Category Archives: Holidays

My 31st birthday

My 31st birthday was a week and a half ago, and it was pretty great! My birthday landed on a Monday, so I planned a birthday dinner at Gen Korean BBQ with some friends for the Saturday before my birthday. Here’s Antonio, Kaleigh, Anela, gem, Edward, and me after enjoying delicious KBBQ.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Before dinner, I saw Little Shop of Horrors performed live at Musical Theatre Village in Irvine with gem and Anela. I’m so glad gem found out about the show. I love the movie and had never seen it live. It was awesome! I loved the puppeteering of the Audrey II, and the actors performing both Seymour and Audrey were wonderful.

gem gave me these taco / dinosaur socks, which are perfect for Taco Tuesdays.

The Hursts had me over for dinner on Sunday. Look how big Meredith is getting! She’s adorable.

Henley picked out this delicious carrot cake for me. He informed me that the carrot on top was made out of frosting and that I had to share the cake if I wanted it. He also told me that I could lick the frosting off the candles, but I let him do that too. That kid’s one wonderful little person.

The following weekend, gem took me on a surprise trip. I knew she had something planned, but I didn’t know what. We went to Lions, Tigers & Bear, a sanctuary near San Diego. It was amazing!

I fed a bear! Yes! Seriously! This is Albert, a wonderful and gentle boy who loved his peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yep, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! What an awesome experience. We got a tour of the sanctuary and each of us had a ticket to feed one animal. gem and I both chose this beautiful grizzly bear!

The animals here are never bred and are never touched by humans unless under sedation. Guests feed them by using long tools so that they don’t get too close. The cats would all jump at the food, but Albert just lazily took the food. I love him!

Here are two of the sanctuary’s lions. The lion in the foreground was pretty aggressive. He really wanted all of his dinner at once and didn’t like how long it was taking. You should have seen him tear into his turkey leg.

This is Maverick, the tiger formally owned by Tyga the rapper. He was pretty awesome and definitely jumped for his pieces of meat! There was another tiger that was pretty crazy. He was super aggressive and would surely have torn us to pieces given the chance.

This gorgeous white tiger was cleaning himself just like a house cat.

This spotted leopard was willing to climb for his lunch. We also saw bobcats, a chicken, some peacocks, and Tom, a house cat who likes to wander around the premises. It was such an awesome experience.

Now, I know I already mentioned this, but I have to say it again…

I fed a bear! I fed Albert the grizzly bear! Look how cute he is! Thank you, gem, for the wonderful trip. And thanks too all my friends who helped celebrate or wished me a happy birthday! 🙂

Looking back on 2016, and looking forward to 2017

I keep hearing about how awful 2016 was and how 2017 should hopefully be better. There were a lot of celebrity deaths in 2016, and I was devastated by the presidential election. More personally, I was laid off from Toshiba in a huge reduction-in-force, and my roommate had to put our two dogs to sleep. Yeah, there were negatives. And yet I’ll be lucky if 2017 lives up to 2016.

I traveled to Europe and saw eight countries with three of my closest friends, gem, Antonio, and Anela, and visited two great friends, Jessica and Andrew, who had recently moved to Paris. I saw Denmark, the UK (including England and Northern Ireland), the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, and Sweden. It was amazing, and I swear I’ll get to sorting photos and blogging eventually.

I saw Disneyland Paris and our hometown Disneyland’s Season of the Force. I attended Devin and Lorena’s 30th wedding anniversary party that included a face-painted bar crawl and a 1920s speakeasy party. I saw Kristine’s first exhibit that she curated in LA – Firsts, Seconds and Thirds: African American Leaders in Los Angeles During the 1960s & 70s.

I watched Anela dance a few times, including Shimmy Shakedown featuring her and Melissa. I saw the Wet Silk art exhibit, met Jon Klassen at the LA Times Festival of Books, and watched an LA KISS Arena football game.

The Holi Festival was a colorful blast of fun. Here I am with gem, Tory, Sean, and Nicole. I also went to the Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival!

I went to a number of photoshoots with Anela, including this Fourth of July shoot that I really enjoyed, a fairy photoshoot, cherry blossoms, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall and train tracks in LA where I also got to shoot gem!

I took a bunch of friends to the Alpaca Hacienda for Anela’s birthday, and we got to see feed and pet alpacas and a llama!

I watched Sherlock Holmes and the Time Portal as well as Sweeney Todd, and gem surprised me with tickets to see Patton Oswalt. I’d been wanting to see his stand-up for a long time, and he didn’t disappoint. I had the three most amazing meals of my life – two at Frame in Paris and one for Edward’s birthday at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Pasadena.

I participated in a high-altitude sleep and cognitive ability sleep study at Barcroft Station, White Mountain Research Center where I witnessed some of the most beautiful views of nature I’ve ever seen. I saw the B-52s and Flight of the Conchords live as well as a number of local ska bands that I see regularly. I went to Allison’s awesome gaybut party and finally made it to one of Bryan’s parties where I participated in some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve had in a while.

I cosplayed Luke while gem cosplayed Professor Layton at San Diego Comic-Con. I also cosplayed Fix-It Felix Jr., and a Pokemon Go trainer. I got to dress as a zombie later in the year as well! I attended the Sonic the Hedgehog 25th anniversary party and saw some improv such as Spectacles, ImprovCity, and more.

Two great friends, Gracie and Jon, got married, and I got to watch.

I worked for three months doing server and other hardware installation for California DMVs. While I was traveling across the state, I got to visit my friends Matt, Katie, and Marc. I also had the chance to have lunch with Chuck Sommerville, a game designer whom I’ve admired for a very long time. He’s incredibly fascinating and has done many interesting things, and he was every bit as nice as I could have hoped.

And I even got to meet Alex and Darnell’s beautiful new daughter, Meredith.

Now I’m sure I’m missing many awesome things about 2016, but that just proves my point. If 2017 is half as good to me as 2016 was, I’ll be very grateful. Happy New Year.

DMV server installation job and Nor Cal trip

I recently finished a temporary, contract job as a field technician for Form 10 installing computer hardware in California DMVs. Each day, two technicians would arrive at a DMV at 2:30 PM. We’d install new a new uninterruptible power supply and rack server, remove the old UPS and server, remove the old camera workstation, install and configure a new one, install new fingerprint readers at every window, and remove the old fingerprint readers. We’d leave whenever we were finished (usually between 7 and 10 PM), and then one of us would come the next morning to watch from 7:30 AM until 10:00 AM. And then we’d drive to the next DMV. As the team lead, I also had a bit of paperwork.

It was nice experience installation the rack servers. The hardest part was the physical act of getting it racked. It was also interesting seeing the DMV from the other side. DMVs have a reputation for being slow and boring, but in reality they’re staffed by normal people who are for the most part trying to help customers. And some of those customers are pretty bad.

The real difficulty of the job was the hours. Every other day I didn’t work until 2:30, which sounds good. However, when you consider that I’m in a different hotel each night, waking up, eating breakfast, working out, checking out by 11, and then driving to the next DMV by 2:30, there wasn’t much time for anything. There were tiny pockets of time. Maybe I could work out quickly enough, check out early, drive to the next DMV as soon as possible, and get there by 12:30 or 1. That gave me maybe two hours, but those free hours were in an unfamiliar place without any physical space for me to use. It was tough, especially being in Northern California or the Central Valley for a few weeks without being home.

Surprisingly I ran into three emergencies. First, one of the security staff members at one of the DMVs was taken away on a gurney. I don’t know what happened to her, but she was able to walk to the gurney herself. At another DMV, I heard a bit of a commotion between the staff and found out that an ambulance came for a woman who fell in the parking lot. It was raining hard that day, and I heard she fell unconscious. I don’t know if she slipped in the rain, hit her head, and was knocked unconscious or if she suddenly lost consciousness, causing her to fall. What I do know is that I saw security coning off a part of the walkway the had a puddle of blood. Apparently she broke her nose. Lastly, my partner and I witnessed a woman pulling away from a man, yelling things like, “get away from me” and “don’t touch me!” I got security, and my partner brought her inside while the man followed. It seemed to be a domestic dispute. Maybe she was overreacting and he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Maybe he was doing something wrong. I don’t know. But I do know that at the end of the day, she was okay, and that’s what matters. The police came and talked to both me and my partner, and they reviewed the security footage right next to me as I installed the server. It was an interesting day.

There was some chance for fun as well. I had some down time one day and decided to visit the local university, Stanislaus State.

I had never even heard of it, but I enjoy universities, and this one was certainly beautiful.

I also saw some cool wildlife. Yes, this photo is terrible. But there are wild turkey in the center!

