Dear 2016


On a personal level, you were a mixed bag.

In February, I was finally hired at my job after working months as a freelancer and I love it. I can’t imagine being anywhere else (in terms of commute, location, the job itself). Also in February, I had a little incident with the parking garage arm while exiting on my scooter. I didn’t write about it since it happened at work.

In April, Ann spent a few days in the hospital after experiencing chest pains. Everything checked out fine and she’s has no problems since.

The summer saw us spending time at quite a few local spots and some not as close.

And in October, I had a second incident on my scooter which was a little more severe than the one in February. But I’m fine and it’s all taken care of, even if the scooter was declared a total loss.

All in all, the good definitely outweighed the bad and for that I’m thankful.

But enough of me. Nobody can look back on you, oh 2016, without thinking about all of the talent we’ve lost. I compiled a list of those I could think of, and note that since starting this list I had to reluctantly make some additions to it:

abe vigoda
Abe Vigoda of Barney Miller

alan rickman
Alan Rickman

alan thicke
Alan Thicke

arnold_palmer
Arnold Palmer

beth howland
Beth Howland of Alice

billy paul
Billy Paul, known for his hit song “Me and Mrs. Jones”

carrie-fisher-debbie-reynolds
Carrie Fisher (12/27/16) and her mother Debbie Reynolds (12/28/16)

dan haggerty
Dan Haggerty of Grizzly Adams

dave mirra
Dave Mirra

david bowie
David Bowie

david huddleston
David Huddleston, who was in two of my favorite movies: The Big Lebowski and Blazing Saddles

doris roberts
Doris Roberts

erik bauersfeld
Erik Bauersfeld, voice of Admiral “It’s a trap!” Ackbar

florence henderson
Florence Henderson

garry marshall
Gary Marshall

garry shandling
Garry Shandling

gene wilder
Gene Wilder (seen here in Blazing Saddles)

george s irving
George S. Irving aka Heat Miser from The Year Without A Santa Claus

george kennedy
George Kennedy

george martin
Sir George Martin, producer extraordinaire

george michael
George Michael

glenn frey
Glenn Frey

gordie howe
Gordie Howe

greg lake
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer

harper lee
Harper Lee

3201004P NEW YORK METS
Broadcaster Joe Garagiola (seen here with Gary Carter, who died in 2012)

john glenn
John Glenn

jon polito
Jon Polito, who also was in The Big Lebowski

kenny baker
Kenny Baker

kimbo slice
Kimbo Slice

leon russell
Leon Russell

leonard cohen
Leonard Cohen

maurice white
Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire

merle haggard
Merle Haggard

morley safer
Morley Safer

mr fuji
WWF star Mr. Fuji

muhammad ali
The GOAT

nancy reagan
Nancy Reagan

natalie cole
Natalie Cole

pat harrington
Pat Harrington of One Day At A Time

patty duke
Patty Duke

pete burns
Pete Burns

RA1004_PRINCE
Prince

prince be attrell cordes
Atrell Cordes aka Price Be of PM Dawn

robert vaughn
Robert Vaughn

Rod Temperton
Songwriter Rod Temperton

ron glass
Ron Glass, also of Barney Miller

vanity
Vanity, Prince protégé

zsa zsa
Zsa Zsa Gabor


So hey, 2016. Your time is up.

Seriously. Get out. You’ve done enough damage. Nobody will miss you.

Here’s wishing you all a very happy and prosperous 2017!

 

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2015: My Year in Review


Either I was going to do it or Facebook was by putting random pictures together and calling it “my year.” I don’t think so.

As I have done for the last few years, I am once again tying a ribbon on the end of the year with a review of all of the good and bad things that happened to me over the last 365 days including things I’ve never mentioned here or on my personal Facebook account. Of course, pictures and links to accompanying posts will be posted whenever possible.

By the way, this is only my 27th blog post of 2015 so I’ll try to make it worth your while. Here we go.

