Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sweat Blisters

Hayley wanted to help me mow the lawn.
Today was a rather peaceful day. I just puttered around the yard fixing and cleaning things that have been neglected for the last several months. It is kind of the calm before the storm because everyone is converging for Sarah's graduation and the big party of the following Saturday. Sarah graduates June 9, the party is June 11 and anyone who knows and loves Sarah, Sharely, Ben, Alycia, Brandon or us is invited to stop by and say hello. 

Blowing bubbles with Sydney and Hayley
Today I also went for a six mile run. I love getting out on the trails. I kind of wish I'd done it more when I was young and healthy but hey, better late than never right?

The funniest thing happened after my run. Since we all got fried at Brandons commencement and then further embedded the burn at Ben and Sharleys commencement my sun burn on my arms is just getting ready to peel. In case you wanted to know I sweat a lot. After the run I took a look at my arms and blisters of sweat were forming underneath my outer layer of skin. It looked rather gross but it was fascinating. I remember that once the same thing happened to Alex but his sweat blisters were much bigger than mine. I took a shower and they all washed off. My arm in now in full peel mode.

It's been a great day.

The average persons foot sweats a cup of sweat in one average day.

Sharley's Graduation

Here's Sharley walking in and giving us all a wave.
This may look like she's doing the Hitler salute
but she's actually blowing us all a kiss. 

Sharley's graduation was perhaps the easiest of them all. Either that or I'm just getting used to  them. The graduations all seem to have a theme. Alycia's had the best commencement speaker, Brandons had the best student speaker, Ben's was the longest (but at least we had comfortable seats, comfortable weather and the front row. His commencement speaker was also very good), but Sharley had by far the best announcer. 

Sharley's commencement was for the art department which included all of the departments like art, photography, dance, music, theater etc. You get the idea. Well when it came time for the grads to walk they announced the man who was to read out the names and then they said he was from the Theater department. Ben leans over to me and says, "well if he's from theater then he should be good." The next thing we know there is a deep booming voice that is very animated and full of confidence. If he announced any names wrong we would never know it.

They had all of the graduates who had honors stand up.
I know she had excellent grades but I don't know
which of the "Cum lauds" she got. 
This morning we got up early and left the house around 6:45. We arrived at the University of California at Long Beach just after 8:00. Luckily the traffic was great. Ben had us some seats saved which is good because they were already starting to fill up. 

They then went through the program is a prompt manner and all in all it was a very nice program. They're commencement speaker was an alumnus who was an industrial designer making medical equipment. He actually was involved in the design of a heart bypass valve that was later used to save the life of his grandson. How cool would that be?

Walking up to accept her diploma
After the program was over the graduates walked and since it was only the Art Department that didn't take too long and then it was all over. 

Sharley shaking hands with all of the important people. 
Sharley then showed us all her home away from home. The CSULB campus is actually a very pretty campus. One scary thing though was when we were leaving. We were going down this escalator and Mom was carrying Hayley and Serene was carrying Sydney. Because they were carrying the girls they weren't holding onto the hand rail. Well the escalator suddenly stopped. I mean instantly, it was so sudden that we were all thrown forward. A lot of people were carrying plates of food from the reception that they had and there was food and people flying all over the place. 

As soon as the proceedings were over a whole lot of balloons
were released and a bunch of beach balls magically appeared.
I did happen to be holding the hand rail and Serene was behind me so I was ready to catch her if needed but she managed to not fall down but no one was where they could catch Mom. Luckily she didn't fall down either but others did fall and it was rather scary. You don't want to be dropping babies on those metal stairs. 

Unfortunately Ben had to go to work right away and Sharley's family took her to the beach so we took the opportunity to check out the place. Ben told us about some Japanese gardens that were on campus and since it was free we decided to take a look. They were beautiful. What a peaceful place.

For a quarter you could get some fish food to feed the fish and those guys knew exactly what was up. If anyone even stood near the edge of the pond you had fish piling on top of each other just to be the first ones fed. Sydney loved it but she wasn't about to get too close. 

After the gardens we headed back to San Diego. The rest of the day has been rather relaxed. Tomorrow Sarah is off to Disneyland with the High School seniors and I'm going to sleep in and try to have a relaxing Saturday. We'll see how that goes. 

In the last thirty years not only have humans grown fatter but so have the animals (everything from rats to monkeys). They think it may be toxins in the water that affect our metabolism.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Time Warner

I've wanted to change our service from Time Warner to U-Verse for a long time but Lisa kept using her Road Runner email address so I couldn't. Finally these guys came to our door and made us a really good offer so I switched anyway and Lisa finally had to get used to gmail. I didn't like Time Warner for a number of reasons. They were more expensive, fewer HD channels, their modem locked up about every two weeks, their DVR only held about ten shows in it's memory and did I mention that they were more expensive? 

