Life

What is a mom worth?

What is a wife and stay at home mom worth? That’s the question that has been raised in a couple of venues I have been in recently. Now, I am not talking about the love aspect, because love is priceless. I can’t and won’t put a price on my love for my wife, that just IS.

My beautiful wife and I both worked when we were first wed a couple of months ago, but due to totally opposite and conflicting schedules, money that wasn’t worth the time, and just her physical well being, we decided it would be best for the family if she stayed at home. So now she is a stay at home mom and housewife and I absolutely love it. Money is tight, but the girls have their mom all day, which I believe is important. She isn’t taxing her body like she was before, which always worried the hell out of me. Also, she doesn’t have to stress and worry about her safety being a waitress working a graveyard shift.

To me, this is all priceless.

Lately she has shown some concern over money as things are tight, to which I have this to say: Babe, you are contributing more than you think. I don’t worry about things like I used to, we will get through the tight finances and debt and we will be okay. Don’t worry about not bringing home a paycheck. You do things that are just as important, if not more so, on a daily basis. I love you.

This article says these things in a much better way than I can, so I will share it for your reading pleasure: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting-roles/value-of-stay-at-home-moms/the-value-of-stay-at-home-moms

Now, if some of you disagree with me and this article and think that this is all easy and stay at homes mom have it easy, I say try and do it without one. See how hard it can get. Better yet, hire out to other people. Get yourself people that do all the things a stay at home mom does and see how much it costs you. The average stay at home mom puts in 96.5 hours of work a week according to Salary.com and Forbes. Imagine paying a housekeeper, a cook, a launderer, a driver for errands, (etc.) for all of this and then having them on call for nights too. Yup, it would run you a huge bill.

In the end though, as I already said, it is all priceless. You can’t put a value on what a mom and a wife does, it will never come out right. Just love them and help them when they need it.

Categories: Family, Life, money, Work | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A morning with a gun

Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day and a day where you are supposed to wear orange if you are against gun violence. Though most people I see promoting the day are more anti gun than anti gun violence. There is a difference, though some would disagree.

Anyway, I am not here to change anyone minds, to argue, etc. I am here to tell a story and ask a question. If at the end you want to respond but cannot do so in a respectful manner, no matter what your views are, please depart now.

First, a little background.

As I have stated before I am originally from the small town (2,000 people or less) of Boron in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Boron is located pretty much half way between Mojave and Barstow, on Highway 58. The closest police (unless things have recently changed) are the Kern County Sheriff’s Department (KCSD) substation and Highway Patrol, both located in Mojave. Mojave is 30 miles away.

A while back the Borax Mine in Boron was going through a lock out, sort of a reverse strike. The union and management couldn’t come to terms; but instead of the workers going on strike the management locked them out of the mine and brought in scabs. The scabs were all bussed in from out of town hotels, and by out of town a mean places like Ridgecrest that are an hour away from Boron. It would be stupid to house a scab in Boron unless you wanted them dead, which brings me to my story.

I went to Boron one morning to visit my grandparents. I arrived earlier than I had originally told them, mainly because I couldn’t sleep. Instead of interrupting their morning and eating them out of house and home, as I was starving, I decided to have breakfast at the local diner, sip coffee, and read a book. I did notice that there were three good ol boys at a booth a ways down from me, but I didn’t give them much thought. In hindsight, they did look over at me an awful lot. I was there maybe an hour drinking coffee and reading, when the waitress came over and asked me if I wanted another cup of coffee, I politely declined telling her that I would finish the mug I was working on and go. I noticed the good ol boys got up and went outside at that point, but didn’t think anything of it.

See where this is heading?

I paid, went outside, and immediately found two of the good ol boys between me and my car. The third was behind me, evidently he was around the corner of the diner, waiting to see if I would come out that door. They started threatening me, telling me that they were going to kick my ass, accusing me of being a scab at the mine and taking their jobs. I tried to protest and I tried to head back in the diner, but I was cut off from that avenue of escape by the guy behind me. As they all started advancing I drew my .357 and yelled at them to stop. The two in front of me immediately began backing up and a quick glance behind me showed that the one in back was also backing up. It was at this point that I reiterated to the men that I was in fact not a scab, I did not work at the mine, and that actually worked for the DoD. They backed away further with one giving me a half assed apology and telling me I looked like one of the scabs they had watched come in to the mine on a bus. My response “If I was getting bussed in, why would I be here in my own Explorer and why would I be stupid enough to just come in here alone to eat?” They had no answer, but did immediately leave. I sat in my Explorer after that, just trying to calm down. I am man enough to admit I was unnerved by the situation after it was over. I’m also man enough to admit that I screwed up and did not call the KCSD afterwards. Potentially a big screw up.

