Sunshine kills my work day…

I’m out on location and we are experiencing some beautiful sunshine here in the Seattle area. Usually on days like these, I would blow off work. Instead, I embrace it with open arms. Why should I enjoy an awesome day like today?

I should stay inside and close the drapes.

In reality, I want the sun. Ah, sunshine come here my elusive lover. How you tease me!

I may complain a great deal about our rainy Northwest weather but today is not one of those days. I just wish I was caught up on my work so I could skip out of work. Instead, I’m playing catch up with digital images and I’m out on location (outside) for another 45 minutes.

I also hate writing and posting from my phone on WordPress. It is so cumbersome, I mess up on my tags, I get lost in the interface menu. I feel like an idiot. I blame it on the sun.

Have a great afternoon. Sorry, that I would be able to offer any worthless advice today….the sunshine had zapped my powers of sarcasm.


Dad & Daughter Roller Coaster Trip Day 3: Magic Mountain

X2 roller coaster - Flickr photo
X2 roller coaster – Flickr photo

You knew I’d milk this roller coaster trip on forever in my blog posts didn’t you?  On our third day of our adventure, we bid farewell to the City of Sacramento and flew on Southwest Airlines to Burbank Airport in the Los Angeles area.  I do like flying into the smaller airports because it is easier to get in and out in a timely manner.  Both Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines flew into Burbank Airport so this worked out well for us since our return flight back to Seattle was departing from Burbank.When I was planning this trip, I wanted to fly in as close as I could to Six Flag’s Magic Mountain Park and Burbank was the closest major airport for me.  My original plan was to fly into Sacramento, rent a car, visit friends in the Sacramento area, do the Six Flag’s Discovery Park, and then drive to Magic Mountain.  That plan fell apart when the cheapest rate I could find on any rental car website or kayak or hotwire or anything was close to $800 for a short five or six day rental.  It was expensive due to the fact I was picking the rental car up in one city and returning it in another.  My original plan also produced a lot more driving and car time that we wanted to do.  We are vacation for the rides not to be taken for a ride by the rental car companies.

We used Fox Rent a Car which had some terrible reviews online but we fine for us.  It was a short ride from the airport to the rental car company base.  We got a sporty little four door Mazda 2 with only 500 miles on it.  Not a bad little car for the two of us.  I thought about having my daughter drive it but considering she is only 11 years old and it would be her first time in LA traffic, I decided against it.Aww! Sunshine!

Now, when you are visiting amusement parks in February Six Flag’s system of parks might not be open seven days a week.  So our only window to visit Magic Mountain was on Monday February 17 (President’s Day).  The park hours are limited as well from 10:30 am to 6 pm and the water rides are usually shut down.

Since we had purchased season passes at Discovery Kingdom the day before, we merely had to park our car for the outrageous sum of $20 and walk though the main gates of Magic Mountain without purchasing new tickets.  I remember passing by Magic Mountain 20 years ago thinking I’d get to it one day.  Finally, this day had come.  Finally, I had a kid who wanted to ride the big scary rides.  Finally, I had a roller coaster ride partner that wouldn’t wimp out on me.  I was finally here.

To be honest, I like coming on the off season because the lines are much shorter.  The newer rides had the longest rides which ate up a lot of our time.  X2 is the latest redesigned ride and it was awesome but the line took forever.  When a sign says the wait will be 45 minutes, that is OK.  When it turns into 75 minutes, then I get a little pissed off.  We didn’t make it to the Full Throttle ride because we ran out of time and the ride looked scary long.  In fact, we had to skip some rides due to running out of time and having to ration our time for the rides that we heard were awesome.  However, on others we rode it three times just because we could.  Goliath, Tatsu, and X2 were my favorites.  I tried to look up my daughter’s favorite ride but the Magic Mountain website is down (sorry folks!).

Waiting for X2 - almost there!
Waiting for X2 – almost there!

Definitely need to have two days at Magic Mountain (even in the off season) to get to all the rides into your schedule.  I can’t imagine how it is on a busy summer day with more people wandering the park, trying to get in as much as possible.  The lines have to be almost impossible.  We didn’t even get to the wooden roller coasters since they aren’t my favorites because we ran out of time.  Personally, I like the speed and loops of steel roller coasters so skipping the wooden ones wasn’t an issue for me.

As anyways, your comments and sarcastic witty comments are welcome.


First Day of School! Happiness returns to my Home!

Back to School!Today was the first day of school for the Kent School District here in the rainy Puget Sound area.  To be honest, I cannot remember any first day of school being so rainy.  Sure, maybe we did have a rainy day on Kauai when I was a kid but usually in the Seattle area we luck out with no rain on the first day of school.  Most years, we enjoy a nice September of great sunny weather (and wish our kids were out of school in September instead of rainy June).  Last year, we had awesome sunny weather until October 1st.

That doesn’t mean that our Labor Day Weekend is always good.  We’ve had Labor Day Weekends full of solid, miserable rain where we were stuck in the lake house the whole three day weekend.  On the bright side, this upcoming Labor Day Weekend is looking fairly good according to the TV weather folks.

