Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No longer Pizza Hut

Antioch, CA

Evidently now that they serve pasta they are no longer Pizza Hut. They are just Hut.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fogged Vineyards

Oakley, CA

I took this at about 8:30 this morning while I was picking up my mail. I actually meant to go out later and take pictures, but my cold had me napping at lunch and my netflix membership had me watching a movie when I got home.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Buchanan & Somersville

Antioch, CA

I took this on my way home from the Doctor's office.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Antioch, CA

What's the one thing you should take with you when you go on vacation and you run a photo a day blog - oh that's right - the charger for your camera.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Birthday to me

Fremont CA

For my birthday I had big plans to go to the zoo and have fun - instead the nasal congestion plugged up my ears and gave me the general feeling of being in a fog. I'll have to go to the zoo later when I'm feeling better. For now - I rest.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Day 3 of my hibernation

Fremont, CA

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Dinner

Fremont, CA

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve

Oakley, CA

We had a Burmese Mountain dog and a Santa hat at work all day. They seemed like a natural fit.

People are fat because of Santa

I have decided that Santa is failing society. While others have changed their ways and their mantra, Santa continues to bring down society by being the anti-hero. America’s children are getting increasingly fatter every year and it is the fault of Santa. We need a change.

Santa is contributing to the obesity of children in three ways: Personal fitness, cookie consumption, and toy distribution.

Santa is a fat man. There really is no way to get around that (or him). He is known for his slumbering. He is known for using elf slaves to do all of his work for him while he sits in his plush office looking over the spreadsheet of “naughty and nice.” Santa is even known for making the reindeer do all the flying while he sits in the back snoozing. (It was well known that from 1823 – 1930 there were 8 reindeer. But after one hundred years of a sedentary life style, Santa had to bring in another, albeit deformed, reindeer to pull the sled.) This image of sitting around and doing nothing while others do your work for you is a bad example for our children. If Santa really were of any good he would be working out in the gym, crafting toys, and being active. We would see him playing catch with the elves and promoting weight loss programs in the office. If Lance Armstrong can go from almost dying to winning the Tour de France, then why can’t fat Santa change his ways and become healthy Santa. For the good of our kids, we need a Santa with better personal fitness.

Cookie Monster used to be with Santa. “Me want cookie! Me eat cookie!” was the mantra of Mr. Monster, but Cookie realized the errors of his ways. In 2006 Cookie Monster announced his change in policy. “Cookies are a sometimes food.” He said. Santa needs to follow Mr. Monster’s example and start a PR campaign to try to persuade the children of the world to leave him healthier snacks. If you are ever really bored at work on Christmas Eve and you have time to think about it, just in the SF bay area alone there are 12 million people. Estimating that only 1 out of every 10 homes leaves cookies for Santa that’s 1.2 million cookies just in the Bay Area alone. Additionally, that is assuming that only one cookie is left for Saint Nick. I know some families that leave three, four and up to seven cookies for Santa – all of which are consumed by morning. That’s pushing the number up to six million cookies. And Santa currently says “That’s okay” when he should really be saying “I like cookies from time to time but when pulling an all-night graveyard shift I prefer an Energy Bar or a nice green salad. So if you are going to leave me something, leave something healthy. Ho Ho Ho.” This way he shows the joy in healthy eating and the joys of personal discipline when eating. Since coming out as a veggie lover, Mr. Cookie Monster has not seen any drop in popularity. I believe that Santa will be just as popular tomorrow as he is today if he comes out with a healthier, less cookie, diet agenda.

Santa’s last contribution to a fattening society is a distribution of toys. As I’ve done unofficial surveys of my clients at work – the Santa requested items have nearly all included video games and media driven toys. No one has asked for a stick and a hoop or even a bike. Instead, children have been leaping onto Santa’s lap and been pleading for more and more toys that will leave them on their carpets and couches eating Cheetos and playing guitar solos. And what does Santa do?? He merely asks if they’ve been bad or good and then hands them a candy cane and sends them on their way. Then come Christmas Morning, the children shuffle down to the tree to find the requested items taking up space under the tree. After the shredding of wrapping paper, the consumption of couch potato media ensues. Thank you Santa for giving children no reason to go outside and all the more reason to be anti social and consuming media. How about a change in direction? Mall Santas should start by placing pictures of little boys and girls, having fun being active and socializing, all around the area where the children wait in line. Then, once on his lap, Santa should conduct an interview pertaining to the activity of the child? How much running does the child do? What do they do at recess? Do they know the names of any of the third graders in the class next door? What are the names of the players for the New York Jets on Madden 2009? (if they know more from that latter question than the former question there is a problem). Then Santa should spend a few seconds promoting an active lifestyle with the child. Lastly, instead of asking them the open ended question of “What do you want for Christmas?” Santa should state, “The elves are only making bikes, balls, gloves, and other sporting equipment this year. What athletic item do you want?” Thus Santa will be promoting a life style where the toys distributed help in the battle against childhood obesity and not fighting for childhood obesity.
So to recap – Santa needs to get his fat butt up and active, Santa needs to promote healthy foods, and Santa needs to distribute toys that promote activity and not media consumption.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Picture of Pictures