So….Yes, I had my 357 concealed on my person. I have a legal California Concealed Carry Weapons Permit which allows me to carry a gun, concealed, on my person, in to most places within California. I had to pass a firearms safety class, and show that when I shot my 357 I could hit my target. If at anytime anyone was unsafe with their gun during the class, they automatically failed.

Now, here is my question: If I hadn’t had my 357, what do you think would have happened?

Categories: Guns, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Birthday

Today is my birthday, I am 34 years old. I don’t really know where the last ten or so years have gone, they are very much a blur. I know much of my early through mid twenties was spent in a haze of drinking my way through nights and spending my days working for peanuts. Mid to late twenties was getting myself together and going back to school, getting my heart broke, starting a job that has become my career (at least currently), moving out of my codependent mothers apartment, and just being me without someone there trying to tell me how to think and feel. Late twenties to early thirties was becoming more established in my career, reconnecting with old friends, losing old friends, getting my heart broke again, and then finding the woman and girls who would become my wife, daughters, and the loves of my life. I gained 20lbs, lost my dad, gained ten more pounds, and then got married.

My life has been easier than many other peoples in this world, but I know people that tell me I had to grow up way to fast and that I had it hard. All I know is that the preceding 34 years made me who I am as I sit here, killing time at work, writing this, and wanting to go home to my family. All in all, the 30’s have probably been the best part of my life so far.

Maybe it just gets better from here?

Categories: Family, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Kindergarten graduation turns in to a rant

Today was kindergarten graduation day for my oldest daughter. She stood up there with the rest of her class, sang songs that they had learned throughout the year, obtained her Kindergarten Diploma, and looked all kinds of adorable in her little cap and gown. Behind her was a sign that read “Class of 2027.” I did the math, that will be 28 years after I graduated High School. I will be just turning 46. I will be 48 when the youngest graduates. Making me feel old already.

Other than that, It was a fun time.

Except…it was Kindergarten graduation. I asked my wife, “Did you ever have a Kindergarten graduation?” “I seem to remember a swift kick in the butt (in reality probably a hug) and the teacher telling me I was off to 1st grade.” She responded that she didn’t have a Kindergarten Graduation either, but she had a Elementary School Graduation, and 8th Grade Graduation, and of course High School.

I don’t remember a elementary school graduation, but I do remember 8th grade graduation and High School Graduation. It was cold and windy in June when I graduated High School in 1999, we wore jackets over our robes. Unusual for the Mojave desert. I digress.

I asked my wife, “Why a Kindergarten graduation?” She said that all the schools around here are doing them now and they are graduating from every grade. Evidently they hope that if they make a big deal about kids moving on to the new grade and make a celebration out of it, more kids will stay in school.

I don’t really follow that logic.

Whatever happened to celebrating true accomplishments? Why do we have to give a participation medal, ribbon, graduation to everyone? I can understand Kindergarten graduation actually, moving on from getting your feet wet in school to actually jumping in to the numbered grades. That makes sense to me. But a 1st grade graduation? How is that going to give a kid incentive to stay in school? Same with a 6th grade graduation? If you make school fun, but educational for these young kids then they will learn to love it. Teach to the individual student, not to the “common core” masses. Maybe then our High School grades will improve.

However, nothing will improve unless the parents of kids make an effort with their kids. I know this isn’t easy as most households are two income, everyone works to make ends meet, everyone is tired at the end of the day, and you don’t always have time to help little Susie, or 16 year old Johnny with his home work. The same is especially true of families that maybe only have one parent that works a shitty job, trying to pay the bills.

Life isn’t easy, unfortunately kids tend to take the brunt of that. As time goes on, this affects their outlook, grades, etc. I haven’t seen any studies (but then again I haven’t looked for them), but I bet when good paying jobs are plentiful and the economy is good, you have better grades, higher attendance, and less drop outs.

