Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Hike

Some months ago, a very dear friend and famous COHS personality (COBOS) stopped by to visit while on her book signing tour. I took her for one of my favorite hikes in the hills above where I live. I figured this would be a quick hike and I would not bring a back pack therefore I would not need hiking boots. During the descent on the Eagles Nest Trail it was pretty steep and I gave Cobos tips on how to handle the steep grade.

We are about 3/4's the way down and the phone rings. I stop to answer it. The grade is very steep, and the ground is covered with Eucalyptus leaves and bark making it very slippery. I'm holding the phone and the water bottle and decide to switch hands. Keep in mind that I am standing still, I'm not hiking. All of a sudden, my left foot takes off sliding down the hill. Unfortunately, the right foot tried to stay behind, but ended up twisting over itself and getting crushed as I feel down full force on top of myself. The snapping and popping that I heard was not all bark and branches. I know call this infamous site "Bears Landing".

I ended up with a severely sprained ankle and a very sore Achilles heel. See the picture?

I was on crutches for months. Today I decided it was time to take back the trail. This time I wore proper hiking boots (smart), but went hiking alone (not smart) and used a walking stick (smart). It was just me, the fog and the cows. It was a great hike.

I finished the hike, my wife Carmen picked me up. We went over the Lakeridge Athletic Club for a shower (needed), and soak in the Jacuzzi and another shower. It was very relaxing, the trail is mine!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Year's Resolution 2010

Here are my resolutions for 2010:

Play in the COHS alumni waterpolo game.

Seeing more COHS friends.

Keep another 5-10 pounds off.

Get more active: Hiking or swimming.

Get more active: Helping other people.

Improve our financial situation (reduce debt)

Canning: Trade with more people that can; add to what I make: salsa, speghetti sauce, soup. Add to methods of canning such as freezing and using wax

Be More Green - this is way to general so I want to accomplish some of the following:

Plant a tree

Plant more vegetables: tomatoes, onions and garlic, ginger, herbs

Increase the number of LED lights in use.

Better composting

Let fruit we grow go to waste.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone

This year has had its up and down moments. We lost Tia (aunt) Leone just after she landed here to visit us from Peru. She worked hard all her life and was a very special member of our family.

The economy has been very tough for many and we are no exception, but my sister Becky bought a house in Hayward near Castro Valley. It even has a view of the bay.

Carmen got to accompany me on a business trip to Washington DC and had a wonderful time. We got to visit Amelia and her folks Sally and David Ames. Back home Lila broke her foot.

June arrived and Lila got her AA. It was a very proud moment for all of us. At this stage in her life, it seems like she has been in school forever.

The West Coast Bears had a family renuion at Nancy and Marks House/Winery in Sutter Creek. It was really nice. They produce a great wine. The weather was California beautiful and we got to spend time with family that we had not seen in quite some time.

I ended up going to Niagra Falls for work. The falls are spectacular, but I also enjoyed going to the Anchor bar, where Buffalo Wings were invented.

Carmen and I enjoyed a number of concerts: Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, Creedance Clearwater Revisited. Love that classic rock. During my work, I also got to see Kool & the Gang.

I went to Las Vegas to attend the opening of World Series of Poker. I got to spend time with our nephew Carlos who happened to be there with the airforce. Lila flew in the next day and we got to meet many of the famous poker players that we enjoy watching on TV. We also saw the Beatles Love show at the Mirage. What an amazing experience.

Ceci has been with the same boyfriend for over 4 years now. She is attending college studying to be a nurse. She is working at an animal care clinic and now we have four dogs. Four dogs. I never imagined that we would have four dogs. Did I mention that I have four dogs. We love Ceci despite having four dogs.

I had the privileged of officiating at the weddings of two dear couples: Gabriel and Melanie and Carl and Laurenne. It was a great honor and I wish them all many happy years.

I have always considered myself a swimmer and this year I experienced one of the great swimming experiences of my life. My friend Susie Norris invited me to go swimming at Hearst Castle. It is an amazing pool. No chlorine, perfect temperature not to mention how beautiful it is. Her husband and I were the only ones to be able to swim the length of the pool under water without coming up for air.

I had gone 25 years or more not seeing any of the people I went to school with, but this year I ended up in Southern California more than usual and held a series of lunches where I got to spend time with the people I grew up with. These events were very special to me. The highlight was the Chater Oak High School Alumni Waterpolo Match; something I will never forget.