And here’s a terrible photograph a baby deer! It’s right under the bush in the center at the top.

While in Sacramento, I had the chance to visit the Capitol Building.

I had to take a photograph with the bear! Former-governor Schwarzenegger bought this and left it in the Capitol Building.

I met an interesting woman with whom I went out twice while in Sacramento too. She teaches fifth graders, including many who have hearing impairments. She uses ASL in the classroom. I found it particularly interesting to realize she has to watch for children signing during tests as a way of cheating. She also plays roller derby in Sacramento, which is pretty sweet!

Chuck Sommerville, creator of Chip’s Challenge, lives near Sacramento. I asked him if he’d like to join a fan for lunch, and he agreed. It was awesome. Chip’s Challenge is one of my favorite games; I have an autographed copy of the original Lynx version. The lunch was a pretty amazing experience. He’s a bit of a personal hero of mine and has done a lot of cool things. He always has fascinating projects and shares progress on Facebook. Over lunch he told me a lot about the development of Chip’s Challenge, Chip’s Challenge 2, and Chuck’s Challenge 3D. I also heard about some more of my Lynx favorites like Klax, Todd’s Adventures in Slime World, Gates of Zendocon, and California Games (Chuck designed the skateboarding game). He also told me about John Romero (designer of Doom) and how they were both huge fans of each other’s work.

Chuck now works with LEDs. One installation of which he was particularly proud was the “Sensing YOU” installation in San Jose, which I had a chance to check out. It interacts with the phone game, Ingress, and responds to the motion of pedestrians passing under it. He actually got me playing Ingress now too. It’s a location-based game made by Niantic, the same developer who later made Pokemon Go. Ingress and Pokemon Go use the same underlying data.

Here’s a video of the installation that I took! I was with Matt and Katie, who I stayed with one weekend. They were very gracious to let me stay in their home and are truly terrific people. I had a wonderful time with them!

I’d never put up Christmas lights and enjoyed the opportunity to help them.

They looked great!

Matt has an arcade cabinet at home that his brother gave him as a gift. Here’s Matt and Katie playing Bomberman together. This photo makes me really happy honestly! They’re wonderful together, and I might have a soft spot for arcade cabinets too.

Visiting them was really fun. I got to see my friend Marc a couple nights that weekend as well. It’s practically unbelievable to me that I originally met these great friends through World of Warcraft!

That’s my trip! I got to add rack server installations to my resume, see all sorts of the more rural parts of California in which I had never stopped, visit Sacramento, and even meet Chuck Sommerville. It was a pretty good gig!

Happy Fourth of July!

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! I went up to Vasquez Rocks recently for this photoshoot with Anela of her quite American dress.

CRW_9854

I thought I’d share some of my favorites here.

Fourth of July

The park seemed a nice place for hiking in the future, but we didn’t do much during the shoot. They apparently film a lot of TV and film here too – Star Trek, Bill & Ted’s, and the Flintstones to name a few.

For more of my photos from the shoot, you can check my Flickr.

Fourth of July

Here’s a shot Raymond (Instagram: @raymond_g583) took of us with the little fireworks!

Fourth of July

I like this one that Mike (Instagram: @dirty_caliboy_mike) took of me shooting.

Fourth of July

There was also some sweet food eating as is an obvious Fourth of July tradition. We were quite lucky that gem had so many hats! Thanks for the selfie, Antonio.

Fourth of July

Michelle was bringing a friend we didn’t know, and that friend ended up being Josh. It was a pretty funny surprise. Small world!

Fourth of July

gem wore this cute Fourth of July outfit complete with blue wig! Coincidentally, her brother wore pretty much the same outfit (besides the wig). Her family has awesome fashion sense!

Fourth of July

We also ate oh-so-much food – barbecue, meats, veggies, fruit, pizza, cheesecake, cake, ice cream, and more! This red, white, and blue ice cream was gem’s masterpiece. It was blueberry ice cream with swirls of strawberry jelly and marshmallow. It was all delicious!

What a fantastic celebration of America!

Anela’s birthday at the Alpaca Hacienda

The Alpaca Hacienda

For Anela’s birthday, I arranged a tour of the Alpaca Hacienda in Temecula. She loves alpacas, so I thought it’d be great. When I was first feeling her out about it, the conversation went something like this.

“Have you ever been to an alpaca farm?”

“Nope, ugh, that’d be terrible!” At this point, I felt confused. She wouldn’t enjoy it? Would I need to find a different gift? But then she continued. “I’d never want to leave!” Perfect.

The Alpaca Hacienda

If you didn’t get invited, don’t blame Anela. I organized it, so you can get mad at me. I promise I’ll ignore you and not care.

Anela, gem, Claudia, Tram, and I met early so we could be sure to get to Temecula in time for our tour. Claudia brought some delicious cupcakes. I’ve had banana muffins, but have you ever had a banana chocolate cupcake? I have now, and it was delicious. I also brought some orange juice, water, and homemade egg muffins for everyone.

The Alpaca Hacienda

We gave her gifts and cards too. I like making handmade cards, but this was my first attempt at one with a slide and moving parts. The little alpaca jumps the fence. It took a while to figure out the best way to do it, but I’m pretty pleased with the result.

The Alpaca Hacienda

We reached The Alpaca Hacienda about 10 minutes before our scheduled time, which was pretty perfect. Oh man, look how cute these girls were! Tina, the Ranch Event Coordinator, met us and started our tour with a little presentation about alpacas. She was wonderful. I’d been e-mailing with her since December, so it was nice to meet her. These are all female alpacas in this pen that was right next to where we were having our presentation.

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Next it was time to feed Crown Royal! We learned that alpacas don’t really like to be touched, so the best way to get to pet him is to approach slowly and pet him gently while someone else distracts him with food! Luckily we were each given a bag of delicious (at least according to Crown Royal) food!

The Alpaca Hacienda

Thanks for the photos, gem. Feeding Crown Royal was so much fun! I’ll admit, my hand was pretty slobbery, but it was worth it. And hey, if you’re interested in having your alpaca breed with him, he’s available! I’m not sure why I decided to Google him, but I did.

The Alpaca Hacienda

After feeding Crown Royal, we learned a little about felt. One way felt is made is by applying water, pressure, and rubbing. I got the craft add-on to the tour (because of course we want to craft), so we got to make felt – or hairy soap I suppose. We were given some alpaca hair that we opened, cleaned, and then wrapped around a bar of soap with some water. We massaged it and spread it around the soap before finally using string to finish with some flair. We could use it as soap, and as the soap gets used up, the hair will continue to shrink and tighten around it, becoming felt, or we could use it as decoration. I’m going to keep mine as decoration.

The Alpaca Hacienda

Next it was time to see the males, but we took a detour to pet Dakota. Dakota is a sweet doggy that was all tuckered out. Dakota’s been protecting the alpacas from a coyote! Apparently the coyote has been coming to the ranch regularly.

The Alpaca Hacienda

The Alpaca Hacienda homes a single llama that we got to meet as well. Llamas, unlike alpacas, are quite friendly around people. This one really wanted kisses. He’d press up against our faces. I love him.

The Alpaca Hacienda

Tina was nice enough to take a photo of our whole group with an alpaca and the llama! What a good-looking bunch, eh? I had a ton of fun at the Alpaca Hacienda and definitely recommend it. We ended our afternoon in the gift shop. They had some fun finger puppets, so I bought a couple for gem. There was also a little alpaca wearing a hat. An alpaca with clothes?! I had to send Anela home with it.

I found a tea place that seemed nice on Yelp, so we headed to Snow & Crab after our tour. It was quite the eclectic restaurant – Cajun food, tea, coffee, and shaved ice. We got a round of drinks and enjoyed some conversation. gem ordered hot horchata coffee with boba. It was actually pretty good!

The Alpaca Hacienda

After our little break, we checked out the Ricardo Breceda Gallery & Sculpture Garden! It was twenty minutes out of the way but well worth it. These sculptures were amazing. Check out that octopus in the above photo!

The Alpaca Hacienda

Look, gem joined a mariachi band!

The Alpaca Hacienda

I asked another person at the sculpture garden to take our photo. There were so many different kinds of sculptures from small insects, to life-sized people, to large dinosaurs. They were all very cool. Ricardo Breceda, the artist, said they could take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months to create depending on the size.

Ricardo Breceda

Next we headed back to Orange County to meet Daniel for dinner at Gen. It was time for delicious Korean BBQ! I ate so much, which is obviously customary at KBBQ. We were seated between 5:30 and 6:00 – once again perfect timing. Everything went so amazingly smoothly!