Oakley, CA

I got a letter today from Kentucky that had pictures of Tennessee in it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Birthday Chocolate

Oakley, CA

My Birthday Buddy delivered my gift a little early. I got enough chocolate to last me through the rest of winter I think.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

eight hands on two grands

Oakland, CA

I love going to this performance every year. This year I got less blurry shots that I got last year.

I love this performance because they play two of my favorite Christmas songs (Unlike my mother - I only have five). They play What Child is this and Silent Night.

(My others - In Excelsis Deo, Mary Did You Know, Carol of the Bells)

I got an A

Final Grades for Stats class were posted today. I got an A. To understand the signifigance of this, the last time I took the class I got a D-. The time before that - an F. Before that W. Before that W. For my fifth attempt to pull an A is pretty darn skippy of me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Temple Hill in Sacramento

Sacramento, CA

A friend of mine graduated from Sac State today and I went to an open house in her honor. Afterward, I went to go see the Sacramento CA temple. I had never seen it before and was very impressed with how beautiful it is and the grounds are (there is this huge park next to it owned by the church)

I put some additional pictures up on the temple blog and I posted some sunset pictures on BTC.

Friday, December 19, 2008

OSF lights

Concord CA

I went to dinner with some friends tonight and this set of lights illuminated the lobby.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

flowers for little bear

Antioch, CA

Little Bear
died on the way to the Vet ER last night. Flowers and words of sympathy have been pouring in all day.

Underwater Basket Weaving

I am a truest. I think that the lights on Christmas trees should be white because that is how the tradition started. Germans would bring trees in from outside and put candles on them. The little flames glowed in the dark cabins warming the tiny faces eagerly waiting around the Christmas tree, anticipating the arrival of one fat visitor from the north. Therefore, I think all Christmas trees would be white lit and not busting out in color or even fiber optics (it's a tree for crying out loud - not a disco ball.).

I'm a truest in education as well. I was all set to graduate with a degree in Sociology in 2007 when I started to fail two courses. One course was at 8 in the morning and I had a really bad cold for the first two weeks that prevented me from getting to class on time. The other class - I simply didn't like the teacher's style and I bitterly fought against his teaching. I have regretted that, but there is no way to go back and change it. In the end I dropped those two classes and then the others just didn't seem to matter. Because I was still set on graduating in July 2007, I chose a different major.

(I was dead set on July 2007 because I saw the signs and thought it would have been better to have a job prior to Jan 1 2008. It turns out I was right. I have a bunch of friends who graduated in December that have had and lost jobs because they were the last ones hired and then were layed off. I have been blessed to keep my job)

My new major is in underwater basket weaving. And keeping to my truest self, I have found a lot of controversy in my major. There are some that would tell you that the major should evolve with the times. Since we don't all still ride in horse and buggies, we shouldn't keep to the old traditions of the major. For example - Some in my field feel it is okay to use scuba equipment. They put on the gear and sink below the surface and can weave for hours. They produce these beautiful baskets worthy of huge rewards. Even some others have decided that all the water you need for an effective weave is the water to cover the basket. So some of them have gone back to weaving in kiddie pools or hot tubs where there is no holding of the breath needed as the only thing under water is the hands and the baskets. And I think this is disgracing the original form of the artwork.

Just like how too many people rely on photo shop instead of actual photography skills, I think that stepping away from the traditions will mean that we step away from the skill. Which brings me to my point. I am a truest. I think that you should keep to the original process. Get in a swimsuit, grabs some reeds, and go submerge yourself in a lake or a river or an ocean (or a pool if you have none of the before mentioned nearby - though it must be at least an 8 foot deep pool in able guarantee you aren't touching the bottom). If you need to breathe - come to the surface, but otherwise, stay below and weave. Your work may not look as pretty or well woven as those who cheated - but your sense of self and accomplishment will be worth more. Trust me. Whether it is photo a day or lighting a Christmas tree or pursuing a career as an underwater basket weaver - you will feel of more worth if you keep to the traditional ways and keep your skills polished.