There were two major visits of family from Peru. The first was very sad with the passing of Tia Leone. The second was in December and revolved around Edgardo's 90th birthday. Edgardo is Carmen's dad, and he doesn't look anywhere near 90. We are very fortunate that our children have grown up with their grandparents.

Our nephew Carlos Left for Korea where he will be stationed for one year, followed by three years in Okinowa. We hope to be able to visit him at least once. He will visit us once a year.

While the economy really sucked this year, our family has never been closer. We are grateful for all of our friends and family that have touched our lives. We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The Bears

P.S. We choose this method of sending Christmas Cards as what will likely be our last "Green" act of the year.

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

We usually set up the Christmas Tree and put up the Christmas lights in early December. This year we had family from Peru and while we (Ceci and her boy friend) put up the lights outside, there was not enough room to put up the tree.

About a week ago, everyone returned to Peru, but now both girls are working and school and it is almost to find a time when everyone was home together, so I finally decorated the tree. I used the Red and White LED lights as shown in the picture above.

Ceci got home and let it be known that she did not think very much of the Red and White lights. I get in the car and head on over to the Home Depot, but they only had White LED lights. As I was starting to leave the parking lot, I noticed Big Lots and decided to give it a try. I got their last four boxes of colored LED lights and you can see the difference in the picture of the tree below.

One thing I really like about the tree is that I did not use our standard ornaments. Instead most are one of a kind, or hand made ornaments. One of my favorites is the Bear ornaments made by hand by COBOS. There is one for each of the four Bears: Carmen, Lila, Ceci and me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ed's Christmas/Birthday List

Here is my second annual Christmas/Birthday Wish List:

A Big Hug
Solar Garden Lights
Hat with built in solar powered fan
Kit that converts the top of the toilet into a sink
Rain barrel
2 Varieties of Blueberry Shrubs
Tesla Electric Car
World Peace

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A New Tree for the Bears

I spent a lot of time working on the tree I cut down and still have a lot more work to do. I have decided that we must plant another tree, but am having a difficult time deciding what kind of tree to plant. Here are the ones that I have put on the final list:

Cherry - So far this is in first place. I have some bush cherries, but I need a tree to produce enough cherries to make a good jam and maybe even cherry pie. I need one that is self polinating so they will be smaller cherries. The larger variety need two trees for polination. I made cherry jam once, and it was delicious. One of my favorites.

Olive - Most everything I do gets made into Jam. It would be nice to have something that would be different. Canned black or green olives. Dare I try to make Olive Oil? That could be awesome. Some of the best bread I have ever had was at a restaurant called Roti. It was a whole wheat sourdough bred with black olives and walnuts.

Apricot - During the first 5 years of my life, my grandmother lived in a house with her husband. She had a huge apricot tree. She made apricot jam and it was delicious. I love pastry with apricots. They sell the fruit in stores, but it is not as good as they pick them too early.

Walnut - I love walnuts. They are my favorite kind of nut and covered with chocolate, wow! I also use them in scones, cakes ...etc. But I have a friend that is giving me a lot of walnuts so I guess I don't really need that either.

Avocado - A good friend of mine has one of these trees, and will give me all the avocados I want, so I don't really need this.

Banana - I would love a banana tree, but it gets too cold and the frost kills them. I think we would have to grow it in a pot and bring it inside during winter.

It would be nice if I could plant two trees, but that would really eliminate a lot of space in the back yard. I still want to add blue berries and grow all the vegitables that we grow each year such as tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, chili peppers ...etc

Did I mention that we raise chickens and have our own supply of fresh eggs? They taste really good. We have also raised Turkeys in the past, and I would like to do it again next year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Church Appreciation Dinner

My mom called me and asked if I would like to go to the church's service appreciation dinner. I said "I would not LIKE to go, but I will". LOL I go to so many banquets for work, but I love my mom, so I guess I'm going.

Mom is a Eucharistic Minister and is a member of a ministry. I think it has to do with Father Serra, which I really don't know anything about. So I'm off to the dinner, which my daughter Lila would really have liked to have gone to, instead of me. I felt the same way. She just joined a couple of ministries, the choir being one of them. I think the choir is a ministry.

Anyway, my mom meets me at the church. I think she was probably an hour early and wants to be the last to leave. After all, there will be dancing tonight. My mom warns me that it is a semi formal event, so I have my suit and tie on.

