The great blogster.

I haven’t been so motivated lately when it comes to working on the website or posting on the blog. I don’t know why, but I guess I’ve been too busy. Camping at Sequoia, mom visiting, dad visiting, planning for the wedding, etc. I even forgot to post these picturse from my dad’s visit:

  All of the above pictures were taken at the San Juan Capistrano Mission. My dad and I had gone to two of the twenty one Californian missions. San Juan Capistrano, the seventh mission, was founded in November of 1776 (the same year our infant country separated from British rule after creating the Declaration of Independence). Friar Junipero Serra setup San Juan Capistrano along with another 8 missions. I enjoyed this mission more than the one at San Luis Rey (see pictures from a previous post) because it was a lot more festive. There was a Mexican band jamming on a stage in front of lots of tables full of people having lunch and talking. The one picture of me standing in front of a hole in this little room was where wine was supposedly first made in California.

I hope I’ll have a chance to see some more of these missions and do a little reading on their history. The other missions close to where we live are San Diego de Alcala, San Gabriel Arcangel, San Fernando Rey de Espana, and San Buenaventura.

This morning Jean and I got up and headed towards LA to visit the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley. It was about 75 miles away, and my car troubles continued when a tractor trailer slung something up at my car that took a quarter sized chuck out of my front windsheild. This comes a few weeks after Big-O Tires in Ontario (4th Street in beside I-15 and Ontario Mills Mall) failed to fill or even check any of my car’s fluid levels during a routine oil change, causing my windsheild wiper fluid pump to burn up when the reservoir ran dry. I have now purchased a $56 pump and plan on having Big-O install it for “free” on Monday.

We finally made it to the Reagan Library and Museum around 11am, and we spent about 4 hours watching videos and checking out displays on his life. His museum was well done – informative and fun. We learned a lot about Reagan, and Jean expressed a new respect for the Great Communicator. I personally thought about how our country has gone to hell since his presidency, and I don’t blame Clinton for most of it, but the current president, GW Bush. The museum had quotes and videos where Reagan said the US doesn’t ever start wars and that we proceed with caution and understanding into conflicts, he expressed how important it was to engage our foes (his was Russia instead of the current “Axis of Evil” – Syria, Iran, North Korea, which Bush refuses to meet with), and he basically wanted to lead the American people by lowering taxes so they’d keep more of their money and also he wanted the government to play a limited role by simply protecting the American people. There were no policies that had the FBI/CIA spying on American citizens, there wasn’t billions of dollars being spent on a pre-emptive war based on lies, there wasn’t neglect of internal problems (he helped farmers, whereas Bush ignored Katrina victims), etc.

I believe Reagan was the best modern President. He listened to the American people and truly wanted what was best for our country. Jean was impressed by his expressions of love for his wife, Nancy. Jean also got a kick out of the fact that Reagan was a Democrat for a long time, and idolized FDR and believed in his social policies = especially the New Deal. Unfortunately, I think one of Reagan’s greatest accomplishments is one of the main reasons we find ourselves in our current dire situation. Had Reagan not upset the world balance – East vs West, US vs Russia, we wouldn’t have so many fanatical Islamic problems. Russia would still be trying to contain countries like Afghanistan, and we wouldn’t be allowed or most likely even consider occupying any countries that close to our nemesis. Russia counter-balanced the US, and the collapse of the Soviet Union has allowed a single country to emerge as the sole global power and move towards imperialism. I wish the world wasn’t moving towards a global ecomony, I wish Russia still controlled all the “former Soviet Republics” that are now Islamic countries (Kazakhstan, Tajikstan, etc), and I wish the US weren’t setting itself up for defeat after showing the rest of the world what bullies we are…

Now that I’ve stepped off my soapbox, here are some pictures of Jean and I at the Reagan Museum:

  It was pretty cool getting to walk through the actual Air Force One plane Reagan used, but I only took 2-3 pictures while in the plane since Jean kept telling me to put my camera away because she thought the signs saying “ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOGRAPHY” and all the little security cameras were serious. I didn’t get tackled by the Secret Service, and now I have my very own shot of the “situation room” area of Reagan’s Air Force One, woohoo! Also, right after Jean took the picture of my in front of Air Force One, an older couple came up and asked if I was from Alabama. I guess the ‘Bama’ shirt and UA hat gave me away. I told them we were from Alabama and we had gone to school in Tuscaloosa, and we chatted for a second until they said something like I should be wearing orange and blue. I shot them a bird and told them where to go, followed by a “Roll Tide!”… Just kidding, I laughed and thought to myself that these two should be tipping over cows in Opelika instead of checking out Air Force One in SoCal. 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll be waiting around the condo while our fix-it man re-groutes the tile in the upstairs bathroom. Jean had cut her foot on it a few weeks ago so I called the landlord about getting it repaired.

