About Dave

Married with one son. Likes donuts and long walks on the beach. Got tired of being fat and lost 100 pounds. Prone to using '80s vernacular. Works as a proofreader. Was an extra in a few TV shows. Tries to be funny.

Time Keeps Flowing Like A River


Way back in June 2010, this little guy donned his handmade mortarboard and in a small ceremony in his school auditorium, he and all his other kindergarten schoolmates were officially bestowed the title of First Grader.

So little was he that in order for me to take this picture, I had to crouch down to his level.

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To give you a better idea, here’s a shot at my eye level. I may have even had to crouch down here as well.

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Look at that “Congrats, Graduate!” button! It’s almost as big as his head.

Flash-forward to last Thursday at the very same school, a day I would not miss for the world and one I thought would never arrive. Not because Anthony is a lousy student but in the world of parenthood, you see and go through a lot. You also think a lot, and my thinking back in 2010 was “Wow, he’s a first-grader. He’ll be graduating in what, 2018? My God, that’s so far away!”

Yet that day had arrived and all the grandparents and his only uncle were there to witness Anthony’s advancement to high school.

And I have to admit I held it together fairly well before the event. But let’s not talk about the slideshow during an award ceremony a few days before. A few months in advance, parents were asked to submit pictures of their students through the years at the school and I added my fair share. It’s when they were put together with music that both Ann and I lost it. It was great to see them over the years but also touching knowing these days were soon to be over.

At that award ceremony, Anthony was given the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award as part of the President’s Education Awards Program.

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I know whose signatures are on it. I don’t care. He would have earned this award regardless of who was running our country into the ground and fiddling like Nero while Rome burned in the Oval Office and if you knew how hard this kid worked this year to bring his grades up to excellent levels, you’d look past that too. It’s something the school believed he rightfully earned and I’m okay with that. It’s now hanging in his room.

Back to Thursday. We all take a seat in the quad and wait for things to begin. Music plays in the background. As the crowd continues to roll in, I stopped in my tracks as Fun.’s “We Are Young” started to play over the loudspeakers. I tried to hold back my tears but I’m human and just couldn’t. That song is one of Anthony’s favorites and I can’t tell you how many times we heard it coming from his bedroom. I realize the true meaning of the song but it’s more or less the hook that really stuck a nerve with me given the circumstances:

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set this world on fire
We can burn brighter
Than the sun

It’s a pretty strong anthem as it is. Adding a personal connection made it so much more meaningful.

Song over. Music fades. Then the Star Wars theme starts and here we see all the kids filing in from the other side of the quad.

Personally, I would have gone with Throne Room myself – triumphant, and it’s the final scene of an epic story. But goddamnit, why is it so dusty out here?

Once seated and we all recited the Pledge of Allegiance and Star-Spangled Banner, it began. A few of the school’s top awards were given and a some students gave speeches. About 45 minutes later they started to call student names so that they could receive their Certificate of Promotion.

It looked like a concert with all those people holding up phones to capture the moment, but this was so much better than any concert we’ve ever attended or would ever attend. I even saw one person FaceTiming the event which I thought was really moving. Some things get to me and that was definitely one.

By then, parents were all over taking pictures and videos. I stood behind the podium on a flight of stairs to capture this shot of our soon-to-be former middle school student.

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I’ve taken thousands of pictures in my life but very few will be as meaningful as this one. A broken ankle, dislocated finger, violin recitals, plays, programs, a little bit of schoolyard heartbreak and the end-of-year picnic, everything he experienced at that school was all behind him now. I have never seen this kid have such a look of relief in his eyes with the smile to match. It absolutely melts me, and I’m sure Dad would have been the same way.

When his name was called, I didn’t clap. I yelled his name and cheered as I took a few more pictures as he was handed his certificate, shook hands with administrators, and made his way back to his seat.

Then, once all the names were called, they were officially declared high school students. We all gave them the applause they so rightfully deserved. I then stood next to where the students were filing out and ugh, I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was for a lot of them and as a parent you can’t help but feel the same way. One of the girls who gave a speech was absolutely broken as she hurriedly shuffled her way out of the quad. Some of the guys – the ones you would least suspect to be moved by this – looked like they had been crying since they got there. I saw Anthony approaching and he looked okay but definitely had red eyes.

I grabbed him, gave him a big hug, told him how proud I was, and took another picture. He then filed out with the rest of the students to the front of the school where things got even more emotional.

More tears. More hugging. Lots of pictures. Did I mention tears? Anthony made the rounds and found as many of his friends as he could and got pictures with them. Afterward, he wanted to go say goodbye to a few of his former teachers. It also gave him one last time to walk the hallways of the school.

