2014: My Year In Review


I know it’s a few days late but I like to wait until the year is over because hey, you never know what can happen, right?

Anyhow I bid you a very Happy New Year. And in keeping with what seems to be a new tradition since I’m always taking pictures of even the most minor event in my life with my phone, I’m going to share with you my photographic year in review* as I did last year. I enjoy doing these posts because I throw in a lot of crazy little things that I saw along with the big things, plus add often sarcastic commentary to go along with all of it.

Will 2014 compare to 2013? Will it be better or worse? You be the judge. So grab your choice of beverage, sit back, and enjoy the (possibly bittersweet) ride.

January 2014

We were invited to go to Disneyland and took the first of what would be, quite honestly, too many trips to Walt’s Magic Kingdom.

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I found a wallet and tried to return it, which turned into one clusterfuck of an ordeal. (Note that the term “clusterfuck” may appear many, many more times in this post – you’ve been warned!) The coins were found in the parking lot next to the wallet but I kept them. Half-dollars are cool.

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We made another trip to Disneyland a few weeks after the last one. It’s already too much.

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I had two of my photos posted in the local newspaper which recently shut down after only 20 months.

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February 2014

I discovered that the local church has parking dedicated to corpulent parishioners.

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In an effort to cut costs due to unemployment, we cut the cable cord and bought Roku boxes and digital antennae.

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Speaking of unemployment, I got a job the day after my birthday at a local grocery store where I tend to take selfies in the freezer.

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And speaking of birthdays, I turned 45 without much fanfare as don’t have my birthdate visible on Facebook. (Those who know, know.) I’m not a big birthday person and only posted this cryptic image on Instagram for people to figure out. I think only one person did.

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I celebrated Chinese New Year the way I did last year, by riding in the Chinatown Firecracker 30-Mile Bike Ride. It’s one of my favorite events but sadly, due to my part-time status, all of my events for 2015 have been put on the back burner. I may not do any if I can’t get the money together for them.

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March 2014

I participated in my second Coaster Run but only the 5k. It rained for most of it and was probably the most fun I’ve had doing an event.

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I witnessed one of the most amazing sunrises in recent memory.

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We switched from MetroPCS to AT&T using my new Corporate Discount through work. That, of course, required getting new phones.

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I decorated (read: wrote on) my first cake while working in the Bakery.

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After around a week of building, I completed constructing The Simpsons LEGO house.

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We celebrated Anthony’s 10th birthday at a local pizza place where his grandfather showed him how to score a bunch of tickets playing the Blackjack game.

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April 2014

While out for a run, I saw the Amityville Horror house being built in a local park.

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You know. Korean Doritos.

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We took one of two trips to the tide pools, one of our most favorite local spots.

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Sadly, on my Mom’s birthday, my Aunt Mary (seated) passed away. This was taken a year earlier at Mom’s surprise 75th birthday.

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May 2014

We were invited to go to Disneyland’s 24 Hour event and I was the only person in our group to make it to sunrise on Saturday (after arriving around 4pm Friday). I didn’t blog about it; I only posted my pictures on Instagram.

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June 2014

We discovered that there’s a Hello Kitty wine, but we don’t like Chardonnay. I’m more of a Merlot person now that I occasionally drink wine.

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We took our final trip to Disneyland.

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July 2014

I got this really creepy lenticular Jesus picture sent to me from a church that was begging for money. I was on their mailing list for a while and got all kinds of weird stuff sent to me, including a communion wafer.

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The door of the baler at work came down and smashed my fingertips. They were numb for about a month or so but are fine now.

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In an effort to earn a few bucks since I was (and still am) only working part-time, we sold our extra refrigerator. And you know what? That turned out to be a big clusterfuck as well!

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Only 17 months into our lease, we had to say goodbye to the Kia Optima. Working a minimum-wage, part-time job just wasn’t enough to make the payments anymore. It felt like a kick in the gut but it has turned out to be fine in the end. It also gives me yet another opportunity to say that Kia financing is the worst on the planet. Read this post for more information.

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The day we got rid of the Optima also ushered in a new day of motoring for me: I bought my Yamaha Zuma scooter which I still love. Payments are 1/4 that of the Optima and it is ridiculous on gas (between 65-80 MPG), meaning I’ve never put more than $3 in it since I’ve owned it.

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I applied for a job at Disneyland. I had the interview and was shortlisted then later offered a position. I turned it down for many a good reason.

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I got a second job someplace near and dear to my heart, which I quit after only one day of training. I’ve never seen the paycheck. I quit for many reasons, the main one being their ultra-strict policy on personal items and phones. It pretty much granted them the right to search my locker, backpack, and phone any time they wanted with no reason or cause. I’m an honest guy but their policy was way overboard for me, so I left.