So I made the switch and on my Time Warner bill in big black letters I instructed them to cancel my subscription and I signed it. The problem was that I was set up where they automatically take their money out of my bank account. I noticed that February's payment went out and I just assumed that they didn't get my notice in time. Some how I didn't notice March's payment but when I saw Aprils payment go out I got mad. 

I called them up and they informed me that they can't cancel my account over the phone and besides I haven't returned their equipment yet. Unfortunately their store closes at 6:00 and they aren't open on weekends. I'm rarely home by six and with all the trips lately I finally got up there tonight. 

I started out nice and polite but when she told me it's their store policy to keep billing me I started getting a little upset. I told her that I sent them a hand written and signed document telling them to cancel my service and anywhere I've read that is a legal document. 

She replied that it is their policy to keep billing me until I return the equipment. I told her that was ridiculous  what if I lost the equipment? Are you going to bill me for the rest of my life?

She told me that if I lost the equipment then I would have to call their company and tell them that I lost their equipment. I told her than a phone call is not a legally binding communication and a signed document is. If I told them in writing to cancel my subscription then they have to cancel my subscription and if I didn't return the equipment then send me a bill for the equipment but they can't keep billing me indefinitely. 

She then reminded me that on the back of each bill it says that if I dispute the bill then I have 60 days to dispute it. I said, fine, I'm disputing the last two months of my subscription. 

Finally she gave up and said, let me call my manager. I said please do.

After a long conversation she said that the manager says he will give me one month, I said your bill says I can dispute 60 days, I want two months. They then talked for a lot longer and I said let me talk to your manager. 

The manager wouldn't talk to me and said I would have to make an appointment. I said fine. The girl then started to take my equipment and I said, "You're not getting this until I get a resolution here". (that was Brandons suggestion, his law degree is already coming in handy). The manager finally gave me a refund back to April 1st so I guess I'm out March's payment. Right now Time Warner is not my favorite company. I'm with Wile E Coyote, kill the Road Runner. 

By the way, U-Verse internet has not gone down once since we got them and we still haven't filled up our DVR's memory.

A ten year old girl was murdered and her heart was donated to an eight year old girl. The eight year old girl started having nightmares about being murdered. The dreams were so vivid that the parents called the police. Clues from the dream were actually used to find and convict the man who murdered the ten year old girl. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ben's Graduation

 This was a very full weekend. Friday was Brandons graduation ceremonies from Pepperdine law school and I talked about that in Fridays post. We came home on Friday afternoon and then Saturday afternoon we were off to Orange county for Ben's graduation. His graduation was early Sunday morning and since we didn't want to get up at four in the morning we went up the night before and stayed in a Motel. 

Friday night Ben, Brandon, myself and Ben's friend Patrick Carey had a guys night out. Grandpa was invited but since we went to a 9:30 movie he bowed out. Ben wanted to go see Thor and I was up for that but Brandon and Patrick had already seen it we decided to go see Battle Los Angles. It was definitely a guy movie and the kind of movie I rarely get to see unless I want to go alone. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The only problem is that I got home well after 12:30 and the alarm was set for 6:00. It made for a very long day.

The girls are very excited to see their Uncle Ben.
I finally dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 and shortly after 7:00 we were off to the Fullerton campus. I think Brandons graduating class of Law students was one or two hundred, Bens graduating class was about 10,000 and they said that over 7,000 of them were in attendance. Luckily the day was cool and cloudy so we were quite comfortable sitting there. We still had to use lots of sunscreen but at least we were comfortable. 

And Uncle Ben made their day by waving at them.
As with all graduation ceremonies it seemed to drag on forever but I have to admit that they moved things right along. They could have saved an hour if they'd just skipped trying to tell us how wonderful they were. I do have to confess that I thoroughly enjoyed there commencement speaker. They had my boss up there. They had Dr. Regina Dugan who is the head of DARPA. DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a large part of Hi-Z's funding comes from DARPA. We have several DARPA funded projects. 

The DARPA woman spoke mostly about how we should not let fear stop us doing from what we want to do. I thought it was very good and probably quite appropriate for many of my own kids right now. She admitted that many of us will fail but we can always get right back up and try again but if we don't even try because we're afraid of failing then that is the worst kind of failure. She was good. 