Look at the links to the right and use the “Contact Me” link to let me know if you prefer the little thumbnails for pictures in the blogs or if I should always post pictures to display like the ones in the website picture areas (like this).

Roll Tide!

Time to let the air out of the spare bed…

Today we let the air out of our “spare bed”, the blow-up mattress in the second bedroom, because our second guest has gone home… My dad left this morning to go back to Hiltonhead, and we aren’t expecting any more visitors for a while.

I had a really good time with my dad. We talked and laughed about things a lot. I am already looking forward to seeing him in Prague in another five months.

Thank you mom and dad for coming out here to visit us, we enjoyed spending time with both of you!

Both of my parents had time to shop for their favorite items while Jean and I were working; my dad went to the largest second-hand bookstore in the country, which is in Long Beach, and my mom shopped around for quilting fabrics at 10-15 different stores. I am pretty surprised that I’ve managed to not find myself at a beading store for three weeks now!!

Since life is back to normal now, Jean and I have other things we need to get done, like finishing up with our wedding plans. We have now signed and mailed off our contract, but we haven’t made the initial deposit because these wedding planners haven’t returned our emails in the past three days. Hopefully I’ll hear back from them tomorrow, and then we will start working on finding a hotel in Paris.

We are still going to see a taping of Two And A Half Men in two and a half weeks from today. I am still headed to Birmingham in September, and I will be buying Jean’s ticket to go to B’ham in November sometime in the next week. I also still plan on going to San Francisco in October, even though I haven’t heard anything else about it from my boss. Other than that, I think Jean and I will start doing a little more camping and hiking starting in September. I have to work over the Thanksgiving holiday, so no big plans for that, but I’m off for four days at Christmas before we leave for Prague. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing for Christmas, but we’ve already started tossing around ideas – camping in Baja, Vegas, or maybe a cabin up at Big Bear.

I have a long story about a fiasco with my oil change place that I’ll describe in my next entry, and it’s looking like Jean will be quitting her job once again when we leave for our wedding since they aren’t going to give her time off. She did buy a book on Microsoft Excel and plans on studying so she can get a job involving more detailed data entry and reporting using spreadsheets and databases. Maybe I’ll wipe out the cobwebs and give her a hand since I used to poke around on computers a wee bit.

Adios from Mexifornia!

Week with pop.

We’ve been busy since my dad got in town last Thursday, and I hope to post some details about what we’ve been doing sometime today or tomorrow… Here are some pictures from the past week:

Temecula trip to “A Course in Miracles”

Between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach

California Missions (San Juan Capistrano and San Luis Rey)

Towtrucks, Laguna Beach, and a little more training.

A lot has happened since my last post. Besides the obvious things like the fact that we watched Big Brother and hate Jen, my boss wants to send me to some training in October. He called me last Friday and said I was going to a class in San Francisco in October, so I’m excited about that (this happened before my last post, but I didn’t write about it b/c so many other things were going on). I hope Jean will be able to get off work because I’ll be staying in a really sweet Japanese style hotel near the wharf.

We also had a bit of a run-in with our crazy neighbor. She has continued to harass us since we moved in, but this week she has finally pissed me off. Normally Carolyn gets really upset with her, and I just tell Jean to calm down and ignore her. I posted a letter a few months ago that she wrote after the fish was thrown in the trash dumpster. Today she put another note on our door (I’ll be scanning and posting it soon). My mom rented a car Sunday evening, and Monday morning the tire was flat so she had the spare put on and returned it for a different car before going out all day and then coming home and parking it in front of our condo. Yesterday she left in the morning once again and returned in the evening and parked in front of the condo. The car had been parked out front for 1.5 days, and this morning Carolyn found a note ONLY on our door while walking the dogs at 5am. The note said that a silver car had been parked out front for 3 days and if someone didn’t tell her it was their’s then she was going to call the Ontario Police to have it towed.

I called the Ontario Police and they said they don’t tow from private property. I checked the neighborhood convenants that I signed when we rented this place, and they don’t say anything about having to notify our busy-body neighbor, who is the secretary of the neighborhood association, when we have visitors. It is absolutely none of her damn business who visits us or what they drive. I will sue her if she has a visitor of mine’s car towed, and I will be filing a police report this weekend to report her harrassment. Being the neighborhood association secretary is hardly the same as a California State Legislator, and she has no right to threaten people if they don’t report to her. She has asked for our phone number in the past, as well as keys to our apartment. She has asked multiple times for us to tell her when we have people visiting so she’ll know what cars should be there. She has put letters on our door saying when we must throw out trash and how to do it (double bag pet waste). These are not any of her business. She needs to worry about the abandoned vehicle she owns that hasn’t moved in the nine months we’ve been here, about letting her dog roam around the complex without being on a leash, smoking in front of our bedroom window so our condo stinks, and generally harrassing and threatening everyone in the complex.