(For the record - my official degree is in University Studies.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I got the box

Antioch, Ca
...Now all I need is the girl and the ring.

One of my co-workers gave me this box with food inside for Christmas. Could care less about the candy but I loved the box.

Elephant, White or any other color

Some people see my lack of commercialism as a lack of Christmas spirit. It really isn't so. I love Christmas. I love that through Christmas we can have an excuse to be nicer to our neighbor, share a little more joy and enjoy the songs of the season. I love the time we can reflect on a manger, some sheep and some wise men as well. In fact - that really is my focus. I know Christ wasn't born in December (because if he were the shepards wouldn't had been keeping watch over their sheep. They would have slaughtered them and made profit by winter. Spring and summer is more the watching period), but I see the joy in singing the sounds of Christ's birth in cold weather on the door steps of friends and other random listeners.

(I used to go caroling in Rexburg every year and I always went to this one lady's house where we would sing 5 or 6 songs for and she would just weep with Joy. Her husband had been a music teacher at Ricks College and he had brought home his choirs to sing for her as a Christmas gift. When he died, they stopped coming. I was grateful for those two winters when we could.)

Most people don't think I have Christmas spirit, though. My father and I are not exchanging gifts this year (instead I used the money to give myself the Christmas gift of a fixed tooth.) and some people think that's horrible.

So to help fix some of the imagery that I'm anti- Christmas, I decided to participate in the White Elephant gift exchange at the work party. Little did I know what a hard task this was going to be. Do you know how hard it is to find a white Elephant in December? It is by far not an easy task. The rules were it had to be a white Elephant that cost less than $5. That makes it even harder. For example, I found a white Elephant Tea set, but it cost $15. So I couldn't buy that. I even found one for $8, but that was $3 over. Any every where I looked I was coming up empty handed.

Someone suggested I go to Goodwill. I found white Santas, a white pig figurine, a white reindeer figurine and a white buffalo figurine - but sadly there was no white elephants of any kind. One of my friends suggested I go buy a shirt and she could embroider a white Elephant on the shirt for me. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and that didn't materialize.

I gave up shopping for a white elephant and instead took this book from my bookshelf in hopes that no one noticed it wasn't a white Elephant. Boy was I releaved when we started opening gifts. No one had a white elephant. I guess it was just as hard for them to find one as it was for me to find one. But instead of bringing a book, a lot of then brought crap. Someone even brought a home pregnancy test and wrapped that up (which wouldn't have been so funny if one of the 35 women I worked with had unwrapped it, but of the two guys in the room - the other guy got the home pregnancy test. I wonder if the advertisements are correct - I wonder if it is the most signifigant piece of technology he will ever pee on?).

Anyway, I cannot believe how hard it is to find a white elephant for under $5 in the month of December. I've decided that for next year I'm going to buy a gray elephant in October and just paint the darn thing white and call it done. No wonder I'm not a capitalist when it comes to this season - it's so hard finding the right perfect gift.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tools of the trade

Oakley, CA

I think I win for scariest photo of the year for 2008.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Storm front

Oakley, CA

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fall of Adam

(while teaching the plan of Salvation)

Cindy - The earth was created and then there was the fall of Adam and then...
Me - Yes but some people like to call that Autumn. The Autumn of Adam - which came right before the winter of Adam.
Cindy - Huh? I don't get it
(the rest of the class laughs)

break in the rain

Antioch, CA

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Pittsburg, CA

For 4 hours today I finished the homework and started studying for the final on Monday. Life at a Junior College is so different than life at the Lord's University. At BYUI - the library was open until 11PM and people used it until then. I got kicked out of the math lab at 4 pm today and after I pointed out that the Antioch main library was closed and that the school's library closed at 2 PM, a professor was nice enough to open up a study room for me to stay in until 6 PM at which I got booted from there too. When I left - this was the parking lot out side - On the Saturday before finals!! Don't people need to be finishing projects or having group study sessions or at least creating master cheat sheets? Why was I the only one left?

(BTC - Messiah on Temple Hill tonight.)

The Demons within

"Sean, I have five levels of depression. There is the first that I tell your dad. There is the second that I tell you. There is the third I tell my therapist. The last two I can't tell anyone. They scare me and terrify me and keep me up at night. For some of it only two people know what's there - me and the woman that did it to me. For other parts they are just my dark demons." - mom

It's finals time. Which really only means one thing for me - I'm avoiding doing the projects and homework I need to do. Tonight I cleaned my room and did my laundry. Tomorrow night I'll drive to Oakland and watch Messiah. Sunday night I'll find something to do to limit my studying availability. It's one of my self defeating personality issues. This semester is actually quite interesting - I usually self destruct in a semester a lot sooner.