When I arrive, I notice that there are two key people that seemed to be responsible for putting on the dinner. Both are members of the Knights of Columbus and are in their mid to early twenties. One is a friend of Lila's, his name is Ugoeze Ofoegbu. He is not African American, he is actually African. His dad is a tribal chief in Nigeria.

I am right on time, yet my mom has been there for a while. I give her a hug and sit down. Naturally being the proud mom she is, she has to introduce me to all of her friends. It is at this point that I notice that even though I am going to be 50 next year, I'm one of the youngest people at the dinner.

There are a number of speeches, singing and prayers followed by dinner. Dinner was actually pretty good. After dinner there are awards, followed by more speeches, prayers ...etc. After they get everyone that received an award, they announce that they are to be honored with their spouses to have the first dance. I'm thinking it will be a waltz or something. After all, the average age looks to be about 75. I was wrong.

The music starts and the first dance is to be "Celebration" by "Kool & the Gang". Now this is definitely not a "Disco Era" gang by any stretch of the imagination. Ugoeze is the one that gave instructions about the music. He was born in the mid 80's so to him, the 70's is old music. After all it was before he was even born. To him that is old, but these people were already old in the 1970's.

The old folks don't shy away. Maybe they should have, but they didn't. It was not a pretty sight and even Father Jimmy, Sister Angela and Father Nick got up and danced together. I managed to get a video of this if they ever give me any problems. Seeing these people dance like this will require some therapy on my part, but I am sure I will recover. I will say that they should probably think twice about serving wine next time.

I danced a number of times with my mom and she danced with a number of old guys. I don't know them, but they are old guys. She said I was a good sport, so I guess I did my duty.

I almost forgot to mention. Everyone got to keep their wine glass. On one side was an etching of the church, the other side had the date of the event. My mom had to snag a second glass. I knew she would.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Green Festival

Today I went to the Green Festival in San Francisco. My daughter, Lila, took me to the El Cerrito del Norte station in our Ford Escape Hybrid. I got off at the Civic Center Bart Station and walked to 8th and Brannon. It is just under a mile each way and I was working my hiking boots. This is important cause this is the longest walk I have done since I sprained my ankle. I really felt it on the way back.

It seems over the last year, that there are less conferences, expos ... etc. that focus on being green. There is the local Earth Day event in Richmond, but there were a lot more a year or so ago. I think they are important. It is a great way to get educated and inspired. I learn a lot every time and it makes me want to do better.

This year you could bring five cans of food instead of paying the $15 entry fee. I would have done that, but they did not post it on their web site. Last year it was three cans. You don't save any money, but it sure does some people a lot of good. Paying by donating canned food is my favorite method of payment. I still didn't have to pay $15, I got a five dollar discount for taking BART.

There were Circus Soleil performers out front while we waited in line to buy our tickets. That was a special treat. I wanted to get a short video, but I didn't want to loose my place in line.

One of the booths calculate how much impact your trip to the festival is and how much it would cost to offset using carbon credits. Since most of my trip was via BART, they calculated heavy rail. It came out to 3o cents. Just for fun, they calcualated what it would have been if I had driven. Funny enough, it was actually worse for me to take BART than drive. So then they decided to try and recalculate using the commuter train setting. It still would have been better to have driven the Ford Escape Hyrbid. Strange when you take into consideration that they gave me a $5 dollar discount for taking BART instead of driving. I don't know if the program was right, but it makes one think.

It was a full festival. Many drawings for prizes and I entered all of them. Hope I win. The samples were plentiful, wonderful food (chocolate is a food, right), fruits, drinks and more.

Here is one of the new technologies and space savers is this toilet/sink combination. I want one!

One of my favorite things was a lady wearing bags, to show how much goes into landfill for every person that shops every year. I thought it illustrated the point very well.

Some of my favorite companies are Green Zebra and Zip Car. They were there in force and I made a point of stopping by.

Saw my friends at 3prong. They have moved from their location on San Pablo Road inside the Green Motors facility. They are now on fourth street.

One thing that I noticed was just how nice and polite everyone was. It really makes a different and helps to put a smile on your face.

After I had made the rounds to each booth, I stopped to have lunch. In the ultimate green, I brought my own lunch in a thermos. I used a bandanna for a napkin, a spoon from home and a bottle of water and I was set. I did not stay for the live music. No one from my family was able to go with me and regardless of how nice it was, it is not the same when you are alone. Maybe next year!

Monday, November 9, 2009


This weekend was an amazing weekend. I had been down last weekend, visiting Dave Talley and having lunch with a lot of my Charter Oak High School (COHS) classmates. This weekend, Carmen came with me. We drove down this time and Melinda Race was kind enough to put us up at her place. That helped us to keep the expenses down.

