Monday, May 31, 2010


I love the word bastard.  I tell people it's a great word. I'm not certain what lead me to this word but I like it.  I have some friends that are 100% true bastards and I've complimented them on it.  I, as life would have it, am only half bastard.  That's what I tell people.  Bastard means a child whose parents weren't married.  Not a big deal of a definition but a very cool word in my opinion.  Speaking of cool words, the first cool word I remember liking and proclaiming to the world as such is hemorrhoids.  I heard the world on a commercial as a child and it began, as far as I can remember, my pleasure in hearing and saying certain words more than others; one word poems, so to speak.  Hemorrhoids is a very neat sounding word that deserves a much more interesting definition.  Seriously, just say hemorrhoids a couple of times and let the word fall out of your mouth.  As for me, my biological parents were married for two years before they had me and then were not divorced until a year later, as I recall.  So, you are thinking, "then you can't be a bastard."  But wait, there's more.  Somehow, the divorced ex-groom managed to get a Catholic annulment of the marriage all that time after the fact.  I don't know much about Catholicism but the idea of that annulment seems a bit silly to me.  None the less, I reap some small reward from it as I now say, perhaps not with complete accuracy, that according to at least one church organization on earth I am a BASTARD!

Few people seem to be as enamored with the word bastard as I... or hemorrhoids for that matter.  But tonight, I saw the movie Sunshine Cleaning.  Interesting movie.  A couple of sisters become the kind of cleaners that are called in after someone dies.  The son of one sister asks the other, his aunt, what a bastard is because he was called one.  My ears totally perked up.  And the aunt had a neat answer that went something to the effect of: "It just means your parents weren't married, no big deal.  You totally pull it off and you can use it to attract girls when you're older.  You are the coolest bastard I ever met."  Excellent.  I'm paraphrasing from memory here so my quotes could be a bit off but, "You are the coolest bastard I have ever met" has got to be one of the best compliments an aunt could give to her nephew.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Monte vs Window

Wednesday evening I was at an awards ceremony for students.  It's amazing how much you can brighten the life of a person by simply acknowledging him or her for who they are and what they have done.  Many students were acknowledged that night.

At home, Tami and Enzo were dealing with a different issue that was a little more stressful:  Monte vs one of the living room windows.  It's difficult to declare a decisive victor in such a situation.  Monte has a plastic cone around his head and stitches across his nose.  What's left of the window is temporarily being held together with tape.  Ahhh, just like old times.  The house Tami and I used to own had cellophane tape windows for about a year.  I liked to say they were double paned because I had taped them closed from both sides until we were able to replace them.  Memories.  Well, this window will be fixed sooner.  In the meantime, poor Monte is learning to get around with a giant cone and a little extra love and attention from us.

I am so grateful to our friends.  Tami did not want to call me because she didn't want to worry or stress me while I was at the awards ceremony.  Luckily she called Matt who was able to get hold of Mitra.  There are not many people better than Mitra to have around in a situation like this.  Mitra helped Tami and Enzo get Monte to an all night emergency vet after Mitra assessed that Monte's wound was serious and bigger than her pet-first-aid kit was designed to help with.  Everything worked out in the end.  I came home and helped Tami finish cleaning up Monte-blood and broken glass and we helped each other feel better about it all while Enzo slept.  After all was cleaned up, I went back to the vet hospital to pick up the glorious Count of Monte Cristo complete with $650 stitches, medicine, drainage tube, and stylish white collar.  I'm pretty sure that collar will become the coolest doggy trend once they see Monte sporting one.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Electric Motorcycle TTXGP Race

On May 16th the first ever in the US all electric motorcycle race in the TTXGP series took place at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma County, California.  Video coverage of the race is not out for television yet but the Zero Motorcycles team has already created a full length video of the race and made it available on the web.  Super cool racing with more position changes than any race I've ever watched.  Thanks to for the information.  The race starts at 8 minutes into the video and gets interesting very quickly.  Enjoy.  This is the future of racing- electric motorcycles!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Saturday BBQ

This Saturday Melanie and I threw ourselves a BBQ to celebrate finishing with our Master's Degrees.  So, it would be expected that we were the center of attention and we were, to many people.  Empirical evidence suggests that the center of attention for some, particularly me, was another person.  When I downloaded the day's pictures from my camera I found 165 pictures with at least 120 of them having Enzo as the subject.  I'm in none and Melanie is in a few, half of those having The Kid in the picture as well.  He's so darn cute.  We had a good time and it felt great to mark the occasion of graduation with friends and family and a beautiful day at the park.