Part of my avoidance technique is veggie in front of my computer. Tonight I watched a very interesting movie called "Lars and the Real Girl" (recommended to me by Brad). It is the story of a guy dealing with the things in his life in a not so conventional way. It's a really good movie both because it is funny and sweet, but more to me, it's a dance with unconventional psychology. I like psycho therapy that doesn't involve the couch and the laying down.

I think it's that couch that scares me the most.

I see a lot of hurt in the world today. In the past few weeks I've had friends die, get raped, find out they can't have kids and that they are seriously ill and will need to spend the holidays in the hospital. I see a lot of hurt in strained marriages and hard childhoods. And I want to help. Over the next few months I'm going to be taking some psychology classes, and if things go well in those classes - I will start the process to get a degree in clinical psychology. I feel a need to help those that are hurting.

There's just one problem. In able to help those others - I have to first confront myself.

I have some inner demon issues. On my mission I referred to them as the black dragon (in my journal I used the name Black Dragon so that my kids reading my journal down the road wouldn't exactly know what the particular dragons were. This of course was all before Brother Hayes at BYUI suggested we keep our journals on the computer because it makes it easier to edit out the bad...). My black dragons were a constant fight for my whole mission. I realized a long time ago that I look at the world very differently than a lot of the people around me. And it is in that different looking that I get caught up in fighting those demons.

I've only attempted to get control over these Demons a few times. Once was while I was dating KNJ-P. I have never felt more safe than when I was with her. And so I tried. One of the avenues I attempted was the LDS 12-step program. When I got to step 4 I did as I was directed. Because the LDS church was still using "He did Deliver me from Bondage" there was really no protocol for step 4. So I got a hold of the AA 155 questions (which I sadly couldn't find a link to) and went to work. Thankfully - I've never touched alcohol in my life so like 50 of those questions didn't apply. But some did. Some of those questions cut deep into my soul. I openly wept as I wrote down those answers.

After I was done I moved on to step 5. I knew I needed to share with God, my sponsor and one other person. I chose KNJ-P. We got about 20 questions in when she stopped me. It was too much. Some of those demons were too hard for her to hear about. We never discussed step 4 again. And I stuffed deep down those things that step four had brought to the surface. My mother occasionally got a glimpse of them but for the most part I just kept them low. Eventually mom died and KNJ-P left and I just kept stuffing. However as Colleen says, "To stuff some you have to stuff all."

And so I stuffed and I stuffed and I stuffed. Eventually I went off to BYUI, lasted 6 months before I freaked out at the stress of school and being homesick for a home that didn't exist. (My mom had died the year earlier. It was her who I found comfort in.) I dropped out of school and moved to Oregon (which is a whole other post in it's self.) After a 6 month stay in Oregon I returned to BYUI. And I started therapy. For about a year I met with a school counselor and I brought some stuff to the surface. And then he went on sabbatical and I dug down again. I never liked the new 12 step program that the church adopted. It seemed fake. So I just hunkered down. A few people tried to pry open the mystery box known as Sean - but I didn't let them. I just haven't felt that safe again.

In able to go into clinical psychology (or even Marriage and family counseling or sadly even vocational counseling) you must submit to exploratory therapy. You must be willing to meet with a therapist and lay on the couch and open up. You must do what you will ask others to do with you: You must trust that you are safe and that the demons won't destroy you if brought to the surface. You must do what scares the hell out of me and what my one hero, my mom, wasn't able to do. You must open up.

During the day I am in love with Melinda. I love her smile. I love the way she tells stories. I love the way she deals with people. I love how she is just herself no matter what others say or do.

At night - I dream with KNJ-P. It used to only happen when I was sober, so I found a way to fix that. Now it doesn't matter. Sober or with the addiction at the helm - it doesn't matter. I have dreams that are so real I feel like We are still right there. Some nights - I never want to wake up because I can still smell her hair and her voice still brings comfort. Other nights, it's all I can do to stay asleep. I wake up and try to think of other stuff and then go back to sleep only to see her again. Adam isn't around - it's just her and I. And it haunts me. I want to flee. Flee back to the land I love. Or flee far from California. But I know from so many other experiences in life - you just can't flee. Life has a way of catching up to you. No matter if you leave the slum, if you have slum in you it remains until either you cleanse yourself from the inside out or you allow Him to do it for you.

