Tuesday, June 30, 2009

big guide dog

Oakley, CA

Today at work was a guide dog unlike any guide dog I had seen before. He was a big guide dog for lifting his owner off of the couch.


I watch him as he sleeps. As he slumbers I entertain myself by running my fingers through his hair and lightly running my nails up and down his arms. I try to wait patiently.

When he awakes, he will want to satisfy me. He’ll roll over on top of me and kiss my lips. I will feel him as he kisses my neck and my ears and whispers “I love you” in my ears.

He will hold me down by entwining his fingers in a basket weave with my fingers, stretching my arms above my head and then he will continue to attack my face and neck with his kisses. His warm breath on my soft lips, breathing me in with every movement. His aftershave will fill my nose as he kisses the tip of it before sweetly kissing each closed eye.

Eventually he will release me and I will roll on top of him and I will feel his hands as they massage my back and hold me securely in place. His head will bounce up into my approach, stealing kisses before I was planning on bestowing them. I will feel his arms as he grasps me and presses my body onto his. My hair will fly as he sinks those rough hands deep into my curly brown hair and string himself through out each last strand. My mouth will water with anticipation knowing that soon he will roll me back over and ravish my mouth. He will be between me, on me and making me wish we were married so that we could be one completely.
But until then, I just watch him sleep – content with the knowledge of what will come when he awakes from his slumber.

Monday, June 29, 2009

dream maker

Vallejo, CA

Step 1. Make a wish.
Step 2. Blow.
Step 3. See if your wish came true.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

tugging away from the sunset

Crocket, CA
It was 104 today so I didn't feel like going out taking pictures until the sun was away and the breeze was rearing up.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

knife top

Antioch, CA

I was practicing my Macro shots tonight and avoiding the 102 degree heat.

Friday, June 26, 2009

keeping the dead weeds from roaming away

Just outside Byron, CA


I grew up on what is now called a cul-de-sac. (We called them courts when I was a kid). When you got to a certain age (still in elementary school but not sure how old I was in Elem), you were allowed to ride your bike out of the court and around the block. As neighborhood kids go, we usually traveled clockwise around the block. It was two houses to the end of the block, make a right where it was eight more houses along a “straight away” (that had a slight curve to it), followed by a sharp right and five houses to the next corner and you were half way around. Two more houses and you came upon another court. The court had nine houses whose driveways poured into the court. As far as any of us knew, there were no children in this court. After this court there was nine more houses, a right turn, one more house and then you were back in the court (At this time I would like to thank google maps for their help in this description.)

One summertime joy was to race around the block. I had this sweet banana seat bike that I was able to go pretty fast on and was able to rival most of the other kids in my court. (Oh, I should mention it was blue.) So any day, I was up to the challenge of a race around the block. On this particular day, I was raising Melissa, who was probably 5 years younger than me. I was winning just fine, despite my asthma. However, when we got to the half way mark, Melissa started to pull ahead. I stepped it up a notch to compensate and was leading again when we made it to the second court. In between the fourth and fifth house someone had put down some fresh gravel. I was leaning into the curve of the court when I hit that gravel patch. The wheels of both tires went out from under me and I slid to the ground and slid along the gravel, arm first and then with my face.

Melissa jumped into the street with her bike and passed by me. I didn’t care that she was going to win this one. I was now struck with my bike on top of me. I laid there for what felt like a long time. Suddenly I heard a familiar voice. My brother had come for me.

Chad came and wrestled the bike off of me. He helped me up and helped half carry me home. When we got home, mom was waiting for me and my brother helped carry me into the bathroom where I was put on the closed toilet seat. My mother took her nursing skills and went to work on me. My brother left me and went out to work on my bike. (Which is amazing in and of it’s self as Chad is not all that mechanically inclined.)
I still have a scar on my left elbow from that day – the day Chad came and rescued me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

poppin like candy

Antioch, CA

I've had a headache for days that just doesn't seem to want to go away.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

water + sun = rainbow

Oakley, CA

I'm such a weanie. I only have a cough and a sore throat, but still - I'm not going out after work to take pictures so you get crap like this. Instead - I've been watching "Wrecked" at night. Great show.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

huddled up

Antioch, CA

They usually aren't this friendly with each other. I think it helps that underneath them is three frozen water bottles and today it was 96 degrees.

the sumo wrestler

I knew someday, somewhere, someone would come along and beat me. I have known for some time that I was not unique – just very very lucky. In fact, some days I prayed to be honestly beaten. Maybe then the cameras, with their crushingly loud flashbulbs, and the reporters, each talking at their cameras as I tried to concentrate on the match, - maybe they would all go away once I was soundly beaten. I was tired of being their frog in a jar. Especially because this is not what I wanted to do.

I had started out with a stirring desire to go into fencing. I loved the sound of the sword as it swished through the air. I loved the feel of the impact when your sword made contact with the shoulder of your opponent. I loved, more than anything, the reaction of my muscles as my sword and my opponent’s sword would meet and the opponent would attempt to strong arm my sword out of the way, my wrist trying to spring one way as my arm fought to keep the direction of the sword moving in an opposite direction of the where the other sword was sending it.

But just like why I can’t enjoy Wednesday night Country Dancing in town, I could never get my feet work down. Every instructor I knew told me it was just a count. You count in and you count out. Each step, each lunge, each retreat was a count. Just like every step at country – slow slow fast fast. How ever was I going to enjoy the girl I was with if the whole time I was in my head counting. How ever was I to know what my fencing opponent was going to do next if the whole time I was counting in and counting out. For a lunge I had to count three, but if at two I heard my opponent breathe in sharply, I knew I had to be defending, not attacking, so I would count out, but only to the point that I was sure I was clear of the opponent’s lunge. Then I would need to start again. But I often forgot where I was in my counts and so I would misstep and down I went.