This post didn’t go where I thought it was going to go, I kind of meandered off my original topic and now I don’t know how to get back to that path. I’ll call it a day now.

Categories: Life, money, Politics | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

She was wating for me…..

My dad died last June, the weekend right after fathers day to be exact. He had a major aneurism a couple of days before Fathers Day, as he walked in to The Roadhouse in Kramer Junction. His Chrysler 300C was sitting beside the diner for a couple of days before my fiancée and I drove her up here. After he died she sat up here for a few months, and then was moved back down to my dads house, where it sat. My siblings and I all agreed (even the ones that do not get along), that the car belong to my brother T. T bought the car for my dad about three years before, and before my dad died he probably put close to 3,000.00 in to the car.

When my brother bought the car for my dad it had a little over 74,000 miles on it. As it sits now, it has over 247,000 miles on it, and still runs pretty strong. Mostly highway and interstate miles. The car had been in really good shape, but as my dads health became worse, his cognitive abilities lessened, the miles grew, and the car became a bit battered and bruised, inside and out. Hence, the 3,000.00 that was put in to it. Water pump, radiator, hoses, alternator, oil pressure sensor, windshield, etc.

My brother T let the car sit, he didn’t want to deal with it at first. I think later he just wanted to let the car “retire.” However, as I am getting married on Friday he agreed to let me have the car for my fiancée. She needs something other than my 21 year old, falling apart Explorer, even if it is only for a couple years until we can afford a decent car for her.

The car has been sitting since June and hasn’t never even been started as I had the only key, no ones else wanted the responsibility of the key. So last night I caught a ride to my dads, jumper cables in tow as I figured the battery would be long since dead. I walked up to my dads car wondering if I would have enough gas to drive the 20 miles to the nearest gas station, wondering if I was going to get pulled over for driving a car that wasn’t registered or insured, wondering how much money this was going to cost me in the long run, wondering if I was even going to be able to get the car registered in my name, worried that something would go wrong, and then I got a strange feeling that I should try the key, so I did.

She unlocked when I hit the button on the key fob and turned over when I started her. She had about a quarter tank of gas and all the tires were fully inflated. She had an oil starved tick from the top end when I started her, but as the oil flowed and she warmed up, she quieted down.

I pulled my dads clothes out of the trunk and put them in his house, along with his glasses and address book. I’m not sure what will happen to them, but I know that my fiancée and I will take care of his car.

As I pulled out of the gate and drove down the road, she started running even better. After using up most of the old gas and replacing it with new gas, she ran even more confidently down the road.

It was like she had been waiting for me to come back and rescue her the whole time.

Categories: Cars, Death, Family, Life | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Me, my Challenger, and the “Mod Bug.”

A while back I was bitten by the “Mod bug” on my car, fairly soon after I drove it off the lot actually. The modifications started out small, cheap, and simple. A drop in K&N filter, dash mat, a Charger air tube to get rid of that stupid “intake silencer,” and durable floor mats. After a time I became irritated at the skip shift feature on my transmission, so I started looking for a way around that. I found a 20.00 resister and wire appropriately called a “Skip Shift Eliminator.” That was ordered and plugged in to my manual transmission right away.

Right now you are probably wondering “What the heck is skip shift?!” My challenger is a 6 speed manual transmission. As an “emissions feature” Dodge, Chevy and other car companies have developed the skip shift; from 19 and 21 MPH, under certain RPM load and I think sometimes certain temperatures, when you attempt to shift out of first and in to second, the computer automatically locks out 2nd and 3rd gear, forcing you to shift in to 4th. This is supposed to bring down emissions under heavy stop and go traffic. It’s annoying.

The skip shift was my last modification for a while; then I needed new tires. Of course that is a perfect time for new rims too! After that I was way too broke to buy anything else. This last year I had a little money saved, refinanced that car for a lower payment and lower interest, and my bumper to bumper warranty expired. A voice in my head cried out LET THE MODS COMMENCE!

