Category Archives: Life

A Year of Travel and Adventure

Starting about a year ago, I strapped in to one hell of a roller coaster. The last 12 months, from October 2015 to now, have been jam packed full of events. The past year has been tiring, fun, stressful, fast paced, and all around excellent.

Louisiana – The Adventure Begins

The adventures began last October when my longtime friends TJ and Jessica invited Jenny and me on a week long trip to Louisiana with them. They were flying out there for vacation, but also to take their engagement photos in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The trip was a blast from day one. Our flights landed within about an hour of each other so coordinating was super easy. It was late and we needed to catch some sleep to springboard into the rest of the trip. We all hopped in a rental – some all-wheel drive Infiniti sports sedan – and tore our way through the middle of Louisiana to our first destination of the Pelican State.

As you may or may not know, drive-thru daiquiri shops are a real thing in Louisiana and other parts of the south, so when in Rome! Another regional quirk I noticed was Dollar General stores, which appear to be to Louisiana, what Starbucks is to California – there’s one every quarter mile.

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Our first morning we woke up bright and early and went on a swamp boat tour. A must-do if you’ve never gone. Our guide had the coolest accent, and was a pro at handling that thing. He could drift around a bend and manage to get our 6 foot wide swamp boat through a water gate with just inches to spare without breaking a sweat. He told us all about the nutria rat problem, we saw tons of gators, and even had a three foot Chinese tuna jump into our boat and smack TJ in the face. It was awesome.

Our next stop was New Orleans. On our drive in, we turned on suitable playlist on Spotify and stumbled on the comical and tragic song, Senor El Gato! We had a beautiful suite just a few blocks from Bourbon Street. I wish I’d had my Fitbit then because god knows I must have walked several marathons up and down the French Quarter alone in search of voodoo shops, bottomless Hurricanes, the perfect masque, and restaurants to fill TJs insatiable hunger for OYSTERRRRRRSS!!!!!

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After a couple days in the city we ventured out of the concrete jungle and into the bayou. We drove 140 miles from our hotel in the French Quarter all the way to Avery Island to visit the Mc. Ilhenny Co. aka the Tabasco factory. I may very well be addicted to Tabasco sauce so I couldn’t very well visit Tabasco’s home state without knocking on their door. We went on the Tabasco food tour, which I HIGHLY recommend. Your first meal is in the official Tabasco restaurant, and from there we hopped in a tour van with our trusty guide and drove to several parishes to try the best cuisine the region had to offer. Gumbo, jambalaya, cracklins, shrimp etouffee, boudin, andouille.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much, and so well.

Rounding out the trip was a visit to a Halloween haunted attraction, the Garden District, several small museums, several visits to Café Du Monde, a fine dining experience at The Bourbon House, the worst comedy show I have ever been to, and dozens of amazing restaurants.

I Bought my First Home

All the while I was in Louisiana getting fat and drunk, I was also in escrow. Now, whether it’s an omen or not is beyond me but I will always remember the day I closed escrow because it was on November, Friday the 13th.

This wasn’t my first real estate, but it was my first home, meaning I planned to actually live there and not have it be solely an investment property. I love my house. Earlier that spring I had been on the house hunt and ran into a series of duds and lemons. After a failed, painstaking negotiation with a previous seller, I gave the search a rest for a while. I am so glad I did because the home I ended up buying was one I had been eyeballing a year earlier. My good friend Mark Wayman saw that the sellers had lowered the price, and a couple months later it was mine.

Three little cabins on two lots, about 100 feet from and with a view of the lake, beautiful scenery all around, on a heavily treed lot. Top to bottom, I love my new home and getting the keys was one of the coolest, most exhilarating things ever.

It’s been great having friends and family come up to visit, drinking some cider and playing board games.

Georgia, and Wedding # 1

Back to South I go. Just days after I bought my house I was jet setting again, this time to the Peach State and the land of red soil for my cousin’s wedding. I don’t know what it is about the South but it’s awesome. We landed early in the morning. The Atlanta airport is a train wreck. It’s massive, and it seems like not a soul who works there knows where to find anything. Four employees pointed us in the opposite direction to the rental car lot, but fifth times a charm!

The drive from Atlanta to our destination was rainy for the first couple hours. I never knew just how big of a city Atlanta was, but there was traffic before the sun came up.

Once the sun rose it became abundantly clear how beautiful the state is. Trees, trees, and more trees as far as the eye could see. Which wasn’t that far since so many dang trees obstructed your view. I marveled at the undertaking it must have been to clear a path of trees across the state to make room for highways stretching hundreds of miles. Must have been enough lumber to last a life time, and yet couldn’t have even been a drop in the bucket.

Just like in Louisiana, there were Dollar General stores evvvvverywhere in Georgia. So at this point I am guessing this is a Southern thing.

My aunt and uncle live on this 140+ acre lot in what to me felt like the middle of nowhere. In the summers they have this big Christian summer camp complete with human hamster balls, giant water slides, a lake, baseball, capture the flag, RC planes, and some absolutely legit laser tag that looked more professional than the MILES gear we used in ROTC. Unfortunately I didn’t get to partake in these festivities but people in the South really know how to have a good time.