PHEW! Anyhow, I’ve devoted way too much energy into this idiot and her craziness today. After I got off work, my mom took Jean and I to Outback for dinner, and then we headed to Laguna Beach in Orange County to watch the sunset. It was beautiful… The pictures below are of our two hours at Laguna Beach, except one that is of another one of Mountain Avenue’s nuts… We saw this guy walking down the street at the Holt intersection and all three did a double-take. I pulled a u-turn and we pulled up beside him so my mom could get a picture of his provocative t-shirt. Enjoy.

OC Fair

This morning my mom and I went to the Orange County Fair while Carolyn went to work. The fairgrounds are huge, and they have tons of events. We didn’t see but maybe half of the place during our three hours there, but it was fun.

They had all kinds of animals, mostly livestock, and lots of vegetables growing in a garden area. It was neat to see what all the different crops look like, and I got to pet a baby camel and pick up a tiny chickadee.

We didn’t ride any rides, but there were a ton of them. The smells were great once you left the livestock area because there were hundreds of food stalls, serving everything from turkey legs and 1/4 pound hot dogs to Krispy Kreme chicken sandwiches and fried Cokes. I had never heard of a deep fried twinkie…

We saw lots of great photos that were on exhibit, and watched a glass-blower and some pottery guys working on their crafts. I bought Jean some beads/necklaces, myself a Hawaiian shirt, and Charlie a little hat. My mom bought Riley a little pirate coat-hanger.

I think I’ll be heading back to the OC Fair once my dad gets in town, and hopefully Jean will go that time. I can’t wait to go with my kids in a few more years.. Here are some pictures from today:

City of Angels and costumed heros.

My mom didn’t get in until 11:30pm on Thursday night, and after she got her luggage and made her way outside of the terminal, it was 12:20am on Friday! The airport traffic at LAX was unbelieveable – 5 lanes completely packed at midnight through all 6 or 7 terminals. We got back to the condo around 1:05am, and I think she has decided that she’ll be flying into Ontario next time.

I went to work on Friday and when I got home we basically ate dinner and watched a couple of my RTW trip DVDs and then went to bed.

Today we got up and headed into LA. We started by going to the Santa Monica Pier. The Santa Monica Pier is right in front of you when I-10 deadends into the Pacific Coast Highway (the “1”). We got there around 10am, and then we immediately checked out the menus at three of the different restaurants. The restaurant at the end of the pier is Mexican, one of the seafood restaurants only had fried stuff, so we settled for the chain restaurant, Bubba Gumps. I had been to one with my dad in San Francisco and we hated it, and I’d been to one in Tokyo with Mark Bryan and we really enjoyed it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The meal was pretty good, but the service was terrible – sloooooow. Here are some pictures from this part of our day:

  We played a few games of skeeball, my mom won, Jean came in second, and I was pathetic. After that, we drove down the PCH through Malibu and then headed to Hollywood. We got off the 405 at Sunset Boulevard, took a right, and drove through two of the ritziest areas in the Los Angeles area, Bel Air and Beverly Hills. We bought two different maps that show where the stars live, and as we drove down Sunset Blvd, we pulled off on a few side streets to see the past homes of Elizabeth Taylor, Ronald Reagan, and Aaron Spelling. We also saw the current homes of Debra Messing, Nick Cage, and the Playboy Mansion. We took pictures of what you can see through Aaron Spelling’s front gate – he’s dead, but his house is 56,000 square feet. We also snapped a picture of the Playboy Mansion gate.

After we made it through those areas, we took a little detour to drive down Rodeo Drive. We saw 4 Ferraris, 5 Bentleys, 1 Rolls Royce, and 2 Lotus’ within the 15 minutes it took us to drive the 2 miles down through the shopping area and back to Sunset. Here are a few pictures taken while driving down Rodeo:

  Our last stop was Hollywood Boulevard, to see the standard weekend circus and famous sights. We parked under Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Kodak Theater, where the Oscars use to be held and where they are currently held each year. There are always tons of people dressed up as different movie and television characters out there, posing for pictures. We saw no less than 4 Captain Jack Sparrows from Pirates of the Caribbean, and even a Sponge Bob Squarepants. The Chelsea football (soccer) team from the UK was parked right in front of the Chinese Theater, passing out little soccer balls to the crowd. Carolyn got into the mix to try and get us one, but Super Man was catching all the ones that came in her vacinity and handing them to children. It’s hard to leap higher than Super Man, so I was very proud of her effort even though she didn’t get one. We walked all the way down to the Pig ‘n Whistle, and even stopped for a second to listen to the Scientologists try to persuade people passing by that Dianetics is the word of truth, spoken by the Almighty L. Ron Hubbard. Here are some pictures from Hollywood Blvd:

  We finally called it a day, and drove about 20 miles per hour on the 10 for a long time before we decided to take Azusa Ave down to the 60, where we then drove about 10 miles per hour all the way back to Ontario. It took around 2 hours to get back. We looked at a few model homes in Chino and then came home and grilled a few steaks before my mom went to sleep and I started working on this blog post.

Tomorrow we’re planning on going to the Orange County Fair after Carolyn gets home from church.

First week with the parents

Over the next two weeks, my parents will be visiting us. My mom gets in tonight, and then next Thursday I drop her off in the morning and pick my dad up in the afternoon. I’m really looking forward to seeing them and doing some fun things around SoCal.

I haven’t really decided what we’ll be doing while they’re here, but it’ll be fun. When my parents were here last year, we did all sorts of stuff – drive around LA, Joshua Tree, Las Vegas, etc. I’m planning on going to the Orange County Fair at least once, and maybe to the Santa Monica Pier for breakfast and a little skeeball.

Jean’s on the phone right now with her brother, Kenny, and just found out that he and his wife are expecting twins. Jean sounds like she’s more excited than Kenny probably is… She’s yelling about how happy she is, and I know she can’t wait for our kids to play with their’s some day in the not so distant future.

I also bought myself a ticket to go to Birmingham over the Labor Day weekend. I’ll get to see my sister’s new baby, my grandparents, and Riley! Jean pretends like she’s doing me a favor by not going, acting like she decided not to go to save us money. The real reason she’s not going is because she’d prefer to in November if she’s only going back once because her family is having a big birthday party for one of her aunts (Marie).

Tonight is another episode of Big Brother 8, and then I’ll be off to LAX to pick my mother up.

Oh yea, last night I got tickets for Jean and I to go to a taping of Two and Half Men soon, so that should be pretty fun. When we went to tapings of King of Queens and Last Comic Standing last year we had a lot of fun, plus you get to see a little bit of the studios.

Congratulations, Ellen!

My cousin, Ellen, just got married this past week. I wasn’t able to go because I’ve used more than my allowed vacation this year. I wish I could have gone because my dad’s pictures from the week in Kentucky looked fun. They went to Churchill Downs for a little horse-racing, and the wedding looked like a lot of fun too.

Here are some pictures from the wedding:

  One of my favorite pictures is the one of Ellen with her brother, Bobby, who has grown up SO much since I last saw him two years ago. My other favorite is the one of my dad with his brothers (Paul and Maurice) and sister (Mary Jean), but where was Nancy??

Another one of my cousins, Jon, is serving with the Army in Iraq right now, and has been keeping the family updated over the past year. Here are some pictures he’s sent:

  This morning the lead article on Yahoo! was about how city officials in Paris are creating a new program to try and get the citizens of Paris to be less “arrogant”. I wonder if my favorite event planner, Nicolas, is one of the main targets of this effort. I did find a few pictures of this guy, and almost fell out of my chair laughing because he looks like the scrawny little turd I expected him to be… He sure does talk a big game when he’s 5000 miles away. His final email said, “My friend, come to see me in Paris, and I’ll make your life a nightmare. You don’t know who I am in France. You don’t know what are the successes of my books… You don’t know nothing about me.” I do know he’s a 28 year old arrogant Frenchman who has pissed me off, and I plan on taking him up on his offer and paying him a visit when I’m in Paris this winter to see about this “nightmare” he’s promising. My money says he won’t be so brazen when I’m standing in his face telling him what a joke I think he is…


Now that is a big tree.

We’re back from Sequoia. It took us about 6 hours each way, but it would have been more like 5 hours on the way back except that we stopped for a bead store (thanks to the McArdle’s for their help!) and also to pick up Charlie and Tank.

We had never driven up through central California, but there were two things that really stuck out to me:

(1) it is even hotter in central California than in southern California
(2) there is an enormous amount of agriculture in the central valleys

The weather up in Sequoia was perfect. Clear skies and around 78F all day and then mid-sixties at night.