January 2015

I ran quite a bit and rescued my neighbor’s turtle who had slipped underneath their gate.

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Anthony and I attended the Dodger Fan Fest and it was everything I hoped it would be. On the field, in the dugout…just an amazing time.

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February 2015

Rather than get gifts for his birthday, Anthony opted to have his room made over which meant finally painting over the Thomas the Tank Engine picture I had painted on his wall when he was 3 years old. I never quite finished it but he didn’t mind and was actually hesitant about getting rid of it since it was there for so long.

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I took my HTC Re camera on California Screamin’ at Disney California Adventure.

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Oh, and I turned 46. Meh.

March 2015

My job at the grocery store bakery continued to give me fits.

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I didn’t quit when I wrote the note you see above but I was ready to almost every time I clocked in. Having to document everything (in pictures or writing) was a royal pain but a necessity according to my then-union rep. It’s hard to stay motivated when the boss would leave stuff like this behind and expect you to clean it up plus do your regular duties.

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And don’t get me started on all the spelling errors in their notes and labels.

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I failed my DMV motorcycle skills exam.

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I was part of about 1,000 people to take part in the Run the Runway event, celebrating the Grand Reopening of R25 at Long Beach Airport. It was a short one-mile and obviously flat course.

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April 2015

We went to Knott’s Berry Farm’s Boysenberry Festival and tried all sorts of boysenberry-flavored items. The tasting card also included fried alligator and I have to admit that it was pretty darn good.

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Fried alligator bites and fries, oh my!

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Anthony and I participated in the Grand Prix View, an event in which residents were able to ride, walk, or run along the shortened course of the upcoming Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Here’s a video of our lap.

My job continued to suck as is obvious by this note. Seems like the manager was the only one who never made mistakes and I refused to be a victim anymore.

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My penmanship is usually much better but when you’re frustrated and in a hurry to leave, you get your point across any way possible.

We went to the Formula E race to watch electric race cars quietly tear up the track we rode a few days before.

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I ended up on Bing Maps after spotting their survey vehicle on the way home.

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My doctor confirmed that I had tendonitis in my right wrist which was caused by work. I filed an accident report but didn’t pursue a claim as it would have only led time off and no pay, something I didn’t need or want. Naturally and as expected, it turned into a clusterfuck of biblical proportions.

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My condition improved as the months went by, thankfully.

May 2015

I decided to retire from blogging (again) only to return a few days later (again).

And because May is National Bike Month, I decided I’d ride my bike to work all month.

It lasted two  days.

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We bought a couple of red-eared slider turtles and they are some of the coolest pets we’ve had. (They are surprisingly quick on dry land!)

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With the pittance my job was paying me, we bought what we could from the visiting Hello Kitty Café van (but their prices were kind of high, too). Ann had been waiting months for this!

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I ran 10k on the beach for the hell of it and made my own medal out of a seashell – for the shell of it.

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June 2015

I thought it would be fun to learn Japanese and I was all gung-ho to start. I made some progress but have pretty much given up at this point. I may start up again, though.

Anthony graduated from grade school and made his way to middle school. We’re incredibly proud of him and although the transition was tough at first, he’s now handling it like a champ.

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We went to a Touch-A-Truck event where kids were free to climb, touch, and experience huge vehicles up close.

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Despite my job sucking the life out of me, the company decided to send me to the Corporate Office for thorough Bakery and Deli training for whatever reason. I’m smiling here because a) I was not at the store being tormented and miserable and b) it was the first time I had ever gotten a 40-hour check while working there. And, we got to take home the food we made every day.

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I discovered that a local mall doesn’t allow alligators on their escalators.

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At said mall, Ann found an outfit she HAD to have but didn’t buy. (No, she didn’t have to have it. We just thought it was hideously ugly.)

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After my week of training, I returned to my regular work schedule only to realize that nothing at the store had changed.