I did however go hunting for the first time, and that was a whole other experience itself. Read “My First Hunting Trip” to read more about that. One of our first nights in town there were hurricane warnings, flash flood warnings, and parts the town we were in had even lost power. Coming from the desert that is San Diego, a hurricane was a fun experience to cross off the bucket list. Jenny and I stayed in a summer camp bungalow in the middle of the woods, away from our relatives, which made it all the more interesting.

Georgia also has some amazing chain restaurants that I would love to have back home, including Waffle House (where believe it or not I had a bomb ass Philly cheese steak), Zaxby’s, and the Cracker Barrel store/restaurant. And if you want the largest menu of milkshakes ever, you have to find yourself a Steak ‘n Shake. Damn the south has some good eats.

Georgia was a beautiful state and I would love to go back!

Two Weeks in Ohio

October was Louisiana. November was Georgia. Now fast forward to December where I spent the first half of the month in Ohio! This time it was for a business trip for Nationwide (is on your siiiidddde). Christmas time if my favorite time of the year so I was a little bummed to miss out on a couple Christmas parties and all the festivities that go with it. But Nationwide spares no expense and they own their home hotel (yes, Nationwide Insurance owns their own hotel in Ohio) which was dressed to the nines in holiday splendor. This place was very nice. It had a sort of colonial feel to it, and the entire place was adorned with holly, and the hallways and lobbies all filled with Christmas music. Each lobby had a decked out Christmas tree, and a quaint seating area with a 24/7 fire place.

I cannot speak on behalf of Ohio, but Nationwide sure knows how to cook up some grub. We had access to a dining area and every day got breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And we’re not talking some lame ‘continental breakfast’ where you are starving after your meal. This place’s breakfast would put 94th Aero Squadron to shame. If there wasn’t a waffle station, there was an omelet station, or a crepe station. And that’s the breakfast. No joke, I think I gained 10 pounds on that trip.

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Ohio in December is f***ing cold. Remember, I’m from San Diego and have experienced a hot Christmas. Here I was inappropriately dressed for 30 degree weather, with heavy winds. My group consisted of people from neighboring states including New York, who had a laugh or two at my expense. Joe, thanks for letting me borrow your jacket buddy.

On my trip to Ohio I did a lot of good, professional tips regarding the insurance industry. But that pales in comparison to the awesome people I met on the trip. There was a ton of good food, great people, excessive drinking, boisterous laughing, and a hilarious late night, boozed conversations.

Back to San Diego!

It felt like I hadn’t been home in forever. Between all the trips out of state, hours of flying in a crammed seat, it was great to finally be back home. But December was half way over and Christmas was fast approaching so it was time to make up for lost time with interest. The day after I landed I whisked Jenny off and we bought a fake Christmas tree. Only the Charlie Brown trees were left, but we got a screaming deal on the display model – Walmart knocked off like $100. Score! I went all out with ornaments, stockings, holly, decorations, and all around Christmasness. For the next two weeks my house smelled like pine and cinnamon.

I also have an inner Martha Stewart that comes out around Christmas time and not to brag, but my decorations dominated. See pics!

Snowboarding in Big Bear

At this point, I’ve owned my house for over a month and haven’t been there once due to my chaotic schedule so Jenny and I had to set aside time to retreat to Big Bear and escape the hustle and bustle. Here’s a photo of us in front of the “Sold” sign, which I insisted my real estate agent keep up until after I had a chance to take a picture in front of it. Thanks Mark!

Hawaii

New Years came and went, and before we knew it April was here and I was jet setting yet again to another state, this time to Hawaii.

Hawaii was a blast. I had been to the state before, but only to Kauia, which felt like the Palm Springs of the Pacific because it was almost all old people and retirees. This time around we went to O’ahu and stayed in Wai Ki Ki.

Not that I normally get home sick, but when I landed in O’ahu it felt a lot like being back home in San Diego. At the time we went, the weather was absolutely perfect. Mid-80’s, super low humidity, clear skies, with only the occasional rain, usually before we woke up. Basically, perfect San Diego weather.

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Just like San Diego, O’ahu has half a dozen military bases. Tons of beaches. Lots of beautiful hiking. Snorkeling. A tourist city. It used to be part of a foreign country (the Nation of Hawaii vs Mexico), and the native population still has a huge cultural impact on the city. Every other street and community in San Diego is Spanish, and on this Pacific Island every other street was Hawaiian. I felt right at home in this city. Heck, they even had a Costco! It was like someone carved San Diego out with a knife and threw it into the middle of the Pacific.

Hawaii was just too much to fit into this blog, so I’ll put more about it later.

A Summer of Weddings

The summer of 2016 was the summer of weddings for me. I went to three weddings in three months, and was in one of them. I also went to two bachelor parties.

Bachelor Party # 1

was for my friend Brett, in April. There were a lot of faces I hadn’t seen in a long time, or seldom get to see now that adult life has taken over. It was great to catch up with old friends. We spent a couple days in Vegas. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but one particularly funny moment was when we were hanging out in an outdoor jacuzzi when it started dumping rain. I mean pouring! I’ve never seen fifty people in bathing suits running so fast and looking so pathetic, including myself. Anders, the road trip was a lot of fun man.