The Alpaca Hacienda

After discussing the video Tiny hamster eating a tiny pizza earlier, gem felt inspired to make a tiny taco. It was cute, but I don’t think it’s quite as a cute without a tiny animal eating it!

Next we rounded out the night at the nearby 7 Leaves Cafe for our second tea lounge of the day. You know what I just noticed as I wrote this post thanks to last years post, Happy birthday, Anela? We went to Gen as well as 7 Leaves Cafe last year for her birthday!

Everything we did that day was fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know my three new friends! Most importantly, Anela got to have a fun birthday. Happy birthday! I hope you had fun! 🙂

My 30th birthday (over a month ago)

birthday

My birthday was really amazing this year. I wasn’t feeling so happy with things around that time, but the day was so perfect and I felt so loved that it lifted my spirits immensely. I couldn’t have imagined a better day.

my birthday, henley

My plans were in the afternoon, leaving my morning free. It just so happened that Henley was playing at a park in Irvine with Alex and Darnell that morning, so things worked out perfectly. I met them at the park and had a great time. Henley was so excited to see me and is absolutely adorable. I played with him for a while, and when Darnell said I had to leave, he threw a little bit of a fit. He also wished me a happy birthday and even sang. <3

my birthday

In the afternoon, I headed to gem’s where gem, Anela, Edward, Antonio, and Kaleigh celebrated with me. And by celebrate, I mostly mean eat!

I think a collage tells the food story better than individual photographs. Let’s go clockwise. On the top-left is a strawberry shortcake mochi. Yep, that’s a piece of strawberry shortcake wrapped inside mochi. Delicious! Everything in the top-right was brought by Anela as well. Two kinds of cookies and two different kinds of pastries! Below that one is mango-jalapeño salsa I made and some pastries Antonio and Kaleigh brought from Porto’s that were delicious. Below that one is fondue! gem was the mastermind there, but she enlisted the help of some others too. We ate it with a variety of things, but I’m using a slice of apple in the photo. The bottom-right is a bacon-wrapped hot dog. The bottom-left corner shows three big desserts. gem bought the two pies – cherry and apple, and Antonio and Kaleigh brought the great tres leches cake. Lastly, the photo above that was taken before we realized the grill wasn’t working. I moved the hot dogs into the oven.

my 30th birthday

Look how beautiful that dessert plate is! gem even supplied some homemade ice cream. How many calories is on this plate alone? I don’t want to know.

smm

After eating, we played some games. gem had been raving about Spyfall, so we tried that. It’s a party game in which everybody gets a card with a location listed (such as “Sesame Street” or “Pink Paradise Stripper Bar,” both locations used when we played) except one player gets one that just says “spy.” Players take turns asking each other questions related to the location, forcing the spy to have to try to answer without actually knowing the location. It was a lot of fun! We also all made a level together in Super Mario Maker – Peter’s 30th Birthday Bash. I wrote about it on Polygons and Pixels, and you can find it by using ID BBD9-0000-01E1-1F90.

It was great to kick off my 30’s with close friends and a ton of desserts – my favorite things. Really, I’m just glad to be surrounded by so many loving, wonderful people. Thanks for making me feel special and being so special yourselves!

Devin and Lorena’s 30th wedding anniversary

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

To celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, Devin and Lorena threw the most amazing weekend party a couple months ago. It started with a face-painted bar crawl in San Clemente. I headed down after work and met Gracie and Jon at the hotel because I was sharing a room with them. I decided pretty early on that I was going to do clown face paint, and it was just coincidence that I had that colorful tie.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

With the right lighting, it looked pretty creepy I think!

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

This is Darnell and me at one of the bars. It was hard not to smile for photos!

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Here’s Devin and Alex. This was actually at the end of the night when we got back to the house Lorena and Devin were renting for the weekend. At the end of the bar crawl, we all met at the house for ice cream. They hired their favorite ice cream shop from Orange County to bring machines and come make ice cream at the house. I wish I could remember the flavors. I’m pretty sure one involved beets, which was tasty. They were all good, but I can’t remember them now. This is what I get for waiting too long to blog.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

What I didn’t know was that throughout the night, Lorena and Devin were asking all the bartenders to vote for their favorite man’s face paint and favorite woman’s. It was actually the next night that they told us about it, but I’ll talk about it here. I won unanimously! That was a pretty pleasant surprise. I won a poker set with a plaque on the top the says “Devin & Lorena’s 30th anniversary 2016,” which was really cool. In the photo above, my friend Melissa is in the middle. She won the best woman’s face paint. Those eyes were crazy awesome.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

I thought I’d share what it looked like when I took off the face paint. It was pretty cool.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Saturday was a 1920’s speakeasy party in the evening. I spent the earlier part of the day eating and walking around San Clemente a bit. Come time for the party, I got to wear the bow tie that gem bought for me on vacation in New York!

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Here I am with Jon. This was when we first got to the house. The party was at the same house at which the bar crawl ended.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Darnell and Gracie look great! The party was really well done. We even had to use a password to get into the party. I think it’s safe to spill the beans now. “Devin’s a lucky bastard!”

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Gracie could fit in very well in that era. Maybe she’s a time-traveler.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

The food was absolutely amazing. Devin and Lorena hired one of their favorite chefs to come cook us so many delicious things. Every fifteen minutes or so a new course was prepared and carried around to us as we drank and talked. They were all really good, and they went out of their way to prepare vegetarian and vegan variations for the guests.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Devin and Lorena performed vow renewals in their spiffy duds. The vows were so perfectly them – amazingly loving and just a tad sexual and crude!

The guests were all fascinating, fun people who, luckily, were great conversationalists. I could sit next to anyone and find myself in an interesting discussion almost instantly. I suppose fun people know other fun people!

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

By the end of the night, it was time for Devin to take a little nap. Alex and I were the last to leave. We Uber’d back to our hotel where he was staying directly above me. Unfortunately, no one in his hotel room could hear him knocking at the door or calling, so he shared the pull-out couch with me in my room.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

Here’s a little bonus. On Sunday, we had brunch at the house before heading home, which gave me a chance to see Henley. The little guy looks tuckered out.

Devin and Lorena's 30th wedding anniversary

And this face is just hilarious.

No one throws a party like Lorena and Devin. It was an awesome weekend. I can only imagine what their 40th will be like!

The last day of gem’s twenties

gem's birthday

Last month we celebrated the gem’s birthday by celebrating the last day of her twenties! She wanted to do something that reminded her of her twenties (although we modified for out appropriate ages).

gem's birthday

We started with Jell-O shots! But as it was a work night, we started early… and used champagne. gem gave me the calorie count too, because that’s what’s important now, haha.

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Dave & Buster’s was the perfect location for the celebration. We started with dinner (after snacking at her place). When gem couldn’t decide on a dessert, Edward and I insisted on ordering two.

gem's birthday

Squeezing into a photo booth, we did our best to all get in the frame. The birthday girl’s best wasn’t good enough. You’ll notice she’s the only one not visible in any of the photos.

gem's birthday

Round two was better. Now we can see gem! We’re a really gorgeous bunch.

gem's birthday

gem played some Kung Fu Pando Dojo Mojo by following along with Po and punching the sensors. She was a lot better than I was! We also played a few rounds of air hockey, some trivia, and my favorite – Pac-Man Battle Royale.

I think Anela’s ready to play professional football after this. She seemed to get into it! I played a game with Anela that involved hitting lit up sensors faster than your opponent that was pretty fun. gem and I also played a DDR knock-off. I didn’t catch the names of any of those games. Edit: Thanks, YouTube! It’s called Gridiron Blitz!

gem's birthday

After D&B’s, we headed back to gem’s to eat some macarons. We split them five ways, hence them looking all cup up and ugly here.

gem's birthday

It’s not a birthday without “Happy Birthday” hats! Most of us even sat up for the photo…

gem's birthday

Even some of gem’s stuffed friends joined in the celebration by wearing hats.

gem's birthday

Speaking of hats, my gift to gem involved hats in a way. These are characters from Jon Klassen’s “I Want My Hat Back.”

Okay, this is embarrassing. “I Want My Hat Back” is a children’s book that gem and I both like. I already had voices for every character, so performing it as a stick puppet was the next logical step. You should support Klassen by purchasing it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

It seems to me that gem ended her twenties with a pretty terrific night.

Turning 30

birthday

Today’s my 30th birthday, and I’m posting this just before my birthday ends.

I’ll post about my birthday weekend more in the future, but for now, I just want to say that I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded by so many loving, wonderful people. I’m a lucky man.

Christmas Creations

Christmas is a time for giving, and this year I gave a few homemade gifts. I thought I’d share some here!

Christmas card to gemThis is a Christmas card I gave. Yes, there was writing too, but I’m not sharing any. Christmas card for Anela

Here’s another one. I was pretty happy with it.