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After a month of studying, I took the written exam for my motorcycle license and got my permit.

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August 2014

Anthony got his parakeets.

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I hit 100 miles on the scooter.

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We took a trip to Mattel, across the street from where I used to work.

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We paid a visit to the Queen

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…and her neighbor, a Russian submarine.

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My friend commissioned us to refurbish the sign for his restaurant. Here is the Before shot.

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September 2014

My “promotion” at work became official. But I still take selfies in the freezer.

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I was reunited with some friends from my old Catholic school whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years.

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Remember the sign we were working on? Here’s the finished project.

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How YOU doin’?

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October 2014

The job allowed us to root for our favorite local team in the MLB playoffs, so naturally I did.

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My mad art skillz came in handy at work once again when I was asked to conjure up a sign for a our seasonal caramel apples.

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Catastrophe. Just a few days before participating in another event, I dropped my phone and rendered it useless.

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That same day, my scooter was vandalized by local school kids who don’t understand what it’s like to have their property willingly broken.

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Anthony ran in his second Aquarium of the Pacific Kids Run

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..and I did my second duathlon the following day. I did it last year and rode the bike tour the previous four years.

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I replaced my broken phone with this, the Samsung Galaxy Skyrocket II. It was such a horrible phone that I returned it the next day.

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It was replaced with the HTC one M7, an absolutely amazing phone.

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November 2014

I got a new camera and started shooting quality photos again. My first trip was a Dia de los Muertos event.

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A few days later, we made another trip to the tide pools where I messed with the different settings on the camera.

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Anthony and I took the train to the L.A. Auto Show where the camera performed well in every lighting condition.

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December 2014

Well, outside of Christmas, there wasn’t much to speak of in December so I don’t have many pictures for that month. It looks like 2014 had its share of highs and lows but naturally, I took the good with the bad and moved on.

By the way, I’m still on Facebook Vacation and enjoying it. It’s amazing how much you can do with your time when you don’t give it so much attention.

Anyhow, there’s my second annual Year In Review post and I hoped you enjoyed it. Here’s hoping my 2015 is less phone-breaky, scooter-pushy, and wallet-findy and that yours is everything you wish it make it to be.

*Selected events, of course. You don’t need to know about my doctor’s visits.
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A Mickey Mouse Job, Part Deux


As you might recall in a previous blog post, I had an interview with The Happiest Place on Earth and in the end was given a note telling me that I was pretty much short-listed should any positions become available.

Deep down inside I never thought they’d call, but I got an email a few days ago stating that they were still interested and to schedule a time for the Casting Agent to call me. I did just that.

My interview was scheduled for 10:30 am today, July 18, just one day after Disneyland’s 59th birthday.

They called 9:20 am. The Casual Part-Time position of Vacation Planner (read: Ticket Seller) was offered.

And I turned it down.

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I know there are tons of people in this world that would most likely kill at the chance to work for Disneyland and are yelling at their collective monitors right now because of my decision, shaking their fists in disgust.

But most people I know who do work there are a tad bit obsessed with The Mouse and all he represents. But I’m not one of those folks.

I applied at a time when I needed a job and was fully committed to working when they wanted me to. We also had two cars back then and the situation was a little different. Yes, I could ride my scooter but coming home at odd hours of the night could prove to be unsafe.

Things have changed since I applied and I wasn’t ready to commit myself to it so I did what I had to do, and I have even more reasons.

First, the hours. There was simply no guarantee of the hours I would be getting which would defeat the purpose. For a part-time job that requires 100% of your time, I think that’s kind of ridiculous. At least I have some flexibility at my current job, so much so that I was able to land a second job just this week. More on that later.

Second, things are happening at work. Our manager has his eyes on two people that he wants to promote as soon as Corporate allows him to, one of which is yours truly. It may take a few months but I am guaranteed it is going to happen. Besides, I’ve already paid my union dues and I’m never getting them back.

Third, I have a family. As a neophyte, The Mouse needs you to be there whenever he wants you to and that includes Friday nights, weekends, and holidays. That’s zip-a-dee-doo-dah fine and well for someone with absolutely no commitments (*cough*my brother*cough) but I have mine, and I enjoy the time we have together. I’m just not ready for that – at least at minimum wage.

Then, of course, is the adherence of their strict personal appearance policy or the “Disney Look.” I sort of don’t like someone having control over the way I look. That should be my choice.

I understand that there are magical perks when it comes to working there, such as free Park entry to ANY Disney Park in the world and, of course, the mystique that comes along with saying that you work for the original Disneyland, Walt’s dream-come-to-life.