Each time my feet would lose me a match, I would get depressed. Each time I got depressed I would eat. With the added food, came added weights and my fencing game slowed down. Eventually, I was too fat to fence. So my thoughts turned to the question “What do fat people play?” One day the thought occurred to me – Fat people sumo wrestle. So I started researching Sumo wrestling. It is played in a circle and the circle is raised up some how so you always knew where it was. There was a white line on the ground where you stanced as you prepared to throw the other fat guy out of the ring, but beyond that the rules were pretty simple. So I put my shift that way. Every day I ate and I trained. Some days I trained and I ate. But either route was a way to prepare for the first time I stepped into the ring.

Because I was not a Japan raised sumo wrestler, and because my training was not done in one of the Japanese stables, I was ignored by the international sumo wrestling championship. The media referred to me as the “Sumo Cowboy” or as “Sueme Sumo.” (Evidently America’s lust for lawsuits had been picked up on by the foreign media as well.) For my first match – I was on the losing end. The guy moved so quickly and just tossed me out of the ring like I was a rag doll. I was shocked.

But I also learned. I learned to pick up the clues. As I replayed the tossing in my head over and over again, I tried to focus on what sounds my opponent made right before he attacked. I listened for the point that his hands touched the mat and the point the ringmaster commenced the attack. I listened for the tightening of his muscles or the grunt as he projected his one ton weight toward me.

Much to the annoyance of my trainer, I refused to step into the ring again for months. Instead I had him gather up all of the videos of sumo matches he could find and we sat and studied them together. And I learned, and I learned and I learned.

The next time I was in a ring was 9 months after that first match. As the ringmaster commenced, I focused on all of the clues. As this opponent attacked I could tell he was heading to the left. I moved right, grabbed him by the arm and threw him as much as I could over my left shoulder. Before I could turn around to make a second attempt – the crowd erupted with applause. The ringmaster grabbed my hand, flung it in the air, and announced me the winner.

And that was the first of a long winning streak. Each time the opponent was bigger or stronger and each time I crouched before him in my sumo stance, closed my eyes and focused on the sounds that clued me in to this man before me. I knew how to stand up tall and then quickly drop on an opponent that did a full on attack. I knew how to move from one side to the other if the opponent tried to lean and get around me (For some reason they all thought they could sneak past me when my eyes were closed). After six months of winning, rumors started to pour in of other sumo wrestlers trying my technique – closing their eyes for the match. No one could duplicate it though because they were only closing their eyes and not widening their ears.

After 9 months of wins, The Cowboy Sumo was the main attraction. People in the U.S. put aside their basketball, baseball or football to make sure they got a chance to watch me. And I never disappointed. I was also doing cereal ads, car commercials (where I was allowed to stand by the car or ride in the bed of the truck, but never drive the vehicle), and other product endorsements (of course – as a sumo wrestler – restaurants were always trying to get me to promote their food). I was riding the wave. So I of course was not expecting last night.

Last night seemed like every other night. I never paid attention to the hype and my trainer was really strict about me not doing interviews in the weeks coming up to a match. All I knew about this opponent was that he was virtually unheard of and that he had challenged me on his online blog. His cult following of loyal readers promoted it and it got scheduled. I figured I was better because no one had ever heard of this guy. I was wrong.

As we got into stance I quickly realized this was going to be different. Other opponents were breathing through their noses like they were hyperventilating. Not this guy. He was relaxed. His muscles weren’t cracking or pooping with building tension. No – instead he was just relaxed. I made the wrong assumption that he was unprepared and would be an easy take, but when the ringmaster granted us on, I got taken.

Unlike others, I was the first off my mat and at him. Every other had attacked first and I had defended. He waited for my attack and then he defended. I found out quickly that I didn’t know how to attack – I only knew how to defend. He used this to his advantage and tossed me out of the ring. I was shocked, and devastated.

It wasn’t until a few hours later that the match loss really took on much meaning. I knew he was like me, but to the extent that he was like me was amazing. It turns out – the only way to beat a blind wrestler was with a man as blind as I am.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Antioch, CA

In preparation of my move this Saturday, I've taken down all of the pictures on the wall. Here are some of the pins that were holding the pictures up.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Porch Sittin'

American Canyon, CA

One of my favorite activities in Provo to do was to sit out at my friends' place and watch the world go by and enjoy the weather and the conversation. We often referred to it as porch sitting. For about 30 minutes today I got to get in some more porch sitting. It was great.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pirate cannon fire

Vallejo, CA

While at the Pirate Festival today, a group of pirates commandeered a ship and opened fire on us unsuspecting land lovers.

(BTC - More Boat)
(BTC - The Pirate Fest Experience)
(BTC - Animals from the day)
(BTC - Posed people in costume)
(BTC - Not so posed people in costume)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bean Tepee

Oakley, CA

I went over to a customer's tonight to diagnose a valve problem (he has a blown solenoid). While I was there he showed me all that he has been able to do since I showed him how to install a drip system. One of the things doing well was the snap green beans climbing up his bamboo Tepee.

plight of the homeless cart

The trip from Katie’s house to Yosemite was about 3 hours. During that time we talked about all sorts of things, including my pondering the plight of the homeless. For some reason this intrigued Katie and so she allowed me to continue in discussing the homeless.