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In speaking with them, they all agreed: this kid here was one of the most caring, compassionate, and giving students they’ve ever had. One of them even told him that what you learned here was important but what kind of human being you are is just as important. I can assure you they will miss each other equally.

Anthony is one of only a handful of students who attended Newcomb Academy – a name I’ve withheld from the blog since he started school – from kindergarten through 8th grade. This time includes being relocated to another campus as their school was literally razed and rebuilt from the ground up, which is why things look so different from the first picture.

And note the size of the button now. Not so small, is it? (I told him to look serious for this shot, by the way.) Yes, we still have it and yes, we will make him wear it in four years.

But let’s not get that far. I’ll be 54 by then and I don’t want to think about it. But I do want to say this.

Kid, you made it. You muddled through your share of academic challenges over the last 9 years and as expected, came out on top as you always have and as I always said you would. You’ve doubted yourself but I never did. And being that you inherited your stubbornness from me, I know that you’re much to critical of yourself on many things.

Don’t be. You’ll learn as you get older that it’s not worth it and it just frustrates you. Move on. Just think back on what all of your teachers told me about you on the last day and always carry that with you.

A big, new world awaits you in September and it will be much different from what you’re used to, but it will also be fun. Of course you’ll have some bad days scattered here and there but that’s to be expected no matter what. Hell, I still have them. But just keep this in mind.

Mom and Dad love you and are incredibly proud of the young man you’ve become. And although you’ll be glad when you’re all done with high school, let’s not talk about the Class of 2023 just yet. Let’s take it a day at a time.

Because if these last nine years were a blur to you…

First day of kindergarten

…just imagine how quickly four years will pass.

Last day of 8th grade

Congratulations, son. Set this world on fire. Burn brighter than the sun. A new chapter of your life has begun and we are looking forward to every second of it.

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How Can I Freak You Out Today?


I’ve said in the past that I’ve always been an excellent judge of character and that those I keep in my small, close-knit circle of friends – online or IRL – deserve to be there. There might have been a few mistakes along the way but deep down inside I always knew something wasn’t right.

And those who get cut from the circle? I have no problem cutting them off because they proven themselves to be not worth my time and therefore, I have zero emotional investment in them. In other words, it doesn’t hurt to say goodbye. You might even say I welcome the departure – one less problem.

I’m talking about emotions and feeling here, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m a strange duck. Granted, “strange” is a subjective term but the strangeness I embrace is on an artistic level. Again, emotions and feelings.

For the past month, I’ve been doing a little research on empathy and while I don’t have all of the most common characteristics (read: introversion), I do have most. And I have a few examples of that.

Last week, I decided to walk through downtown Long Beach during lunch and take pictures as opposed to my usual bike ride near the beach. This alone was unusual and it sets up the rest of the story.

While walking past Hamburger Mary’s, one of the many LGBTQ establishments in the city, I noticed an addition to their outside wall:

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It seems every city has a pair of angel wings somewhere and these were completed in time for Pride Weekend. Not satisfied with just taking a picture of them, me and a coworker Neena went back the next day so that I could pose in front of the wings and have a new social media profile picture.

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(Why yes, I’ve lost 10 pounds!)

I was pleased with the result but decided to add some effects to it before I made it my ubiquitous profile picture. It reminded me of my friend Ray’s profile picture, the last one he would post. He passed away unexpectedly in July 2017 at the age of 43. I miss him.

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Where is this going? We’re getting there.

Later that same day, after posting my picture everywhere, I get the following Facebook notification.

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You’re reading that right. On the day I took that picture, Ray and I had become Facebook friends seven years prior. And if I had not taken a walk instead of going for a bike ride the previous day, I would have never seen this or made the connection. It seems I knew, or felt, this and had to act upon it.

Moving forward to today. During my Sunday morning bike ride yesterday, I decided to do something completely out of the ordinary. Instead of riding down the bike trail, I made use of the city’s many bike lanes. I had no itinerary; I just went wherever I wanted to go.

My adventures would take me 18 miles down streets I’ve never been down and even some alleys I never knew existed. It was while riding down one alley that I came across a bunch of dumpsters along the rear of a shopping center. Exciting stuff, I know.

But my coworker Neena sees them as art. Her Instagram account is filled with abstract images that were mostly on dumpsters we’ve discovered around downtown. At any rate, I saw one dumpster in particular that I figured would be a good fit for her account. I took this shot and sent it to her.

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She didn’t see it until this morning but when she did, she immediately said it looked like a pastel she did about three years ago.

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If you’re not entirely sure if they look the same, here’s a side-by-side.