Yet happiness has returned to our household with the first day of school.  Over the summer, the kids did argue and have a few fights.  I know that is shocking considering what an awesome father I am and how well behaved my children are.  I also may have forgotten to feed my daughter lunch a few times during the summer.  But in my defense, she is 10 and knows how to make a sandwich.  Besides, I was doing yard projects and my hands were dirty….well, not really I wear gloves…gotta keep my hands soft.

The kids returning back to school is always a mixed bag for me.  I like having my kids around but I need them to go back before I go nuts.  The internet and Xbox can only entertain your kids so much during the summer before you actually have to do something with them.  You know, take them to a beach, do a vacation together, etc.

However, our summer is now over.  It just blew by in a hasty mess of activities, summer camps, vacations, and trips and still left me with the feeling that I didn’t do enough with my kids.

So for the next 9 months of school, I’ll plan a really fun summer of 2014.  We’ll do a bunch of hiking, road trips, vacations, river rafting, and stay weeks on end at fancy resorts paid by my hugely successful Blog of Worthless Advice!  So hit that “Like” button now.  Make some insane comments and have your cute photo below this post!

Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes!

As I was stepping out of the bathroom this morning, I was informed by my wife that our daughter needed a new pair of shoes. These things happen. Children grow, they need new shoes. No big deal.

It wouldn’t be a big deal except she needed new shoes NOW. Really? Right now? It is 8:23 am and they are leaving for school at 8:25 am. She really needs a new pair of shoes in the next two minutes? This really couldn’t wait? What is the emergency?

Apparently, someone left her shoes out on the porch where the rain could reach them. After the tremendous downpour we had this past weekend (and today), her shoes were not just a little damp; they were soaked. I’m thinking to myself: Just have her wear another pair of shoes. What is the big deal, right? She has other pairs of shoes, boots, slippers, whatever. She could have worn her boots except for the fact that she broke those on Saturday night while we were walking in Seattle. And it appears that all of her other shoes are now too small for her never ending and continuously growing feet. What about her snow boots? Yes, snow boots! She just wore those with all the recent snow we had! It snowed only two weeks ago! I don’t have to make a trip to the shoe store! I’m saved!

No dice. The snow boots were a wee bit tight as well. She probably could have gotten frostbite because her feet where stuffed in them and her blood wasn’t circulating correctly. Details, details.

OK, after my less than enthusiastic acceptance of being the parent who has to drag their kid to the shoe store on a Monday morning, my daughter and I head out on the quest for new shoes. Mind you, I hate clothes and shoe shopping. I hate it with a passion. I hate it with every bone in my body. I hate the driving to the store, the walking into the store, the trying on of the clothes, the matching this shirt with those pants, the changing of the outfit into a different outfit, the returning of the first pile of clothes, the bringing back of more clothes to try on…you get my point, right? I hate it. And now I have to go with my daughter on a shopping trip? I can’t stand going with my wife shopping and now I have to go with my daughter? This is the same daughter that argues me with me about which gum she wants to buy and we spend fifteen long (very long minutes…minutes I’ll never get back) minutes looking at gum in which to purchase? It is a pack of gum! It shouldn’t take fifteen minutes to decide!

However, this trip is for a pair of shoes only. No add ons, no additional accessories, no skirts or tops to go with the shoes. Shoes Only! Clear, obtainable goals!

On top of this, we also need to get to school before they send in the lunch orders or I have to bring a lunch from home during my daughter’s lunch period (when I’m suppose to be working). We now have a time deadline on our shoe quest to add more stress to this mess. First, I hate shopping. Second, I now have a time deadline, and third, I haven’t a clue on what size shoe or style of shoe. Lucky, for me (or perhaps unlucky for me), my daughter pretty much knows what she wants. Let’s just pray that she doesn’t want the $95 Nike shoes or the piece of junk “pretty” shoes that won’t last two weeks yet cost more than the pair of Nike shoes.

So what can make this worse? My daughter actually feels terrible about me having to do this. She keeps apologizing about making me miss work. She’s sorry that I have to spend money on her to buy a new pair of shoes. She feels bad that I have to do it when usually Mom likes to do these things. She says she’ll pick the cheapest shoes. OK, now I feel like a real jerk. My poor daughter has all this guilt because of these stupid shoes. I do tell her that it isn’t a big deal, that she needs new shoes anyway, however, I didn’t want to be making a shoe shopping trip during school hours on a Monday morning. I mean, I look like a terrible parent waiting until the last minute to outfit his daughter in a new pair of shoes. I can see people looking at me and thinking: What kind of father waits until his child is headed to school to purchase her shoes? Doesn’t he care?

