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. Visit our lawyer site to find more info.
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.
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.
On that same trip, I left the country for the first time to visit Niagara Falls.
I also visited Toronto! It was an awesome city.
I went to San Diego Comic-Con again. Here I’m dressed as an Aquabat with Holland Tayloe Gedney’s Elsa.
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)!
And let’s not forget Fix-It Felix, Jr.
I visited friends in the Bay Area when I went to San Francisco for a conference.
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.
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.
I 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.
gem and I went to the Dapper Day expo at Downtown Disney and to Folly, the afterparty.
gem and I were extras during the filming of The Big Day, and gem got this great photo of her with Suburban Legends.
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.
Speaking 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).
I painted a little Jimmy the Robot.
I also painted this Adventure Time mug.
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.
gem took me to a sushi class where we prepared sushi rolls! She’s the best 🙂
We also saw Kindred Throats, an amazing musical comedy duo. She liked them so much, she baked them cookies. Twice.
I attended Anela’s law school graduation from Chapman.
…and her CA Bar admission ceremony.
gem and I saw Cirque du Soleil’s KURIOS! Amazing!
I saw Anela dance a number of times, including the really fun Bellydance IDOL presents Om Kalthoum Tribute Show.
I helped solve a mystery at the Watson Adventures.
I ran (jogged/walked) a Blacklight Run with these two fun people.
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
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
Last week I was attending a conference in the Bay Area, so I went a few days early to visit friends! I stayed with Katie and Matt, hung out with Marc as well, coincidentally saw some Southern California friends, and attended the Lithium Network Conference. I had a great time!
Lithium is all about social: they’re the providers of Toshiba’s forum as well as Lithium Social Web, the web application that I use that pulls the forum, Facebook, and Twitter into one screen.
I flew in Friday night after some delays. Matt and Katie picked me up from San Francisco International, and we headed back to their place in Fremont after a quick stop for some tasty In-N-Out. It was late, so we mostly talked, and Matt and I played games.
Saturday was the action-packed day! Marc came over, and then we visited Matt’s university, San Jose State University, where we failed to return library books and failed to see a flight simulator. We tried at least. Luckily, San Jose is also filled with delicious foods.
At SmokeEaters I ate some delicious wings, onion rings, fries, and a beer. This was the start of a bad day for my stomach.
I was kind of excited to see a banner for Fanime. I don’t know. I’m sorry.
After our unhealthy lunch, we stopped at Psycho Donuts. Just look how good they look! Yes, yes, yes!
We walked past a place called Iguanas just because I wanted to take a picture of their sign. Burritozilla! I want to eat Burritozilla!
When we got back to Katie and Matt’s, we tried some of the donuts. Another bad stomach decision, but a great decision for my taste buds. The top-left one was the Cookie Monster donut. Reminds me of Afters Ice Cream! 🙂
We made some White Russians, watched some YouTube videos, listened to Spotify, and talked. The White Russians were the final bad decision for my stomach, haha.
Matt found this playlist on Spotify – 2000’s Rock by Scott Sweatman. It’s… kind of great. It caused a lot of nostalgia, but at the same time, I can tell why I don’t listen to this music anymore. It was pretty perfect.
This might sound uneventful, but it was a pretty important evening. I had a lot of fun with them. Marc’s friend even came over as well.
gem was in te Bay Area to go rafting with a group of friends, which included one other person I knew – Vivian. Marc came over again, and then he drove us to Berkeley to meet with them.
We decided to meet at Sather Tower, a bell and clock tower, commonly called The Campanile.
You could hear the music from a pretty good distance.
I liked the bears at the base.
After realizing you could go up the tower for a nominal fee, we had to check it out.
I wish this photo offered a better sense of scale. The bells could totally crush a person.
gem, Katie, and Matt!
Here’s where the musician sits to play the carillon, which is the bell system.
Here’s the view.
And here’s a group of photos of a lot of us.
Here’s gem, Marc, Katie, Matt, and myself. I was trying to spread the Half Past Two, So Cal ska love to the Bay Area.
We stopped at Sheng Kee Bakery, where I tried some of Vivian’s tea eggs – basically eggs boiled in tea rather than water. Delicious! Then it was off to Sliver Pizzeria. Each day of the week they feature a different pizza, but that’s it. That means that each day they only have a single kind of pizza. On Sunday, it was roasted potatoes, roasted onions, mozzarella, jalapeño jack cheese, Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, and olive oil. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. It was great! I’m going to need to try to make something like this some time.
Over lunch, someone I had just met that day asked me what I did for a living. I said, “I work for Toshiba…”
He replied with “hey, that’s my line!”
I’m paraphrasing, but he works for Toshiba as well, although he works for a different Toshiba company. Small world! And speaking of small worlds, another person was going to take the BART back to Fremont, so Marc just gave him a ride too.
It was cool seeing the university as well as the city. The city was pretty interesting. I can understand how it gets the reputation it has, because the people clearly cared a lot more about the environment and helping each other than I’m used to seeing in Orange County.