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The big, black splotch. The diagonal lines on the right. The dominant yellow-and-red theme. The fold on the bottom left of her pastel and the black on the bottom left of the dumpster picture. Note that this is exactly how I composed the picture – I did not crop it at all.

There are definitely lots of similarities that again, if I had not had the urge to try something different, would have never been tied together. Something told me to do it. This is the result.

And yes, she slightly freaked out.

So when it comes down to it, yes, I consider myself in many ways an empath. There’s just no other way to put it. I acted on instinct and it turns out I was picking up someone else’s vibes, and the proof is all up there for you to see.

As for that vivid dream I had the other night of the plane crashing near my neighborhood? Let’s hope it remains that. (It was about a mile away from my house but I can still see it.)

That’s a wrap for this one, folks. You didn’t think I was this deep, did you?

The Simpsons Quotes in Daily Life, Vol. 2


In keeping things current with my blog, I’m continuing my series of entries that I started in…uh, November 2017. Maybe I should really stick with that, huh?

Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, this series of posts covers quotes from The Simpsons that have made their way into the daily lives of  La Familia Moreno. Pretty simple.

So here we go with Volume 2!

1. The Royal Sampler

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Situation: When Homer’s birthmark leads The Stonecutters to believe he is “the chosen one,” they do anything to appease him including rigging their poker game by telling him he as a Royal Sampler. In reality, it’s a hand of cards that wouldn’t win anything.

Family Usage: Quite a different connotation. We use it to describe a mish-mash of anything from groceries to food ordered at a restaurant.

Me (looking at groceries on the conveyor belt): Man. Cat litter, muffins, and ant spray. That’s quite the Royal Sampler.

2. That dog has a puffy tail! Here puff!

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Situation: Homer’s attention quickly shifts from his doppelganger, Guy Incognito, who was just thrown out of Moe’s because Moe thought it was Homer in disguise.

Family Usage: We all use this one because we’re all guilty of being distracted during conversation and will blurt it immediately whenever any of us drifts off-course when explaining something. Works especially well with teenagers.

3. You just keep right on driving.

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Situation: When Homer sees an ad for a free tramampoline trampopoline trampoline, he picks it up and decides to open Homerland. Too many kids get hurt and he tries to return it to its original owner, Krusty, who pulls out a shotgun and says, “You just keep right on driving.”

Family Usage: Admittedly, I like second-hand stuff and I find a lot of it around the neighborhood. Some of it has turned out to be a really nice like my Craftsman-style lounge chair which we still have. But if something looks like total crap and I point it out to the family, they will throw this one right in my face.

Me: Wow, look at that old TV!

Ann (pointing at the road ahead): You just keep right on driving.

4. Mmmmmm, nah.

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Situation: In “Lisa the Skeptic,” when all of Springfield is waiting for sunset and the impending Judgment Day, Ned Flanders asks Reverend Lovejoy if they should sing some hymns while they wait for The Second Coming. His response: “Mmmmmm, nah.”

Family Usage: It’s a favorite and used whenever someone really wants to emphasize that we shouldn’t do something.

Ann: So should we clean up the backyard a little bit more today?

Me: Mmmmmm, nah.

Side note: Writers are known for basing characters on people they knew in real life. I would love to know if that’s the case with Reverend Lovejoy since some of his behaviors, like the one listed above, are so un-Christian to say the least.

“I never thought I’d have to do this again,” as he pours gasoline down the aisles of his church (key word: again).

“Damn Flanders!” after a call from Ned forces him to wreck his toy trains.

Giving Ned advice: “Ned, have you considered any of the other major religions? They’re all pretty much the same.”

On the Bible: “Have you ever read this thing? Technically, we’re not allowed to use the bathroom.”

“Oh mercy, he’s the real deal!” when speaking of The Leader of The Movementarians. He also throws his collar on the ground and stomps it.

I love Reverend Timothy Lovejoy.

5. Says you, woman.

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Situation: Bart’s reply to Marge when she says his back-talking sets a bad example.

Family Usage: My not-so-serious reply to Ann when she tells me something I’m hesitant about.

Ann: You know, that backyard really could use some cleaning up.

Me: Says you, woman!

(We’ll have been married 25 years in June. Don’t judge.)

That’s a wrap on this volume. Come back in, oh, six months for the next batch!

Break Time


As I do occasionally, I’ve been on a self-mandated Facebook break for about a month. And while I’ve posted a total of maybe seven pictures during that time, that’s all I’ve really done.