Melinda is an amazing woman. Her house is immaculate and her family is so wonderful. We especially enjoyed our time with her Grand Daughter Makala.

Saturday after breakfast, we visited Cobos. We had to, her cell phone doesn't work and her voice mail is full, so we stopped by and had a great visit with her daughter and new grandson Logan.

Next we were off to Glendora and visit Craig "Gumby" Schaeffer and his family in the house his father built. It is such a cool house and I apologize to his lovely wife for just dropping in. It was truly unfair, but I had not been to that house in over 30 years.

Next we hopped on over to Melinda's mom's house. What a beautiful house and Melinda's mom is such a sweetie. She even remembered me and I have to admit she looked familiar.

Now it was time for the COHS Alumni Waterpolo match. This was the major reason for the visit this weekend. My wife Carmen wore my letterman's jacket and it got a lot of looks. It was the only Lancer jacket there. I hope next year others will bring theirs and show that Lancer pride.

There were four of us over 40: Craig "Gumby" Schaeffer, Eric and Craig Schubel and myself. The turnout for the alumni was great and the stands were full of COHS 1978 alumni. Diana Cobos and Lisa Kagerise both came to watch as well.

We all played and Craig even scored. The game went into double overtime and sudden death. In the end, we won 20 to 19. I have to hand it to the COHS seniors. They only had 3 substitutes. We had about 18. We wish them luck when they go to CIF.

After we washed up, we headed over to the Black Watch Pub in Upland. Little Debbie Knott, is all grown up now and organized a mult-year COHS reunion.

Debbie is now Debbie Ross and she has a fantastic band that rocked us all night long.

It was so good to see so many classmates and I have to say that the class of 1978 had the best showing at the reunion. That is because 78 is great! LOL

That evening passed way too fast. We returned to Melinda's house. The next morning, we chatted with Melinda and Carla Anderson. Terry (1977) snuck out of the house before the rest of us could get up.

Carmen and I headed back home at 11:30am and it took use 7.5 hours with no traffic to get back home. The plane was a lot quicker.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Visiting My Friends from Charter Oak High School

I’m back home safe and sound. I had a fantastic time visiting my classmates from COHS. It is amazing how strong those childhood bonds are. These people go beyond friends, they are an extension of my family. When we get together, everyone has so much to contribute.

Judy was amazing sacrificing so much of her weekend and doing all that driving. Visiting Gary Dahle and his wife in their house was really special. It was great to see how much we have in common. I am not the only one that has rain barrels, or grows fruits and vegetables, makes jam and does canning.

It is hard to think about visiting people from COHS without seeing Deann (Call) Lent. She has done so much for our class that Judy and I think she should be declared COHS, class mom of 1978. She was so kind to make time for us out of her busy schedule. We really enjoyed visiting her and her husband.

Then it was off to attend Tom Lindquist’s party. I had not seen Tom in over 31 years. That alone made the trip worth while. We had a great time chatting and meeting Tom’s sisters, who thank God, do not look like him. They are pretty!

The next morning I spent with Dave Talley, and all I will say is that I was honored that he included me. He continues to inspire others by living his life in a way that provides a proper example. He talks the talk, but he also walks the walk.

When we returned, Dave was kind enough to bring me to into his house. He has an amazing house, which he built. His family is great and makes one feel so welcome. All I can say is that may God bless Dave Talley and his family.

We had a glitch in our lunch plans. The restaurant that we had selected did something that many restaurants are now doing because of the tough economic times. They stopped serving lunch. Our lunch was scheduled to start at 12:30pm and I arrived a bit early to make sure everything went well and sure enough the sign said “New Business House 4-10pm”. We were out of luck.

Judy went and found a round table about a block away with plenty of tables. We called everyone we had cell phone numbers for, put a message on my board on Facebook and put a sign up on the door, explaining where we were and giving my cell phone number.

We had a great turnout. Judy Zeiter, Craig Schaeffer, his wife and daughter, Dave Talley, his wife, son and daughter, Melinda Race, Eric Schubel, Gary Dahle, Diana “Cobos” Campbell and myself. These are some of the people that I grew up with. Together we became the people that we would become. Our ties are very strong and they are an extension of my family. I love all these guys.