The first mod last year was the intake with a Cervinis Ram Air Intake. I took out the existing air filter box, the insulation material under the hood, and the fake hood scoops. I installed a different air box with a conical filter, functional hood scoops, and a panel under the hood with ducting to rout the air from the hood scoops to the air box. When you close the hood, an opening in the panel where the ducting comes together seals to the top of the air box, at least in theory. It seems to work as advertised, but the fit and finish of the air box leave a lot to be desired. I have read of other people installing a Mopar CAI in the air boxes place because it perfectly seals with the Cervinis Ram Air panel. I don’t want to spend another 350.00 on the Mopar CAI though.

At the same time I modified the brakes. Early on I warped my front rotors, which I have since found out is a common problem on the 3.6 SE and 5.7 R/T Challengers. The 6.4 SRT Challengers have upgraded Brembo brakes and they don’t warp. I installed drilled and slotted R1 Performance Rotors all the way around the car and I paired them with HAWK HPS pads. The HAWK’s dust quite a bit and they are semi metallic, so they squeal under low speed braking. However, they stop a lot better than the OEM ones.

After that I put on a Catch Can. A Catch can is basically a canister filter that goes between the EGR valve and the intake manifold. It’s function is to filter out the oil that is the in the gasses that pass through the EGR valve and in to the manifold. These generation three Hemi engines lose a lot of oil in these gasses and it really gunks up the valves.

Just to make things look pretty I put stainless steel braided lines between the EGR valve, the Catch Can, and the manifold. It looks good, but now the engine cover doesn’t quite sit on right.

Next up was a Christmas present to myself; a Barton Industries Short Throw Shifter. I was going to go the traditional route and get a Hurst, but all the reviews were really bad. Evidently Hurst now farms their stuff out to China and the quality isn’t what it used to be. I received my Barton right before Christmas and of course I had to put it in that night. Same night I was supposed to meet my fiancée (then girlfriend) and the girls for dinner. No problem I thought, I read the instructions and watched the YouTube video, this shouldn’t take long.

Two hours later the sun was down, I couldn’t see, and my fiancée had to come over and hold a flashlight for me. She was of course freezing, miserable, cussing me, cussing my car, and not understanding why I was putting in this short throw shifter right now. My response: “because I want it in right now.” She was less than thrilled with me.

I had to re learn to shift my car. Strong centering spring want to bring the shifter back to the center of neutral as soon as you bring it out of a gear. I really had to concentrate to make sure I was staying in 1st and 2nd, not 3rd and 4th. Barton also claims that the shift throw is reduced 40%, I for one believe it.

As a nod to the old school shifters, I went with the classic white shift knob. It looks like an out of place cue ball in my black car, but I love its uniqueness.

The next modification came curtesy of my fiancée; as a gift she purchased a Diablo Trinity Tuner. She informed me that she was going to buy it, and I of course became excited. The tuner actually reprograms the car computer, giving you more performance, gas mileage, etc. A good human tuner can actually take the Diablo Trinity, put your car on a dyno, and give your car a personal tune. This would give you much more horse power and torque vs what the “canned tune” that is already on the Diablo will. Of course, the canned tune is a vast improvement over the stock tune.

My fiancée informed me that she was going to purchase this for me, so I of course jumped the gun and went to a website that specializes in these parts and ordered an A-pillar gauge pod mount and a Trinity adapter. The A-pillar gauge pod mount replaces the cover on your cars A-pillar with one that has a cavity built in to it to mount a gauge. My plan was to permanently mount the Trinity on the A-pillar as it has all kinds of cool gauges, a virtual drag tree, shift light, etc. When I was searching for the gauge pod I found a regular one, and a “Trinity optimized one.” Of course the optimized one was only available through one vendor, was a couple of bucks more than the regular one, and the shipping was 30.00. I went with another vendor on the regular gauge pod to pay a cheaper price and free shipping.

I received the gauge pod about and then the Trinity. I hooked the trinity up to my car, put in the canned 91 octane tune and immediately felt a difference in the throttle response and available power throughout the RPM range. I then customized the tune by making my throttle 20% more sensitive. As Challengers and Chargers have electronic throttles with no throttle linkage of any kind, you can do this. The whole car is basically drive-by-wire.

Once I was satisfied with the throttle sensitivity, I proceeded to put on the A-pillar gauge pod mount. I of course find that the gauge pod is so low on the pillar that it is impossible to correctly mount the trinity. I called up the vendor and they tell me I really should have gone with the Trinity optimized gauge pod from the other vendor. I can send their gauge pod back, but it is a 15% restocking fee, so I won’t get my full 230.00 back. I pull it out, send it back, and order the one I should have ordered. Instead of saving myself 35.00, I ended up costing myself about 50.00 more.