Carolyn and I were a little apprehensive about the bear situation. I had read about needing to put all your food in a bear locker on each campsite, and Carolyn asked me about 50 questions about this bear locker before we got there. When we checked in at the kiosk in front of the Lodgepole Campground, this ranger (like 75 years old) asked if we had camped around black bears before. I told him, “not that I’ve known of, but maybe.” He said the good news was that black bears aren’t man-eaters, but the bad news is they’ll confront you for your food and that a 250lb bear can be very dangerous. I asked what was the chance of us actually seeing a bear, and he quickly answered “very good”. We never saw one.

The old ranger did say that you’ll get a very close encounter with a bear if you keep a muffin in your tent. He also said to lift your arms above your head and scream to look bigger than you are and they’ll usually run off. He said his wife chased one “up the hill” a few months ago, and said he didn’t hear very well (pointing to his hearing aids) and said his camping neighbors had told him before that bears had come right through his campsite while he was sitting there and hadn’t noticed them because he didn’t hear them…

We put up our tent Friday evening, and cooked dinner because we were starving. After dinner we sat around the fire for a few hours and then called it a day. The next day we woke up and cooked breakfast, then drove to the General Grant Tree area to see the third largest tree in the world (by volume). We were staying only 1-3 miles from the largest tree in the world, General Sherman, but never actually went to see it because when we passed by the parking lot on our way into the park, there were lots of people there.. The General Grant area was almost deserted, and we were able to get lots of pictures without a crowd of people in front of the trees.

The sequoia trees are VERY impressive. You pass through a huge forest of them on your way into the park, and even though they’re huge, they aren’t nearly as big as some of the ones in the General Grant or General Sherman areas. The General Grant tree’s base has a 40 foot diameter. That means this single tree is 40 feet thick! Forty feet is about 4 feet shy of being a 4 story building… A sign in front of the tree says that with it’s base circumference of 107 feet, it would take 20 adults holding hands to make a complete circle around the tree.

The pictures don’t do these trees justice because the famous ones sit about 35-40 feet back from a fenced trail. You can walk up to the smaller ones (8-10 ft diameter) in the Sequoia Forest. We weren’t ever really able to fit an entire sequoia into our camera frames because they were so enormous and you couldn’t get far enough away because other trees would then block the view. I did take 3-4 pictures of three different trees and then try to make a panoramic picture out of them, but they aren’t perfect. You can check out pictures from our trip here.

Finally, as promised, here is the latest exchange with the French idiot savant event planner. There is explicit langauge, and you should read from the bottom up.

Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 21:46:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: “Matt Bxxxx” <> Add to Address Subject: Re: Your ceremony
To: “Nicolas Gxxxxxx” <>
Dear hard-working Nicolas,

You are an idiot. I did not ask you to work for me, but to simply quote a package. After talking to event planners in three different countries for the past 4 months, you are the only retard to say you are owed anything. Of course tourists want chateaus, and that is why the French market them so heavily, because tourism is the only thing making money for your country. You should be thanking every tourist you see for keeping your economy afloat.

“Maybe you know better the french market than me ?” – Yes, I obviously do… You are, quite simply put, a liar and unable to do even a mediocre job at a menial profession.

As far as your “lawyer” goes, either you are lying once again, or your “lawyer” is as educated as you seem to think you are… I owe you nothing, as there was no contract. This is true under both French and American law. Perhaps you should fire this lawyer for giving you bad information, that is, if he actually exists.

Regarding your “book”, I’d be surprised if more than your editor and your mother actually purchased it. As far as the law goes, you may wish to run your last statements by this “lawyer” of yours because publishing something inflammatory about a non-public figure is a libelous act, for which someone can successfully sue. You are very obviously not educated, as your grammar and spelling are terrible. It is also very obvious to me that you have shit for brains because you think I am obligated to purchase an over-priced package from you simply because you responded to a few emails.

I will not be responding to any more of your emails, but adding you to my “spam” list at this point because you are a dumbass and a waste of my time. Please go look at yourself in the mirror and continue to pretend that you are important.

In closing, please consider the attached picture as a cover for your next best-selling novel, you turd.

Bowing to Nicolas the scandalous retard,


— Nicolas Gxxxxxx
<> wrote:

> One thing you must understand : you can’t ask someone to work for free for
> you. In France, that’s doen’t work like that. Yes, I sell romantic surprise.
> No, I’m not a wedding planner. I help the men to do a surprise for their
> wife, I don’t organize weddings. That’s why I proposed you one of my
> packages, but you was prefering a Chateau (like
> tourist who prefer “clichés”). Yes I was in contact with the
> photographer !!!!!! Yes, offering you the car, my revenue should have been about 90
> euros ! But maybe you know better the french market than me ?
> I contacted my lawyer, and he confirms you’ll have
> to pay all my work.
> In France, I’m the author of a book which made a
> scandal for speaking about
> people without any educations :
> … amp;sr=8-2
> I’ll speak about you in my next volume.
> Your termes “bullshit”, “ass”, are a scandal. When
> you’ll be in France, come
> to see me, I”ll explain you what “education” means.
> NG
> —– Original Message —–
> From: “Matt Bxxxx” <>
> To: “Nicolas Gxxxxxx”
> <>
> Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2007 11:23 PM
> Subject: Re: Your ceremony
> > Nicolas,
> >
> > I have tried to be very civil with you through your
> > ridiculous claims that you have worked hard for me,
> > but I feel that I must set you straight at this point
> > because you have continued to antagonize me while I
> > have said NOTHING rude to you.
> >
> > I had absolutely no faith in your company after you
> > bluntly stated that I am the first person you have
> > ever had to do work for because normally people just
> > choose a package from your website without you doing
> > any work. You took pictures directly off the website
> > for the chateau and never bothered contacting the
> > photographer directly. You either lied when you
> > claimed that you would make only 90 Euros for the
> > package, or you are getting terrible deals from your
> > vendors because I was quoted the EXACT same package
> > from another event coordinator for 840 Euros less!
> >
> > I believe you are a lazy and rude liar, and think
> > you are in the wrong business if you believe sending
> > 5-10 emails and spending 30 minutes to 1 hour of work
> > for a possible profit of hundreds of Euros is anything
> > exceptional. I would like to reciprocate your claim
> > that you “hate that kind of behaviour” because I hate
> > your behavior. You think you’ve done me some huge
> > favor to respond to a few emails and copy a few
> > pictures off a website, and then you’re rude because I
> > have additional questions. I do NOT owe you my
> > business simply because you responded to my emails.
> >
> > As for this fee that you think I owe you, we had
> > absolutely no contract at any point and you can take
> > your bullshit claim that you’ve “worked” for me and
> > stick it directly up your rude ass.
> >
> > Best Regards to a very hard working man,
> >
> > Matt
> >
> > — Nicolas Gxxxxxx
> > <> wrote:
> >
> >> Matt,
> >>
> >> If I had not sent you this email, should you send me
> >> an email or did you give me only a response because I sent you an email ?
> >>
> >> I would have appreciated a “thank you” in your
> >> message. I worked hours and
> >> hours for you. That’s not serious at all. You have
> >> no respect for my work !!!! I hate that kind of behaviour.
> >>
> >> I’ll send you a fee for all the work I did for you.
> >>
> >> Regards,
> >>
> >> Nicolas
> >>
> >> —– Original Message —–
> >> From: “Matt Bxxxxx” <>
> >> To: “Nicolas Gxxxxxx” <>
> >> Sent: Wednesday, July 04, 2007 10:33 PM
> >> Subject: Re: Your ceremony
> >>
> >>
> >> > Dear Nicolas,
> >> >
> >> > We decided not to use your company for our
> >> wedding.
> >> >
> >> > Regards,
> >> >
> >> > Matt Bxxxx
> >> >
> >> > — Nicolas Garreau
> >> > <> wrote:
> >> >
> >> >> Dear Matt,
> >> >>
> >> >> Did you take you decision about the ceremony ?
> >> >>
> >> >>
> >> >> Kind regards,
> >> >>
> >> >> Nicolas Gxxxxxx


Headed to the land of the giant trees…

Today was supposedly the hottest day of this scorching week.. It was supposed to get near 105F in Ontario, and I can assure you it felt much hotter when I was standing on a roll grinder trying to get some screen captures of a program that’s acting strange.

Jean and I went shopping for our camping food after we got home, which is almost entirely beef and fish since we’re on the Atkins diet. We also stopped by Target to pick up some tent stakes since I destroyed a few when trying to pound them into the hard dirt at Bryce Canyon last year. One our way shopping, we saw the king of all homeless guys. Normally there are tons of homeless men and women standing at the bottom of the exit ramp from the I10 at Mountain Avenue, where I get off every day after work. You can usually find another 2-4 bums stumbling along or resting in the grass between the I10 and Mission Boulevard about 8-10 blocks south. This guy was standing completely still in front of his buggy with a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on his head when we went past him the first time. I did a double take and cursed myself for the next five minutes while we walked around Albertson’s because I didn’t have my camera in the car.