Christmas card for EdwardOne last card. These took hours each on average. I suppose I’m slow. Bunny for gem

This chubby little bunny was made for gem. I had to learn how to hand sew to make this. It was slow at first but got faster as I learned different stitches.

Bunny for gemThe side angle lets you see his little tail. gem with her bunny

She liked him! I’m really happy with how the bunny turned out. I think he’s pretty adorable, and he’s quite cuddly too.

gem with her bunnyThis is a cute photo. I like the bow tie. It’s attached with a safety pin rather than being sewed on so that it can be moved to become a ribbon on the ear instead! Belly dancer alpaca for Anela

Anela likes alpacas – particularly stuffed alpacas in costumes.

Belly dancer alpaca for AnelaI made this alpaca and then decided to put it in a belly dance costume. Anela with her belly dancer alpaca

Anela recognized it right away, which definitely made me happy!

belly dancer alpaca

It was based off one of the belly dance costumes that she’s worn. Plus I added a bell because… well… I like bells.

Evyerthing I made was well-received, and I had a ton of fun making them. It was strange when I finally finished; I didn’t know what to do with my free time. I spent countless nights in December working until 6 in the morning. Most of my free time the entire month was spent working. I decided to watch Parks and Recreation while working and got through three and a half seasons. I might be slow, and I might not be the most skilled, but I’m diligent!

Ending 2015 with the Ska Luau VI and a NYE party

Following tradition, I ended 2015 by attending the Ska Luau on the 30th and going to a New Year’s Eve party at the Carters’ on the 31st. It was a lot of fun!

Ska  Luau VI

gem and I were looking good at the Ska Luau. I need to work on evening my tan.

Ska  Luau VI

The two of us were rocking our Suburban Legends shirts! The Luau featured the Magnolia Polynesian Dance Troupe, Karate in the Garage, Hooray for Our Side, Suburban Legends, and Starpool. What a sweet line up!

Ska  Luau VI

We ran into our friend Bryan who’s the trumpet player for Skapeche Mode and Failed to Victory. All the bands performed amazing sets. I’d never heard Karate in the Garage, so that was a treat. I’d only seen Hooray for Our Side once, and they gave a great performance. Suburban Legends and Starpool are two of my favorite bands, and they somehow always exceed expectations. I didn’t take many photos of Suburban Legends. There choreography is so awesome that still photos wouldn’t do them justice. However, I have some videos of them playing and dancing in the playlist at the top of this post.

Ska  Luau VI

Starpool came out in a bang of confetti!

Ska  Luau VI

Throw my hands up and shout! I love when they perform this. You can see T-bone Willy Wonka and an Oompa Loompa on stage too. My ears were ringing all day the next day.

New Year's Eve Party

I brought a lot of food to the New Year’s Eve party – brownies, lemon bars, and biscuit pizzas.

New Year's Eve PartyI told Henley that I had a gift for him in the car, and he was pretty excited. He was so adorable asking if it was time to open it yet. He needed some help getting it unwrapped! New Year's Eve Party

He seemed pretty happy with his new Buzz Lightyear! As it turns out, he had really wanted one too. While I was undoing the ties to get Buzz out of the package, Henley repeatedly gave me hugs. He’s so cute.

We suggested he open gem’s gift while I got Buzz out of the box. gem gave him a jacket that looks like a polar bear, complete with bear ears of course. He’s wearing it in that photo, although he didn’t want the hood.

New Year's Eve Party

Dev’s dog, Happy, is totally a lap dog.

New Year's Eve Party

Here’s me and Dev! He’s one of my oldet friends. We met in 8th grade.

New Year's Eve Party

I guess Mike likes my brownies! Actually, he was wondering why Dev scooped them out of the pan with a spoon.

New Year's Eve Party

gem made cheesecake ice cream as gifts and left them in a freezer. I realized that Gracie and Jon forgot to take one, so we began discussing the ice cream. Somehow we realized we could heat up my homemade brownies and serve them with gem’s homemade cheesecake ice cream.

New Year's Eve Party

Super success! A picture doesn’t really do it justice, but trust me that it was delicious.

And that was my New Year’s Eve! Thanks to Alex, Darnell, Henley, gem, Devin, Lorena, Gracie, Jon, Mike, Dev, and a couple people who I didn’t really know (sorry, I forgot names after a day already) for a fantastic end to 2015!

Thanks to 2015 and everyone who made it great

Crow on the lake

This was quite the year filled with many fun activities. It seems like a nice time for some reflection. I went to Michigan, which was beautiful, with Duncan. I’d never been that far north or east.

Niagara Falls

On that same trip, I left the country for the first time to visit Niagara Falls.

Lee's Palace

I also visited Toronto! It was an awesome city.

Holland Tayloe Gedney as Elsa

I went to San Diego Comic-Con again. Here I’m dressed as an Aquabat with Holland Tayloe Gedney’s Elsa.

The Aquabats!

It was also my first year cosplaying – not counting the Aquabats costume I’ve worn to SDCC previously for concerts. This is Professor Monty Corndog from the Aquabats (with the Aquabats)!

Snapchat magic by gem

And let’s not forget Fix-It Felix, Jr.

Bay Area friends

I visited friends in the Bay Area when I went to San Francisco for a conference.

SoCal Paddle Yoga

I did a lot of yoga, including paddle yoga. I started practicing yoga in the summer of 2014 and continued in 2014. Starting in June, I did yoga daily, never missing a day. I took over 130 yoga classes in 2015. My wrist is still healing but is feeling much better. I think the glucosamine sulfate (thanks to the pianist from Intergalactic Nemesis for the suggestion) and vertical mouse is helping quite a bit. I also hurt my knee, so for the past few months I’ve only been doing restorative or yin yoga. Honestly, I can see the good in this. I’ve learned to appreciate yin and restorative so much more, which helps give me a deeper understanding to my practice and myself.

dancing

Speaking of hurting my knee, I’ve also been dancing a lot more. I took 40-something dance classes this year. While I tried a lot of different areas, I like Balboa, Argentine tango, and Lindy Hop the most. I’m glad I have fun friends who like to go dancing.

Ooey Gooey Berry PieI baked an ooey gooey berry pie for Anela to celebrate the fact that she passed the bar. I also got to attend her bar admission ceremony and law school graduation. Folly at Dapper Day

gem and I went to the Dapper Day expo at Downtown Disney and to Folly, the afterparty.

gem on stage with Suburban Legends!gem and I were extras during the filming of The Big Day, and gem got this great photo of her with Suburban Legends. Free Comic Book Day and ImprovCity's Comic Book Day show!

I saw so much talent in my friends. This is Free Comic Book Day show at ImprovCity with my friend Alex Bower front and center. Besides some regular shows, I saw him in Scary Pants (which he wrote), Millennial Falcon at Second City, and HIStory/HERstory.

UntitledSpeaking of talented friends named Alex, I saw Alex Foster clowning around and got pulled on stage for more participation (just like the last clown show I saw before this one). Little Jimmy the Robot of the Aquabats

I painted a little Jimmy the Robot.

Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_CoreI also painted this Adventure Time mug. Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_Core

You have to see both sides.

That’s not to mention the cool Christmas gifts and cards I made this year. I haven’t given them all to their recipients yet, so I don’t want to show anything.

IMG_3833gem took me to a sushi class where we prepared sushi rolls! She’s the best 🙂Coup de Comedy 2015

We also saw Kindred Throats, an amazing musical comedy duo. She liked them so much, she baked them cookies. Twice.

Anela's graduation

I attended Anela’s law school graduation from Chapman.

bar admission ceremony

…and her CA Bar admission ceremony.

Kurios

gem and I saw Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS! Amazing!

Me and Anela at the Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show

I saw Anela dance a number of times, including the really fun Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show.

watson adventures

I helped solve a mystery at the Watson Adventures.

Blacklight Run

I ran (jogged/walked) a Blacklight Run with these two fun people.

Snow photo shoot with gem and Anela

I even got to see snow for the first time.

Heck, the year even started with my friends getting engaged.

I did so many other cool things too such as…

  • Reading all surviving plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides that I hadn’t read previously.
  • Having agents draft social media responses for me at work
  • Participating in a behavioral study
  • Becoming friends with Bryan Lackey, awesome ska trumpet player
  • Wakeboarding
  • Watching my brother perform in the Spectacles Improv Engine’s Student Showcase
  • Seeing a meteor shower
  • Attending a sand sculpture festival
  • Jogging/walking a Blacklight Run
  • Running the Walking Dead Experience
  • Seeing bands such as the Aquabats, the Interrupters, Starpool, Suburban Legends, LA Swing Barons, Imagine Dragons, Metric, Halsey, the LA Philharmonic, and Scott Bradlee and the Postmodern Jukebox
  • Vacationing with my roommates and friends in Vegas
  • Swing dancing in Downtown Disney
  • Visiting the OC Fair and OC Night Market
  • Watching Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Lots of blogging (see my earlier post)

And I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention a thousand things. Thanks to everybody who helped make 2015 such an amazing year.