A few months ago, we had 90 degree weather for two weeks followed by 4 days of rain and cold. In fact, this late spring has been unseasonably cold and wetter than normal. It makes it hard to know what type of clothing you will need.

As the pioneers came across the trails from the east to Utah and Oregon, they would start with many possessions and arrive with few. Over the course of 4-8 months, they would get to the point where they just couldn’t hall that dresser - or china set, or bed frame, or what ever – one more step. Wagon and handcart companies would come along furniture out on the prairies just sitting along the trails. Only so much could fit in the hand cart and they only had so much energy to pull or push those hand carts.

Fast forward a hundred years. The problems are still the same except the travelers don’t have as far to go. For a few months now, I’ve been pondering how to make a better homeless shopping cart. First I guess we should discuss the problems with the current shopping cart.

Homeless use their shopping cart to store their clothes, their bedding, their shelter, and any business they are involved in. The main compartment should be used for carrying the anything business related – whether that is collecting cans, or material used for making jewelry, or whatever. This means that the clothing, shelter and bedding need to be stored somewhere else.

Before coming to a working conclusion on the clothing, shelter and bedding problem, I feel it is important to also discuss types of shopping carts. For several years, shopping carts came in one form – metal. Now there is a new generation of shopping carts out there: Plastic. Both carts have homeless benefits and homeless negatives. A plastic cart will never rust, but they are more brittle and can only carry so much weight. A metal cart can handle more weight but rust out easier. I tend to side with the metal cart when pondering the homeless. It therefore means I assume the homeless people are borrowing their shopping carts from a grocery store and not from Best Buy, Target, Home Depot or any other place that considers themselves hip enough to use plastic.

Going with that assumption, I have been studying the features of a metal shopping cart and trying to figure out which one works best to borrow from a neighborhood grocer. I have looked at a few shopping cart websites and have decided that the homeless need to borrow shopping carts with a big main compartment, a solid bar that is extended between the two back wheels (to push down on with a foot to get the cart over curbs or dead homeless people laying in the alley with them), and a bottom rack under the main compartment. This last item is critical to the storage of clothing.

Now, the challenges that come with modifying a shopping cart are the same challenges that apply to any item mass-produced or mass modified. The modification must be easy to do, they must be easy to maintain, and they must not be too hard to operate. Additionally, the modifications must not do any permanent damage to the borrowed shopping carts. (On the off chance that the borrower ever wants the cart back.)

Of the three areas I figure we’ll start with clothing first. Rarely does Bruce Wayne approach a homeless person and hand over his coat in the middle of fall. Instead, most homeless have a set collection of clothing that must help them get through all seasons. This is where the bottom shelf of the shopping cart comes in. That bottom shelf should have a waterproof container attached to the bottom. I have considered using a Tupperware container (which can be purchased in mass and at a discount rate) but am fearful that over repeated use the plastic would become brittle and chip. So I’m kind of lost on this one. I haven’t figured out an alternative though.

For bedding and shelter I’m thinking of using the same tool. I have decided that the sides of the shopping cart are a great place to attach items. I’ve decided that using 3 inch PVC sched 40 tubes would work best. What you do is buy it in 3 foot sections and put a cap on one end (glued on). Lines up the tubes with the open pipe being near the top of the back of the exterior side of the basket and the bottom (capped end) being at the bottom of the front part of the basket. This allows the tubes to be at an angle on cart. I had pondered drilling holes, 2 inches apart, on one side of the tube and stringing zip ties through it to attach it to the cart, but Katie had two points: (1) most homeless don’t have back up zip ties and so they can’t replace one if it snags or breaks off. (2) If by chance the borrowed from returns to demand their cart be reunited with the store it came from – the zip ties are a one time use and then would need to be removed and the homeless person would have no way of attaching it again. Instead Katie suggested Velcro. If you use self adhesive Velcro – I think that just might work. Once you wrap the pipes with the hook part (the soft side) and then use the loop part of Velcro to connect to the cart, you can place and remove the tubes as the homeless person’s carts change. I envision using the tubes to store rolled up blankets and a rolled up tarp. I envision another tube to be used for tent poles or to carry the rope used to string between two trees to throw the tarp over.

As I’ve been writing this at work on my laptop, one co-worker had another suggestion. She suggested that the shopping cart should have a feature where the front of the basket had a way to hold a cardboard box. I think this is interesting. I’ve thought about this and have decided that the box should not be attached to the cart permanently, but should instead just reside there when not in use. I’m going to make some assumptions about the homeless at this point and state that they are probably able to fold a cardboard box up better than I am able to fold the map I got from Yosemite last week. If my assumption is correct, I see a need for a shelf and bungee cords. The shelf should be bolted on (therefore I am adding the cost of 2 U-bolts, 4 lock washers and 4 wing nuts, along with the cost of a “L” shaped 2 inch – one inch on each part of the “L” – metal piece that will act as the shelf. I’m adding this to the costs already there for the pvc pipe, the Velcro and what ever we decide to use as the bottom drawer.), being bolted onto the lower part of the front of the shopping cart. The cardboard would then rest of the shelf and by using the two bungee cords, the homeless person can then bungee on the cardboard.

Does anyone have any suggestions for the waterproof box on the bottom? It has to be cheap and reliable are the only two criteria I’ve got (besides being waterproof)?

Memories from the MTC

The MTC is an acronym for the Mission Training Center. The MTC is where you go prior to going to the destination of your mission. For example, I went to the Arizona Tucson Mission. I entered the MTC on the 22 of September but didn’t make it out to AZ until October 13. Those three short weeks is a time to hone (or for some – learn) teaching skills. It is a time to finish up any undone tasks that would be necessary to share a message about the Mormon church. (For example, I had a companion who had not read the Book of Mormon the whole way through. He had a lot of reading to do while we were there.) I needed the time to have some unique experiences. Today’s memories come from the MTC.