Quite frankly, if I didn’t have my account linked to so many external apps or services, I would just close the damn thing and not look back. But since that’s not the case I’m doing the next best thing for my purpose which is simply avoiding it. The app is hidden in a folder on my phone’s Home page (still installed for the aforementioned external services) so that I don’t see or use it.

What prompted this move was the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. It was simply awful and being a parent, I can’t even imagine having to deal with something so incredibly tragic yet seemingly avoidable. And of course, after any event like this, the arguments and conspiracy theories begin and they were out in full force on Facebook.

But this one seemed to really have people divided more than ever.

In the end, I deleted and blocked two people, one of whom is a real gun nut and tried to justify owning a cache of killing machines because it’s in the Constitution. Sorry, *poof* you’re gone. Another was an on-again, off-again friend who thought arming teachers was the solution. We’re now permanently in “off-again” status and I really don’t care to speak to them ever again (we’ve grown apart over the years). I’m a little shocked I only deleted two people after all this.

Then there’s the daily clusterfuck of a soap opera called The Trump Presidency that is saturated in lies and eaten up by his minions. And even though I follow some of his so-called “fake news” outlets, my Feed became a Trump ticker-tape parade and I don’t need to give that idiot any more of my time. I try to avoid the news these days but still visit websites or watch broadcasts at my leisure and not Facebook’s timeline.

But mark my words: Trump will burn out real soon and it’s going to be the most spectacular meltdown in the history of humankind. It’s been my theory that he wanted the power and position of President, but not the responsibility. And so far I seem to be right with that assessment.

There’s other random things that drove me away from Facebook, not to mention their recent privacy issues. Not to get into details but uh, yeah. Not everything needs to be posted on social media, whether it’s your lunch or checking in at the doctor’s office for your [insert procedure/examination of your choice]. Oh, don’t look surprised. People really do post this stuff and I’m not sure why. I have done it in the past but I’ve grown older and wiser.

So I’m content to keep this streak alive. But you may be wondering what I’ve been doing in lieu of wasting time on Facebook.

First, I’ve been a little more active posting photos on Instagram. Photography is one of my passions and I’d rather dedicate my time to sharing my vision – dare I say, talent – with the world (or at least my sub-500 followers) than read about someone’s dinner. In fact, I was recently contacted by Apple (yes, that Apple!) about the possibility of them using one of my shots for their Instagram account (see comments).

I’ve submitted my shot and waiting to hear back. Either way, praise from Caesar is praise, indeed.

Second, I’ve been doing some thinking about my weight lately and decided to once again take charge of it and set a lofty goal for myself by my 50th birthday next February. If you recall, my weight loss blog is called 200by40, implying that I’d reach my goal of 200 pounds by my 40th birthday in 2009 which I did. With 50 around the corner, I’m sure you can use your imagination and figure out the goal I’ve set for myself. Either way, there will be no Facebook posts about it except maybe when I reach my goal. Maybe.

And I’m not saying it’s serious but I’ve given up having cereal for breakfast and replaced it with an egg and almond milk. No more Lucky Charms; I’m eating like a real adult in the morning!

To that end, I’ve been sleeping more because old people need their sleep. Actually, it’s known to help with weight loss.

And with the free time Facebook has given me, I suppose I should blog more as well. I’ll try to be better at that.

Anyway, that’s my story. Hope everybody stuck in Zuckerbergland is doing well.

Gone


Our office has a bikeshare program that allows us to check out a bike whenever we desire. When the program started, I was the first one to submit my name for approval and, quite possibly, the first to take advantage of it.

The problem is the bikes aren’t the best. They serve their purpose but are marginal for riding longer distances, something I rather like doing. I had considered buying a bike and leaving it at the office so I could use that during lunch but Ann suggested I take her old 2008 Trek 7100 hybrid bike since she wasn’t using it at home.

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Not only a beautiful bike, it’s a solid bike – and cost $350 new. In fact the only difference between this and my bike, which as served me well since 2006, is that it’s a women’s model. I don’t care; it makes it that much easier to mount and dismount without that high bar in the middle.

And somewhere between the time I left the office on Monday 2/26/18 and my lunch on Tuesday 2/27/18, it was stolen. From inside the office.

I discovered it was missing right after I finished eating, when I walked to the bike rack on the second floor stairway where I park it along with a few others. And apparently I forgot to lock it up after my ride on Monday because this is what greeted me on Tuesday.

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I wedge it between that green bike and the black one to the right of it. When I saw this, I panicked and – talk about timing – ran into one of the porters as I exited the stairway.

The building is currently going through a remodel and things are in a state of flux. In fact this is not where the bike rack is normally located, a place with public access. The rack is normally inside the office where the bikes are clearly visible.