The time is quickly approaching to make new goals for 2009. (For a review of 2008 go here). I wonder if one of them should be to fight demons. I wonder if one of them should be to overcome the dreams and the fear. I wonder if I can do that and move onto being a better man. I wonder.
There is a movie called Bed of Roses. In it a man has had his world fall apart - and so he falls apart for a time. Then he falls for a girl and he starts living again. Eventually the girl breaks his heart. (she breaks her own in the process) After he is done grieving he realizes that he had started living again and so he continues to go on "living." He buys furniture and starts doing some of the things that brought him joy in the past life that he just couldn't bring himself to do any more. He unpacks again, sort of speaks. (eventually the girl returns and they live happily ever after but that isn't the point.)

I wonder if I am ready to start living again, to destroy the demons that hold me back and go on living. That would be nice.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Black Forest

Oakley, Ca

We had the monthly Building Birthday lunch/December Holiday event today at work. I made Black Forest Cheesecake. After the Early Start people were done singing to me - guess who showed up?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cloudy sunset

Concord CA

Post #550
551 days since day one

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I do all my own snowflakes

Oakley, CA

I redid the window lay out at work today. Now that the harvest is over - it's time for snow.

5 more days of class.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Morning Fog

Oakley, CA

6 more days until the final. 7 more days until the crappy shots come to an end.

Monday, December 8, 2008

udder conversation

(While announcing the building washing machine isn't working)

Nessa - What's wrong with it?
me - It does spin any more. The center agitator works so the water and soap get mixed but the water doesn't get spun out.
Nessa - So that means the clothes are soaking?
Me - Yup. Last time I did a load of wash I had to hand wring every thing as it came out. My hands were so tired by the time I was done that it reminded me of milking cows as a kid.
Nessa - You've milked a cow?
Me - Yeah. As a cubscout.
Nessa - I don't think I could drink milk after milking a cow. I think it would be too real to know my hands just squirted out of the udders that milk.
Me - Is it the hand to udder ratio that does you in?
Nessa - Yeah - I think so.
Me - Well then you don't really have to worry now. The hand to udder ratio has dropped significantly now days. Now days the cows walk up to a machine and as the cow chews on hay, the farmer attaches sucking tubes to the udders. The hand to udder ratio is small. And as the cow eats, the udders get sucked on and then wrinkle up when they are done. I think that's when they know they are done is when the udder tips start wrinkling up.
Nessa - Sean, I think we should mark this as the day on the calender that I stopped drinking milk. this hand to udder to sucking cups to wrinkled udder tips is enough for me.

Duh Moments

I am such an idiot sometimes. Today was one of those days where all of the synapse must have been firing just right because just at the right moment I figured it out.

I Love Melinda.

Melinda is a Park Ranger Major at BYUI.

Melinda loves camping.

I hate camping.

We used to compromise on marriage. I told her we could get married civilly first and after a year I'd take her to the temple. However, I now think she is going to make that a deal breaker so I'm hoping for a different compromise.

Instead of camping, I will agree to go RVing.

To go RVing the way I'd like to go RVing, I kept thinking that I would need a teardrop trailer. However, most teardrop trailers cost $2K - $3K. That's money that could be used to pay for education. So then I was thinking of getting a cab over for my truck, but there aren't a lot of cab overs made for small trucks.

Then today it occured to me - I already own a trailer. Why not just get a camper shell for the trailer and make a home out of that. It would save me a boat load of money and still have all the things I'd want for the treedrop.

I felt really stupid it took me until today to figure that out.

(Mind you if I keep having dreams like last night, I'm nixing the whole camping thing altogether. I dreamed last night Melinda got eaten by a bear on our honeymoon.)

pinked sunset

Oakley, CA

So, in exactly 1 week from today my stats class will be over (yippee!) and then I will go back to taking good pictures. My next classes will be a little more my thing (though a little more expensive as well) and they are self paced, so I'll be able to dictate my photo schedule better.

Until then - you get this.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

foggy sunset

Antioch/Brentwood, CA

The fog has been sticking around all day lately.

I need a chapel

I really am the sort of guy to not recognize blessings while I have them. For example, being back in CA, I am not blessed with very many LDS friends. I foolishly did not see the blessings of having 16,000 LDS kids living in a few square miles and therefore did not build up very many strong friendships. Now, my list of LDS friends in my area could be counted on one hand.
While living in Idaho, there was this gorgeous garden near my apartment that had lush lawns and waterways. Near, there was a chapel. The chapel was open from 6 AM to 11 PM everyday. On Tuesdays around 1 PM and on Sundays all day, it was loud with people (even in hushed voicesm people are loud). But on any other day it was quiet. As you approached the doors you were reminded to silence your cell phones and to converse in whispers. Once inside - you were left to your thoughts and your own communion with the spirit.