Wedding # 2

was my high school buddy TJ and his now wife Jessica! Despite having been sunny the entire week prior, mother nature decided to pull a fast one and make it rain the day before the wedding. Again I was ill equipped. Thinking “oh, it’ll be sunny!” I brought surf trunks and not much warm to wear besides by suit. Luckily Big 5 has a Dickies jacket on sale, and would you believe it, liberal Santa Barbara’s Big 5 actually had no shortage of 22LR on sale? Naturally I had to buy some.

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The wedding took place in beautiful Santa Barbara in this awesome sort of Spanish villa in the middle of an open air plaza. It was super simple but incredibly fun and the weather cleared up just in time for the main event! The pre-wedding, ceremony, and rehearsal were all in the same plaza which made travel arrangements a cinch. Those who know me know that I’m not much of a dancer, but I danced my ass off at that wedding. TJ and Jessica, you guys had an awesome wedding, and who doesn’t appreciate an open bar?! You have some really cool friends, and I still need to check out your new digs!

Wedding # 3

Was for my college friend Brett and his now wife, Adriana. Besides being a ring bearer when I was four or so, this was my first time actually being in a wedding and it was a cool experience. Prior to the wedding the groom’s party had a photo shoot, and I might say, we nailed it. Taking a limo to the wedding was baller, and Brett I appreciate the custom beer mug! The scene was beautiful at Admiral Kidd conference center on base, and again, it was great to see so many old faces I hadn’t seen in years.

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Over the Line

Literally the day after Brett’s wedding I was up at 4:45 AM to get ready for Over the Line on Fiesta Island. While this isn’t a wedding or a bachelor party, it was just one more spice thrown into the mix that has been my last 12 months. You can read more about my OTL experience here.

Bachelor Party # 2

Was for my cousin Cortlen in July. Damn, this was a fun trip! Basically, we all went camping and white water rafting up outside of Sacramento in the American River (middle fork). Half of the people there were my cousins so it felt like an extended family reunion.

The drive up there and back down was long, but I had some awesome company. I picked up my cousin Kevin from Long Beach and the two of us headed up North on our adventure in the ‘X-star’. Kevin’s a Hillary supporter but we won’t hold that against him! He was an awesome road trip buddy and damn I don’t think I have laughed that hard my entire life.

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We went on some awesome hikes and found a little creek with a natural bridge created by a fallen tree, just like in the movies. There was beer pong, camping, knife and hatchet throwing competitions, exploding beer cans, and we almost saw some Hatfield and McCoy business go down between two of the ‘resident campers’.

Rafting was another story altogether! You’d have to do it for yourself to get it, but it was a lot of fun rafting with my cousins and we have some cool pics to show of it.

Anthony, you did a great job orchestrating the entire trip.

Wedding # 4

Was for my cousin Cortlen. This time the wedding was all the way up on Monterey. Another long haul back on the road, this time in the Subie. The ceremony was at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and had a beautiful view overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur Coast. The view, magnifique! It’d been a year since I was in Monterey and I had forgotten the natural beauty of the area.

The ceremony was quick and beautiful, and Cortlen and Ally, I am so happy for you guys! Sorry we couldn’t chat more but I know there were a ton of guests you had to make the rounds to.

We spent the first night at a hotel, and the second night at a VRBO type thing with some relatives and that’s where the fun was. We had the staples of any good time, good food, good company, and good alcohol. I learned Mexican dominoes and another game I really enjoyed called Linkee. Imagine “Taboo”, but with a twist. My sister and I were on the same team, Team Awesome, and naturally we were victorious.

The ride down was a lot of fun. My mom, dad, brother and sister drove up together and the six of us hop scotched on the way south at a number of wineries and wine tasting rooms including Eberle winery and a tour of their massive, underground wine cave.

In the last 12 months I have done a lot. At one point I had been to six states in six months. At other point I had been to three weddings in three months. In total I have been to four weddings, been in one wedding, been to two bachelor parties, and traveled lord knows how many tens of thousands of miles by foot, car, boat, and plane. I’ve bought a home (three homes actually!). I’ve made some amazing new friends and reconnected with dozens of old friends and relatives I hadn’t seen in ages. I’ve eaten some amazing food, drank some incredible wine, and brewed some good beer. I feel like I have made great strides professionally, personally, and physically.

I truly am blessed to have such amazing friends, and such an amazing family. Growing older doesn’t come without it’s downfalls, and one that I’ve grappled with for the past couple years has been the difficulty in keeping up with friends and family as we all grow older and get stuck in the rhythm of our daily grinds. But growing older is also a privilege not everyone gets to enjoy. While I have lost contact with a number of friends over the years, it makes me appreciate all the more the relationships that are still very much alive.

The holidays are fast approaching and I am excited for them, and equally excited to see what 2017 and the next 12 months have in store for Jenny and me.

To all of my amazing friends out there, you know who you are. Thank you for being a part of my life, and Jenny’s life. For all the great memories, all the fun stories, all the late nights, and early mornings. For all the long drives, and funny moments gone in an instant. For all the good food, good drinks, and good times, I am incredibly grateful.

I love you all and am happy to have you in my life.

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Internet of Stings

I’ll be 100% honest that sometimes I really contemplate whether or not I should write a blog or talk about a certain issue because of the blow back I’ll get. I consider myself a pretty outspoken person or at least I once was, meaning I would just say what came to mind and not really give a damn what people thought. It’s still true today I supposed, but to a lesser extent.