I had to weigh the good with the bad here and in my case, there was more bad than good. During the interview I did tell them that I would honestly love to commit to it, I just can’t do it with my current impending promotion and second job. The Casting Agent even asked if it would interfere with my current job so that should tell you what they expect.

So I won’t be selling anyone Disneyland tickets any time soon, and I think I’m okay with that.

Now, onto the second job.

Seeing my hours getting cut at my current job, I felt I had to to something in order to make up for them. I was scouring Craigslist nightly since most job sites aren’t really offering anything I was interested in.

But Craigslist offered one that seemed intriguing, a simple retail position. I’ve worked retail. Should be easy. I applied, interviewed, and was hired on the spot for a part-time position at store that will be opening soon. If you’re a fan of the blog, I’m sure you’ve heard of it before.

So now I have two jobs, both of which are close enough for me to ride my scooter around safely. One is less than a mile from home; the other might be a little over a mile away. I could work both on the same day if I needed to without any goofy restrictions or need to be available all hours of the day or holidays (although I did work on the 4th of July). When compared to what The House of Mouse wanted, my work-life balance will be much more stable this way.

And that makes me happy…just not happy enough to link to the Pharrell Williams song of the same name…

A Mickey Mouse Job


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What you see above is the note that was handed to me after the interview I had a few days ago with Disneyland.

Yes, that Disneyland. The Mouse, the ears, the Walt. That’s the place.

I had submitted my application online – it’s the only way they accept them, naturally – somewhere in January and figured that it had just gotten placed in the OVERQUALIFIED file since I hadn’t heard back. But I guess they do get a ton of applicants and someone (or some computer) is tasked with having to find those they feel meet the criteria to be one of Walt’s minions.

It was June when I finally got the email asking me to take the online quiz, the ones that are standard issue emotional tests in which you rank different statements by choosing radio buttons ranging from “Strongly Disagree” to “Neutral” to “Strongly Agree.” (By the way, they key to passing them is to mark either “Strongly Disagree” or “Strongly Agree” for each question. That shows you are decisive. Anything else is a red light and may hurt your chances of getting the interview.)

Knowing how those tests work, I went ahead and gave myself the suggested 30-40 minutes to take the quiz and passed it without a problem. I was then taken to a page that showed a cheesy video highlighting all of the available positions at the Park. I had applied for Quick Service Foods, a position that pretty much meant I could be selling churros or popcorn from a cart on Main Street. I know someone that does just that.

I know, I know. I’m working and I should be happy with that, right.

Yes, of course. I truly am grateful to be where I am despite a new team of people moving in making changes, some not for the better. But when opportunity knocks for any reason, you can bet I’ll take advantage of it.

I scheduled my interview for July 1 and waited a week. I had my interview and discussed the QSF position plus a few others that might be open. And of course, there was the standard “Why do you want to work for Disneyland?” question.

During the interview, I told my Casting Agent – Disney slang for Recruiter – that I had been a ticket seller at Knott’s Berry Farm for a few years back in the late ‘80s. We then discussed the possibility of my being hired as one but there were no open positions currently available. Other positions includes Vacation Sales Rep, an off-site position in which you work in a call center and organize Disney vacations for guests.

I didn’t feel I was fit for that nor did I want to deal with people over the phone. I’m more of an in-person kind of guy when it comes to interactions, so I politely declined that one. There were a few more that I can’t think of at the moment and wasn’t too excited about any of them so we moved on.

In the end the Casting Agent believed that, based on my experience, the role of Vacation Planner (yes, that’s what they call Ticket Sellers) was more up my alley. And that’s why I got the ticket you see above: a promissory note or sorts that guarantees me a job should the role of Vacation Planner become available somewhere in the next six months.

But I don’t think I’ll take it.

Unlike most jobs, Disneyland requires open availability for neophytes during peak times of the year as well as constant availability on the weekends. But not unlike other jobs, newbies start at the bottom rung and get absolutely no word in scheduling until they move up to Regular Part Time from Casual Part Time. I sort of like my weekends off when I get them and have a little pull at work so starting over with even more restrictions seems silly.

The commute is simple – literally one street – but with the way things are going now with the Kia, chances are we will be selling it and be a one-car family real soon. See this post and you’ll read about our brilliant plan that just didn’t work. The House That Walt Built is around 12 miles from home which is an easy trip by bike, but depending on when I work and taking public streets, I’m not too sure about that. I can walk to my current job easily no matter when I work. And during peak times, Cast Members sometimes have to park at Anaheim Stadium, meaning leaving home even earlier to get to work. Eh, I like leaving 15 minutes before my shift and getting there in plenty of time like I do now.