After we got groceries, Jean and I were driving slowly down Mountain Ave on our way home, hoping we’d spot him again, and as luck would have it, there he was on only a few steps from where we’d seen him 40 minutes earlier. I rushed home, picked up one of our digital cameras, and flew back to the $0.99 store, where he was waiting for me on a little bench. I pulled up next to him and rolled down my window and called him over to our truck, and then gave him a dollar. He thanked me and walked away and I began to take pictures. On my way out of the parking lot I made a chirping sound so he’d look my way, and then I got one of his face. I felt bad for the guy, but it’s hard to consider his dignity with that bucket of chicken on his head…

Jean and I got home, loaded the truck up with camping gear, filled our coolers with ice, water, and food before watching one of our favorite shows. I think our favorite is The Amazing Race, and then Big Brother is a close second. It will be coming on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

Tomorrow I’m dropping Jean off at work, taking the dogs to their weekend getaway (PetsHotel in a PetSmart down in City of Industry), and then I’ll finish getting us ready before picking Carolyn up at noon. We’ll be heading straight to Sequoia – about 5 hours away, northeast of Bakersfield and about 35 miles southwest of Fresno. Hopefully we won’t have a close encounter with any bears, but I would like to see some from a distance.

I’m hoping to stop in Burbank on the way home to go to the newly remodeled “Kwik-E-Mart”. Eleven 7-Elevens have been morphed into Kwik-E-Marts to promote the upcoming Simpsons movie. The remodeled stores are in:

Burbank, CA — 1611 West Olive Avenue
Chicago, IL — 6754 W. 63rd Street
Dallas, TX — 6833 Northwest Highway
Denver, CO — 303 Broadway
Lake Buena Vista, FL/Orlando, FL — 12298 Apopka-Vineland Road
Las Vegas, NV/Henderson, NV — 1400 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway
Los Angeles, CA — 11143 Venice Boulevard
New York City, NY — 345 W. 42nd Street
San Francisco, CA/Mountain View, CA — 1380 Pear Avenue
Seattle, WA — 362 Denny Way
Washington, DC/Bladensburg, MD — 4199 Kenilworth Avenue

Today I also updated both the Delhi and Istanbul sections of the RTW photos.

On another subject, Carolyn and I have decided on a wedding package, and we love it. We’re supposed to make the initial deposit by next Tuesday, and after that I’ll post some details/pictures. I do have a pretty funny email exchange with the knucklehead frog who insisted that I purchase his overpriced wedding package because he had worked himself ragged by sending me 7 or 8 emails. I’ll post it on Sunday night after I respond to his latest nonsense. He is certainly the stereotypical Frenchman: rude, pretentious, egotistical, yet ignorant.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Firecrackers, naps, and more pictures!

The Fourth of July was uneventful. I went to work, Jean ran errands to get us ready for our camping trip, and then we did nothing all evening except take a nap. I did notice something odd on the way to work – there was almost NO traffic at 7:15am on the I10. It was almost creepy, like there had been a nuclear holocaust and I was 1 of 5 remaining people alive.. Out of 14 lanes of traffic across the freeway (west bound and east bound combined), there were maybe 4-5 cars in sight in all directions for most of my ride. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I did get some pictures with my cell phone which I’ll try to post as soon as I find the cable that came with the phone. I have seen more traffic on that road in the middle of the night and on Sunday mornings. There were quite a few firecrackers going off from about 8pm-11pm, and I hope nobody started a huge brush fire given the extremely dry conditions out here right now.

I did upload a bunch more pictures to the next few RTW photo sections:

Varanasi, India
Agra, India

The more I look at some of the pictures, the more I love them, especially some of Jean’s… I’m glad we both had digital cameras on the trip because it’s interesting to see her perspective versus mine on the same subjects. I look at her’s sometimes and think, “why didn’t I look at it from that angle”.

Also, an interesting story about the Kumari Devi, child goddess, in Kathmandu was on Yahoo! today. I wrote about her in one of my blogs, and posted some pictures from when Jean and I walked around in her little temple/house right in the main Durbar Square in Kathmandu.

Happy 4th of July!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Fourth of July, and grilling out, relaxing on a lake, or just spending time with the family. I’ll be in a steaming hot steel mill all day, and Carolyn will be doing a little shopping to get us ready for our weekend excursion. Since Carolyn and I started on the Atkins diet yesterday, we won’t be bar-b-queing any ribs today…

Last night I stayed up and added a ton of new pictures to half of the Round-the-World photos areas:

Hong Kong
Macau – newly added section

I’ll be adding more to the other sections later this week. I had noticed that there weren’t that many pictures in the photo sections after I had opened a flickr account earlier this week. There are TONS of great photos on flickr, but I don’t care for their navigation system – it’s too slow.

Well I’m off to work so I can leave at a reasonable hour today.

Happy to be independent from British rule,


Its getting hot in here.

Summer is definitely here; it was 102F when I got off work around 4pm. It gets pretty hot in our condo, and the AC seems like it’s running 24hrs a day. I’m not looking forward to the electric bill…

I haven’t posted in almost a week, so I have a few articles to post:

The US Senate blocked the ridiculous immigration bill last week. I’m glad our idiot President didn’t get his way by granting amnesty to the estimated 12 million criminals in the US.