By no means am I a professional blogger. I do this as a sort of hobby and I’ll be lucky if seven people actually read this blog entry. Maybe I’ve mellowed out a bit. Maybe I don’t have time. Or maybe I’ve learned that people can just be really fucking vicious to others for no particularly good reason, and I’m not particularly fond of being on the receiving end of the viciousness.

It’s almost as if certain people get off on making it known that “I think you’re a total idiot and let me tell you why!” Their lives revolve around shooting other people down when they get that cloud 9 going. Take the scenic route of any article on any media outlet website and direct yourself to the comments section. Find some political post your friend posted on Facebook and look at the comments. You want to see hate? The shit people say to each other in the comments section of the internet is pure horror. It doesn’t seem to matter the subject either. Politics and religion are bound to brew up some good old fashioned shit storms. Sports too. But it seems as if everything is such a controversy. Go to a hiking website, a medical website, a work out website, a diet forum, pick a card any card.

The internet isn’t some abstract thing. It’s literally just a bunch of computers tied together and the shit people say online is just the same crazy shit they think to themselves. It just makes it easier for them to spread their thoughts to more people, over a wider area than they could do by say… posting fliers at the local bus stop.

There is something very peculiar about the internet and the way people behave on it though. I feel like in real life (ie, when not staring at a screen) almost any two people can get along. I feel like online, any two people can become the worst versions of themselves and verbally rip each other to pieces. Interestingly it’s not the viewpoints that surprise me (though, admittedly some people do think and say some crazzzzzzzy stuff), but rather how quickly a civil conversation and devolve into a verbal pissing match.

Headline reads “Man Loses Hand in Garbage Disposal” and just give it a few minutes for someone to say “what an idiot, he must have voted for ______” even though it’s not remotely political. And they’re off! Before you know it, people are being the worst of themselves, spending hours and hours of their finite lives trying to verbally skewer their online (and often unknown) opponent.

I’m not saying the internet invented stupidity or rudeness, or that it even amplifies it. The internet just exposed the stupidity, incivility, and vanity that already exists in all of us. This isn’t even so much a blog about the internet, as much as it is how my blogging and internet surfing experiences have led me to see just how much hostility people harbor towards others in general.

Everything is quick to become an us-v-them situation. Whites vs blacks. Democrats vs Republicans. Football vs soccer. Rich vs poor. My team vs your team. My preference vs your preference. God forbid you enjoy different food than I do, fucker. I really do love people. I pity them. And to an extent I fear them. But I love them. And again, I feel like any two people, two individuals, can get along. But man, when we’re in groups, we can be monsters. There’s some kind of inverse correlation between the combined IQ of the members of a group, and their exhibited intelligence.

We’re so quick to hate each other. To insult each other. To name call, belittle, and argue with each other. We just have to get our jabs in. Leave no disagreeable opinion unopposed. We’ll tear into a complete stranger. Worse… we’ll tear into someone we know and care about. This isn’t directed at any one specifically. Observe and report, and this was just the inevitable reporting byproduct of years of observing. All the calamity in the news and on social media lately prompted this. The hostility at one point veering me away from having an online presence as I know it has for others. I was very surprised that following some of my recent posts, a good number of friends privately messaged me with their thoughts and input (all civil, thank you!) perhaps because they didn’t want to get tangled up in the online brawl that happens all too often.

I don’t have a proposal. I don’t have a point I’m slowly working towards. No moral to the story. I don’t have a goal for writing this other than to vent my frustrations. A long winded sigh of relief, in a sense.

I know I don’t write as frequently as I should, and my writing aint exactly Oscar Wilde, so give yourself a nice pat on the back if you’ve read this far. Thank you for hearing me out and thank you for continuing to read my blog. And for the occasional verbal spar.

Christmas in July

Here we are, almost half way through December and speeding towards Christmas. As I get older, it seems as though the holiday season gets faster and faster, and glides by so quickly that I hardly have a chance to notice it, much less enjoy it. It feels like Christmas 2014 was just a few weeks ago. And yet here I am perched at my kitchen table on December 13th at 10:25PM, writing a blog post I thought about writing back in November, and that I started and never completed writing on December 9th. Time really does fly by.

When I was a kid I used to love Christmas. That’s not to say I don’t any longer. I absolutely do. Christmas is the only holiday I like more than Halloween, especially now that I’m creeping away from my college years. But when you are a kid, you really really love Christmas. Everything about it is so magical. Everyone decorates their home and the neighborhood is lit up with Christmas lights and decorations. We bring beautiful, fresh cut, woods scented trees into our homes. An come that magical morning everyone meanders their way to the tree, surrounds by amazingly adorned boxes and ribbons. We sit around a lit fire place , drinking coffee and cocoa and spiced cider and eggnog. We sing carols. We listen to the same old Christmas songs. My favorite was always the Little Drummer Boy. In fact, listen to this beautiful rendition of it while you read this blog post, because I was listening to it while I wrote it.

When you’re a kid, Christmas truly feels like it lasts forever. And that’s because, relatively speaking, it sorta does.  When you’re 5 years old, one more year is literally an extra 20% of your total life. When you’re 29? 40? 50? One year, relative to the time you’ve lived, feels like a commercial break.