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We discovered a revolving sushi restaurant and my life hasn’t been the same since. For the good, I might add.

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At $2.50 a plate, things can add up pretty quickly…

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July 2015

I was commissioned by a friend to shoot some stills of Anthony and other young golfers in action.

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For the second time this year, I failed my motorcycle skills exam.

Skip to :58 to see me dip inside the line in literally the last segment of the test. I still think it was messed up that the DMV official didn’t give me a second chance like the previous one did, especially since I had made it further into the test. Now I have to take it again. Thanks, buddy.

I won tickets to a Dodgers game, courtesy of world famous Philippe The Original.

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Here we are at said Dodgers game.

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The Screwing of the Dave continued at work where I was given some overnight shifts, apparently for being a such an awful person. Stocking dog food at 1:13 am is a job for unskilled morons who work overnight because it’s best they don’t associate with the general public, and thanks to the store manager, I had become one of those morons.

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Oh Hello, Kitty! She’s got the right uniform, too.

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I attended a meditation and chanting service at a local Buddhist church and loved it. I can see myself going regularly. (Note that this is my altar that sits on my drawing table.)

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August 2015

You can only kick a dog so many times before he turns around and bites you, and that’s exactly what happened in August. Pushed into a corner at work, I had no choice but to fight my way out of it which led to my indefinite suspension and eventual termination (or “your services are no longer needed” as was stated by the manager). But you know what? That’s okay because I can’t say enough positive things about the job I’ve been working since then, even if it’s only freelance work and I had a few weeks off. It’s close to home, it pays me well, and there are so many other things about it I love. Can you say beer and pretzels at our weekly Social Hour? Twice-weekly breakfasts? An environment free of drama? And there’s still hope that they will hire me soon which is something I desperately need now. Not only for the money, but because I really effing love what I’m doing now – as does Anthony, who I’ve taken with me a few times.

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See that? That’s the face of someone who is earning decent pay doing a job not many can do in an environment filled with like-minded and creative individuals. So screw stocking dog food and feminine hygiene products overnight, Ralphs. You can have it.

By the way, former boss. Shouldn’t you be wearing gloves while you handle food and assemble cakes, especially after touching your mouth?

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But remember, I’m the moron who didn’t follow the rules.

Anyway.

We bid a fond farewell to the Spirit of America, the local Goodyear blimp. We arrived the day after the official public event only to learn that there was a private event being held for friends and family of the blimp workers. But my brother worked for the blimp years ago and I dropped a few names and pointed out a few people in the crowd to the PR person – and we were in. Not only that, but we got to go inside the gondola, something that visitors on the previous day couldn’t do. It helps to know people!

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Although I have been on at least six blimp flights, it was still an absolute thrill to climb aboard her one last time. I just wish I could have been “going up” (as the crew would say) that day. Dad used to bring me here to watch the blimp land so it was even more meaningful for me to have Anthony experience it up close. He now has something to tell his kids about when the time comes.

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Useless Fact: during one blimp flight, I was asked by the pilot if I wanted to fly her. I refused for some reason, and that regret will follow me to my grave!

Later that month, I did another golf photo shoot in the wee hours of the morning. Lots of great shots were taken.

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Despite my best efforts to avoid it, I had become a part of the Apple Cult when we switched providers. I looked high and low for an Android phone that appealed to me and none of them did, so I went with the iPhone 6 if, for anything, a different experience. So far it has been and I love it. I’ve since upgraded to the 6s.

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A group of FA/18 jets were practicing at the airport and the public was invited to see them up close.

Of course we went.

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September 2015

After riding 20+ miles one day, my bike’s odometer finally hit 1,000 miles. I had at least 1,000 on it before I installed the device.

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Still working, still enjoying the view from the patio.

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While putting my stuff away after work, I ended up throwing my keys in my scooter’s underseat storage – and closing it shut. I had to take the train as close to home as possible where Ann met me with my backup key.