I am back home, safe and sound. I am happy to be in my own house and with family. I look forward to next Friday when my wife and I will drive back down to southern California so that I can participate in the COHS alumni water polo event. Sometimes I wished I lived down there so I could be with these wonderful people more often.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

From Tia Leony to Buzz Aldrin

A few weeks back Tia Leony came to visit us from Peru along with Kike, Carolina and Enrique. During the final hour of the flight Tia Leony had a headache, it became more and more severe. Once at the airport, they whisked her to the hospital. Turns out she had experienced a aneurysm. By the time the doctor got to her, she had slipped into a coma. She had suffered sever brain damage.

Leony's eldest son, Juan was the only son or daughter with a visa issued by the USA, so he flew up and went directly to the hospital from the airport to be with his and authorzie taking her off of life support. His family should be proud of him.

Over the next few days, the family stayed with her. Lina, age 81 spent two nights with her sister. At that age, sleeping in a chair is very rough. Carmen stayed with Leony every night and Lila spent the last night with her and was holding her hand as she slipped from this world to the next.

The same day Leony passed away, I had planned to go to the USS Hornet in Alameda. They were having a special cerimony celibrating the 40th anniverisary of Apollo 11. After speaking, he was going to sign books. The moon mission was very special to me. As a young boy, I had watched each televised Apollo blast off with my dad. Listening to Walter Cronkite and like most little boys, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. Some things are bigger than going to the moon. Tia Leony was one of them. Despite being urged by Carmen to go to the book signing, I could not out of respect for a great lady, who had touched all of our lives in such a wonderful way.

The following weekend, we had the memorial service at St Calistic. Both Lila and Carmen got up to do a reading. Immediately, Lila started to break down and cry. Carmen urged me to go up and comfort her, but as I watched, I could see that she was struggling to get control and so I waited. She did get control and finished the reading. At the end of the mass, Lila got up to speak about Tia Leony in English. Carmen went up after her and spoke in Spanish. They could not have done a more perfect job. The entire family was very proud of them and I am very proud of everyone in my family.

As for Tia Leony, she was 79. She spent her last concious day with plesaant thoughts anticipating her visit. She endured pain for a very short time. She was surrounded by family and never left alone. Her passing was painless and very quick. We should all be so lucky. At the memorial service, that over 30 people attended to pay respect to a little old lady, thousands of miles from her home, who had only visited here once. She brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, may she rest in peace.

Last week, I was looking at Twitter reading postings from Buzz Aldrin. I decided to visit his website again. Turns out he added some additional book signings. Two in California, one last Saturday in Torrance at 2pm and the other next Thursday in Santa Barbara. Apparently they were recently added. I told Carmen about it and she encouraged me to go. I asked Lila if she was interested in going and she said yes, so on Friday evening we decided to go. I made hotel arrangements for Saturday night and we left at 6:00am the next morning.

We ran into traffic, and instead of arriving 2 hours early, we were only one hour early. We bought our books, and got our wrist bands that put us in the second signing group. We went to where seats had been set up for the event and got the last two seats that were still together.

Buzz, got a wonderful standing ovation. At 79, he looks great, is sharp as a tack and a very good speaker. After his talk, we got in line, got our books signed and our pictures taken with Buzz. I wondered if I were to step on the foot of the man that stepped on the moon, would that mean that I had stepped on the moon too?

That evening, Lila and I had dinner at Diana Cobo's house and got to meet her family. Diana had been on the swim team with me at Charter Oak High School and was the first woman to letter varsity in mens swimming. I thought she would be a good role model for Lila. Lila was initially very leary of meeting people from my school, but after she admited that Diana was very cool.

Diana's daughter Zoe, was pregnant. In fact she was due that exact day. The baby (Logan) was good enough to not be born so that we could visit Diana. Logan was born on Monday. Mom and son are doing very well and all are healthy.

Sunday we drove back and stopped to have lunch with my brother Dave. It is the first time we have been with Dave anywhere near his birthday in quite some years. We gave Dave his present. An authographed book by Buzz Aldrin. I think he really liked it. Lila and I took turns driving back. We stuck to a very strict budget on this trip and we both really enjoyed it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lunch With Nate Thurmond

Today, I'm still on vacation. I decided to have lunch with Nate Thurmond. That's right, NBA Hall of Famer, Nate "The Great" Thurmond. One of the greatest basketball players ever.

I should explain, that while I had lunch with Nate, Nate did not have lunch with me. You see, Nate is the owner and operator of "Big Nate's". A great BBQ joint in San Francisco. I had ribs and man were they tender. Nate took my order, my money and gave me my change.