My Merry Christmas

Christmas 2015

My Christmas was certainly merry, and I hope everyone else’s was too. This is my little Christmas tree. I hadn’t put the homemade ornaments on it yet, but I forgot to get a photo with them and the gifts. Whoops.

Christmas 2015

This is at my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve. We do our main celebrating and gift exchange on Christmas Eve, while Christmas day is more relaxed. This photo was just my generation of the family. That’s my cousin Haley on the left, my cousin Mitch under his gifts, and my brother on the right.

Christmas 2015Here’s another of Mitchell. He’s pretty awesome. Christmas 2015

Now I’m standing with my grandma, my aunt, and my mom. My grandpa is on the right.

Christmas 2015Here’s one of me and Pete. He’s trying to hold up a photo on his phone he took of my grandma’s butt.

What happened to grandma’s shoe? Weird. Christmas 2015

Here’s a couple gifts from gem! She gave me a Bluetooth speaker, a set of bear sheets (I can’t wait to get into bed tonight), and a ukulele! Amazing! I brought my ukulele with me today when I went to my parents’ for Christmas day to practice. I’m trying to play Martian Girl by the Aquabats. Yes, gifts from me are missing from this post. I’ll talk about them some other time!

Thanksgiving weekend

TommyThis might not have been a Thanksgiving spent in Hawaii, but it was still nice and fairly packed full of action. I spent most of Wednesday evening attempting to create pumpkin pie blondies. While I’ll still eat them, I’d say they didn’t work out. Oh well! Thanksgiving morning I woke up at 4 to get an early start and to drive Anela to LAX. On the way home, I stopped by my dad’s to say hello and then headed home for a nap. In the afternoon, I went to my aunt’s in Redondo Beach for Thanksgiving. That’s her dog, Tommy, at the top. Tommy

He was pretty freakin’ adorable. I spent the evening with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. It’s been great getting to know my cousins as young adults. Usually my mom, stepdad, and sometimes brother come too, but this year they didn’t come. I found out that Mom and Pete were painting the house this weekend instead. Oh well. We had a delicious meal, watching Jurassic World and Shark Tank, and played Bananagrams, Rummikub, and Triominos. My cousin Haley left fairly late in the evening to do Black Friday shopping. I didn’t even realize that stores were open at midnight. It seemed crazy to me. More on this very soon…

Ferris WheelI left a little after 11 for Irvine. After getting home, I met with gem. For Black Friday from midnight to 8 AM, Spectrum was going to have free carousel and Ferris wheel rides. Now that I knew stores were open at midnight, it made much more sense. Carousel

We started with the carousel ride, which was right next to a live DJ. Fun!

Ferris WheelNext up was the Ferris wheel. It was freezing, but it was fun! There was free ice skating as well, but we decided it was too cold for that. We went to Macy’s to look for a bathroom, and next thing I knew, we were shopping. I had to send a Snapchat to Haley. Just a few hours earlier, I thought Black Friday shopping at night was silly, yet here I was, 3 in the morning, sucked into stores. I didn’t buy anything though. Selah Laughing

After a short night of sleep, I went with gem to her parents’ for a large Thanksgiving meal. Here’s gem’s niece, Selah, laughing. She’s beautiful! I’d seen photos of her, but this was my first time meeting her. How lucky I was!

Selah Eats Ice CreamSelah liked gem’s homemade ice cream. Was that the Earl Grey or the apple pie? No idea. Selah Eats Ice Cream

She got a little on her face! 🙂

Selah SelfieShe likes playing with phones and seemed to like the camera. We took this selfie! I was careful to ensure she didn’t call 911. She did that recently at their house. Selah

Here’s Selah playing with gem’s ukulele. She hit it like a drum, but when she held it up to smash it down, gem took it away. She’s so adorable!

Musical FamilyI played two games of chess with gem’s nephew, Caleb. He kicked my butt. gem and her brothers had a family jam session too! I thought that was really cool. South Coast Plaza

After that? Black Friday shopping again somehow. There’s nothing I really want in particular, and nothing jumped out at me, but it was still fun.

Vegan ChiliOn Saturday, I visited my mom, Pete, and James. I had offered to help paint the house, but they actually had finished. We played Scrabble and ate chili. Yum! Mrs. Cronk We also came across some old school photos. Can you find me? This is from kindergarten. Mrs. Thorness And this one is from first grade. Later Saturday night I read some of Aeneid, finished Iphigenia at Aulis, and watched Big Hero 6. Exciting evening! Original Pancake House

Sunday morning I awoke early to pick up Anela from LAX. I actually drove over 350 miles this weekend, which is impressive considering I didn’t actually go out of town. On the way home, we stopped at Original Pancake House for breakfast! We had blueberry pancakes and Swedish pancakes. Tasty tasty.

Pumpkin pie blondies (with dark chocolate)

In the evening, I finished the weekend by eating leftovers and watching Frozen with gem. We also had these treats! I baked pumpkin pie blondies recently. They tasted decent though they were too strong and too soft and mushy. I considered them failures. gem thought to cover them in dark chocolate. It was a nice improvement; they were much tastier!

Dinner at The Playground for Edward’s birthday

The Playground

Last night I had dinner at The Playground in Santa Ana to celebrate Edward’s birthday. I’d heard great things about the restaurant, so I was pretty excited. I’ve been trying to save money, and I also heard it was expensive, so I was hoping it’d be worth it. But how could I say no to birthday meal with one of my closest friends?

The Playground

Jan Enters The Arena With A Steam Bun Challenge 8 to be a judge / 4ea tried & true. pork belly steam bun, forever unchanged.

Everything’s meant to be shared, and you can order in waves. The first thing we tried as the “Jan Enters The Arena With A Steam Bun Challenge 8 to be a judge / 4ea tried & true. pork belly steam bun, forever unchanged.” Yep, that’s the whole. I feel like it’s worth including the full detail from the menu here. The Playground has a menu that changes daily, but the pork belly steam bun is a staple that’s permanent. Jan, one of the chefs, wants to change it up. You can order the original or you can pay more to be a judge – you get one original and one of Jan’s new ones, but you have to provide feedback. We got two orders of judege orders and shared so we could all try it. The classic has guacamole and radish (so not exactly what you’d normally expect anyways) whie the new one Vietnamese-inspired with spicy… something… I can’t remember or tell from the picture now… and cilantro. I can think of a few close friends who wouldn’t like that, but all four of us agreed – Jan’s new dish wins! It was delicious!

The Playground

Grilled & Chilled Wagyu Picanha Salad, Butter Lettuce, Yuzu & Seka Hills Olive Oil Dressing, Compressed Persimmons, Blood Orange, Cilantro, Radish

Next up was this salad. What are these words I don’t know? Wagyu are a variety of cattle breeds, including Kobe, known for high quality beef. Obviously. And picanha is a popular Brazilian beef cut. Honestly, the salad was one of the my least favorite items on the menu, but that’s mostly because of how awesome other things were.

The Playground

Brussels Sprouts Caesar, Jalapeño Dressing, Cotija, Tortilla, Cornbread Crumble, Radish

Holy crap. I think this was the best thing I tasted all night. Can I figure out how to make this? Maybe? It was amazing. I’m going to try to reverse-engineer this.

The Playground

Pan Roasted Wild Mushrooms, Goat Cheese Cream, Fried Acorn Squash, Hazelnuts, Dried Cranberry, Crispy Sage

This was pretty tasty, but it paled in comparison to the amazing Brussels sprouts.

The Playground

Maple Glazed Pork Chop

The pork chop came out next. Just look at that thing! They recommend you only order it if you have four people. gem carved it up for us, and man, was it good. That maple glaze was dripping with deliciousness, and I was sure to swirl each bite around in the glaze left at the bottom of the plate.

The Playground

Brunette Downs Grass Fed Braised Beef Cheek, Brown Butter Toasted Farro, Kabocha Squash Puree, Shaved Apple, Pecan, Rocket, Jus

I didn’t realize how amazing beef cheek was. The beef just fell apart in my mouth and practically dissolved. Poor Edward was getting full at this point, but I devoured it.

The Playground

Passion Fruit & Guava Sorbet

Honestly? Kind of meh. But it worked well as a palate cleanser between dishes.