I had a total of 6 companions in the three weeks I was there. To protect their identities, I offer them to you in fruit form.

The first companion, Elder Raisin, never made it to the MTC. I was assigned to him for a whole day and thus walked around the MTC by myself. In the MTC you are expected to be with your companion all the time. If he leaves class to go to the bathroom – you leave class to go to the bathroom. In fact, there are special phones stationed all around the campus that are for you to pick up and call the “Lost Companion” center (I don’t think that is the technical name, but oh well – you get the point.). If you go more than 10 minutes without seeing your companion, you are supposed to rush to the blue phone and report your vanishing companion. You are then supposed to stay by the phone and wait until either your companion is found or a replacement companion can be brought to you.

As I went to the bookstore or to dinner or to the restroom, though, I traveled alone. I did not stay by he blue phone and wait. It was my first day and I didn’t understand this principle quite yet. Instead, after dinner, I took Elders Grapefruit and Elder Plum up with me to the info desk at which point it was discovered that Elder Raisin had broke his arm the day before and I was being reassigned to the two Elders I was already with.

After a few days with those two, who I liked very much, I got a new companion: Elder Banana. Prior to Elder Banana coming into our district, we had ten missionaries who I had given symbolic reference to. Elder Grapefruit was the foundation – his testimony was a testimony one could build on. Sister Apple was the plumbing pipes – she let the spirit flow in. Elder Pear was the studs – the person we could all go to for support. When Elder Banana came into the district, one sister referred to him as the termite.

Elder Banana was going to Sao Paulo Brasil. However, he had decided that the members of the 12 apostles and the president of the church had gotten his call wrong. They must have meant a different Elder Banana – not this Elder Banana from Idaho Falls. He requested a new call. While his new call was pending – he was assigned to be with me. On the first night he was with us, he left the room at 2 AM. I am a light sleeper, so I woke up and followed him. He did not appreciate this and wanted to be left alone. I started walking toward one of the blue phones when he decided he would return to the room and let me sleep.

The next morning, Elder Banana attended district meeting. Upon seeing Sister Apple, he felt it was appropriate to point out that she was way hotter than any of the sisters in his last district. He then took some time to tell the elders that Sister Watermelon was larger than any sister in his last district. Needless to say, he was not well liked by the sisters.

The next day he found out that if he got in a fight he could get sent home. So he tried unsuccessfully to pick a fight with Elder Grapefruit and I. (Elder Grapefruit was a Police Explorer in Martinez prior to coming to the MTC. I had fought to hard to get on a mission to give it up to give Elder Banana a much-deserved beating.) Eventually, on the fourth day, Elder Banana got the courage to tell his father that he was coming home not because of wrong mission calls or destinations, but because of he simply couldn’t cut it. So on a General Conference Saturday, Elder Banana’s father drove down from Idaho Falls to Provo Utah to pick up his son and I’m sure the two enjoyed a very quiet ride back home.

I went back to being with Elder Grapefruit and Elder Plum.

The next week, I was assigned yet another random missionary. Elder Mango had done his three weeks in the MTC and then had to go home “to work out some issues there.” Mango returned for two days of recapping what he had learned – to make sure he hadn’t forgotten. Once his two days were up – I returned to Grapefruit and Plum.

Our district was made up of Elders going to Tucson, AZ and Jacksonville, FL. All three sisters and 3 of the Elders were going to Florida, and they left 24 hours prior to the departure for us going to AZ. Elder Cucumber would be my last companion. We were companions for 24 hours.

The second of three memories I want to share involves making friends. I don’t make friends with people my own age easily. At this time in the MTC, family members could e-mail you, but you couldn’t e-mail them. The e-mails were printed off and put in your mailbox. As district leader it was my job to get the mail (and to choose who gave opening and closing prayers in class). I would get the mail right before dinner.

In the MTC – mail is your only outlet to the outside world. (There are no TVs there) To help me make friends easier, my mother sent me mail every Monday with all of the scores from the previous day’s football and she would send me the Major League Baseball scores and standings.

As we stood in line for our meal, Elder Grapefruit and I would discuss, rather loudly the scores that were published. I met several new people this way and was able to make some new friends. Of course others scoffed at us for our inability to let go of the world – but I just wouldn’t tell those people the scores.

The third MTC memory I choose to share today comes from study time.

In the MTC, you spend like 10 hours in class for those three weeks. It’s rather grueling. After dinner the third night we had a 20 minute study session prior to class. We were instructed to study a topic of choice individually. I’m not really a study kind of guy so I went to the index at the back of my scriptures and chose a topic. After 20 minutes of study time, our teacher came in and asked us to share what we learned from our study. Elder Cucumber went first. He was studying the atonement of Jesus Christ. Next was Sister Apple – The Apostasy. Sister Watermelon – The restoration. Elder Coconut – Humility. Sister Cherry – Christlike attributes.

I was second from the last in line. I listened intently to all of the others, secretly dreading my turn. When it came to my turn, the teacher said “And Elder [Sean], what were you studying?”

“Um. I was studying Birth Control.”

“You were studying what?”

“Birth Control. It’s right here in the Topical Guide.”

“Alright. Moving on. Elder Grapefruit?”

Elder Grapefruit was laughing too hard, as were the other young men in the room. The sisters weren’t as entertained. So the teacher turned back to me, “What inspired you to study about birth control Elder [Sean]?”