Once we got home, we had a quiet evening mostly of watching TV and chatting. I got some work done as well, and we watched American Ninja Warrior. It’s a cool show pitting athletes against insane obstacle courses that require a great deal of strength, agility, and balance.
Katie made an amazing fish dinner that made my stomach feel much better. It was super good!
I started Monday morning by working before Matt drove me to the BART station.
When I got into San Francisco, I took a picture of the building outside the Powell Street station like I always do.
This was the view from my hotel room. Not amazing, but I like that Scalzi always posts photos of his view, so I like doing it too. I stayed at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, which was right next to Saint Patrick’s Chuch, where Patrick and Caroline got married. Pretty cool!
Anela gave me some recommendations of things to do. Some of them I’d done previously, and some, like hike recommendations, just didn’t fit with my schedule. But some things had to be done!
Did you know that at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory you can watch people make fortune cookies? Well, she did, and now I do, and now you do.
They start out round, while they’re still hot, she shapes them into fortune cookies. I got to try some nice hot ones that were still round, and I bought a bag of normal and chocolate fortune cookies.
I tried one chocolate one from the bag, and my fortune was “Your luck will soon be at a high point.” That seems good, but what if it just means my luck is going to be terrible for a long time after that? Uh oh.
I took some other random photos too.
I had to stop at a bakery too, so I got a pineapple BBQ pork bun from The AA Bakery & Cafe. I love pork buns!
Anela also recommended I get pastries in Little Italy, so off I went. I often say I don’t really like looking up recommendations because it’s more fun to find stuff on your own, but I wasn’t sure about Italian pastries, so I turned to reviews and found Stella Pasty and Cafe. Everyone seemed to recommend their Sacripantina.
According to their site, it contains “vanilla sponge cake, zabaione (a delicate custard made with egg yolks, sweet butter, marsala and sherry wine) cream, and rum.” It was light yet rich. I could only eat about half of the piece actually.
I knew I wanted pizza while I was there too, and I felt like looking around to see what caught my eye. Spoiler alert – it wa Golden Boy Pizza. I just liked the feeling and look of the place. Foursquare recommended the garlic clam pizza, so I went with that.
It was a thick slice, and I put red pepper on it. It was good, although I didn’t find it amazing. Still, I liked the place enough that I might try to go back and get a different kind if I can. It was small on the inside but was covered with stickers and similar art.
I also want to mention Victoria Pastry Company. I didn’t eat there, but I got detoured as I followed the amazing smell. I just wasn’t hungry enough.
My final goal was Ghirardelli Square. Anela recommended this as well, although I’d actually been there already. However, I just love chocolate. On the way, I stopped at Dennis Rae Fine Art. They had an exhibit on the art of Theodor Seuss Geisel – Dr. Seuss. It was neat.
I bought a few things to take home at Ghirardelli before purchasing a hot fudge sundae to eat! The fudge was just so awesome. I kinda sorta maybe love hot fudge.
Even so, I couldn’t do it. There were just too many things to eat that day and not enough room in my stomach.
Here’s a nice view from the Fisherman’s Wharf area near the San Francisco National Historic Park (or maybe it’s part of it).
Look, a ship.
This was a really heroic ship, but I heard it killed its family once.
I liked the view from the end of the pier.
Hey, it’s me!
On my way back to the hotel, I happened to walk past Lombard Street at it’s famously twisted block. This was actually another recommendation from Anela, although I wasn’t aiming to see it this time since I’d already seen it. I just happened to walk past it, so I took a picture because of how beautiful it looked.
I just thought this door was cool.
The welcome event for the Lithium Network Conference was held at Jillian’s. There was a variety of food and an open bar. I know what you’re thinking, but actually I only had a small glass of wine. Too exhausted, so I didn’t stay long. After a detour at Target to buy water, I went back to my room for the night.
Tuesday was the first actual day of the conference. After a quick breakfast, I was off to the weird introduction!
That woman was a bunch of bananas.
And that woman was the whole city!
The opening was about three and half hours, and it mostly talked about what customers expect from social engagement. Blah, blah, blah. You don’t care about that.
But then there was lunch and time to socialize! Yes, some of that was through texts to home, but I also talked with some cool people at the conference.
After lunch, I went to a session on “Self service content publishing” and another on “How to get content in the right place at the right time” that were both interesting. They were more about developing applications and custom modifications to the Lithium platform, which isn’t something I have the power to go implement, but I like seeing new ways to think about the process.
The conference ended for the day with two pretty great speakers. The first was Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy is a free online tool for education. It originally sprang from him tutoring his cousin on the phone, then tutoring many of his cousins, then making custom tutoring software to help him tutor them, and then creating videos to help as well. I can’t really do it justice. He discussed how school goes at a certain pace for the whole class and then judges them rather than helping them master something before continuing. He wants to bring this free education to everyone in the world. It’s a beautiful idea, and a couple parts of his talk made me tear up. Shh, don’t tell anyone.
The second speaker was Orny Adams, a comedian. “Let’s talk about what we really wanna talk about. We hate our customers. Because they’re stupid.” He was joking, I swear. Yeah, he didn’t really care about crossing any lines as he also made fun of people who avoid gluten or are scared of germs (uh oh) and even had to end with some differences between men and women. He was pretty hilarious.