The new gauge pod is in, the trinity is mounted, and it looks good.

Next up was a ported throttle body. OEM throttle bodies are 80mm; I went with a throttle body ported out to 87mm. I went with what I was recommended by the company. I’m not sure if it is doing much of anything HP or Torque wise, but the throttle feels even more consistent now. Either that or it is my imagination trying to justify the purchase. I’m told it will really make a difference if I put on a better exhaust manifold, which I plan on doing some day.

At the moment, sitting in my garage are a set of new spark plugs, and a 180 degree thermostat. The new thermostat is so that I don’t burn my fan up with the new 91 octane tune as the tune changes the fan settings. The Hemi engines are prone to heat soak too, especially out here in the Mojave. A cooler thermostat definitely won’t hurt.

The spark plugs need to go in soon too as I am at 38,000 miles and they are supposed to be changed out at every 30,000 miles.

On order, and probably the last things I will buy for my car this year, are strut braces. They serve to stiffen the suspension on the car and help with body roll and flex. I bought one for the front that mounts in the engine compartment, and an arched one for the back, that mounts in the trunk. They have better ones for the rear, but they take up more trunk room than I want to give up.

What’s all this leading to and why are you doing this you may ask? Well, more modifications! Each mod builds on the next and improving performance. I plan on a whole suspension kit, stainless steel brake lines, shorty headers, better cat back exhaust, and someday a high performance cam and cylinder heads. I live in California so I can’t put high flow catalytic converters on, or I would.

During all of this, I do plan on driving some time trials, the Mojave Mile, autocross, etc. Although I have to say that this big beast of a car on an autocross, amongst Miata’s, Evos, BMW’s, (etc.) will be interesting.

Also…well… I just want to. What better reason should I have?

Categories: Cars, Life, money | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boron Bobcats

I lived in the town of Boron from the day I was born until one month before my 16th birthday. My mom was married and the stepfather had a house in Ridgecrest, an hour away, so we had to move. I have lived in Ridgecrest the last 17.5 years, longer than I lived in Boron. However, when people ask me where I am from, my hometown, where I grew up…I tell them Boron. Don’t get me wrong, Boron isn’t a treasure. In fact, at the moment, I wouldn’t live there unless I absolutely had to. Just something about growing up in that tiny mining town of 2,000 people worms its way in to your psyche and you will forever be from there.

Growing up in Boron it is pretty much expected you will be a Boron Bobcat and play some sort of sport. If you are a boy it is pretty much a given you will play football. Not many of us didn’t. Boron was a football legacy town. My moms generation won all kinds of football championships, and the graduating classes of 94 through about 2000 were the sons of that generation. Those years were full of powerhouse football teams. My moms generation were all the sons and daughters of transplanted Texans and Oklahomans. When I went to school, many of my friends would go back to Texas and Oklahoma to visit grandparents. The town basically had a Varsity Blues/Friday Night Lights feel to it when I was in Jr. High and High School.

Coming home from my senior trip towards the last couple weeks of High School, the Burroughs High School bus stopped in Kramer Junction (just outside of Boron) for gas, snacks, and a pee break. I got off the bus and ran in to a few friends a had gone to high school with. We chatted for about five or ten minutes and then I got back on the bus. When I sat down I noticed that a bunch of the Burroughs football players were staring at me. I of course thought I was about to get my butt kicked. I ended up becoming a minor celebrity for the next hour on the drive home, just because one of my friends was the guy that almost broke the California Interscholastic Federations High School Football Interception Record. Boron football was known outside of Boron.

I was never able to play football like most of my friends. I was never an athletic kid and I grew up pretty poor, so my mom didn’t have money to put me in youth sports. I didn’t have a dad to teach me to play football like most of the other kids. So, I watched from the sidelines and ended up getting teased and bullied. Until I joined wrestling and most of the football team watched me pin a kid. That’s another story though.