I was also told that I took a tree hostage, but it was for a good reason.  

We used washable plates, utensils, cloth napkins and table clothes, etc.  We had four biodegradable bags one for each of napkins, plates and utensils, recycling, and landfill waste.  Santiago mentioned that this is how everyone did it years ago, before disposable products became ubiquitous.  It really was not that difficult to bring reusable items and take them home for washing afterwards.  Clearly it is easier to throw things away but it's not that much more work to reuse and it feels better to know that a whole bunch of resources were saved and garbage for the landfill was avoided.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Big News

still have my hair, and I still have my sideburns.  What could the big change be?  It must be the job.  Last Friday it was announced that I will be Vice Principal beginning July!  After eight years in the classroom, my job will change significantly.  It's a big deal and I have been delving into the change philosophically, mourning the loss, and welcoming the new.  I'm looking forward to it.  I'm ready.  And, while this is huge news, significant to a high degree in how it will affect my life's course and experience, tonight there is another big reason to celebrate.

(Professor Smith Addressing the Graduates and Families)

Two years, thousands of dollars and thousands of words typed, hundreds of pages read and hundreds of hours in contemplation..... have brought me to tonight when I graduated with my Master's Degree.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh-hhhhhhhhhhhh-hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-hhhhh........ And that's just the beginning of a relaxing release two year's in the making.  The best things about graduating?  One, I now have more time with my family again.  Two, I have significantly grown as a person through this program.  I didn't just jump through hoops; I developed as a human and as an educator.  Thirdly, I HAVE GRADUATED!!!!!  What a great feeling.  It's late as I type this and I'm very tired so I won't carry on much more as I look forward to blissful sleep that involves no back-of-the-mind thoughts about homework or papers to write.  I'll just say that I am very proud of myself and colleagues tonight and I love my son and my family.  What a year!  2009 was so impressive and now 2010 just keeps 'the interesting' coming.  Yes, I did use 'the interesting' as a noun.  Master's of Education are allowed such liberty.

While I'm writing I'll throw in a few more updates.  Recently, Enzo received his second set of vaccine shots and liquid drops.  We spoke to him about it just as before.  Then, he got the dropper and the shots and it was even less of a deal than last time.  He fussed and cried briefly while the first shot was coming out of his thigh and until the second shot came out but that was only a seconds long period of time; that nurse was quick.  Then, I held him to my shoulder and he was done.  No big deal.  The drops he swallowed before the shots and he didn't fuss this time at all other than by making a funny face that said, "This is neither how I take my meals nor the flavor I am accustomed to, but I 'll give it a try if you think I should."  And that was that.

To bring these topics together.  Many people came up to tell me how cute Enzo is at the graduation ceremony.  I know people must say that kind of thing all the time to parents about their children but I have to whole heartedly agree with these fine people and say they are right, Enzo is SUPER adorable.  And so, I can not help but believe that while many words are said in this world out of kindness and custom, when speaking about the adorableness of Enzo the words are surely 100% genuine.  He is simply that adorable!

Oh, one more thing.  Tami and her sister go to the A's game every year for Mother's Day with their mom.  After me giving Tami breakfast in bed (I picked up breakfast from a taqueria that we like and rushed back) and then Enzo giving his mom the cool hand prints that he made for her, Tami was already enjoying her special day.  But, then, the big deal happened.  Tami took Enzo to the A's game to celebrate Mother's Day with her sister and mother.  Yes, that game!  Tami, Enzo, Traci and Phyllis were there for the 19th Perfect Game in Major League Baseball history!  I had to look up what this meant online.  Essentially, it means a game where a team wins by allowing no hits and no walks and this has only happened 19 times since 1880.  Tami was SO excited to be there watching the A's win this 19th ever Perfect Game.  I asked how this compared to taking Enzo to his first game and her answer was that his first game was important because it was part of Enzo's history.  This game, however, was important because Enzo was there for Major League Baseball history.  Tami said it was "the perfect Mother's day" getting breakfast in bed, her son's hand prints, and seeing a Perfect Game all on her first Mother's Day as a mother.