The Playground

Hazelnut Cake, Orange Blossom Tea, Toasted Coconut, Pineapple Ice Cream

This was the dessert I really wanted, and I’m glad we ordered it. It was tasty, but it wasn’t the dessert winner in my opinion. That honor went to…

The Playground

Black Mission Fig Sticky Toffee Pudding

…the toffee pudding! Amazing. Can I cover it in Brussels sprouts and stuff it with pork chop and beef cheek? No, that wouldn’t be a good idea? I guess that’s why I’m not a chef.

This might have been one of the best meals I’ve ever had. In addition, the service was great, and the staff was very friendly. So, maybe I didn’t a great job saving money and not eating out, but it was certainly an awesome meal.

The Playground with Carrie

As an added bonus, here’s a photo of me and Carrie! You’d think there’d be one of me and Edward since it was his birthday. There is actually, but it wasn’t on my phone, so Carrie wins. Thanks for the fun meal everyone!

Me and Edward

Edit: Carrie gave me this great photo of Edward and me!

Hatha for Hunger

Hatha for Hunger 2015

Saturday night was Hatha for Hunger, a Halloween gala hosted through Purple Yoga to raise money for hungry children. It was held at the Long Beach Museum of Art and kicked off with two yoga classes – an outdoor sunset vinyasa flow and an indoor gentle flow.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

I chose the outdoor class and had my mat near the front so I could easily see the ocean. It was quite beautiful and hosted by two of my favorite instructors, Alex and Sean, as well as Scott, who I didn’t know.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

Here’s the view at the end. It was one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve even taken.

Hatha for Hunger 2015

I took the easy path and wore my Aquabats costume. I didn’t put together a new costume, and this seemed like the easiest costume in which to do yoga. gem went as a mermaid!

Hatha for Hunger 2015, me as an Aquabat and Alex

Here’s a photo of me and Alex after the class.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sean as caveman and me as Aquabat

Sean didn’t club too many people during class.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sean and gem

Here’s a great photo of Sean and gem. I’m glad I got one in which you can actually see gem’s costume.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Sterling and Megan

Here I am with Sterling the wrestler and Megan as a… okay, I think I can remember it all… mermaid, butterfly, unicorn… and Flavor Flav if you consider her clock purse (not shown).

Oh, and I wore the socks my grandmother gave me a few months ago because she confused me for someone else and thought I loved crazy socks. One has burgers and the other has fries. I think it goes well with the Aquabats costume.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, Kel, Jai, gem, me, aquabat

I squeezed into the frame with gem, Jai, and Kel for this great photo.

Hatha for Hunger 2015, JT as Forrest Gump and me as Aquabat

Last but not least, I danced with Forrest Gump (JT). Such an awesome costume!

It was a super fun evening. Besides yoga and taking photos, there was also some wine and champagne, great music, and lots of socializing. DJ Dory was there, playing music for the outdoor flow and the party afterwards. I also made some new friends, talking about yoga, working out, music, dancing, and more. Yay for new friends! I’m thankful to everyone who helped make it what it was, including staff and attendees alike!

(But sorry to my other friends at Rita’s party that I didn’t see, heh. I was too sleepy.)

Happy Back to the Future Day!

It’s Back to the Future Day! Today’s the day in the “future” that the heroes of Back to the Future visit in the second movie. At 4:29 PM today the time machine should appear in California!

Check out the cool video posted by the Back to the Future Trilogy Facebook page!

I would have included photos from the Spectacles performance, Improv to the Future, but apparently I didn’t take any. What?! I wrote about it though.

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day weekend was pretty packed. In fact, it started before the actual weekend. Duncan and I went to happy hour at Gina’s Pizza Wednesday, which turned into a fun night. While Thursday was a nice day, Friday was busy again. That was Anela’s graduation, which I already talked about in another post.

However, when I got home, I found that my roommates were enjoying some cocktails by the fire pit outside with music. We ran out of wood to burn, so eventually Duncan started finding wood to burn in the garage – a single plank, pieces of old furniture, etc. His sword also made an appearance in an attempt to cut some wood. Not only did that fail, but the sword got damaged.

Memorial Day BBQ

Saturday night we had some people over to hang out. Alex came over, and while Haley didn’t make it, she did send a chocolate pecan pie with him. Delicious!

Memorial Day BBQ

On Sunday I went to Melody’s yoga class, which was fantastic. Later that evening, I met up some friends. Matt, Katie, and Marc were in town from Fremont so we had dinner at Umami Burger and went bowling. I was not very good at bowling, but it was great seeing them! It’s too bad I don’t get to see them more often, but I’ll actually get to see them in a few days when I go up north and stay with them for the weekend!

Memorial Day BBQ

Monday was Memorial Day, so of course we had a barbecue.

Memorial Day BBQ

gem created the jalapeño bacon s’more. Besides being incredibly spicy with all the seeds, it was very good.Memorial Day pinata

Did you see the piñata at the top of the post? Jessica brought a piñata. Heck yeah. We took turns swinging at it with my Anime Expo Yaoi Paddle without any of that spinning around or blindfolding nonsense. To make up for it, we had some rules about how to swing, and we also agreed to all take it easy for the first round so we could all get a chance to hit it.

Memorial Day BBQ

When the loop ripped off his head, we had to attach him through his butt using the hole that’s for stuffing the candy in him.

Memorial Day BBQ

When that tore too, we reattached him again with a sort of makeshift noose from duct tape.

Memorial Day BBQ

gem earned first blood.

Memorial Day BBQ

When the legs were torn from the rest of the body, we decided to burn them.

Memorial Day BBQ

gem had to show off her spoils of war.

Jessica made the candy pour out, and then it was time to collect!

Memorial Day BBQ

Once all the candy was bashed out of it, we roasted the carcass. I felt like a true Greek – a feast and a burning sacrifice.

Oh, but what about the head?

Memorial Day BBQ

Our prize was mounted.

It’s quite fitting for Robot House.

Happy birthday, Anela

Anela's birthday dinner

Last week was Anela’s birthday! She was too busy on her actually birthday to do much, so gem, Anela, and I had dinner on Sunday night. We went to Gen in Tustin for delicious Korean BBQ. To pass the time, we went to both Kean Coffee and 7 Leaves Cafe. The wait was about an hour and a half, but it went by quickly while we enjoyed chatting.

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gem gave Anela some macaroons with interesting flavors. She opened the French toast one and shared it with us!

The dinner itself was super tasty. We had hardly eaten that day, but we managed to put away a lot of delicious food. We did spend about two hours there, so I guess that’s no surprise.

Anela's birthday dinner

We even had dessert! I didn’t know Gen had macaroon ice cream sandwiches.

Anela's birthday dinner

I ordered the cappuccino flavor and wasn’t disappointed! I also tried the strawberry one, which was good too.

Anela's birthday dinner

We split the bill two ways, so here’s half of what we ordered. It was a really good evening!Anela's birthday dinner Korean BBQ

Look how full of meat we are.

Anela's birthday dinner

And here’s a bonus picture of Sumo.

Happy birthday, Anela!

Awesome weekend of tacos, moving, ice skating, and clowns

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My weekend was pretty packed with awesomess, which is the right way to pack a weekend.

Friday night I had dinner with my mom and Pete. Pete made tacos, tostadas, and taquitos. It was super delicious.

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Mom offered to bake me a cake because this was the first time I was seeing her since my birthday. I chose chocolate, and I chose right.

After dinner we watched The Devil Wears Prada. I’d never seen it, and I enjoyed it.

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Saturday I helped Darnell and Alex move to a different apartment in the same building. Alex’s parents were there as well. It’s always nice to see everybody, especially when Henley is as cute as he is. I think he’ll enjoy having the new patio! He really seemed to enjoy playing with the water – scooping it out of one container and pouring it another or simply drinking from the dog’s water bowl, haha.

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I was so busy that I expected to miss celebrating Pi Day, but Hal and Mary Margaret brought a peach pie. After moving that evil dresser, it was good to eat pie!

ice skating

Saturday night was ice skating time! My friend’s wife lives in Canada, but she was visiting, and he decided to celebrate with some ice skating.

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We were a little late getting there because we stopped at Pinoy Pinay. I would have taken pictures, but I jumped right into the food. Yum yum.

There was a small collection of ouchies in our group, but we had a great time. Or at least I had a great time! I assume we all did!

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Afer working up an appetite ice skating for a couple hours with Sterling, Chrissy, gem, Kelly, and JT, we headed to Umaya Ramen.

I shared some mini-burgers and had a few beers.

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Eventually we found the lounge in the other room and finished off the night with sake. It was a wonderful evening.