“Well, I started in the topical guide until I found something I had ever really studied in the scriptures before. This topic sort of jumped out at me.”

She then went on to lecture me about me being on the Lord’s time and blah blah blah. The only other memory I have attached to this evening was each of the Elders trying to imitate the expression on the teacher’s face. I don’t think any of them got it right.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Antioch, CA

I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm not one for themes or projects when it comes to photography. I'd love to take a picture from the same spot every month for a year - but I don't know where I'll be any given day and I'm not sure if I will even be in the same state the day it needs to happen.
I tried a urinal blog for a while but it ended up not going any where.

That all said - if I was to ever do another theme blog or even a running theme on here - I think it would be a Mailbox theme. I love different people's mailboxes.

(BTW - I think a fireman lives at this house, don't you?)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

big boat little boat

Benicia State Park, CA

After dinner tonight I went and hiked the west trail at Benicia State Park. At the end of the trail is this area where you can sit and enjoy the water. I was doing such when suddenly a large boat appeared. It was followed moments later by a tug boat. And like that I was missing Shell. She's inspecting big boats now in Southern CA. I wonder if she inspected this one before it came north.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

harbor guard

Pittsburg, CA

(BTC - more from Yosemite)

Finding Tuesday's Fiction

I posted today's fiction (the conclusion to last week's story) with the rest of the story. You can either read the story in the entirety starting here (Introduction, Character, Part 1) or you can jump to the Part 2 here.

Enjoy. Or don't. Which ever.

Monday, June 15, 2009

my scetch work

Oakley, CA

Okay - so I'm not as good as some people, but I had some free time at work today and we had a new Etch - a - Sketch to play with.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

making sweet memories

Antioch, CA

Evidently I have a tearing disability.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The classic view

Yosemite, CA

I haven't been to Yosemite in 13 years, since as a boy scout we went on a very long 4 day hike. I wanted to go on a shorter hike, so I asked Katie to come with me and we went to tour this beautiful land.

(BTC - Panos)
(BTC - 360 degrees)
(BTC - Park graffiti)
(BTC - Katie)
(BTC - The Hike)

(Not me by the way)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Un Stucking the Butt

Before discussing today’s memory, I feel I need to create some background. The LDS church has created Pageants (or musical plays) for the purpose of telling their story to the masses. There are pageants in New York, Utah and various other locations. Nearly 50 years ago, The Oakland Temple Pageant, “And it Came to Pass,” was created. The performances were presented in the Inter Stake Center in Oakland and were performed in the month of July. There was a 500-person balcony chorus, a 100-person ensemble/main actors, 30 dancers, and the most amazing Technical Staff, with a crew of 20-50, the volunteer theatre world has ever known. Or the universe.

For the first 35 years, the play was locally owned and operated. It was written by two local Bay Area playwrights. All money used for the pageant came from local budgets, and from the donated gifts, talents, and resources of local LDS members. It was a trial for some stakes and some people’s time, but they were rewarded greatly because of their sacrifices.

The play ran on a 3-year rotation. This meant that for two summers, pageant participants could go out and learn their craft in other theatres and return ready to share their new developed talents as they bore testimony of the LDS church in song, acting, dancing and by far the most amazing technical skills in the galaxy.

In 1998, the church head quarters in Salt Lake City and the Missionary Department decided that the pageant needed to be every year and that it needed to be better funded. Part of that new funding was to replace the existing wooden stage that for the most part – was the original stage from 40 years previously.

A set designer, who was a professor at BYU Provo, designed the new set. Local tech directors were not permitted to contribute to the design process. In 2003, a new medal set was delivered. Despite being big, loud, and heavy – the new set came with a lot of new moving parts.

Different theatres use different techniques for scene changes. Some theatres will do a complete black out. Some will have awesome people in black outfits move scenery in and out. Sometimes the performers are responsible for moving scenery around. An ideal way is to have continuous dialogue that takes place on different parts of the stage, which lights up the part of stage where the person is yet darkens the stage where the people in black are setting up for another scene. One way we used to redirect audience attention was to have activity on the downstage area (closest to the audience). Upstage we would “fly” in a black drape, to cover the activities we were doing backstage. With the new set, came a 6 panel “curtain” that would open and close on a pull rope. The panels were square steel tube lined with plywood, with dark blue carpet attached to the plywood, covering the panel. They were ugly to look at. The lighting designer hated them. The tech Director and assistant tech director (me) hated them. Almost everyone on crew hated them. The panel system got known as the “Big Ugly Thing.” Later on it got named the “Big Ugly Terrible Thing.” One delightful crewmember figured out that an appropriate acronym for this panel thing was BUTT.

There were three panels on each side of the stage that would fall into place next to the other as they were pulled closed. When pulled open, the middle two would slide behind the next two and then those four (two on each side of the stage) would slide behind the third and sixth stationary panels. Or at least that was how it was supposed to happen.

Final Dress Rehearsal was considered opening night because it was the night that 200+ missionaries sat out in the audience, to see the play she would be inviting those investigating the church to. On this particular DR, my tech director was absent. I was in charge.

During the show there are about 10 people on an intercom headset. The purpose is to have communication about problems or to relate cues to the crew. There are three people out in the balcony on headset who are running the lights and the sound. There are three people up on the pin rail (a place where pulleys are used with a counter weight system to bring in scenery) and then there are four people down on the stage floor (Tech director, Assistant Tech Director, Floor Manager, Head Medical Person), all on intercom headset.

On this evening, during the middle of the second act, a frantic voice is heard on the intercom. The conversation went like this:

Katie – We have a problem.

Me – What?