It's been eventful around here, to be sure.

Now, off to blissful sleep.........

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

12 years and 12 days - A Self Indulgent Ride Down Memory Lane

Friday, May 7th, 2010 marks 12 years and 12 days since I rode home on my first motorcycle.

1986 Yamaha Radian

I remember parts of that ride in 1998 quite clearly.  Most notably I remember riding home down Meridian Ave. singing at the top of my lungs, I was so excited and happy.  I  was just making up songs and lyrics as I rode and singing to the inside of my helmet.  At stop lights I was practically dancing on my bike looking around and belting out verse with a smile so big people must have seen it coming out of my helmet.

Just a couple of months later I was on that bike riding, with Nathan on his first bike, a 1986 Suzuki GSXR1100, to Corvallis, Oregon to visit Dan and Kim in their new home.  I assure you neither of those  bikes were designed for a 600 plus mile each way road trip but we loved it!  Our butts?  They were tired.  I remember us lying down in a parking space at a fast food restaurant just to rest our butts and stretch our bodies on the way there.  By the way, we also learned there that motorcycles do not trigger the sensor to let someone know you are in the drive through.  I have clear memories of a gorgeous ride and of Mt. Shasta looking beautiful, of a tired butt, of walking around Corvallis with the Vega family the next day, enjoying the sites, driving mountain roads in the dark and wishing I had more lights, being covered in little green bugs going through an agricultural area in California, and feeling immensely satisfied from a long ride when we got home.  

I loved to ride that Radian.  I took apart the motor and replaced the rings and pistons and put it back together in my Grandma's back yard.  I was so nervous to start it back up when the day arrived.  What if it didn't work?  It did.  I rode down to my local motorcycle shop and asked Pete, who had given me so much free advice along the way, to check out my work and tell me what he thought and to tell me if it was safe.  Pete said it looked good and he was impressed.  That meant a lot to me.  It really did.  I had never taken a motor apart before and I respected this guys opinion and was grateful for all the free advice he was giving me patiently while he had a shop to run for paying customers.  His being impressed was the best stamp of approval I could get on that project.  The bike not blowing up as I rode made me feel pretty good, too.  Eventually I sold that Radian to Don to become his first motorcycle.

1998 Kawasaki KLR650

I was going to San Jose State University when I sold the Radian and purchased my KLR 650.  I believe it was the year 2000.  I loved having the water proof hard luggage to carry my books as I didn't have a car and rode all year to school and work in all weather.  I found the bike on and went to check it out.  Riza, the seller, was such a cool guy.  After checking it out and going home to think about it, I arranged with Riza to go to his house the next day to purchase it.  I expected to hand over money and take a pink slip but Riza was different.  I suppose being from Turkey had something to do with his way of interacting.  He invited me into his home where we sat and ate chocolates and sipped coffee talking for an hour.  I loved it.  The guy was so interesting and so I took the KLR and Riza's phone number.  By that summer, not only had we gone on several rides together and become friends, but we decided to spend a week camping off of our motorcycles and riding in Baja California, Mexico together; me on the KLR and he on his BMW 1100GS.  I have such fond memories of that ride and my time with Riza.  I am sad to say that the number and email I have for Riza no longer work.  Riza, if you find this, please leave a comment and let me know how to contact you!  

That KLR and I got to know each other very well over the years.  I did eventually sell that bike to Don in 2004 to be his second motorcycle, but we are  still close to this day as you will see below.