These days Boron can barely field a football team. The town has shrunk and is more impoverished than ever, resulting in low school enrollment and attendance. They are  currently the smallest 11 man football team in the state. However, they just accomplished something huge; they won a national contest to go to the Super Bowl. Articles about the team going to this years Super Bowl have been written in various sources and far more eloquently than I can manages Here are two:

http://www.kibskbov.com/boron-football/

http://usatodayhss.com/2015/small-town-high-school-football-team-wins-nfl-contest-headed-to-super-bowl-xlix

Some  good videos:

http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/sports/hsfootball/Boron-Bobcats-could-go-to-the-Super-Bowl–284277651.html

http://theavtimes.com/2015/01/09/congratulations-to-the-boron-bobcats/

And finally an article that was written in a paper, that I can’t find online, except reprinted on a facebook page. I will copy and paste it here:

BORON HAS CAPTURED U.S.’s HEART
By Brian Golden, Antelope Valley Press

It’s simply the most famous bus ride in Boron history.

No, it’s not “Selma” in shoulder pads.

No schools are being desegregated.

No new employees are being militarily escorted to work at the Borax plant.

But make no mistake. The whole nation will be watching.

They’re the ones who demanded it.

Boron didn’t just win a national competition when its saga won the “Together We Make Football” contest on NFL.com in conjunction with Super Bowl XLIX a week from today in Glendale, Arizona.

It won a nation’s heart.

Truth is, everyone in Boron, and the rest of us in the Valley, could have stuffed the electronic ballot box 24/7, and it would have been fewer votes than could be cast on the westside of New York City, or in any ballot-stuffing operation in Chicago, or along the 610 Loop in Houston.

From the shores of New England to Puget Sound, from the frozen lakes of Minnesota to the Rio Grande River in south Texas, Americans of every background rallied to Boron’s cause.

Of course, the brilliant cinematography of NFL films played no small part.

The aerial shot of seemingly endless miles of scrub suddenly transforming into an emerald meadow of manhood was one of the most powerful visuals in America in 2014.

But Boron’s “Together We Make Football” mantra wasn’t as much a statement of where, or how, or why, as who.

It is who Boron is.

America met a people that has virtually none of the superficialities that allegedly confer sophistication on a community; no mall, no movie theater, no skateboard shop.

And it’s no big deal.

Maybe Boron clutched America’s imagination to its bosom like a football squeezed to his chest by a cannonballing Bobcats running back over the goal line, it was because the USA needed to know there are still places like Boron.

Places where the superficial, rightly, still defers to the sturdy. In privileged precincts across the fruited plain, they no doubt pity Boron for what it doesn’t have.

It feels so superior to what they really feel – envy for generations seeking excellence, not excuses.

Which brings us to the greatest irony of all on this Super Bowl week unlike any in the Valley’s history.

This week, it’s the effete, the privileged, the condescending quarters of the republic who truly DO envy Boron for something that it has.

Thanks to “Together We Make Football,” the Boron Bobcats make this the first Super Bowl with three teams in it.

Courtesy of the NFL, they’re being transported to the Phoenix area on a luxury bus and being put up in a five-star hotel for their Arizona stay.

They’ll meet both teams. They’ll meet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. They’ll be stunned, absolutely stunned, by the people they’ve seen on television for years who will be lining up to meet them.

They’ll have an entire hour devoted to their story on national television Sunday.

Not because of a killing spree.

Not because of an alleged UFO encounter.

If football is America, and Boron is Football, Boron is America.
On what has long been described as America’s “Midwinter Fourth of July,” they may be the most Americana phenomenon of all in this celebration of America.

The late Gerald Small of Desert (1983-84 Miami Dolphins) and de-Shawn Shead of Highland (2013-14 Seattle Seahawks) are the Valley football sons ever to play on the field at the Super Bowl.

Next Sunday in University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the Boron Bobcats will become the first Valley TEAM to walk on the field at the Super Bowl.

Don’t be surprised if Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll comes over to say hello.

He was the only one who knew that a rickety old school bus, not the luxury coachliner headed east this week, wound its lonely way west across the desert prairie to Isabella for a game against Kern Valley in September, 2008.

The stunned Bobcats had lost teammate Vinny Rodriguez to fatal head trauma the week before.

They voted to play the Kern Valley game to honor their fallen teammate.

The news got back to Carroll, then coaching the top-ranked USC Trojans, through a Valley Press story shown to him by one of his secretaries, who happened to live in Palmdale.