San Francisco is not known for great BBQ, but at least we have Nate's. One special thing you should know is that Big Nate's deliver.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Vegas Vacation

Immediately after work on Tuesday, June 30th, I drove to Fresno and spent the night with my sister Susan, visiting her, her husband Willie and my nephew Jake. Everyone is doing well. Even Susan is in school these days. She and Jake had to leave by 7:00am, so I was on the road by 8:00am the next morning.

Wednesday July 1st, I pulled into Las Vegas and checked into the Casino Royale. I touched bases with my friend Chuck, who is the GM there and we agreed to get together for breakfast the next morning. I called my nephew Carlos, who is in the air force. He had to study for a test Thursday afternoon, so we agreed to hookup after his test.

Thursday July 2nd, is the first day of Pooker Palooza. It opened at 11:00am, but I was there shortly before 10:00am, immediately after my breakfast with Chuck. I was one of the first people inside. I collected pictures of myself with famous poker players, t-shirts, decks of cards, beef jerky and other trinkets. Greg Raymer gave a very good seminar on tournament strategies.

That afternoon, Carlos called me to let me know that he was done with his test. I drove over and picked him up from the air base. We stopped at the half price tickets place and picked up two tickets to see Gordie Brown at the Golden Nugget. Gordie put on a great show and Carlos really enjoyed it. Afterwards we went to the Mermaid also located downtown on Fremont street. There Carlos had Island Tea, in a very big (plastic) glass that was about three feet tall. It even came with a neck strap. Carlos never did quite finish the drink and from time to time, we would step out of the Casino to enjoy the "Fremont Experience", which is a wonderful combination of images and music. The Queen tribute was especially good. Back inside the casino, we decided to try a deep fried Twinkie and Oreo. Amazingly while they sound disgusting, they are actually very good. I brought Carlos back to the base at around 11:oopm. He had to get up to catch his flight back early the next morning.

Friday July 3rd, is the 2nd day of Pooker Palooza and the first day of the World Series of Poker Main Event. This day started off with an incredible educational seminar by Annie Duke. I spent the day collecting more loot. That evening, I picked Lila up from the airport. We headed directly over to the Pooker Palooza, where Lila met legendary poker player Sussie Isaacs, where she got her picture taken and an autographed copy of her book. We headed over the Fremont street for dinner, a very large strawberry daiquiri with a neck strap and a deep fried Twinkie and Oreo.

Saturday July 4th, Lila and I headed over to the Pooker Palooza. We enjoyed an excellent lecture by Mark Sief. We got lots of pictures of Lila with famous poker players and Lila even got to see the legendary Doyle Brunson. We collected as much loot as possible before calling it a day.

We headed over to the Sarah, had a prime rib buffet dinner and finished it off with a Zombie mini shot, that costed a whole dollar and we still got to keep the glass. We returned to our hotel room to wash up and get changed for what would prove to be the highlight of the trip.

The Mirage has a Circus du Solei called "Love". Usually these shows are all about the amazing performances and the performances at this show were out standing, but what was really amazing was the music. It was the Beatles. George Martin had been hired to put together the music for the show and he had complete access to all of the original Beatles recordings. Dolby 5.1, is the latest technology in sound was used. Lastly, the theater seemed to be built specifically to allow the customer to enjoy the most amazing sound. This show was an amazing experience.

Sunday July 5th was supposed to be the day that Lila flew back home. Her flight was free and the only time available was at 7:00am. It was decided that I would cut my trip a bit short and she would ride back with me. That allowed us to sleep another 3 1/2 hours. Instead of driving straight back via Tehachipi, we drove to Studio City to have lunch at Jerry's Famous Deli with my brother Dave. The food was amazing. It really reminded me of NY deli food. From there we drove back home and pulled in at about 9:30pm.

It was an awesome trip.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers Day 2009

Fathers Day 2009

Today is June 21st, or as my late grandmother would remind us, the longest day of the year and my dad's (Grandpa) birthday. This year is also happens to be Father's Day. Everyone but Bob, was able to make it. Say Bob, what is your excuse? LOL

My nephew Jake showed up with a new haircut to reflect his Punk Rock lifestyle.

Being that my sister-in-law Martha was in the hospital yesterday, everyone brought some food. Lila did the BBQ, mom brought fruit, Dave and Charlie brought potato salad and Beckey brought a delicious cake.