Katie – Butt Stuck.

Me – What was that?

Katie – Butt Stuck.

Me – Butt stuck open or closed?

Katie – Butt stuck closed.

I quickly figured out where we were at in the play. I realized that there was a large number of people that were going to be using the stairs at the back of the stage to get to the next scene. These stairs were now blocked by 6 steel panels.

Me – Can anyone see where the problem is?

Paul – This is Paul. The center panels seem to have slid in next to the next panels over. I’m trying to unstuck the butt now.

Me – Anyone else?

Mike – I’m climbing up to pin rail to see if I can get out to it from the catwalk.

For the next several minutes, blue-gelled flash lights swarmed the two center panels of the butt to see if anyone could pry it loose. Reading from left to right, the 3rd panel was our problem panel.

Mike – I can’t reach the panel. Katie is going out on the ledge. Please stand by.

Katie – This is Katie. I’m at the third butt cheek now. The panels are stuck pretty tight.

Me – Can any one get a pry tool to Katie to help pry even just a crack open?

Person I can’t remember – I have the tool and am going up to pin now to get it to Katie.

Me – Paul, how is it on the bottom?

Paul – I think it’s just stuck on the top.

Me – Okay – when this scene ends we’ll have one opportunity to unstuck the butt. Katie – Applying pry to cheek three.

Suddenly, we, and I think the whole audience, hear a pop.

Me – Okay, stay in place incase we need it to be pried open again. The scene is ending. Is everyone ready?

Mike, Paul, Katie – Ready!

As the scene ended, Mike pulled the 6 cheeks of the BUTT open and the panels slid perfectly. However, the next thing we hear is the voice of Julie, the director.

Julie – I hate to interrupt – but what is the butt?

Me – It is that big ugly terrible panel thing in the back. Why?

Julie, just wanted to know. I wanted to make sure you guys weren’t playing with each other’s butts back there.

(I had totally forgot she was listening in)


Each year the set gets taken down and stored. Because this was the first year with this set, each part had to be labeled. Salt Lake sent out a member of the 70 to observe. (a member of the 70 is like the assistant to the vice president in a company) I cannot tell this next part as a memory, because my mom died 4 days after closing night and so I was not there for take down. However, as it has been told to me:

Marc is labeling parts of the set. He labels the BUTT pieces Butt 1, Butt 2, Butt 3, etc. As Marc is labeling, Harold (one of the assistant Tech Directors) wonders over with the member of the 70. In the Mormon Church, things purchased with tithing money are considered sacred and are to be cared for with the best regard. The 70,was aghast that parts of “the Lord’s stage” were being labeled Butt 1 and so forth. He asked Harold and, according to what I’ve heard, just stood there, unsure how to answer. Evidently Harold had quite the array of faces he tried using before just convincing the member of the 70 to move along.

Zoe's teeth

Antioch, CA

Someone let Zoe out and she got herself into some bubble gum. So me and the ten year old fished it out of her mouth. Silly puppy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Two Year Anniversary

Pleasanton, CA

Two years ago today on a whim I started a Photo A Day blog. Except for that one day, I've posted a picture a day for the full two years.

Last year I celebrated with Ice Cream in a paper cup. My dad's, now, ex-girlfriend gave us crap about that so this year we went out and got a good meal and cheesecake. Next year I'll just buy a restaurant.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

California Sunset

Oakland, CA


Post #733

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sara's Choice - The Introduction

The day Kyle Murphy Fuller stabbed Gerald Smith, and shot Carrie Smith killing her and her unborn child – that was the day Fuller envisioned his perceived tragedy was extinguished, but it was a catalyst for a day that no one really saw coming and a day that would end bad for Fuller, his lover and every one who professed any type of desire to live that lifestyle. Gerald Smith had been the mayor of San Francisco at the time of his murder. For eight years, Smith had fought for the right of people in California to get married – whether they are gay or they are straight. Twice the people of California had voted that marriage was between a man and a woman. After the last loss, Smith drove his argument to the steps of the State Supreme Court. There he was given a definitive answer: No, not in California.

Many, including Fuller, looked to Smith as the reason why they would never get married in their home state. Every few years the number of registered voters that feel gay marriage is not a bad thing grows. If Smith had been more patient, some speculated, then the law wouldn’t have been so definitive. But Smith, and his damn political aspirations damaged the whole process. However, in death, Smith eventually went from Traditional Marriage foe to their hero. Old Fashioners (as they soon became known as) propped Smith up on a stick and used him as a poster of what gays are “really are like.” Old Fashioners, who had lied about a need to keep gay marriage out of the schools, now had a reason why gay marriage needed to be kept away from their children. Bumper stickers began to plaster cars “When a Old Fashioner wakes up on the Sabbath they go to church. When a gay wakes up – they destroy the mayor’s family.”

Using the death of Smith as the best example of what was wrong with the Gay community, being anti-gay took on a life of its own. Soon there were protests outside gay owned businesses and “straight sit-ins,” which was really just a place for straight couples to go and make out in front of news cameras. Straight people that helped out a gay were called “Straight Betrayers.” As this polarized both sides, Gays that helped a straight person became known as a “Gay Traitor.” It became socially acceptable again to single out gays. Billboards started to show up around the state with catchy slogans such as “Fear Queer,” “Man on Man be Damned,” “Girl on Girl make you hurl,” and “Choose Straight Every Time.” The billboards often showed what ever the undesirable activity was with a circle around it and a hash through it, like being gay was as bad as smoking in your hotel room or in a bar.