I need to spin this back onto my daughter. I ask her why she didn’t put her shoes inside. Well, she had dog poop on her shoes. Good reason. However, that is why you wash off the dog poop outside with the hose and then put the shoes by the front door. She knows perfectly well that her shoes need to be right by the front door, under the porch roof. For God’s sake, she’s eight years old already. If she lived in a Third World country she’d be making her 15th pair of shoes by 9:15 already and working for 15 cents an hour, 12 hour days, six days a week. No wonder our country is going downhill.

We get to the local Kent Fred Meyer store and walk into a very clean and well organized shoe department. We find the girl’s shoes area. She likes a pair of purple Nike shoes (on sale) but they are a bit tight. She then tries on a pair of blue New Balance and they feel better. She likes the blue running shoes and they are on sale as well. YES! We head to the cashier, who then tells us that they have another coupon for an additional 15% off. Double YES!

We walk out of there with a new pair of shoes for about $32 and in about 15 minutes time. Not super great but not bad on price and the time spent in the store was acceptable. We make it safely to school. She is a bit late but still manages to get her lunch order in under the deadline. Sweet deal! We part ways on good terms and I’m back off home to get some Photoshop work done. Not a bad morning for an idiot father who hates shopping….now it is time for a nap!

I am wrong.

I was wrong, I am wrong, and I’ll be wrong in the future. I have made mistakes and I’ll continue to make mistakes. I’m not perfect. And I’m sorry that I have made mistakes that have hurt people and the mistakes I’ll make in the future that will hurt people.

One of my greatest regrets is my failed relationship with my stepson that has lead to his current path of destruction. I’m not perfect and I made mistakes in how I raised him. However, I do remember that I had a very tough relationship with my father when I was a teenager. My brother also had a tough relationship with our father when he was a teenager. Mind you, my father and I never came to physical blows and I never had any physical confrontations with my stepson either. It was a verbal disagreements and heated discussions between my father and me. I think my stepson just doesn’t believe that I do love him; I just don’t love the choices he is making.

Am I to blame for all the problems my stepson has? Did I cause him to do poorly in school? Over the years, I went to a lot of parent teacher conferences, paid for math tutoring, sent him to summer school, and encouraged him to switch schools to complete his schooling. We went to Cub Scout camp together and canoed on Cooper Lake. We had some really times over the years.

One of my favorite moments I have of him is when after three years of his basketball team loses every game, they won! You would have thought they won the NBA Championship! It was a wonderful game to watch.

Was I to blame for him blowing off work? Did I not set a good example as an owner of a small business? Where did he think our home came from? How did he think we paid for his bedroom? He never had to share a room with his little brother or sister while he was growing up. He had his own bathroom and didn’t have to share it.

How did we pay for our family trips to Disneyland and Hawaii? Did we do it by skipping school, sleeping in, and not having a job?

So now I really have to dig deeper to find the answers. How did he come to hate me so much? Am I really that bad of a parent? Should I have put my foot down harder? All I asked was to pass high school and have a job (any job). When that didn’t happen, I wasn’t the one who kicked him out of our house. I must admit, I didn’t lobby for him to stay either. Seriously, one has to make an effort to do something…complete school, find a job, etc.

Tough love is hard. I can still love him but I refuse to accept his bad behavior. Things will improve and he will turn his life around. I have the belief that he will become a better person.

Psst! I final got a blog entry for you to read!

Hey, it’s a new year and I’m finally getting around to posting a new blog entry,  what a way to build that readership up to high levels!  Maybe, I’ll get a whole two new readers.  In fact, I gave my grandma one of my old computers and made the opening page on here search engine my blog page!  Now she is forced to be one of my readers!  Only 6 billion people more to go….

What have I been up to lately?

As you know, I split my interests between photography, reading, and real estate.  Once in a while the three major interests of my life converge together in a most interesting way.  This hasn’t happened to me recently so I don’t have a great story to tell you, however, I did have one of my clients’ homes sell and close this month.  We are looking for a new home for them in the Fairwood/Renton area of Washington.  There are a great deal of homes for sale and there definitely is no lack of inventory to see.  One of our greatest challenges is finding a house with a fairly nice kitchen, a decent size backyard, and a decent master bedroom and master bathroom.  We are looking in the $300K to $430K price range.

Now, this would be easy but once you get into the upper price range, the houses do get large in size: 2800-3500 sq ft.  There are only three people in the family so that house size is extreme.  The smaller and cheaper houses tend to have less square footage and less upgrades making them less appealing.

Add   this mix falling values and overpriced homes, a narrow search area, and you get a lot of homes to look at that don’t quite fit the bill.

You want to know a secret?  I love looking at homes!  I love seeing the layouts, the landscaping, the extras people have added to their homes.  It is fun stuff!  The best part is hanging out with people you enjoy while looking at houses…it is addicting….like Facebook.  Speaking of Facebook, I’m in a dry and sober mode now.  I haven’t been checking out Facebook or updating my Facebook page and I feel free!

Of course, now with a new blog entry I have to post it on Facebook.  Hmm, a problem.

I can log on for just a minute…I can get through it…I can resist to urge to stay of Facebook for hours and hours….I can do this!