Dad is getting a gas BBQ for his birthday and will pick it out with Becky later this week. He actually had enough strength to blow out the candles as you can see in the movie below:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lila gets her AA

Lila Mary Bear became a college graduate tonight. She got her AA from the Contra Costa Community College. We are all very proud of here. Sunday at 2:00pm we are holding a party at our house. Tonight she is out with her buddies celebrating.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Latino Grad Night

"La mejor manera de predecir tu futuro es creandolo tu mismo" - Anonimo

"The best way to predict your future is to create it" -Anonymous

Wednesday May 20, 2009

Contra Costa College Latino Association For Student Opportunity had a Latino Graduation & Transfer Ceremony where I received recognition for my A.A. in Liberal Studies

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday - Lina's 81st Birtday

Yesterday, Lina turned 81. We had a quiet day with family and neighbors at our house. Surprisingly, there was no pinata.

Jake's Birthday - Saturday

Saturday, we had a birthday party for Jake at Becky's new house. We had a great time. One big surprise was Christine came all the way from Sacramento on public transportation just for the party.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reunion at Nancy's

Last weekend, we had a small family reunion of the West Coast Bears at Mark and Nancy's vineyard in Sutter Creek, CA.

It was a lot of fun, and besides spending time with each other, we got to taste some very good wine.

Niagra Falls

Last week, my work took me to Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada. I flew into Buffalo, NY and drove over the border to Niagra Falls, Ont and stayed at the Sheraton on the Falls. Before traveling, I emailed my 2nd cousin, Dr. Bob Bear. He and his family had grown up in Buffalo, and I asked for some suggestions.

The next day, after I arrived, I had a bit of time in the afternoon, so I went to the Anchor Bar. This is where Buffalo Wings were invented. My minimum order or 10 wings, took longer than I had expected, but when I tasted them, I could tell why. They make each batch fresh from scratch. They are easily the best Wings I have ever had.

When I got to the Tavern that Bob had recommended to me, they had stopped serving lunch, so I was not able to have the local favorite sandwich called Beef on Weck. Which is sort of a french dip on a roll that has pretzel salt. They had already stopped serving lunch for the day when.

Wednesday, I got up to attend a breakfast and general session at the conference I was attending. It was 3:00am here on the west coast and it sure felt like it. After the conference was over, I packed my stuff and took 15 minutes to look at the falls and take a coupe of pictures.

I drove to the Buffalo airport only to find a restaurant serving Beef on Weck. I caught my plane, which had a stopover in Chicago. There we experienced a delay of about 30 minutes. Once in the air, we were plauged by bad weather. We were all strapped in for over 2 hours because of turblance. After we landed and drove home, it was after mid-night here on the west coast. That made for a very long day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Carem, Ed and Van Morrison

Carmen and Ed won two tickets to see Van Morrison perform at the Greek Theater at the UC Berkeley Campus.

I got a call on my cell phone last week. The lady told me I just won two tickets to see Van Morrison, but I couldn't tell what radio station she had said she was with. I am sure glad we were not live on the air and that she didn't ask me what my favorite radio station was.

The concert was Sunday evening. We had never been to the Greek Theater before. I got their early enough to avoid paying $20.00 for parking. Much of the seating is on concrete. Luckily Visa was handing out foam pads for anyone with a Visa Signature card, which I just happened to have. Turns out, we had real seats, but the cushions were a plus. In fact, we were in the third row and no one was in the second row in front of us.

There really are no bad seats at the Greek Theater. The concert was wonderful. After all, it was free, we were in the third row and Carmen enjoyed it, which is what is most important!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Bears go to Washington DC

My company, AutoClerk, participates in the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) annual conference each year. This year it was in Washington DC, actually a place called National Harbor which is close enough.

Carmen decided to take some time off from work to so she could go with me. We recorded the Washington DC edition of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" and watched it several times.

The AAHOA conference was held at the Gaylord. I think it is one of the best conference centers we have shown at. Everything was close and the access was very easy. The only event I had to attend the first day was a reception in the evening, so we decided to visit the International Spy Museum and try Ben's Chile Bowl, a historic landmark of a restaurant that we saw on "No Reservations" and had a "Half Smoke" with mustard and onions. It was delicious. They have a sign that says "Who eats here for free". It listed Bill Cosby and the Obama family. Under Obama, it said "and he paid anyway".

