Monday, February 27, 2006

Temecu-Gras

Saturday was the wine tour, and we had a great time. Our Mardi Gras theme was very popular with the other wine tourists, and we made a lot of new friends along the way.





Sonya and Kenny were definitely in the spirit.












Veronica, Kieran and I enjoyed the chocolate shot.














Here we are, causing a commotion.















I think this picture shows how we were really feeling, after visiting three wineries!


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Another busy weekend ahead

This coming weekend is the annual Temecula wine tour, and it is going to be bigger than ever. We have nearly 30 people aboard the limo bus, so it should be a rockin' good time. And did I mention the theme this year is Mardi Gras? Oh yeah. I like to think of it as a warm-up for Tuesday night - Fat Tuesday - when I will be at the Hillcrest Mardi Gras celebration for my third consecutive year.
 
Sheesh. Is it any wonder I am exhausted all of the time? Every weekend is busy, week nights are now filling up, and and there is just way more that I want to do. Ugh.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New York, New York

What an incredible weekend it was! Brenda and I really made the most of our brief trip to the Big Apple.
  • Toured the Empire State Building
  • Had great center orchestra seats for Rent
  • Ran a cross country 4K on Saturday in the Bronx
  • Toured Brooklyn and the Promenade in the Heights
  • Had good seats for a fantastic performance of Mamma Mia
  • Enjoyed Irish music and drinks at the Rosie O'Grady saloon
  • Toured the World Trade Center Site
  • Back to the Bronx for a second cross country 4K on Sunday
  • Explored Central Park and the waterfront areas
  • Had fantastic second row seats for Stomp
  • Walked the entire lower area of Manhattan
  • Danced on the giant piano at F.A.O. Schwarz

Despite the temperatures dropping down to 1 degree with wind chill, we had a great time in the city. We planned a bit of our trip in advance - the 4Ks and the shows - but the rest of our time was spent just walking through the streets. All and all, a great weekend vacation!

Brenda and I in Brooklyn, enjoying a beautiful sunset.

Van Courtland Park - Vanny - where the cross country events were held. In the background is the start of Cemetery Hill, which was tough to climb in the below-freezing weather.

The view of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Promenade.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Brrr.

I am spending this upcoming holiday weekend with my best friend, Brenda. We are both flying into New York for a long weekend of all the good stuff: running two 4K races, seeing three Broadway shows, eating food from every street vendor we see, and some great sightseeting. Mostly, though, the weekend is just about two long-time friends enjoying being with each other.

I am looking forward to the trip, but imagine my surprise when I returned from the desert Sunday night to see the headlines - "New York under record snowfall!" Yikes. Last weekend I was playing around in a t-shirt and shorts, enjoying a warm sunny day. This next weekend? The forecast calls for rain Friday, then cold and windy all weekend. Oh, and the temperatures are going to be somewhere around 35degs. Brrr.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Glamis Weekend

I was hoping for a fun, relaxing weekend out in the desert, and I got it. In fact, I don't think things could have gone any better. Thanks to Trevor and Russ for playing hosts, to Jarod and Megan for being so much fun, and of course to Greg, for being the guy with the know-how to fix Jarod's quad. It was a great time and we cannot wait to get out and do it again.

Check out http://woofsd.com/ATV.html for more pictures at Ric's website. The sand dunes out there are huge, but we stayed on relatively flat ground. We are beginners, after all, and you do not want to be out there riding beyond your experience level. We will keep at it, though, and soon we will be cresting the huge dunes!

John

Ric

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Up at all hours

I can always tell when I let work stress get to me. I go to sleep late, wake up early, and end up feeling tired all day long. Today, Thursday, I woke up at 4:00am and can't get back to sleep.

What I need is a Runaway Day. One day, in the next couple of weeks, Ric and I are going to play hooky from work. Maybe we will drive up to Big Bear so Ric can ski and I can lounge around in the clubhouse reading a book. Oooh, that sounds good.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

So much to do, so little time.

I know this is self-inflicted, but I am always amazed at how busy Ric and I are. Our next several weekends look like this:
  • Feb 11-12, off-roading in Glamis
  • Feb 17-20, John in New York and Ric in Mammoth
  • Feb 25 - Temecula wine tour
  • Mar 4-5, diving in La Jolla and Coronados
  • Mar 11-12, house party and art exhibit
  • Apr 1-2, Phoenix Gay Pride
  • Apr 22-23, Catalina Islands dive trip
  • Apr 28-30, San Diego Rodeo

At what point are we able to take some time at the house and finish our projects? Sheesh. Our winter was supposed to be a bit slower, so we could work on the back bathroom, finish the bedroom renovation, etc. Yikes. Before we know it, Spring will be here and we will be even busier. Man, I need a vacation.

Monday, February 6, 2006

"It does not suck to be me."

I use that phrase often, usually when I am in the middle of something fun. I take a moment to look around, see my friends having a great time, and I remind myself how great my life is. I know that not everyone is able to get out and do the things they want to do, so I know that I am a pretty lucky guy.

Specifically, I realize how fortunate I am to be able to get outside and enjoy so many cool things. Living in San Diego helps, since we have year round access to so many fun places. And, of course, I owe a big thank you to my friends, who constantly and willingly say "sure" when I ask if they want to do something a little different. I definitely have a great life!







Rockclimbing in Joshua Tree
















Running my first 5k in Chicago















Skydiving













Whitewater rafting on the Kern River










SCUBA diving with sea lions at the Coronado Islands














Offroading in Woofy, Ric's jeep (and pride and joy)








Motorcycle riding along the Pacific Coast











Quad riding in Glamis

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Finally, I am a PADI certified SCUBA diver!

