my blackberry for Personal and New Business management, and keep my work computer focused on work tasks. I still need to go through my old phone and make sure I have everyone's phone numbers. But it is so nice not having to scroll through 3-5 entries for every person...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My Christmas Present

My Christmas present finally arrived today. I don't know what it is about shiny new gadgets that is so exciting.

I've been so busy lately, and always on the go, that it was becoming a problem that I didn't have all of my contacts' information with me all the time. Bobby has hijacked my laptop because he's regularly off at job sites and needs it, so I really don't have a computer of my own outside of work.

This usually isn't a problem - all our media is on Bobby's desktop (since my little 40GB laptop couldn't handle it all anyway), and I use GMail, and Google Docs & Spreadsheets, so I'm fairly mobile as it is. The only downside was managing and not always having access to my contacts and calendar. What I needed was a smartphone.

I hate GMail's contacts. While there are definitely some improvements I could suggest for Outlook, I still prefer it to GMail's contacts. I was really hoping that Google would buy out Plaxo, or even just integrate Plaxo's service into GMail contacts. But it doesn't look like that's going to happen, especially if the rumors about Facebook acquiring Plaxo are true.

I had spent a decent amount of time deciding what kind of phone I wanted. The perfect phone just doesn't seem to exist. I like all the bells and whistles - 3G (or better!?), email/contact/calendar integration, GPS, Wi-Fi, full QWERTY keyboard, etc. I really like Bobby's phone, but it's kind of large and not very sexy. I love the touch screen, and that he can open attachments, but it's also pretty pricey. I really like the look of the Blackberry Curve, and everyone I know with a Blackberry seems pretty happy with it. Unfortunately, the Curve doesn't have 3G, so it's still on the slower EDGE network.

I was not interested in an iPhone. Sure, it's a pretty product, but of the two people I know that bought one, one has already given it away and purchased a Blackberry instead. The other likes it, but admitted that it really wouldn't be for business use, and mentioned some of the iPhone's drawbacks. Between not having 3G or copy/paste capabilities, and the fact that it's so proprietary, I just wasn't interested.

I decided that the Curve would be enough to fit my needs. I don't surf the web on my phone that much so I was comfortable with not having the 3G or Wi-Fi. Since we were going to be buying it outside of a contract I figured that worst case I could resell it on eBay and get something else.

I was glad to find that the battery had a slight charge to it when it arrived, because that meant that I didn't have to wait to switch my SIM card over and play with some of the functions. But the phone shipped to my house, and like I said, the computer that is really dedicated to me is at work, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to upload everything...

Back to the Grind

I only worked a half day last week. I went in on Thursday, but I still wasn't feeling well, so I left at noon. Friday and yesterday I was still sick, so this is my first real work day back since December 20th. It feels kind of strange to be back.

It wasn't even like a vacation either, because we were busy and then I was sick (still am a bit sick). It was more like a long weekend. On the bright side, tomorrow's Friday...