As a child I remember seeing Christmas decorations in stores earlier than normal, and thinking nothing of it. When I got older, I started really noticing. I used to think it was weird to see it before Thanksgiving, and just this year I recall seeing it as early as pre-Halloween.

I’ve always heard people gripe about how Christmas stuff comes out on shelves earlier and earlier each year. This year my first thought was to do the same thing, and gripe. But wait. Just wait…. Maybe, just maybe, this is a good thing. As a kid the holidays seem to last forever and that’s partially because we have no responsibilities. We don’t have bills or jobs, or obligations. We’re out of school for a month with nothing to do but play and have fun and soak in the holiday spirit.

We’re usually so busy making Christmas, we often forget to slow down and take the time to enjoy Christmas.

But as an adult, I do have responsibilities. A ton of them. And a demanding job, and taxes, my fair share of bills, and dozens of obligations. On top of that, we’re (adults) the ones planning events, driving, decorating, buying gifts, and coordinating these massive family events that youngins can enjoy. As adults, we’re tasked with bringing the magic, so that kids can enjoy it. There is no winter break for adults. We’re usually so busy making Christmas, we often forget to slow down and take the time to enjoy Christmas.

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I am now making a deliberate effort to hit the breaks and enjoy the season. And I slowly start to realize that maybe Christmas in November, Christmas in October is a good thing because it gives us all more of an opportunity to let the holiday spirit truly sink in. In this day and age of political correctness and faith shaming, I am happy to still see Christmas large and alive this time of the year, even if in it’s corporatized, secularized manifestation. A little bit of Christmas, a plastic Christmas, is still better than no Christmas at all.  Maybe what this world needs is a little more Christmas. As I get older, and time flies faster, I welcome Christmas in July.

Maybe what this world needs is a little more Christmas. As I get older, and time flies faster, I welcome Christmas in July.

I want to thank everyone for reading this far. I want to thank all those friends and family members and absolute strangers who read my blog posts regularly, follow me, share my posts, and encourage me to keep writing.

Thank you God, for the opportunity you have given all of us, myself included.

Merry Christmas everyone. I love you all.

Thankful 2015

As with most of my posts I meant to do this a couple days ago, and it seems a little ill-timed that I would write a Thankgiving-esque posted 4 days after Thanksgiving. But it’s still November, so back off!

I am glad though, that I delayed, because I got to do and experience a few more things to be grateful for that otherwise might not have made its way into this.

First off all, 2015 has been my busiest year ever. Not just the typical sensation that this year flew by faster than the others. In fact 2015 to me was so busy that this year has actually felt slower, which is a blessing in itself.

Friends

My friends take the cake this year. As we all grow older, it tends to become more difficult to spend quality time with our friends. This was certainly the case for me, and I would have loved to have spent more time with my friends. But again as with getting older, perhaps the biggest lesson I have to learn is that friendship (and most things in life) is about quality, not quantity. The number of regular faces has declined, as people grow up, move away, get occupied, and grow apart. The relationships that remain intact become even more impressive, and important, and I am very grateful to have the friends that I do.

One friend and I spent over two months just trying to find an hour or two to grab a quick beer and shoot the shit, but an ever demanding schedule made it nearly impossible for either of us to land squarely on a date and time. We finally did, and the experience was that much more rewarding. What’s impressive though is that in this day of impersonal communication, this friend actually called me, called me, at least once a week to chit chat on the phone, catch up, and just rant like we used to in the old days. As precipitous as these phone calls were, both unexpected, short, and without forum, they were awesome and heartwarming.

I am very grateful for my friends, all of them. And to/in honor of those friends, here’s a quick list of inside jokes and anonymous shout outs.

You know I’ll show up with the shovel. Whose car we taking?

Yarggg! Ye scurvy scum! Give us all yer rubbing alcohol and lemonade! Yarrr

Water plant with cry!

Annndddrrrreeeeeeeeeewwwww

Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym. Those who can’t teach gym work for the government.

AAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Accomplishments

2015 was a hodgepodge of accomplishments that I am quite proud of and thankful for.

Professionally, 2015 was incredibly rewarding. Business has been booming and as stressful as it is, I am eternally grateful. I always figured that it I have to choose between be stressed over having too little work, and being stressed over having too much work, I choose the latter. So many people are struggling to find work, to find clients, and I would take my 60 hour weeks over that any day. Yes I’m busy, but I’m also thriving and I wouldn’t give it up, and I won’t even hint at bad mouthing it. Never stop being thankful for your blessings, because when you do, life has a knack for taking them away.

I’ve hit 1,000 clients, which is a huge milestone for me, especially considering I’ve only been doing this for about 5 years. Just 2 years ago I remember trying to make it to 300, which know seems like a humbling experience, and makes me all the more thankful.

I’m thankful that my job allows me a degree of autonomy and freedom. And as childish as this sounds, I am thankful I am able to come to work in my PJs, and keep beers in my office mini-fridge next to my Avengers poster and bobble-head Groot figurine.

That job I’m thankful for allowed me to accomplish something else, homeownership. I didn’t blast it on social media but as of November 13 I am a happy homeowner!