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Sunday was mostly a relaxing day at home (full of chores too actually). However, it started with a clown show! I saw The π’s of March, starring Clown Collage. It was absolutely hysterical. I could try to explain how great it was to see Alex, I mean Fransuave, drink some Tobasco, freak out, desperately drink something to cool off his mouth, realize it was Fireball Whiskey, and freak out some more. Or I could try to explain how he did cat’s cradle with a woman in the audience, how funny it was when he basically bowed out, yielding the applause to her. Or how much awesome it was when he came back later, doing it with a big rope, and how funny it was when the girl screwed up when she tried to help with the rope. I could talk about how much I loved watching Babs try to bake a cake to LazyTown’s Cooking By The Book before she heard Lil Jon join the mashup. But, well, it’s probably not very funny to read my descriptions of it.

I did get pulled out of the audience again this time though! The clowns performed Julius Caesar, but as they’re mute, they needed people to be their voices. I got to read the lines of Julius Caesar, which degraded into “blah blah blah.” It was a lot of fun!

Later that day I ate some bibingka, wathced Netflix, worked on my ticket stub organizer, and relaxed.

And that was my weekend!

Mathematical Adventure Time mug!

Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_Core

Last week was gem’s birthday, and we went to Color Me Mine to celebrate, about which I also posted.

This weekend, I picked up my piece! It’s an Adventure Time mug featuring Finn!

Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_Core

Or is it an Adventure Time mug featuring Jake?

Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_Core

Oh my god, it’s both!

Adventure Time mug painted at Color Me Mine! Idea by reddit user /u/Just-Another-Teenage in a post by /u/Corrupt_Core

Totally mathematical, right?!

Credit where credit’s due. I got the idea from a reddit post by /u/Corrupt_Core who was posting photos of a mug painted for him by his friend /u/Just-Another-Teenage. Thanks for the fantastic idea! I know it’s a bit sloppy in places, but I’m really happy with it.

Hello, 2015

Last year was a pretty fun year. I was pulled on stage during a clown show, went stand-up paddleboarding, and went wakeboarding. I attended Katie and Matt’s wedding. I started doing yoga this summer and have stuck with it consistently. I switched to a bodyweight workout routine and have been doing that regularly. San Diego Comic-Con was a lot of fun, and for the first time, the roles were reversed; people asked me for pictures. (I was in my Aquabats costume.)

I attended a ton of concerts, including but not limited to Reel Big Fish, The Maxies, The Originalites, The Aquabats, Koo Koo Kangaroo, GOGO13, Half Past Two, Sugar Stems, The Interrupters, The Holophonics, The Skatalites, Suburban Legends, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Los SuperSpies, and so many more. I watched a bunch of improv, mostly at ImprovCity and Spectacles. I attended some Risk! Live. I went to a Teenage Mutant Pizza Party and the Scott Pilgrim Picture Show with CinemAttack! There was Dapper Day, Walking with Dinosaurs, a Civil War reenactment, The Great Gatsby party, the OC Fair, and LA Kiss. There was some Yadi Presents burlesque, a performance of Wizard of Oz, Chicago, Big River – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Man of La Mancha, and other performances. Lots of fun stuff.

Edit: Oh, man, how can I forget the Tall Ships Festival or being a guest on the Twisted Nether Blogcast?!

Work continues to go well. I cleaned out my closet. And yes, that’s worth mentioning. I attended Henley’s first birthday party and gave him a big smile with his present. I finished off Mists of Pandaria and started Warlords of Draenor. Sorry, but a little video games had to leak into this too. I got my backlog (my list of games, books, movies, etc.) that were purchased but never finished down to 340, which is pretty good. When I started counting in April, I had 471 items that needed to be beat/watched/read. I got rear-ended while driving for the first time. That’s not really much of an accomplishment, but I handled it at least. It was my 10-year high school reunion a few months back, and that was a lot of fun. I also cooked a bunch – stuffed bell peppers, pizzas, calzones, salads, salami wraps, pork chops, steaks, a cake, lemon bars, brownies, and more delicious things. I, a straight man, went out for a drink with a man I met on a dating site. I got stung by way too many bees.

It was a cool year.

2015 started with a party with close friends. Just a minute or two into the year I got to witness a friend propose to his girlfriend.

We’re off to a good start.

Ska Luau V!

Magnolia Polynesian Dance Troupe

Last night was the fifth annual Ska Luau at the House of Blues Anaheim, and it was an awesome show! I was ready to go with a new (or at least never worn to a concert) Half Past Two shirt, and despite it being 42 degrees outside, it was nice inside!

The show opened with the Magnolia Polynesian Dance Troupe. They did dances from a bunch of a different countries and had both men and women, but I didn’t record very much.

The first band to perform was Failed to Victory. I’ve seen them before, and they’re great.

I’d never heard Skadonna, but they were really fun. You might guess that they perform Madonna covers. I’ll admit, the songs that I didn’t know weren’t as cool, but I really enjoyed hearing the covers.

Los SuperSpies graced us with their debut! Not all of their songs were new to me though. Here they’re playing The World is New. If you’re a fan of Save Ferris or Starpool, you’ll probably become a fan of Los SuperSpies too!

Half Past Two is one of my favorite bands, so it was awesome that they performed as well.

Hey, look what I just found.

Sorry, that has nothing to do with the Ska Luau, but it came up as a recommended video at the end of the one I recorded. I didn’t know they covered this, and I like Vampire Weekend.

Half Past Two and friends

Back to the Ska Luau! Here some friends joined Half Past Two on stage.

Suburban Legends! Another one of my favorite bands! I love their awesome choreography (and music of course).

LIttlest ska fan

This little guy was rocking out too! Well, honestly, he was mostly napping. But his parents were enjoying the show.

There might have been a surfing contest too. Competition is fierce when a prized pineapple is on the line.

It was such a terrific show with a truly amazing line up. Spending the 30th with excellent ska and the 31st, tonight, with friends is a great way to end 2014.

Carne Asada Fries

And the best way to end a night of ska is carne asada fries. My diet was upset, but my taste buds were happy.

Aloha!

Henley’s first birthday party

Henley's Bash

Henley’s first birthday party was a couple weeks ago! I’m sorry I didn’t post this earlier.

Henley and Dad

He was looking quite handsome in his tie with his dad.

Birthday cake!

Here he happily mangled his birthday cake with his family.

Presents

gem gave him a stuffed dog named Mr. Chibs.

Presents

Henley took to him immediately. He was so cute!

Presents

It almost hurts to see because he’s just too cute.

Presents

What’s the goal of life? It must be to make a child smile like this.

Presents

gem also gave Henley two hats. First there’s this suave hat.

Presents

And then there was this cute red one that even had ears!

Presents

I gave him a winter time Winnie the Pooh. Henley loved him so much he tried to eat him.

Presents

Chomp!

Presents

Here are just some of his gifts.

Tegan gets dirty

Henley wasn’t the only cute one there. Tegan got quite messy.

Decorations

The adults had fun too. gem played with some decorations.

Seesaw

gem and I also rode the seesaw together. Some other kids came and joined us too.

Playing in a tree

The park is the perfect place in which to climb a tree and play ukulele.

Nap time

Henley went right to sleep in Dev’s arms.

Henley and gem

Here’s Henley and gem hanging out together.

Henley and gem

High five? Dance time? I don’t remember for sure. I know I danced with him for a while!Henley's first birthday

I thought it was cute when he put his hand on gem’s uke.Henley's first birthday

Just hanging out.Henley's first birthday

He’s just too adorable.

There are more pictures in this album too.

Thanksgiving!

me and my aunt

Quick Thanksgiving post! My aunt realized she almost wore the same shirt as me, so she went and changed into it so we could match!

me and my aunt

This was the first photo my mom took. What wonderful composition!

Pete, my stepdad, also attacked me with Tommy’s (the dog) alligator. I had no idea he was doing it until he showed me the video later. It looked much better on his phone, so I think he sent it compressed and lost quality.

Also there was lots of food and family fun! Yay!

Birthdays, plays, farmers markets, yoga, and more: a very full weekend

What a super full weekend. Friday was Halloween, also known as Jonathan’s birthday! After work, I rushed through some last minute Hallow’s End activities in World of Warcraft and Mad King Thorn in Guild Wars leaving for the long journey to Jonathan’s party. It was downstairs. I might have had about 3900 calories worth chips, wings, pizza, alcohol, and other food that day. Maybe. And that might have been way too many carbs yet still under my protein goal. Whoops. Anyways, it was fun hanging out and watching Jonathan play scary games. I got to give some candy to trick-or-treaters too!