In the middle of nowhere, 185 miles north of Heritage Hall, Boron coach Todd Fink’s cellphone rang up in the front of the bus. He walked back to talk to his players a few minutes later.

“Do you know who that was?” Fink asked. “That was the coach of the No. 1-ranked team in College Football, Pete Carroll at USC, and he wanted you to know how proud he is of you, how much he admires you for honoring Vinny this way.”

So much has changed since 2008. Carroll can become just the seventh coach ever to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

This time, he’s not only the only one proud of that bus departing Boron.

And obviously, Boron’s not in the middle of nowhere anymore.

No longer is it a distant place on a map.

This week, it’s also a place in the heart.

AMERICA’S HEART.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

She…..

She is beautiful, but not just physically. She has an immense inner beauty from being loving, compassionate, big hearted, a wonderful mother, a friend, a confidant, and a genuinely good person.

She has an inner strength that she doesn’t realize. Overcoming many personal obstacles and working to overcome more.

She has more intelligence than she gives herself credit for.

Her bluish, greenish, eyes change with her mood.

Her eyes and smile light up a room when she is happy.

She hates my Challenger, but buy’s me new parts for gifts.

She lets me buy parts for her Explorer, on the condition I show her how to install them.

She lets me have control over the remote at night.

She is hard as a rock when her mind is made up and soft when she holds me during times I need comfort.

She is my shotgun rider in the Challenger and I am hers in the Explorer.

She is my fiancée, my Queen, my lover, my best friend, the mother of the daughters I have taken as my own.

She is Love.

Categories: Life, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The only one….

Some days I seem to be the only person at work and in my family.

There is a saying in Government that goes something along the lines “Those that work get the work, those that don’t still get raises.” Basically in Government jobs, if you work your butt off and do a great job, you still get the same pay raise as the man or woman that can’t do their job. If you demonstrate you can work and work well, your boss will probably give you all the work, all the projects, etc. While the coworkers that don’t work, can’t work, or just screw up the work, they get very little to do. Again, everyone gets the same pay raise. At least in the GS pay system. Their are other Government pay systems out their, but I am unfamiliar with them.

At work, I get the majority of the work. My customers for Safety are two of the three largest and most technical departments on the base, encompassing chemistry labs, physics labs, optics labs, energetics labs, large machine shops, etc. Not to mention a handful of other departments. I also run the confined space program for the base, the traffic safety program, blood borne pathogen program, assist with the fall protection program, energy control (lock out/tag out) program and respirator program. Though I do more to run the respirator program than assist with it.

With all of this I am also the Non Ionizing Radiation point of contact for our command, backup for my supervisor in the Emergency Operations Center, on the Chemical Hygiene Plan board, and more.

My supervisor is a great manager. I think she took all this in to account when she selected me for a promotion a few months ago and made me her Deputy. Still, when you are the only person that people can go to for all of these things, it can get overwhelming. I am the only person in the office that can do a lot of the things above and I can’t be in two places at once. If I make the wrong call or manage my time improperly, I can end up holding up a multi million dollar test. That has only happened once so far. Worse, if I make a bad decision in regards to certain deficiencies or programs (i.e. confined space or respirator), I can kill someone.

Family wise, I am the only person that my mom has. My mom is emotionally a wreck at most times, has a stress disorder, bad coping skills, very low self esteem, a stressful job that barely lets her make ends meet, can’t make friends very well and a love life that is a couple deaths short of a Greek tragedy. I am the only person she has to talk to, help her out with things, etc.

Right now she is being evicted from her apartment and has been looking for a place to live. A veteran used a VA loan to buy the duplex that she has lived in for 10 years. As VA loans make you live in the place you buy (I think for a year), and the other apartment is on a new lease, my mom is being evicted out of hers.

She has only been working for about 11 years and that came at the end of a divorce to a bad man. She doesn’t make much money, doesn’t have much of a savings and is now forced to either rent a crappy apartment (there are not many nice rentals in this town) or buy a small house. She has chosen the latter and is buying a small house in a bad neighborhood. Most of the house was renovated, but it still needs work. Of course, I am the only person she has that can help her do this work, help her move, etc.

I am basically the only person my grandparents have too. They live an hour away and I go down their often to help them, probably not as often as I should though.