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I then had to take the train back to work and was able to ride my scooter home. What an adventure. But worth it because I saw this guy on the train. Don’t bother – you’ll never be as cool as him.

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I decided to join a gym again, a move I kind of regret because the closest one isn’t really close. And being outdoors is better.

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October 2015

I discovered San Antonio Winery and I like every flavor I’ve tried so far.

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The first week of October in Long Beach means one thing: Marathon Weekend!

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Anthony participated in his third Kids Fun Run on Saturday…

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…while Dad was up at an ungodly hour to ride his bike 20 miles on Sunday. It was 4:30 am when I took this shot.

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But even if it’s a long day, the reward is so worth everything you put into it.

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This was my sixth bike tour and I will be back in 2016 for my seventh, and my third combo (I’m running the 5k on Saturday).

Here’s the entire bike tour. I’d recommend running it at 2x speed.

Green Tea Kit Kats. ‘Nuff said.

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Our family tradition that started in 2004 continued as we got our picture taken in the cut-out at the local pumpkin patch.

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Despite November being No-Shave November, I went the opposite way and rid myself of facial hair a few weeks before because I got tired of the upkeep. And the grey.

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Halloween at the new place was as insane as I expected it to be. I wore this just so I could be in shorts at the office but I had to get my picture with a coworker who was dressed like The Dude – complete with his rug. Because it really tied his cubicle together.

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November 2015

An unannounced rocket test freaked out everyone in the SoCal area, including us.

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Video:

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For the first time ever, I left some stuff on Dad’s headstone for Dia de los Muertos. Anthony made the flowers out of duct tape.

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We goofed around at the L.A. Auto Show.

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A bit of a proud moment at the auto show when I saw one of the projects I worked on finally on display. It was strange seeing it in its intended state when previously I’d only seen it as a PDF file for proofing.

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My brother stopped by for a visit. He works as Disneyland and was in Tomorrowland for a few days, so I had to pose with this hideously ugly costume he was issued.

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Long Beach native Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Doggy Dogg or Bigg Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion depending on the day of the week) was doing his second turkey giveaway that week. I was off work early and decided to drop by VIP Records and see what was going on. Pretty cool guy, and he knew just about everybody who talked to him. Keepin’ it real, to use the parlance of our times.

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On Thanksgiving morning, I ran a Turkey Trot 5k at the last moment. A friend of mine and her wife were planning on doing it but one became sick a few days before, so she offered their entries to me and a former coworker. Every ninth finisher got a pie. I didn’t but my friend did. Lucky duck!

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And in the spirit of being thankful, I’m very thankful for Mom’s health improving. At her request, I’ll say nothing more about what she’s gone through over the last year.

December 2015

Holiday parties commence at the office. One day every department was treated to pizza and an assortment of libations. Yes, this is at my desk. No, it’s not uncommon to see alcohol in the refrigerators at work. Yes, I work at an amazing place with amazing people.

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With the price of the GoPro Hero 4 Session dropping to $199, I had no choice but to upgrade. Merry Christmas to me!

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More fun times at work, this time for the Kids Holiday Party. Poor Santa is struggling – Anthony is a solid kid.

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The decorations down the street from the office are beautiful.

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And that’s pretty much been my year and unless anything amazing happens in these last few days, that will be it for this blog post.

One last thing. After freelancing since August, I’m this close to being hired permanently. There are still some things that have to be worked out but it’s looking very good for me at this point, and all I have to do is wait until these things happen – and keep my productivity where it is. They seem to like me.

From stocking shelves at a grocery store where I was treated like crap to working on all sorts of literature for the automotive industry at a place that respects my abilities and where I’m surrounded by creative people. I’d say my year turned out to be pretty good, even if it had some awful moments here and there.

Here’s wishing your 2016 is filled with luck, health, and much love. Live one day at a time and never look back. It’s the only way to get through these crazy times.

 

All the best!
Dave

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.