Strawberry-dipped donut

On Saturday morning I headed to the farmer’s market and picked up some usual treats – hummus, feta, and dolmas. When I was about to leave, I saw this donut and had to get it too. I can happily report that it was tasty.

Saturday was also my mom’s birthday, and my brother had the idea that we could take her to a show. The Man from Earth was playing at Stages, so I picked up some flowers and met them at their house before we went to the play. It was really good! It’s basically the story of a man at his going-away party who explains to his friends that he’s a caveman who has survived for more than 14,000 years. It was very interesting even if the quick summary there sounded kind of dumb. After the show, we ate at Angelo’s & Vinci’s Ristorante, where I had eaten once previously. The service was kind of iffy, but I liked our waitress anyways, and the food was delicious.

gem found out about a free yoga class on Sunday at the Anaheim Packing District. I went with her and definitely enjoyed it. The instructor owns a nearby studio, and a woman in the class just got back from China because she works for Disney and was there for the new park. After the class, we went to that farmer’s market, because you can never go to enough farmer’s markets in a weekend. Oh man. So many good foods. I bought spicy feta, olives, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, pluots, persimmons, strawberry Greek yogurt, and cheese crisps.

Grilled cheese and salami

Next we went in the Anaheim Packing House for lunch. I had an amazing grilled cheese with salami from the Black Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar. The salty flavor of the meat went so well with the grilled cheese. I’d definitely eat there again.

popbar

I keep hearing so much about Popbar’s gelato, sorbet, and yogurt bars, so I had to stop there. Somehow I thought gem was raving about, but she’d never been there. I think all the great things I’ve heard have actually just been from Anela. But she was right, because it was pretty fantastic. I had a pumpkin gelato bar dipped in white chocolate, drizzled in dark chocolate, and covered in waffle cone crumbles. Man. I want another one right now.

Dinner

Sunday was later filled with chores around the house, video games, Netflix, and of course, more eating. This time it was just eating a bunch of the foods I purchased at the farmer’s markets. And then I needed to sleep it off!

Prom Night of the Living Dead

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Last weekend was Pizza Beat Entertainment’s Prom Night of the Living Dead! They’re the group that held Ska Day at Disneyland as well.

By the way, even with makeup remover (which I did not buy before trying on the make up the first time), it’s really difficult to get that eyeshadow off. Also, I splashed blood on the flowers.

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Once I was a zombie, I had to go after Angel for her delicious brains.

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Unfortunately, I forgot that she was dumb.

Prom Night of the Living Dead

Here’s my wounded hand. I guess I didn’t do that great of a job blending it to my skin.

Prom Night of the Living Dead

Victim’s point of view!

Prom Night of the Living Dead

The prom king and queen were pretty cool! gem went after them while I took their photo.

Here’s how zombies dance. gem even requested Dead Man’s party.

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Feeding time!

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

The pursuit.

Zombie at Prom Night of the Living Dead

Animated!

Prom Night of the Living Dead

I kind of like what happened to the undershirt more than my visible shirt. It looks more “natural,” like there’s really blood soaked on my shirt.

There are more pics in my Flickr album.

Fun day for Labor Day

Labor Day 2014!

Homies help homies. Always.

Okay, I’ll get to that in a minute. This Labor Day I hung out with gem and Anela. We met at gem’s house and went to the Starplex Cinemas in Woodbridge for Maleficent. It was a fun movie with a different spin on Sleeping Beauty. I also really like to see the backstory of villains; it’s interesting to see how they became bad.

Because Anela forgot her swimwear and gem wanted exchange something at the Outlets at Orange, we headed that way to take care of those things. That’s where gem and I saw this sweet Adventure Time billboard and had to take a photo!

Labor Day 2014!

When we got back to gem’s, we started working on lunch. I made more of my salami roll snacks and made more salad. It was sort of like yesterday’s picnic part 2. While the main course was cooking, the three of us headed to the pool. It was busy with lots of people, but that didn’t make swimming any less fun.

Labor Day 2014!

We came home to take the ribs out of the oven. They were looking pretty delicious.

Labor Day 2014!

No, Anela! Don’t eat all the ribs!

Labor Day 2014!

So very much food. I ate about 3000 calories. Whoops.Labor Day 2014

We look good surrounded by food.

While we ate dinner, we also watched Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

Labor Day 2014!

Sumo and Angel will be in for a treat too. We had a nice pile of bones to bring home to them.

Labor Day 2014!

After dinner we watched an episode of Too Cute about adorable kittens. For dessert, we had pastries and homemade ice cream. It was really good! Anela took the rest of my salami rolls with cream cheese and cucumber, and I left a bunch of the salami rolls with cream cheese and pepperoncinis with gem. I’m happy they like them!

Labor Day was celebrated successfully! Now I just need to eat less the rest of the week.

Birthdays, Restaurant Week, and more

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There were lots of things happening last week! Saturday the 22nd was gem’s birthday. I baked her a turtle cake, which I talked about previously. She and Edward came to my place for cake before we went out to celebrate. gem wasn’t sure what she wanted to do ahead of time, but she decided to go to Color Me Mine.

Horde plate and mug

I painted a Horde (from World of Warcraft) plate to go with my Horde stein. I had actually painted the stein years ago, but it broke during the firing process and I never got around to fixing it. Luckily the people at Color Me Mine this time told me that if I brought it, they’d glue it together for me, which they did!

After painting, we wen to Gen Korean BBQ. We got there just before last call, so we were trying to order a bunch of food. The waiter was nice enough to just pick stuff for us, and he placed a big order. We were all stuffed, but we managed to get through it.

Sunday morning Collin and I went to Newport to eat at Zimzala. It was fairly empty, but that just meant that we got to hear some rocking tunes from Danny Maika and make a lot of requests.

Later that night, I went to Zenko Sushi with Anela and gem for the weekend’s second all-you-can-eat meal. We had a nice time!

By Monday I had gained 4.70 lbs since Friday. That was expected. Unfortunately, I felt a little sick, but I didn’t think much of it. Monday night Duncan treated Collin and me to Chipotle. It was fun eating with them. We brought it back to the house and watched… uh… Twitch Plays Pokemon on the living room TV.

I guess Chipotle was the last straw for my stomach. Something made me pretty sick, and I was up most of the night. I ended up calling out sick Tuesday and Wednesday. On the plus side, I lost all that weight I gained and much more! Tuesday morning I still tried to eat normally, but my stomach rejected everything. Even my mouth rejected normal foods! I chipped a tooth eating a protein bar. I should note that the protein bar isn’t crunchy in any way.

Get well soup

gem recommended I make soup, so I did just that. My stomach didn’t seem to hate it, so I ate it Tuesday night, all day Wednesday, and early on Thursday.

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I was still incredibly bummed about Harold Ramis dying as well, so I decided to spend some of my limited waking time watching Ghostbusters. Let’s not dwell on this, because I’ll get depressed.

I was feeling a lot better although not perfect by Thursday. I finished the soup for my lunch that day. Late that night, gem came over because it was my birthday and she had a gift for me. She bought a cast iron skillet! I had been wanting one for a while, so that was pretty cool. We also decided to order pizza. It was a terrible idea since I was getting over food poisoning, but it was also my birthday and I love pizza. Luckily my stomach accepted it without complaint.

Friday I celebrated OC Restaurant Week by going to Marrakesh for Moroccan food with Collin, Duncan, and Mimi. The food was delicious, just like I remembered it. I had a tasty salad, lamb, baklava, and tea. I also had a Lebanese beer and some mixed drink called a Belly Dancer. It was tasty, but I can’t remember what was in it.

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After dinner, we all headed back to our place to hang out, watch Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and have some wine. There might have been an extraordinary amount of Snapchatting as well.

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On Saturday I went to The Melting Pot with gem and Edward to celebrate my birthday. I’d been there a couple years earlier for my birthday and really liked it. It didn’t let me down! First there was a tasty salad. Next there was a Wisconsin cheese trio with bread, veggies, and apples. For the main course there was a nice broth with chicken, steak, mushroom ravioli, shrimp, and lobster tail. There might have been a glass of wine and dirty martini in there too!

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For dessert we had dark chocolate fondue with marshmallow cream and crumbled Oreos. We dipped Rice Krispy treats, brownies, pound cake, bananas, strawberries, cherries, and cheesecake. The cheesecake dipped in the chocolate was so amazing! Because it was my birthday, they also brought me a chocolate covered strawberry with a candle. The waiter told Edward to sing for me because he wasn’t going to do it. He mentioned something about how it’s too bad nobody had a ukulele. Unfortunately, we didn’t have gem’s ukulele with us.

So that was my week! Being sick was pretty miserable, but I had a nice birthday and enjoyed celebrating gem’s as well.