I am easily distracted. Even though I have a very capable computer with a link to the LDS website; and even though I have a TV with a BYUTV connection, I still go to church to watch General Conference and Christmas Devotionals. If I stay home, I will not pay attention. I will get distracted. At the last three homes I have lived at, the addiction to TV has been rampant. In Idaho, I would come home from class and no one would be home and the TV would be on. When I lived with John, he used TV to relax and so it was on when he was home (He often didn't watch it, but would have it on as he was cooking or playing on his computer. He has a self made stressful life so I understand his need for relaxing TV). The lady I live with now turns on the TV at 6 AM and turns it off sometime around 11:30 PM. She Tivos everything so the only time it is a TV less house is when she is cooking or using the restroom.
In other words - the homes I live in our not great places to be if you are trying to avoid distractions.
I did not realize the blessings I had in Idaho. During the summer there were gardens to lay in and to study about God. During the other 11 months of the year in Idaho when it snows, I had the Taylor Chapel to go to. I didn't. I went to class, went to the library and went home. I rarely spent time in the Taylor using it like I should.
And now, I realize how foolish that was. It has become so hard to find a place of solace to let my soul commune with Him. I wish I knew of a chapel (like the Cathedrals of our brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith) that was open near by where I could go for silence and pondering. I wish I could have taken more from that experience in Idaho.

Often when Melinda writes she shares of how she learned this or this in her personal study. I miss having something to write back. But hopefully - some day I will find a place of solitude where I too can have reverence and time to ponder. And maybe that time - I will recognize the blessing of it and use it more often.

Killing her again

Today is December 7th. I think I've been asked that five times today what today was and every time I replied "It's the 7th" and then went on with whatever I was doing. Then at 9:30 tonight it hit me: Today is December 7th. And then I almost cried.

My mother was born December 7th. She's only been dead for 5 years and already, a day that I looked forward to, I have forgotten to celebrate to birth of my mother. All day long I went about life not even thinking of the importance of the day. How without her life, mine would be not.

I feel like a very ungrateful son for forgetting to celebrate this day, The 7th of December. I know it's late, but Happy Birthday Mom.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

breaking habits

Antioch, CA

I took the boys out for fast food tonight. However, I am trying to break this habit.

with the boys

(I was kid sitting the boys tonight. M is 9 and E is 6)

(While teaching them how to use the Sirius)
M - Sean go back.
Me - You like Classic rock? Your dad would be so happy to know that.
M - Classic rock? No - this is a song off of Guitar Hero. I can do hard on this song.
E - M, I can only do easy.
(They spent the rest of the song saying the colors that go with the notes - totally oblivious to the fact that it was a classic rock song first.)

(While at the pet food store)
M - (Holding up a mint bone) We should get this for Zoe [the dog]. It freshens her breath.
E - Is there something for her other end?

Me - M, how much do you weigh? (while getting a bag of rabbit food)
M - 68 pounds.
Me - Well I think I should carry that then - it weighs as much as a third as you.
M - No wonder the bunnies are getting so fat.

(While at McDonald's)
M - I think they gave us a broken toy. (referring to E's happy meal)
E - I really only come here for the food anyway, so it's okay.

(Back in the truck)
E - Sean is that the time (on the radio display)?
Me - Yes.
E - It's six twenty nine.
Me - Yes E it is.
E - One day I woke up and I could read, well not really read. I can only read time. Books are harder, but I can read time.

(While "If I were a boy" was playing on the Sirius)
M - At D's concert last week (older sister), there was this boy who was singing "If I was a girl." And he's gay.
E - M, Are there women gays?
M - Yes they are called lesbians.
E - Are there gay men?
M - Yes they are called gay.
E - M, what are you if you are a boy and a girl?
M - You're a Goy.
E - Hmm. A boy and a girl is a Goy. What is a lizard and a boat called?

M - I was a lesbian once.
Me - Really M? When was that?
M - I was in third grade and we were playing Mouse Trap. As I started to win, I said "Sweet! I'm winning and I'm a lesbian!"
Me - How did that go over?
M - Everyone in class thought it was funny but the adults weren't laughing. I'm not sure why.

Menu Change

I am a man of convenience. I work two or three jobs and I go to school. I try to cram as much as I can into the hours I'm awake. Additionally - I'm single and I eat on my own. It is for this reason I eat a lot of fast food. I love getting a Double Double with grilled onions from In N Out or getting a Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl's Juniors or a Sour Dough Jack from Jack in the Box or 6 piece chicken tender from KFC or even a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese and no pickle from McDonald's.