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I could go on for days about the things I am thankful, but I’m hungry so I’m gonna cut this short. I’ve thankful for my health, for my friends, for my family, for my eternally shedding and drooling dog, for my job and professional success, for my accomplishments, for living in San Diego, for Oreos, and for comic book movies. I’m thankful for a lot of things, I am thankful if you read this post.

My Life Insurance Experience

It’s 5:41 in the morning and I just finished my life insurance “paramed” exam. To the uninitiated, when you take out a life insurance policy, the insurance company sends someone to meet with you, and check your health using a variety of questions, diagnostics, etc. This process is called the paramed, or para medical examination. My examiner was a nice guy named Tony, who arrived at my front door around 5:15 AM.

What to Expect

It was a pretty easy process. Here’s a quick rundown of what we did:

  • Check height
  • Check weight
  • Check blood pressure
  • Check pulse
  • Measure chest
  • Measure waist (it felt like I was being measured for a tailored suit)
  • Collect urine sample
  • Collect blood sample
  • Ask a bunch of questions about my health, medications, and the health of my blood related family members

Early Bird Special

The early bird slot wasn’t randomly assigned to me. I opted to get the early appointment for a reason. Your body isn’t as compressed in the morning as it is after a whole day of walking, running, driving, and sitting. You also usually use the facilities before going to bed. Basically, you’re taller and you weigh less, so it helps with your height to weight ratios Even if just a little, it makes you appear healthier, which can be the difference between one rate class and another, if your health is on the edge. I’m healthy as a horse according to Tony, but still, why risk it?

Also, you are usually calmer in the morning, not having endured 8 hours of stressful work, and 2 hours of stressful traffic, plus whatever other chores life throws your way. So your pulse and blood pressure will ready healthier results in the morning, than they would if you did the exam after clocking out of work, or sitting in rush hour.

Urine or You’re Out

They do require a urine sample for most life insurance paramed exams. Unless you are getting a super small $10,000 “funeral policy” as we call it, they’ll want to get some indicator of your health.

Make sure you drink water in the 4 to 8 hours leading up to your exam. If you don’t provide a urine sample then and there, they will have to reschedule the exam.

I had a problem with this part of my exam. No, no. My problem wasn’t performance related. It was actually that I had to pee really freakin’ bad, and had to hold it. Whether I wake up at 7AM, noon, or 5AM, using the john is the first part of my morning routine. My dude was running about 15 minutes late, and it had me bouncing on my tippy toes like a 6 year old waiting in like to use a porta potty.

When Tony arrived at my door I politely asked if we could do the urine part first and he obliged. I have the feeling it was not his first time being asked.

Bloody Mary

The blood part is super easy. I know a lot of people are a bit squeamish when it comes to getting their blood drawn. If you’ve ever donated blood you know that needle is the size of a 7 Eleven Slurpee straw.

The needle they use for donating blood is a 16 or 18 gauge (1.27-1.65mm outer diameter).

The needle they use for the paramed is about 21 or 22 gauge, which despite the larger number actually means it’s considerably smaller and less intrusive. It’s about 0.82mmm or 0.03 inches, smaller than most pencil lead.

Don’t worry, unlike giving blood the needle is in and out. I think it took about 15 seconds to get all the blood they needed.

I did not, to my disappointment, get a Ninja Turtle Band-Aid and a lollipop. I’m writing a stern letter to management over that one.

Ermahergd! Lerlyperps! Muh fervert!

Do Yourself a Favor

Here are some things I recommend you do to make the process of obtaining life insurance and the paramed easier for you, and get this, your kids too.

Clothing

Come prepared. Make sure that you are wearing light clothing, or easily removable clothing. Mine was at the crack of dawn, so I was still in my PJs. But remember that every ounce counts, and they don’t deduct the weight of shoes, your cellphone, etc. So make sure to empty your pockets and strip down as much as possible for your weight measurement.

Medication

If you are taking any medication, instead of making a list or stumbling to remember everything just bring all the prescription bottles with you to the exam. The examiner will make sure to notate everything for you. They’re the professional. Let them do the hard work.

Environment

Do NOT have your exam in a stressful place. So don’t have your kids running around wreaking havoc while the examiner is reading your blood pressure. It’ll mess with your results. Meet someplace private, away from stressors and distractions, and of course, some place where you can pee. So avoid the zen-filled park down the street.

Think About the Children!

I’m going to take this in a direction you probably didn’t think of. Yes, many people get life insurance to help take care of their kids in the event of the worst. But that’s not what I mean.

Many life insurance policies let you pay a little extra to add your kids on to the policy as well. So they might have a little $5,000 or $10,000 policy on them too. The benefit to this is that when your kids reach a certain age, like 18 or 25, they have the option of converting their policy to a big-boy policy like you have.

Most companies that offer this product don’t require the kids to get a paramed exam of their own. Basically, if you add your kids on to your life insurance policy, they don’t have to jump through all the hoops that you did. On top of that, they get locked into a particular health category. So if your kid started on your policy at 7 when they were super healthy, developed diabetes at age 15, and then converted to their own policy at 18, they don’t have to worry about being up-rated, because they started their life insurance when, and are being rated as if they are healthy. The only thing that they will be charged more for is aging.

I’m 99.9% certain on this, so I will make a few inquiries and find out, and retract/modify anything in this post later on if I am incorrect.