And finally, the Disney Look that one must adhere to. I had confirmed with a few Cast Members prior to going to the interview that men with pierced ears are fine and well. I wouldn’t have wasted anyone’s time if they weren’t. The Disney Look was the final topic covered during the interview and I pointed out that I do have pierced ears but hadn’t worn anything in “a long time” which was more like a week. I was told they’d have to heal and close up if I wanted to work there. She asked if I had a tattoo and said yes, but not entirely visible with elbow-length short-sleeve shirts. This wasn’t an issue.

As I said, I’ll take any opportunity that comes my way and I do believe that working there would probably be interesting to say the least. But after much consideration, I decided that I probably will pass on the job should I get the call between now and January 2015. The bullets explain why.

  • Walking to work, when I do, is easy.
  • The boss likes me.
  • I can request time off and have a better chance of getting it where I am now. Also, switching shifts with others is simple.
  • I have pretty reasonable perks, including a quarterly grocery bonus based on how many Points I’ve earned per transaction. In fact, my next bonus is going to be somewhere near $80 and that will come in handy when it arrives.
  • Although I don’t see this happening any time soon, but should I decide to get my ears pierced again or even get a tattoo of an om symbol on my wrist or someplace conspicuous, I can do it and still have a job. Disneyland would let me go.

So there you have it. I’m staying put.

Sorry, Mickey.

Unless, of course, my hours get cut drastically in which case I’ll have to weigh every option possible…

24 Hours of Disneyland


05-19-14-Event-logo-Starting tomorrow at 6am, Disneyland will be open for 24 hours for those who are brave enough to “rock” their Disney Side.

And although I despise the use of “rock” as a verb for donning any article of clothing and successfully gaining the approval of others and, therefore, really dislike this slogan, I will be there with the family. It’s okay if you think I’m nuts because chances are you’re right.

We’re not going because we’re hardcore Disney fanatics. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, being raised in southern California sort of desensitizes you from the ahhh! factor that mostly everyone outside of the state gets when they hear “Disneyland.” It’s just another stop along the 5 Freeway for us in most cases and our Annual Passports* were bought as a way to kill a few Sundays a year when we had nothing else to do.

But there are exceptions, like those who will be camping out starting at midnight tonight waiting to get in at the precise moment the gates open then partake in a marathon park visit for the next solid day.

That’s not me. While I like Disneyland and all that, let’s get something straight: you will never find me camping outside of anyplace for anything. You just won’t. Unless I’m camping for the sake of camping.

We’re going because we were invited to go by a friend who just spoils us too much, but whose spoiling is so appreciated. We simply cannot repay her for what she’s done and continues to do.

At any rate, here are the details of our visit.

It won’t be the full 24 hours. I am working until 7pm on Friday and Anthony has school, so right away there’s a good portion of the 24 hours cut from our visit. I plan on meeting the family and friends at the park around 8pm provided traffic around the park is not winding down every possible side street like an anaconda.

Lines won’t be an issue for us. While the crowds may be huge and lines long, the one thing those who camped out will still have to do is wait or, as they most likely will do, use a FastPass. Not us. We will once again have our VIP Guide giving us quick access to all attractions. He will be ours from 4pm – 4am so we need to cram in as much fun as we can in those 12 hours. He can also schedule prime seating for everything going on for this special event.

I am going all night. I have made it my quest to uh…rock my Disney Side from the time I arrive until 6am the following morning. I want to see how tired people are as they drag themselves down Main Street. I want to see the sun come up over the Matterhorn or Space Mountain. I want to see World of Color at 3am, ride the Haunted Mansion at midnight, eat a churro at 4:47 in the morning. I’m going to do this, even if the family decides they’ve had enough.

We have a room. If the family chooses to end their quest early, they’ll have a room waiting for them at the Disneyland Hotel. And when I drag myself in there at 6am, I can crash for about 5 then start to pack up for our 11am check-out time.

It will be social. What good would an event like this be without spamming your social network feed with umpteen photos? I plan on posting pictures/tweets on Instagram and/or Twitter at every ride we conquer along with the time we are in line, for as long as my phone’s battery holds a charge, with whatever hashtags are pertinent to the event. #disneyside seems to be the only one I’ve heard of as of now.

I have no idea what we’re in for but rest assured you will see it as it happens on the aforementioned networks. Wish us luck!

And hey, I think I’ll wear this loud shirt from 1990 – Disneyland’s 30th anniversary – to the event.

Or should I *cringe* rock something else?

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*We’ve since abandoned renewing our APs as they because way too much for us. Being unemployed didn’t help matters.

Wordless Wednesday: Mice


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Outside the Disneyland Hotel, where we will be staycationing this June.