I'm really picky about my fries. Since living in Idaho, I really only get fries from In N Out because I can sit in drive through and watch them make them. The only other fries I'll eat are from Wendy's fast food place.

That stated, I decided a few days ago I might be eating too much fast food and so I went to Costco and bought some soups, popcorn chicken and soup in bulk.

The reason I did this was because as I was sitting at Burger King on Tuesday for lunch I realized I had no where to put my shake. My one drink tray had an In N Out shake cup and my other cup holder had a Carl's Junior shake cup in it. So before I could take my current order for a milkshake, I had to ask the window people to throw away my other two empty shake cups. I decided maybe that was a sign that my fast food was getting out of control.
(unrelated to this post, but I wanted to share this as I've heard three different versions of it today and I love this song)

Friday, December 5, 2008

More Christmas Temple shots

Oakland, CA

I was up at the temple again tonight for what could be considered a date (though it didn't start out that way and I don't think the girl would call it that so I won't call it that). We went to see this dance performance thingy that didn't suck. After the performance, we walked around while I talked and I took pictures. I thought Amye might enjoy these.

(By the way, Yesterdays PAD got nixed from the boss. And I quote "Sean, that picture might scare the children so you need a different one.")

Thursday, December 4, 2008

for the wall

Oakley, CA

The Antioch office has a big wall with all of the employees' pictures on it. Well - all except one. For several months I have been dodging the request to turn in a picture of myself. I used the excuses that seemed to work "I keep forgetting." "We don't have any film for the Polaroid." "I'll get to it next week." And so on and so forth. Well - word got out that not only do I have access to a camera - but I take pictures every day. Some of my co-workers even know about my blog (this one not that one). So word came down from the big boss that I need to turn in a picture by Friday of next week to have it put on the board. So today at work I spent some time taking pictures of myself looking bored, unimpressed and generally bland. This was one of the better ones. If I remember next time I'm at the Antioch office I'll take pictures of the board so you can see what I am compared to.

Reversed Tender Mercies

“But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” - 1 Ne. 1:20

"If, however, I had been invited to suggest an intermediate hymn for that particular session of the conference—a hymn that would have been both edifying and spiritually soothing for me and for the congregation before my first address in this Conference Center—I would have selected my favorite hymn, 'Redeemer of Israel.' Tears filled my eyes as I stood with you to sing that stirring hymn of the Restoration. My mind was drawn immediately to Nephi’s phrase “the tender mercies of the Lord,” and I knew in that very moment I was experiencing just such a tender mercy. A loving Savior was sending me a most personal and timely message of comfort and reassurance through a hymn selected weeks previously. Some may count this experience as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them." - David A Bednar

I love Music. I love the rhythm, the beat and how certain songs just soothe. I am often singing at the top of my lungs as I drive (usually country music) and I have several CDs, iTunes and my family even purchased me a Sirius Satellite system 1 year ago. I LOVE music. My missionary farewell (back when you could have farewells) had more songs than speakers. (Mind you none of them were mine as I have been kicked out of church choirs and I can't play any instruments but the Kazoou.). My "manly Man" friends tease me because I love going to symphonies and musicals and other classical events. But I can't help it - I just love music.

However, music can also hurt. For about a year I slept with this girl. (And I mean that in the very literal sense. We never did get around to having sex. We just slept together. I lived in Pittsburg, CA and she lived in San Jose CA so at times she was too tired to drive home). I really enjoyed waking up next to her. She was (and still is I'm sure) beautiful. A little while after her sleep overs started I started singing to her this song. It became "our" song. Then we broke up. Every now and then I hear it. It used to bring me pain, but now I just smile. She met a great guy and got married and is now very happy livin in Utah and raising their baby. She's very happy and I'm happy for her.

8 Months after my mother died I was accepted to the Lord's University. In April of 2004, I packed up my truck and trailer, and my dad and I got everything ready for me to move to Idaho. The night before I left, KNJ & I enjoyed one last evening together. We knew that we'd see each other in July, and then come September she would be in Provo. I didn't think that ride was going to be the end.

I had to take her home in my mom's old car because my truck was loaded to the gills for the trip to the promise land. The antenna on her car had broken off some time earlier. All we had to listen to was tapes in the car. Playing at the time was the Irish Rovers. The Irish Rovers is a band that doesn't see a lot of air time. The song they were singing that night - I've never heard on the radio. As we drove, KNJ said, "Sean I will always remember tonight. The car, the drive and this song. And so will you." And she's right. I remember that night. It was the last day in Camelot. Invaders would destroy my world starting the very next day.