Today was the final day of diving, and things went great. The Coronado Islands were a beautiful place to dive, the boat crew was super friendly, and the day was perfect. I don't know what else I could have asked for. I will write more later, but after two long days of diving, it is all I can do to keep my eyes open right now.

PADI Diver! Whoo-Hoo!

Here I am with a starfish I found on the bottom of the ocean near the Coronado Islands. It was much heavier than I thought it would be.

Here is Ric, watching as dozens of sea lions swim around him. They would come right up, look you in the eyes, then spin around and quickly swim away. It was incredible!

These are some of the hundreds of sea lions that were swimming all around us.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Another weekend, another chance to dive

After struggling with my sinuses for over a week, I was finally able to dive today. I had my first two beach dives, and everything went well. I was so tired after walking all the way to the beach, swimming way out on the surface, then diving. I came home by 1pm and was immediately sound asleep. I napped until 4:00pm, then Bridgette and I went back to the dive shop for a little more practice "clearing masks."

After a couple of attempts, I finally figured out what I was doing wrong. I changed the way I remove my mask when trying to flood it, and the difference is amazing. I can now partially flood my mask, fully flood my mask, and completely remove the mask, then clear it by blowing air into it. I feel so much more comfortable now with the whole process. Whew.

Tomorrow, we are all heading out on a boat and going diving at the Coronado Islands. We will be heading down to 60 feet, and the visibility should be so great. More pictures later, but for now I need to go to sleep. Tomorrow is a long, long day.

John, at the surface















Here I am floating on the surface, tired from the dive but having a great time.

Nate and Bridgette















My friends, Nate and Bridgette, flew in from Phoenix to finish their SCUBA certification dives. Here they are, at the surface, after the first dive.

John's turn, into the deep


Here I am on my first SCUBA dive in the open water, twenty-five feet down at La Jolla Shores.

Friday, February 3, 2006

Beautiful Thing

Last night we went to the Diversionary Theater to see Beautiful Thing. It was a fantastic show, about two London lads who fall in love with each other. And the Brit chick who thinks she is Mama Cass? Too funny.

The production closes on Feb 5th, but you can always rent the DVD. The film is great, too, and very true to the play.

Joseph Panwitz (Ste) and Matt Barrs (Jaime)

Dance like no one is watching...

One Step Closer

Yesterday was a very good day, indeed. I went back to the Dive Shop in the afternoon, for another attempt at completing my pool qualification dives. This time, I was able to clear with no problem, and I made it through all of the skills. Next up is a beach dive from La Jolla Shores tomorrow, then deeper water boat dives at the Coronado Islands on Sunday. And, my friends Nate and Bridgette have been taking SCUBA classes in Phoenix, and they are flying in to join us for the open water dives this weekend. How cool is that?

We are bringing cameras with us on the dives, so we should have some great pictures to post by Sunday night. I am a little nervous about this weekend, but I just need to stay calm, remember my training, and enjoy the experience. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

That's it. I quit.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved arguing. Not fighting, but arguing. Discussing differences of opinion, even in a heated fashion. Debate that challenged my opinions and beliefs. Exchanging facts and forecasting implications and consequences. Religion. Politics. Sexuality. No topic was off-limits.

But there was always one constant in these discussions: respect. Respect for differences, respect for opinions, and respect for the truth. Unfortunately, I dont see that anymore. Instead, I see an unbelievable ignorance and callous disregard for the most basic of civilities.

What am I talking about, exactly? I am stunned by people I know smart, intelligent, compassionate people who demonstrate absolutely none of those qualities when talking about issues that divide the Right from the Left. Ask them about anything negative involving the President or the Republican Party, and they begin to parrot the most recent drivel they have heard Clinton did it Liberals hate America Family Values blah, blah, blah. Point out to them that none of that has anything to do with your specific question, and the rant begins again. Its unbelievable to me.

More people believe anonymous, random emails than they do complex facts, because they are easier to understand. More than that, they confirm what people already believe. For example, an email was making the rounds about Cindy Sheehan, exposing the truth that she had long ago abandoned her son, divorced her husband, and started a new life without them, only to embrace the son again after his death in Iraq, strictly for political purposes. Yep, thats what the email said, and people couldnt forward it fast enough. They disagree with her stand against the Iraq war, so obviously anything horrible about her must be true. Of course, a quick check of www.snopes.com revealed that the email was a complete lie. She and her husband never divorced, she never remarried, and she and her husband raised their son. No one cares about the truth, though. Do you think the people who emailed the lie sent a follow-up note to their friends and pen-pals, clearing up the lie? Not a chance.

I am many things, as we all are. Some of the words that describe me are former Active Duty Marine, gay man, husband, liberal, college graduate, homeowner, taxpayer, friend, son, a
nd
optimist. Because I am so many different things again, as we all are there are going to be differences in opinions and beliefs among the people I know. But these days, I am too tired of arguing through the crap and lies to get to the real issues of debate.

So for the near future, I am done. I quit. If your political and religious opinions are different than mine, I dont want to hear about them. I am done justifying my life and my beliefs to you or anyone else. Think this President is great? I dont care to hear it. And in return for your silence around me, I will refrain from pointing out to you that I think the Republican Party has been hijacked by hypocritical fundamentalists. You stop emailing me crap about Kerry and Clinton and Gore, and I will stop sending you links to news reports about so-called Christians being arrested for sexual or financial crimes. Stop repeating everything you hear on Fox News or talk-radio, and I will stop calling you a mindless automaton. Stop telling me that anything I believe that contradicts the President must be a lie. And most importantly, stop thinking this country is yours and that you alone sit on the moral high-road. Your arrogance appalls me.

Just stop.