With this in mind, I asked the porter if he knew about any of the bikes being moved since, well, mine was missing. He said he didn’t and that’s when my panic turned into disbelief and anger.

I had to take a moment to process things. Then when I realized that it was truly gone, that’s when I got really pissed. I would have really loved to know what my blood pressure was at that point.

My bike was stolen. My fucking bike was stolen. It’s easy to dismiss it as “just a bike” but when you ride it daily and rely on it, finding out someone took it for no other reason but to take it is like a kick in the gut, especially when its sentimental value is far beyond any money they will get for it. It’s like my 5th-generation iPod: not worth much on the market but absolute gold to me as a still-functioning music player.

I walked down the stairway and sent Ann a text about it. She wasn’t nearly as upset as I was but you know, Venus and Mars. Then I stepped outside the building a little lost, but then like George Kennedy swinging his baton on foot beat in The Blue Knight, decided to take a look around the complex.

Long Beach is known for lots of things but one thing it is notorious for is bike theft. There are chop shops all over the town and it’s not uncommon to see a bike locked to a bike rack one day and have it stripped of everything from its frame by the next. The buzzards will pick at it until there’s only a skeleton and then eventually, the skeleton is taken.

It’s also not uncommon to see people riding bikes and carrying other bikes or parts, sometimes at breakneck speed and against red lights. And chances are those parts will get sold to buy drugs – like the crack I saw people smoking outside the building today. I may show you the beautiful parts of town on Instagram but oh, it can be so so ugly, too.

So I walked around in a haze but kept my eyes out for any person riding a bike. No dice, like I expected they’d come running back anyway.

When I came back to my desk I sent an email to the office manager and HR letting them know what had happened. I also sent Ann a message asking her to look for the paperwork for the bike since I thought we had it in our computer desk. She looked and only found one for my bike, purchased in 2007. I needed it for the serial number, not a requirement when filing a report but a big plus because if it’s sold and the number scanned, it will immediately show up as stolen and the ball will get rolling.

But I thought I had taken a picture of it for this purpose. The problem now was looking for it in all of those “Phone Pix” folders on my external drive, filed by month and year. I thought the easier way to find the number would be to call the shop where I purchased the bike so when I got home, I gave them a call.

It turns out they upgraded their POS system in 2013 and have no records of sales before that. My receipt is in triplicate so that gives you an idea of when I bought the bike.

Not giving up hope just yet, I turned on the computer and started looking for that one picture – and I found it in the first “Phone Pix” folder I looked in.

Now that I had it, I filed a police report and also reported it as stolen on 529 Garage/National Bike Registry as well as BikeIndex.org. Aside from checking online classifieds and apps like OfferUp and LetGo, this is pretty much all I can do for the moment.

But I wasn’t done.

On Wednesday, with the theft of my bike still oh-so-fresh in my mind, I checked out one of the company bikeshare bikes and hit the town. Normally, I follow a pretty organized route and end up riding between 3-5 miles in an hour but on this day, I managed to cover over 8 miles in that same time on a cheap bike. Adrenaline is an amazing thing.

I rode to some areas I knew were a hotbed for illegal activity, including chop shops and outside public restrooms along the beach. I kept an eye out for anyone riding a bike and gave them a good look as they passed. I even followed one of those shady characters riding a bike with parts for about a mile before I had to make my way back to the office.

And I’ve decided that should I see someone riding my bike, they are getting chased if I’m riding (remember our friend adrenaline?) or standing in their way if I’m on foot. I’m taking it back, no questions asked.

But there’s a very good chance that I’ll never see it around the office. As I had mentioned, the stairway is public access and anyone from any of the businesses can use it. But considering that most of the businesses there close up at 6 pm and there are construction and after-hours cleaning crews roaming around, there’s a possibility that someone outside of the company took it and doesn’t live locally. Think about it: the one time I don’t lock my bike it gets stolen, which leads me to believe that someone had their eye on it for a long time and they saw the opportunity to take it.

With that in mind, I posted this sign on the wall near the bike rack. Hopefully dangling the carrot of a reward will get them thinking.

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And that’s all I can do for now. While I’m better, I’m still pissed that someone thought it was hunky dory to steal my bike. I’ve been checking the bike rack since the company email blast went out and I posted this hoping just maybe the cocksu…thief had a change of heart.

I recall back in the day when I had a Schwinn beach cruiser stolen from me outside a liquor store where I was playing Asteroids. Luckily, it had a bike license and was somehow recovered and returned to me.

Today, with the world so connected, I’m hopeful that this bike will be recovered in a timely manner.

But until then…I wait.

As for the thief, fuck you. To the moon and back.