I hear Cat and I's song at least once a week. And each time, I am called upon to remember the bright sun rays shinning through the window blinds on her beautiful brown hair and her pale white face as we awoke each morning. "Good morning beautiful." And I smile.

However, in a reverse tender mercy of the Lord, I never hear KNJ-P's last song. It is one last way that I don't have to be reminded of her. Instead of giving us a last song that I would hear for the rest of my life, the Lord blessed us with a broken antenna and a cassette tape from a band that never got the popularity they deserved. And for that - I am so grateful. Garth may be thankful for unanswered prayers, but I am thankful for reverse mercies - the ones where I don't have to relive that day ever again. The ones where certain songs go unsung or unplayed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Antioch, CA

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh Christmas tree

Oakley, CA

For some reason I couldn't put up Halloween decorations because it was offensive but the building puts up a Christmas Tree. Even stranger than that, I was volunteered to help set it up by my boss and other people in the building.

Monday, December 1, 2008

cleaning from the inside

"Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things? Behold I say unto you, Nay. Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also." - Alma 60:23

"By the time the body was hung, the mud and stench had become ingrained in my clothes. I felt miserable, but our work had only begun. Together my father and I cleaned the dead animal. We didn’t finish until about three in the morning. The smell, the slime, the dirt, and the filth clung to me. I went back to the house. Although it has been twenty-five years, the events of the next hour are very vivid in my mind. I remember clearly the satisfaction of removing my shirt. Peeling off each layer of clothing brought relief. I began washing—first my hands, then my arms to the elbows. It was not the kind of dirt that would disappear quickly. Then I showered, first washing the ears, then the hair, back to the hands and fingernails, and to the hair again. It was some time before I felt satisfied that the cleansing was done. Slipping into a clean pair of pajamas, I lay awake in bed for a while reliving the experience. It was four in the morning. I was exhausted, but the feelings of tiredness did not approach the sensational satisfaction of being washed and clean." - Elder Neil L. Andersen

"Polish a turd it's still a turd." - Peanut

I received a letter from Tennessee today.

(On a side note - prior to her mission she didn't really care about my lack of temple worthiness issue. However, since receiving her own endowment - she's really looking forward to being married in the temple. And I love her. So it looks like I may need to fix some things in my life real soon here because, seriously, each letter I get from her I get more giddy. I'm pathetic I know.)

Inside was a bunch of good news including a baptism and a week long vacation from the companion she doesn't like. Also in it was something she learned from her personal study. "[Concerning Alma 60:23] It talks about that we must be clean and repentant on the inside, so that when people look on our outward appearance, they can see someone who is Christlike [the whole way through]." She went on to say that by being obedient to God not just on the outside but in our hearts, allows the spirit to clean us from within.

I don't remember who said it, but there is that old saying that the world would take you out of the slums but God takes the slums out of you. Someone else said that you would change a bad habit faster by studying the Book of Mormon than studying about the habit.

I think this is true.

I'm constantly trying to change my environment. I try to exercise, or not watch certain TV or to not drink certain delicious carbonated and caffeinated drinks. But I always come back to the habits that hold me bound. There is a scripture in the bible that talks about man returning to sin just like a dog returns to vomit, because it is warm and familiar. I've seen drug addicts and alcoholics return to those substances after prison and DUIs and the sort - not because they don't want to change, but because they get scared and need something warm and familiar to make themselves feel better - even if temporarily. For the most part, you ask them if they converted to sobriety or if they just took it out of their lives for a time and usually they hadn't converted to sobriety.

I know I haven't. I have tried just removing myself from the situations that contribute to sin, but I'm not sure I've converted away from sin. I'm not sure I've ever had that "change in [me], or in [my] heart, that [I] have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2) I think I'm more of the type of guy to keep a summer home in Babylon.

However, I know it is possible. I know that with the right level of dedication and patience and reliance on One more powerful than me whose yolk is easy and whose burden is light, I can too be converted. And as I am converted from the inside out I will be cleaned. It won't be like the clean I get from slicing up a cow and then taking a shower - it will the clean that allows me to glow from the inside out.

And I'm beginning to see the importance of be cleansed from the inside out. Because no matter how hard I try to eliminate temptation and stress from my life, it will always pop up. And when it does, unless I'm converted and cleansed from the inside, I'll return to my vomit still the same.

fogged grove

Oakley, CA