Get a Life… Insurance Policy

No seriously, you really ought to. Same thing I mentioned earlier about the kid, applies to you. A lot of people don’t even consider life insurance until too late. They think they are too young and even if they are married, if they were to die their spouse still has plenty of time to remarry, or get a job, etc.

Get a policy as soon as you can before any health conditions kick in like diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, or even an STD. Again, you’ll be locked into the risk category the policy was written at.

Plus, if you actually get a decent whole life policy there are a ton of benefits. They let you squirrel away money tax free. They have the ability to grow in value over long periods of time, especially if you have a universal or variable policy. You can borrow against your own life insurance policy if it has a built up a cash value, which pretty much acts as a miniature banking account that you can borrow from with no penalties and no obligation to ever pay it back. Many people borrow against their own life insurance policies to help their kids pay for things like their first home, or their grand-kids’ college.

Some of them kick in early if you suffer a terrible accident or are expected to die soon. For example a $500,000 policy might kick in $250,000 while the insured is still alive but are expected to not make it very long due to a medical condition. This can make the final hours much easier for the insured and their family (paying for travel expenses of family members to visit, hospice care, etc). And then the final $250,000 is paid out after departing.

And finally, many of them have Long Term Care riders built in to them. The life expectancy of Americans are getting longer and longer and more of us are expected to life into old age. To quote the Wall Street Journal, “more than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” Sources. Individual LTC policies can be pricey, but you can save a ton by bundling it with your life insurance.

Alright, I’m done. It’s getting late – 6:38AM. So I gotta get going. But thank you for reading. I hope you learned something interesting or two and chuckled a bit. And if you are curious about life insurance and live in California, message me.

Thank You, and Paying It Forward

This will be a quick post as I have work this morning but it’s past due.

Last weekend I was taking my dog Major into the self-groomers at Petco Unleashed for some father son bonding time. I’ve been there about 3 times before with Major, and this was nothing special. Except that this time Major decided to leave a present in the trunk of my Xterra before we got there. Being as I didn’t get him as a puppy, I suspect he’s 9-10 years old now and even though he’s not quite yet incontinent, car trips sometimes leave us with a steamy mess of Major.

Last weekend was also blazing hot, about 96 in La Mesa, so when I arrived at the parking lot of Petco I had to clean up the mess as quickly as possible. Naturally Major had lost his footing during the ride and managed to get it everywhere. I had no one to hold the leash so I tied him to my rims while he rested under the Xterra for some shade while I cleaned up the mess. I was short on cleaning supplies, and was having a lot of difficulty.

Then backup arrived. A woman approached me in the parking lot, nice as ever, and saw I was having some difficulty. She had three kids with her to boot. It was a hot day, and I was a stranger, covered in filth, accompanied by a menacing looking dog. For convenience, for fear of being assaulted by a strange man, or bit by a huge dog, she could have continued on her way, but she approached anyways and asked if I could use any help.

We chit chatted for a minute or so. She understood my situation as she was a dog lover, and had just gone through the horrible experience of euthanizing two older dogs herself, earlier in the year. She hustled to her car, and without being asking she returned bearing gifts. She had a full roll of paper towels and a pack of baby/cleaning wipes. It wasn’t a steam cleaner but it was 100x better than what I was working with, and it spared me a lot of stress, embarrassment, and sweat as I sat there in the sizzling blacktop parking lot desperately trying to clean crap out of my car, with my poor dog trying to escape the heat by hiding under it.

It was incredibly helpful, and my day could have been a lot worse had it not been for that lady’s help. To the unknown mother of three who helped me and more importantly, helped my dog when we needed it, THANK YOU SO MUCH. You made my day. You made my week. And I will always remember and be grateful for what you did.

Paying it forward

Last night I had the opportunity to pay it forward, and maybe coincidentally, or maybe by fate, I happened to be with Major again when it happened.

I was taking Major on his evening walk, and there was a guy across the street crawled under his car, clearly working on something. He had his front tires jacked up, and whatever he was doing you can tell he looked a little flustered. The sun was setting and though the sky was still rosy pink and orange, it was dark out, and I could only imagine how dark it was under the car. I didn’t think too much of it, and went on my walk.

About 40 minutes later as our walk was winding down and I was going back home, I saw the guy was still out there, under his car. It had gotten much darker, and he was holding his cell phone in his mouth as a makeshift flashlight. His wife/girlfriend sitting on the curb next to him.

I took Major inside and grabbed this funky kick-stand flashlight thing. It seems gimmicky and like something I never thought would serve a purpose, but it earned it’s stripes last night. I walked out and approached the couple and asked if he could use any help, and handed him the flashlight. The man, already flustered, had a slight sigh of relief when he no longer had to wrestle with his wrench while balancing a flashlight. I crawled under the car with him to see what he was having difficulty with. Turns out all he needed was a 3/8 inch socket extender, which I have an army of. I ran back home and a minute later the guy was making some real progress on replacing his water pump. He said he could take it from there.

I woke up this morning and the flashlight and tool were sitting next to each other right by my front door, and the car was gone. Hope it all worked out brother.

Trainwreck: Movie Review

It’s about fucking time! Trainwreck is the raunchy, inappropriate, horrible, tasteless, repulsive, guilty-pleasure, gut-busting comedy I have been waiting all my life for.