My fiancée is a different story. She is really the only person I have that I can ask for help as everyone else either lives too far away, is not in a position to help me with anything, or is the one always asking me for help. Though I am reluctant to ask her for help; instead just drawing strength from being with her and having her and the kids in my life. She gets mad at me for this and chews me out for not asking her to help lighten my load. I guess I just became used to doing everything on my own, helping and supporting everyone else. I don’t really know how to ask for myself. Besides, she works swing shifts and graveyards, has two kids, and is going to school full time. She is Superwoman for pulling all of that off! Her strength is one of the many things I love about her and I know she would be strong enough to handle anything I ask of her too. However, when she is already facing so much on a daily basis, how can I ask her for help?

By the way, Jen, if you are reading this. I love you and thank you for everything you do for me. I’ll see you tonight 🙂

Last week an old friend and his wife came in from out of town. As his wife and my fiancée were inside Dennys, getting to know one another, we were outside so he could smoke. He looked at me and said “You used to be the laid back one out of the group. Now you are wound really tight and kind of angry and cold. What happened? I’m worried about you.”

My fiancée agreed with him when I told her about his concern.

A few weeks ago, at the end of the work day, my supervisor came in my office, sat down, looked at me and said “I’m worried about you. You are always doing everything for everyone else, taking care of everyone else. I can see it in your eyes. You need to take some time for yourself and start focusing on yourself more.”

At that point my office phone rang, I was needed for an emergency mishap. I ended up working an hour and a half over that night, almost missing a dinner date with my fiancée and the girls.

Categories: Family, Friends, General, Life, Work | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where we live

This week I was forced by work to attend a one day conference in Norwalk, California. Norwalk, just South of Downtown L.A. is part of the giant L.A. mega city, and is right off the 5 Freeway. It was around 7:30am when I found myself merging off of a busy Highway 14 on to a very busy 5 freeway. By 8:15am I was stuck in the middle of a slow moving traffic snarl and what should have been a quick drive, turned in to L.A. morning commuter traffic hell.

Slow stop and go traffic the whole way down the 5 Freeway, people cutting one another off, almost causing accidents, Semi’s weaving in and out of traffic in lanes that they have no business being in. What should have been a 20 or 30 minute drive was well over an hour. Once I reached Cerritos College in Norwalk, I was talking to a local. I asked him about the traffic, he said that it was a normal every day occurrence and that you just got used to it. The guys from San Diego said the same thing.

These are the same people that tell me I am crazy for living in a smaller town out in the middle of the Mojave Desert. “There is nothing there!” “You must always be bored.” “Where do you go shopping?” “It takes forever to get anywhere!”

It’s true, their isn’t much here, it does take at least two hours to get anywhere with any kind of shopping or shows, not much shopping can be done, not much of a variety of restaurants and not a lot to do in the immediate town. However…..It takes me between five and ten minutes to get to work. I pay 750.00 a month for a two story, three bedroom apartment, with a garage. My car insurance is cheaper, my air is cleaner, I can see a breathtaking view of stars at night, I have the Sierra Nevada Mountains just a short distance away, a low crime rate….

Don’t get me wrong, this town isn’t exactly a paradise. The crime rate is going up, but it started going up after the influx of section 8 tenants from the San Bernardino/Riverside area, L.A. area, etc. The lack of food choices in the town isn’t great, and a better choice in food, clothing, and car dealerships would definitely be great. But in the end, that’s all just stuff. The internet can bring you about anything you want anyway.

When I drove back to the desert, I left Norwalk at about 4:00am and the traffic buildup was already starting. Once I merged on to Highway 14 however, I was almost alone on my Northbound trek. I looked at the line of car headlights heading South, bumper to bumper, slow moving. People that drive an hour or two to work an eight hour job, just to drive an hour or two back home, maybe spend a little time with the family and eat dinner, before they have to go to bed to start it all over again.

Me? In that time I have gone to work, gone home, hung out at Starbucks with a good book, comic books or friends, eaten dinner, spent the evening with my fiancé and the girls if she isn’t at work, or playing my XBOX 1 if she is. I might go to Denny’s and hang out while she works. I can go to bed at midnight and still get an easy 6 hours sleep.

People feel sorry for me because I don’t live in a city. I feel sorry for them because they do.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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