1996 Honda Goldwing

Oh, Big Blue!  That's what was painted on the back, "Big Blue" so I knew this bike's name before I bought it in 2002.  This was the smoothest and most comfortable motorcycle I could ever imagine riding.  Tami and took a ride to go camping on this to King's Canyon National Park back when we were friends.  That was the longest ride I had gone on with a passenger at that time.  Our time together, me and Big Blue, was not long, however.  Big Blue and the KLR were sold, along with my car and bicycle and so many other things, in 2004 as part of a strategic and ambitious financial plan.  That worked out pretty well and started the only stretch of time that I did not own a motorcycle since April 25, 1998.  It was only a couple of months, thankfully.

1986 Yamaha Radian

 I was feeling nostalgic and found another '86 Radian on that summer of 2004.  We had a good time together.  It was a brief affair of only a couple months, however.  "Ruby" was backed into, while parked, by a crazy driver.  "Ruby" was totaled but I used the insurance money to buy back an old motorcycle love.

1998 Kawasaki KLR650

That Fall of 2004 Don sold me back my same KLR.  I missed her and she had always been good to me. We spent a lot of time riding the old roads and a few new ones.  It was like we had never been parted.  In 2009 I sold this lovely machine to Sam to be his first bike.  He still let's me ride the KLR and I can see her some days as I drive by his house to or from work.

1999 Honda Valkyrie Interstate

In 2006, surfing the internet I came across this rare beauty.  The Valkyrie Interstate.  Honda had taken the superb Goldwing and made it look like a cool cruiser that they called the Valkyrie.  Then, they made the Interstate model which added back in some of the cool Goldwing features that had been removed in the conversion to a Valkyrie cruiser.  This meant that the Interstate model got back the stereo, intercom, CB option, auxiliary audio plug in and three integrated and watertight bags for for luggage.  A brilliant bike.  Tami and I took "Val" on a very memorable two week camping road trip to Canada that same Summer of '06.  This is the bike that I took cross country in 2009.  What a fantastic motorcycle.  Maybe I'll take Val out for a ride tomorrow.

2002 Honda RC51

 For my birthday in 2009, my friends Matt, Mitra, Nathan, and Laurie surprised me with this beauty of a motorcycle gift.  The RC51 is such a smooth and impressive machine.  Maybe if we spend 10 years together I will become half as capable at sport riding as this bike is capable of being ridden.  Fantastic, beautiful, impractical, bold sounding, precise turning, instantly stopping, magnificently quick and always fun.  Hmmmm.  Maybe this is the bike I should ride tomorrow.

There are so many other motorcycles that have affected my motorcycle adventure over the years.  So many I have seen, or touched, or ridden that were not "mine."  I've been lucky that way.  But these are those bikes whose maintenance, enjoyment, and preservation were my responsibility for at least a portion of history.  I would say I've done a pretty good job of protecting them and enjoying them while they were in my care these 12 years and 12 days as a motorcycle lover, addict, protector, dreamer, enjoyer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thinking of Enzo

Last Friday was Enzo's four month birthday.  He is living beautifully.  I miss him when I am at work so my loving wife sends picture/text messages to my phone on most days and they make me smile.  Here is an example of a picture/text message Tami sent me Monday:
1st time n shorts... so friggin cute! BTW- his shirt has a pic of a lobster and says "u crack me up". Clever & cute. Wat a combo!
How can you not smile when you see that kid and read that message?  Lately I have really been enjoying my time in the morning with Enzo.  I've been waking up and lying in bed for an extra half hour or so watching, playing, and talking with my kid.  He is adorable.  He is beautiful.  I can not get enough.  He wakes up and likes to just relax in bed for a bit.  Today we chatted while he looked at the ceiling, smiled at me, tasted the blanket, and enjoyed the morning.  Enzo was practicing and playing with making sounds a lot this morning.  That was fun to listen to.  When he got on a roll I would stop talking so as not to interrupt.  It's fun to interact with this beautiful child as he discovers the world and it is also intriguing to simply observe.  But then he'll turn to me, smile, lay his hand on my chest or face and I melt inside while expanding on the outside; I become simultaneously bigger and smaller.  It's fantastic and peaceful at the same time.  Each morning he surprises me with a new version of a radiant smile.  I carry these with me all day and I am a happy and fortunate person.