Lennar, a huge US housing developer with vacant homes all over southern California, reported huge losses last week. This is the first article I’ve read the shows in dollars how much these companies are losing due to the collapse of the housing market after years of grossly inflated prices. Jean and I are still hoping to walk into a nice new home for $200-$250k in another year or so… Companies can only lose $240 million dollars per quarter for so long before they’ll slash prices.

A guy who has made some great travel videos that I’ve posted on my blog, Matt Harding, had an article written about him on Yahoo! today that told about how famous he’s become. The best news in the article is that Matt is on a third trip right now and his next video will focus on people from around the world instead of places.

Jean and I didn’t do too much over the weekend, but I did take her down to Orange to visit one of her favorite bead stores, Beads Beads. She bought a pile of seed beads, and spent the rest of the weekend downstairs beading. We also went to see Ratatouille this weekend. Ratatouille (pronounced “Rat-a-tooey”) is Pixar’s newest film about a rat living in Paris who has a gift of cooking due to his above-average senses of smell and taste. He doesn’t fit in with his rat family or with humans, but finds his way to success. Jean and I have really enjoyed other Pixar films, especially Finding Nemo.

We have finally decided on where we’ll be staying in Prague: Hotel Merlin. We actually found some cheaper hostels in Prague, but they were further away from the center of the city and the pictures weren’t as appealing. Most hotels we heard back from were ridiculously expensive though – $150-$210 per night for a little double bedroom in a 2-3 star hotel.

We still haven’t heard back from the wedding planner with the package we really like, but that schmuck Nicolas emailed me again this morning asking if I’ve made a decision to use his company or not. I haven’t responded because I still need to calm down some before responding to people that piss me off. I’ve been trying really hard lately not to be a jerk to people that aggravate me. I wasn’t so successful this morning though, when a headhunter I had talked to in 2005 emailed me for a second time in the past week. Here’s the latest email and my response:

Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2007 13:07:10 -0700 (PDT)
From: “Matt B” <b***_***_*****>
Subject: Re: Networking Note: 7/02/07
To: “Gary F********” <g*********@****-*****.***>

This is the second email within two weeks that I’ve
received from you. Please take me off your mailing
list, as you never returned my phone calls over a
three month period while I was looking for a job in
2005, so I have no interest in contacting you for
needs within my company.


— Gary F******** <g*********@****-*****.***> wrote:

> Matt,
> Good afternoon. I am writing this note to my
> networking group to let you know that I appreciate
> all the referrals that you have made when I have
> asked for assistance. I have met and gotten to know
> a lot of exceptional talent lately in the Pipe &
> Tube Industry as a result. Many of these contacts,
> as well as those that I have known for years, have
> expressed an interest in finding their next
> opportunity for career growth and I also want to let
> you know that I am currently representing
> individuals from a very wide functional skillset.
> In case any of you are aware of needs within your
> company for talent from our industry, from VP
> Operations to Front Line Supervisors, please pop me
> a note or give me a call and we can talk about the
> need. There is simply too much outstanding talent to
> detail in this email.
> Again, thank you and I look forward to hearing from
> you soon.
> Best Regards,
> Gary

I also changed where the dogs will be spending this next weekend because the knucklehead girl working for our vet wasn’t helpful as I repeatedly explained that I don’t want our dogs to stay in an outdoor run this weekend while Carolyn and I are gone camping in Sequoia. She finally broke down and said they could stay in one of the indoor rooms but that they’d go outside for 3-4 hours during the afternoons so the staff could clean their cages. I explained, to no avail, that I didn’t want them outside for 3-4 hours during the height of the afternoon sun with temperatures soaring to 105F this weekend. She couldn’t get it through her thick head that I wanted these indoor dogs indoors to stay out of the heat. Why would I keep arbitrating for them to stay indoors if only from 4pm-10am, when it’s 75-90F, but not mind them being outside from 10am-4pm when it’s the hottest it gets? They’re now staying somewhere that will have them indoors the entire time, but the cost doubled. At least I know they’ll be comfortable while we’re gone…

I’m pretty excited about camping because we haven’t been in a long time. I’m also excited about driving up through central California because I’ve never seen any of it. We’ll be going through Bakersfield and turning off the highway only 25-35 miles short of Fresno.

Today did have a highlight because I got my passport back with tons of new visa pages. I’m writing a letter to the State Department asking for my money back because their website said expedited service would get your passport processed in 3 days for a $60 fee. My check went through on June 18th (passport and check received June 14th), and they mailed it back to me on June 30th – 16 days after receiving it.