I’ve written quite a few movie reviews recently about all types of movies; action, horror, comedy, drama, satire, crime thriller, sci-fi, and cult classic. Sometimes you get movies you thought would be great, but greatly disappointed *cough* Ultron *cough*. But other times you get movies you thought would be a train wreck, and instead you get Trainwreck. Despite the title, this movie is anything but.

No duh, I thought the movie would be funny. A comedy movie starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, how could it not be funny? But I didn’t expect it to be the funniest movie I have seen in years. I dare to say it’s the funniest movie of the decade, maybe this century.

The combination of Judd Apatow directing and Amy Schumer writing as well as starring in the movie is amazing. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time! The entire movie is over the top funny from the get-go, but somehow never crosses that line into campy territory. Trainwreck walks that fine line of as funny as you can possibly get without being stupid.

The entire cast pulls their weight in this movie and I was blown away by the sheer number of cameos and guest appearances.

It goes without saying that Amy Schumer was amazing. If you like her comedy skits and her television show then you’ll go crazy over Trainwreck, which is Amy Schumer x 10, her magnum opus. Amy Schumer essentially plays a parody of her cinematic self, named Amy, naturally. As a young kid her father (perfectly played by Colin Quinn) warned her and her sister about the dangers of monogamy after a failed marriage with his wife/Amy’s mother. The young Amy took her father’s advice to heart and heeded his warnings well into adulthood, purposefully avoiding lasting relationships. Her shameless romp through New York comes to a screeching halt when she falls in love with Aaron (Bill Hader), a nice guy doctor who is the centerpiece for her latest work assignment at a sleazy tabloid company. The story follows Amy as she struggles to find a meaningful relationship while still heeding her father’s warning.

Most movies feel like the Breakfast Club, where you have the jock, the princess, the nerd, the bad boy, the outcast, etc. What I appreciate about Judd Apatow is his ability to craft a well-rounded ensemble of characters without resorting to caricature archetypes.

Bill Hader brings a solid performance. Hader looks like a normal guy and maybe he is, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be funny, charming, smart, sincere, emotionally intelligent, and occasionally score a shot on LeBron James. The onscreen chemistry between Hader and Shumer is awesome, and it feels fun and natural to see them spar and dance on screen.

When I said there were a lot of cameos, I meant it. The movie features Colin Quinn, LeBron James, John Cena, Dave Attell, Tilda Swinton (who looks nothing like Tilda Swinton), Randall Park, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei, Method Man, Tim Meadows, Matthew Broderick, Marv Albert, and Chris Evert. And every single of one of them killed it!

Colin Quinn plays an aging, philandering, swearing, drunk Irishman marvelously.

LeBron James might not be Oscar material but despite playing himself he’s still 10x the actor Kristin Stewart will ever be, and had some of the funniest lines in the entire movie and somehow managed them without so much as a smirk.

(Call me an asshole but) This is the first time I’ve seen a movie where I would say Tilda Swinton looked bangin’ hot. She too fabulously plays her role as a bitchy New York columnist.

John Cena, John Cena. Where do I even begin with John Cena… Mad props to Cena for taking on this role as he’ll be the butt of his friend’s jokes for years to come. If you’ve ever seen the movie, think Eminem in the opening scene of The Interview.

They couldn’t have picked a better title for the movie. Trainwreck describes the movie and Amy perfectly, as her life careens out of control from one disaster of a relationship to the next. And just like a train wreck, the movie is horrible but you just can’t help but look on. The movie really is horrible. By that I mean that the acting is great, the directing is great, the story is great, but the humor is devious and I’m probably going to hell for enjoying it.

The movie is so hilariously offensive to everyone, but so innocently portrayed that you can’t help but love it, like Cartman. Men, women, straights and gays, kids and the elderly, blacks, whites, Puerto Ricans, Asians, effeminate men, millionaires and street beggars, no one was spared and no mercy was given. The movie was a parade of profanity, stereotypes, and other things mere mortals dare not whisper in public, like Voldemort. Trainwreck is everything that’s wrong in the world but throughout the entire movie I was busting up laughing begging for more, MORE!!!! You do get more, plenty of it. In fact it’s also super long for a comedy, stretching just over two hours. I usually relegate comedies to movies I only watch when they are at Redbox or rerunning on TV, but this movie is the exception. This movie is officially on my list of guilty pleasures, but as Billy Joel once said, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.”

Despite the outlandishness of it all, the movie comes together amazingly well. The weight of real life doesn’t get lost in the story, and the characters all deal with very real problems that the audience can relate to. In true Apatow fashion the movie delves into the inner sanctum of modern life such as arguments with your loved one over trivial things that won’t matter in a couple hours, kids, step kids, marriage, death, pregnancy, family, parenting, careers, friendship, and occasionally snorting lines of adderall off peoples foreheads.

I want – nay – I must see Trainwreck again. It was just that good! In fact, I might even buy it when it comes out on DVD. Mom and dad if you’re reading this, Christmas is just around the corner. Can you say stocking stuffer?

I give it a solid 9/10.

Mission Valley AMC Theater, Tuesday Matinee, just $6.49 per adult!
Mission Valley AMC Theater, Tuesday Matinee, just $6.49 per adult!