That night’s party was held at City View on the fourth floor of The Metreon.
There were a lot of people inside and out. I talked to some cool people, including a long conversation with a Greek woman who compared Greek family members with me! She’s actually a contact at Lithium I hadn’t met, so that was very cool. I also had a great conversation with a man from Zürich.
The view was nice!
There were oh so many desserts. Combined with all the normal food I had that night, it added up to another terrible health night.
Oh, and then after all that I discovered more food.
I didn’t really take many photos this day, but I did attend sessions on “Master social lead generation” and “15 tips for new community managers.” I don’t really need sales leads, and I’m not a new community manager, but I like looking at new ways of thinking.
Later I had a meeting with my coworker, the VP of Global Strategic Accounts & Value Engineering at Lithium, the Chief Revenue Officer of Lithium, and a woman in charge of Customer Success at Lithium.
Dr. Michael Wu, Chief Scientist at Lithium, did a talk about how customers perceive brands, customer expectations, and a lot more. He wears a distinctive hat and glasses, so the conference gave a hat and glasses to everyone in attendance!
I didn’t take the glasses since I already wear glasses, but a free hat? Sure.
I also took an accidental selfie on the way to the BART.
And the last photo I took in the city was this. It reminded me of the RISK! podcast.
It was a great trip, but by the end I was exhausted and happy to get home. If only I didn’t have two work days left in the week.
Thanks for the wonderful time, Bay Area.
And the best part? I didn’t really gain much weight!
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.
Yesterday was the Chili Cook-Off at Toshiba! Joseph made a delicious chili using ghost peppers, so we went with a Ghostbusters theme.
Pete made a large Ghostbusters sign, and I brought the inflatable proton pack and a copy of the movie. We also had little rice ghosts.
Sadly we didn’t win. It seems like most people like a pretty basic chili, while Joseph wants to spice things up. I prefer his way of thinking, but I don’t think it’ll lead us to a win. Maybe the fourth attempt will be better next year. On the plus side, I got to eat a bunch of different types of chili and listen to some great live music!
I did two interesting things this weekend, but I don’t have enough to say about each of them to make individual posts! First, I went The Point Restaurant and Bar in Dana Point with Anela and gem. Our friend Sean invited us to watch his dad’s reggae band. It was also Sean’s dad’s birthday! He seemed pretty popular!
The band was fun, playing a variety of reggae and classic rock covers. The venue was pretty cool too. It’s a bit far to go just for drinks, but if I was in the area or there was something happening there, I’d definitely go again.
The 30th annual Toshiba Tall Ships Festival was also in Dana Point! It was a beautiful day.
gem and I watched some pirates learn about Pirate High Tea from their admiral. It was an amusing performance in which the pirates struggle to understand the delicacies of having tea.
They also had dancers!
We met an adorable rat named Izzy the Pyrat! He had a little pirate’s hat and everything.
This blacksmith was making dice. He was pretty interesting and answered many of gem’s blacksmith questions.
He even made this rose.
Aboard one of the ships was a band playing amusing songs about being pirates. They’re called The Boo Hoo Crew. Despite claiming to be a children’s band, I liked them. “Old McPirate had a ship. / E-I-E yo ho!”
Then it was snack time. gem wanted to get corn, and it was buy two items, get a third free. I bought a corn dog with the corn so I could get an Arnold Palmer for free. They didn’t have any corn dogs ready unless I was willing to accept one with a split in the breading. Because I was okay with it, they even threw in an extra corn dog for free!
We got our corn all lathered up in mayo with a variety of delicious toppings.
gem was hungry!
While watching a weapons demonstration, we met the most adorable dog. His owner didn’t mind, so we showered him with attention.
Oh, right. Here’s the weapons demonstration itself.
Thursday marked two years working at Toshiba. If I’m going to post at all, I really should have posted on Thursday, but oh well. Toshiba’s a fantastic employer. I love my job, and I enjoy my coworkers as well. Besides scripting videos, voicing videos, responding on social media, testing hardware, and other special projects, I’ve posted over 11,500 messages on the forum. They really add up!
My coworker Mike Franklin passed away on Saturday, and tonight was his viewing. I didn’t know him very well, but when he joined Toshiba last year and I first met him, I liked him right away. He was a really nice guy who always seemed willing to tackle a problem with a smile on his face. While some people stress over a difficult situation, he seemed optimistic that a solution would be found. He looked at things pragmatically and didn’t let a problem get the best of him. He was also willing to make changes. Some people like the status quo, but he was willing to shake things up for the better.
His family was at the viewing of course, including his three children. The youngest was very cute and probably didn’t understand the full ramifications of what was happening. The oldest, on the other hand, was definitely old enough to comprehend the events. It was difficult to watch him hugging his dad.
I know that we’ll miss him at work. I was just talking with another coworker on Friday about what a great guy Franklin was.
I guess there’s always more to say, but I’ll leave it at this tonight. I just figured he deserves to have me write something down to remember.
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