Politicians who were liberal began to fear for their lives after Kyle Murphy Fuller exterminated Smith. More and more conservative came out of the woodwork and took over the process of writing laws. Rather quickly, different aspects of homosexuality were outlawed. The first to go were gay kissing and sex. This was followed by new rules about only mixed gender massages. As the conservatives grew more powerful, their laws grew that much more stringent. Patting a ball player on his butt after a great play was gay. Dressing men in pink was gay. Guys going shopping for anything but power tools were gay. Women who hugged each other for longer than four seconds were lesbians. Women who bought power tools were lesbians. Some senators proposed women were only allowed to wear dresses, but their wives banded together and refused to give them sex, and that law never made it to fruition.

With each new law, homosexuality activities was driven deeper and deeper underground. Men were never gay in public. To convince anyone who might get suspicious, these men went through elaborate rituals to prove they weren’t. Surfing for straight porn on their work computers, spanking the fannies of the ladies at work (and then going and washing their hands afterwards), or (worse of all) telling a gay joke during a staff meeting – all of these were done to prevent people getting any other ideas.

The final act of injustice came on the eve of Kyle Murphy Fuller’s state ordered execution. Signed into law, while standing in front of a San Francisco Catholic Cathedral, the local congressmen inked an extermination order on all gays and lesbians. Just like when the Mormons were victims of an extermination order in Missouri a hundred years ago, it became legal to shoot a gay onsite with no prosecution. However, unlike the Mormons who ran to Utah, the gays turned to the days of alcohol prohibition to give them clues for their future. Instead of speakeasies, they created Slys. Slys were in a different place and only those who were told, word of mouth, knew where they were. A password was required to get in and one usually had to appear with someone of the opposite gender to get into the building but then had to touch someone of the same gender to get pass the sentinel guarding the door.

A group of people who hunted down these palaces of pleasure became known as Homo Hunters. It was the one profession that allowed for both genders to be in a police state. “Guarding our virtues and our children” was their motto, though really they were just marshaled hate groups bent on the destruction of every last gay in California.

Sara's Choice - The Character

Sara had never meant to become a Homo Hunter. It was a job that she sort of just stumbled into. The economy was stumbling at the time all of this was going on. Sara was laid off of her job as a wedding cake designer, and needed a way to pay the bills. She took the required training and passed the tests. The hardest part for her was the kiss test, not because she had a problem kissing boys but because she had never had the chance in high school. She wasn’t popular and never really dated. Growing up it didn’t really matter, but when she applied for the academy, she was grueled relentlessly about if she liked boys or girls. She really wanted the job, so she made sure she left no doubt in anyone’s mind. She practiced over and over again with her pillow (kissing a mirror was considered kissing the same gender and was outlawed) and evidentially did well enough at the test sight to get they guy’s number offered and a chance to wear the Homo Hunter Badge.

The work wasn’t easy. Sara found the work to be pretty miserable actually. They were responsible for working undercover and trying to get gays to come to them by walking the line of what was acceptable and wasn’t. Sara had a truck with a screwdriver and a saw in it and would often go to housewives homes offering to help with household honey do lists. Depending on the responses of the housewife, Sara’s crew might come back later, bust down the door and haul the woman away for being “Gay.” Often these actions were done in front of neighbors, children and husbands. If that man wanted to keep his job and his kids, he had to either disown his wife or present undisputable evidence that his wife was indeed straight. This was often a hard thing to prove. Sara was constantly being hounded by those with higher ranks to produce numbers. But Sara really struggled with the idea of breaking up families. Her mother had died when she was ten and she knew what these children faced without their mothers. Sara’s mother was drunk and hit a tree. The shame was comparable to that of having a lesbian mother.

However, Sara needed to pay the bills, so she did what she was asked. That is, she did what she was asked until that first day when she saw Krista.

Sara's choice - The Story Part 1

Sara was running with a group of men, who she flirted shamelessly with and who all thought they would get a chance to bed her someday, one day when they found out that there was a confirmed Sly in The Presidio in Northern San Francisco. They gathered up the forces and headed out. Armed with Gay Dars and tazers they approached the suspected place. Sara was assigned to go around back and watch for those trying to make a quick escape. Suddenly there was a loud crash as Sara could here the battering ram knocking down the door. There were screams, yelling and the sounds of brut force being used to knock those homos into submission. Sara heard the noise ever so quietly. On the north side of the house there was a cellar door opening up. Emerging was the most beautiful woman Sara had ever seen. This woman had brown curly hair and green eyes, her face was perfectly shaped and her lips looked like they could seduce even the most hardened asocial person. Sara took note of this woman’s average waist size and short-mounded bottom. Sara was also in shock over her immediate lust for this woman. She had never had these feelings before, but there she was wetting her lips in anticipation of a kiss or even just a peck on the cheek of this woman.

Over her ear piece, interrupting her outlawed thoughts Sara heard her commander. “Do you have any one back there? Are there any of those politician murdering homos that got away?” Sara paused. First the first time in taking over this job, she paused. She had never paused before. That was why she was allowed to go to Slys with the men – she knew she was the best at catching “these” people as any of them. But that day, as she stood there watching this woman, she paused in her response.

She wondered who this woman was? Beyond loving another woman, what had this woman done wrong? Just like how not every Muslim has flown airplanes into buildings, not all gays are the people at Gay Pride Parades of the past and nor is every lesbian to be equated with that monster, Kyle Fuller. This woman might be of some value beyond just being straight or gay. So Sara paused.

He squawked again at her and threatened to come back there to check on her. Sara responded this time “Nothing I can’t handle.” With that Sara rushed to this woman’s side. Sara inquired of a name and the name Krista Waters was revealed. Krista pleaded for her freedom, and again, Sara paused. Should she help this woman who looked so normal or should she turn her in?