I recalled that my 3rd cousin Amelia Ames lives there, so left her a message and she was good enough to meet with us for breakfast. She drove from her place to the Best Western Pentagon, in Arlington, VA. When she arrived, I asked if she had ever heard of "Busboys and Poets". It is a breakfast place I saw on "No Reservations". She laughed and said "That's where I live". Sure enough, she actually lives on that block. So we all piled into her car and had a wonderful breakfast. During our chat, Amelia mentioned that her parents (my second cousins once removed), we arriving that evening. They were driving all the way down from Cambridge. I told her to call me if they wanted to get together.

After the first evening of the conference, we found that El Polio Rico was just 2.8 miles from our hotel. Not only was this on Anthony Bourdain's list of restaurants in DC, but it is a Peruvian restaurant that specializes in broasted chicken. One surprise is that they served Diet Inca Kola. For those of you that don't know this, my wife Carmen is from Peru. Peru is the only country in the Americas where Coke or Pepsi is not the number one soft drink and while we have been able to find it in hispanic super markets near our house, this is the first time we have been able to find the diet version of this beverage, which happens to be my choice of soft drinks. I can't wait to see if our local market can get Diet Inca Kola.

After the second day of the AAHOA conference, a friend of mine, Frank Melville of Phone Suites
invited us to dinner at a place called G&M just outside of Baltimore near the airport. The place was a "Hole in the Wall", but when we arrived not only was the parking lot full, but cars were parked along the street. There was a very good reason for this. They serve the best crab cakes I have ever heard. Each crab cake contains a full 8 ounces of crab meat and very little in the way of binder. My God they were good!

Carmen took a day to explore DC on her own. I booked a tour for us, Scott my Director of Sales, and some good friends from Americas Best Value Inn, an economy hotel chain. That evening we decided to go Chadwicks, again a restaurant that was on "No Reservations". It isn't known for its cuisine, but because it was a popular locations for spys. The show indicated that they served a decent burger, but I saw they had Fish and Chips as one of their specials. I asked our waitress, wich one I should go with and she said "The Fish and Chips for sure". All I can say is in the words of the Comic Book Guy... "Worst Fish and Chips Ever".

We had most of the day off and it was time to take a tour of DC. We all piled on the tour bus and had a fantastic day. We stopped at the Jefferson memorial, the Capitol building, Lincoln and the World War II memorial where I had the good fortune to meet and shake the hand of Bob Dole.

We then proceeded to the Washington, FDR, Korean and Vietnam Memorial. It was my first time to the Vietnam Wall and I must say it was very moving. We continued on to the Marines memorial next to Arlington National Cemetery, the Airforce Memorial and finished the day at the White House. I think I could see Obama peeking out of the window to see us. During the trip, our tour guide tested us with historical trivia. I am very proud to say that he did not stump me even once!

During the tour, I got a call from my 3rd cousin Amelia asking if we could meet her and her parents for dinner. While we were exhausted, I'm glad we did. Somehow we got a second wind and met them at Clyde's of Gallery Place. Amelia presented Carmen with a shawl that her husband Andy had sent from Afghanistan. He is an engineer in the Navy and we thank him for his service. All three ladies, Amelia, Sally and Carmen wore their shawls. We had a lovely time. They are such wonderful people.

The next morning we caught our plane back to the bay area and while we had a great time, it was nice to get back home.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

broken foot

so tuesday april 21, 2009 i dropped my parents (carmen & ed) off at the airport for washington d.c. wednesday april 22,2009 at 5pm i broke my foot. here are the pics of the cast, it's hot pink with bright green hearts on it. i got to use the go cart in the super market which was cool. i did a few laps around frozen foods while my friend jackie looked for some items. people are really great and i thank god for sending me my angels. the cast should be coming off after four weeks which will be one day before my graduation. by the way, i won't have tickets for everyone to attend so i do apologize if i don't have enough. i'm working on putting together a little party or something to celebrate so that every one can attend. i'll keep you all posted. hope everyone is well. take care and god bless. =)

love, lila

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Mc Griff's

Sara Mc Griff was a very special part of our family. Recently, Jack Mc Griff, a relative contacted us. Check out his website at

Friday, March 20, 2009

Carmen falls through the Ceiling

While having insulation installed, Carmen was curious to look into the attic and asked the workers if she could. They thought she was only going to peek into the attic, but she went inside and stepped right through the ceiling.

She is ok and we have a new entrance to the attic in our living room

Becky Buys a House!

Becky has purchased a house on the border of Hayward and Castro Valley. The family showed up to move her and Grandpa, Willie did an especially great job. The house is nice and big and has a view of the Bay.