All of the graduates met together in that first meeting and then they broke into their individual colleges. Ben was in the Business college and in particular the International Business department. I was surprised to see Ben walking in carrying the International Business sign. I shouldn't have been. Ben was always good at getting his hands on the trophy after a football game or volleyball game so I just knew that he'd talked the sign out of the hands of the person who was supposed to carry it. It was pretty cool to see him carrying the sign for his department. 

We were there early enough to get on the seventh row for the big meeting and then when they broke into groups we stayed int he same place because the business college is so huge and so we were able to get the first row. Even on the first row we were a long way from the stage. 

After Ben walked we went over to his new business building to take pictures. They have a brand new $30M dollar building donated by some guy named Steven Mihaylo. It is a pretty nice building and has been Ben's home for the last few years. Check out the picture of Ben sitting on the bench next to Mr. Mihaylo. 

One thing I thought was pretty cool is that the Fullerton Business program was rated as the number one Business Program in the United States by the US News and World Report. Pretty cool don't you think?

After taking a bunch of pictures we then took Ben and Sharley out for dinner. Andrew and Lisa Jones were there for Ben's graduation ceremonies and the pictures but they weren't able to come for dinner. After we ate we said our goodbyes and then Ben and Sharley took Brandon to LAX and we headed home. We brought Serene and her girls with us. Brandon will be back for the big communal party afterward Sarah's graduation. Unfortunately Brandon will be spending the night in the airport because all flights into Dallas have been cancelled due to tornado's. Those tornado's can sure play havoc with one's schedules. 

Tonight was Sarah's seminary scripture bowl. It is weird to think that after this week we will have no more kids in Seminary. Our lives are sure going to change a lot in these next few weeks. 

Next up is Sharley this coming Friday.

90% of a child's brain is already developed by the age of 5.

Do you see that sign above Ben's head. According the US News and World Report, Fullerton's business program is the best in America. 

Here is Ben sitting with his buddy Steven. Steven Mihaylo donated $30M to help build this beautiful Business School. Steven is a graduate from Fullerton's business program. 

How do you like my shirt? That "F" actually stands for "Fullerton" but I like to think of this shirt as a personally monogrammed shirt. My lovely wife bought this for me. 

Andrew and Lisa Jones are the parent of Ben's best friend growing up. They came to support him at his graduation. 

Ben's mother has always been there for him.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Two Down, Three To Go.

 Wow, what a long but wonderful day. Brandons graduation started early this morning so we headed up last night and stayed in a Motel room so we could sleep in a bit. Sarah is into finals so we left her behind. I don't think she liked that but oh well. This morning we got to Pepperdine early and were rewarded with perfect seats. We were close to the front and had excellent views of Brandon coming in, seating, walking up to the front, shaking hands and then sitting down again. It was perfect.  We saved seats for Serene and her girls, Ben and for Serenes mother. Ben got there right after us. He rode his motor bike. It was a beautiful day. 

When we arrived at the field the view was stunning. How many graduation do you get to attend where you are right on the edge of the water? 

When we attended Alycia's graduation she had perhaps the best commencement speaker I've ever heard but their student speaker was a bust. Brandon's was the opposite. His student speaker was perhaps the best I've ever heard but his commencement speaker was a bust. Don't get me wrong, the things he said were very good and absolutely true. Essentially he said that you can't be good at your vocation (be it a lawyer or anything else) if you don't include God in it. The problem is that he was boring and presented his message more as a lecture than as words of wisdom and advice for the students. 

The other problem was that he spoke all about Christianity but there were a lot of Jews, Muslims and Buddhists there. I suppose since Pepperdine is a Christian school you can't fault him for that but I think there were many more effective ways he could have shared his message that would have been less offensive and much more effective.

After the ceremonies were over we took some pictures with the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the background, let Brandon say some goodbyes and then we were off to the "Baby Blues Barbecue". Brandon claimed that they have the best barbecue in the world and I do agree that they were pretty darn good.

Since we were there so early we spent a lot of time baking under the hot sun. Since there was a gentle breeze coming off the water.  We didn't even know we were being roasted but tonight we're all just a little bit pink. Hopefully we'll all be healed in time for Ben's graduation on Sunday. He informed us that his graduation will be a lot longer than Brandons. His class is so big that they had to break it into two groups. Thank goodness for hats. 

After the barbecue we said goodbye to Ben and Kathrine (Serenes mother) and headed back to San Diego. It was a great day. 

Most large businesses prefer to hire their new employees from large state schools rather than from Ivy League schools. They find them to be more well rounded and better leaders.