I will answer next week on Tuesday Fiction.

Todo Santos Park

Concord CA

I went to half price books tonight to sell off some books. Next to the store is Todo Santos Park which always has big beautiful trees lit up at night year round.

Sara's Choice Part 2

Sara admired the jade green eyes that sparkled in the sunset. Her mind flashed images of those same eyes shining forth in horror as the people at the Straight Realign Center beat the gay out of this Krista. Krista’s brown hair glistened in the sun and reflected bright beams of sunlight, and Sara saw the images of the same brown hair being pulled while they raped the gay out of Krista at the SRC. (That’s not what a bottom like that should have done to it.) The lips of Krista drew Sara in momentarily before the violent kisses Krista would have to endure from old men, “expert kissers” as they were called, flashed across the cortex of Sara’s mind.

Sara had watched Sly detainees be put through the courses, their needed reformations to help them get back on a straight path. Sara herself had gone to the stocks and forced her lips onto Gay Men, in an effort to help them change their ways. She knew the violence those men faced day in and day out as the Medical staff of the SRC gave beatings and medications “necessary” for the convincing of these Sly participants to choose straight. For the hardest hearted, the last course of action before being banished to Arkansas, some were given Electro Convulsive Therapy. Electrodes were attached to each side of the brain causing the brain to have a seizure. It was called rebooting, when really Sara just saw it as reprogramming. The seizures caused the brain to have an amnesia state. During that amnesia state, the “patient” was told over and over again the joys of being straight over the horrors of being gay.

For some reason she couldn’t state clearly – she didn’t want this for Krista. She didn’t want to arrest Krista to have her beaten, raped or electrocuted. Suddenly these actions at the SRC didn’t seem like the humane sensible thing but instead the cruel thing to do. Instantly Sara’s mind flashed the idea that gays and lesbians were people first and inappropriate lovers second, and Sara wasn’t even sure that they were inappropriate when all they were trying to do was love.

Sara knew what she had to do. “Krista. Go hide behind that trash can. Right now.” Krista hurried off, quickly, although a bit confused of what was going on. To her surprise she saw Sara upholster her taser. Sara turned it on herself and fired. Instantly two electrodes shot out and attached to Sara’s chest. Within mere half seconds she was on the ground.

Any time a taser goes off, the taser emits a siren. Running from the house came all of the guys in Sara’s crew. “What happened? Are you Okay? What is going on?” The questions flew at her as the remnants of electricity drained from her heart and body.

Sara started, “I thought I had him. I thought… I thought…didn’t see him grab for me…damn fag!…” It turned out she had to act through this pain – her chest was on fire and she was actually struggling to get the words out. “He has ran off…over there…” she said as she pointed in the opposite direction of Krista. Several members of the crew jumped to there feet and were off. No one tazed one of their own and got away. Sara’s captain remained.

“Let me help you up Sara.” He gave her his hand and helped her to sit up. He squawked into his radio calling for all available Homo Hunters to seek out a gay on the run. “Sara, do you need anything?”

“A hug?” Sara responded.

“Sure Sara.” As Sara was being hugged, she motioned to Krista to run. And like that Krista bolted from behind the garbage cans and as far away as possible.


Eventually the search for the gay was called off. The captured Sly participants were gathered up and taken to the SRC. After being treated in the Ambulance, Sara’s Captain offered a ride home.

“You know Sara, I used to worry about you,” he started, “but after today I don’t worry any more.” Sara was so sore she was barely listening. He continued, “I saw you taze yourself.” Sara instantly shot up in her seat. “I’ve seen the way you force yourself on the gays in the stocks. I’ve seen you beat and mercilessly taze those that step just a bit out of line. I thought maybe you were completely heartless, but today you proved me wrong.”

Sara was suddenly shocked and frozen. She didn’t know what to say or do. Having sympathy for a gay was as bad as being gay and was punished the same way. Was her captain to take her somewhere and beat her or rape her? Was she going to have to be electrocuted too? It would be with in his rights to do what ever with her. So she sat frozen.

He finished up, “I saw how you looked at that Lesbo. I know those eyes. I know them because occasionally I see them in my own mirrors at home. I know you aren’t a lesbo and I know this won’t happen again. I figured you went through enough, tazing yourself, so I won’t even report you. More than anything I’m just grateful to see those eyes of yours today. We need more compassionate people like you.”
And with that her captain patted her leg and she felt finally at ease. Sara never saw Krista again. 8 months later she quit her job so she could marry her captain. Their first child was a girl who Sara insisted be named Krista – to help remind Sara to always have a heart.

My Master Plan

Okay, so I'm entering for the chance to win this dress. If I win, I will trade it with some lucky girl (probably this one) for pictures of LDS temples east of the Mississippi River. I will do so, so I can add them to the temple blog I help manage. You are welcome to enter too, but please remember that if you get the dress, you should wear it and go take pictures of LDS temple with it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

blok block

Pleasant Hill, CA

Keeping with my tradition of playing Wii at other people's houses, Ben & Alyssa invited me over for dinner tonight and we played this really cool game on their Wii.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Inside the secret bathroom

Vallejo, CA

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Nachos supreme, hold the peppers

Oakland, CA

My father has raised me to not buy food at the ball park, but tonight I just had to. John took me to an A's game where Comcast (John's employer) gave away free tickets. My BART ticket in was free after a friend gave me a $15.00 ticket last February. So I had a little money I could spend at the game tonight. So I bought these totally unhealthy, over priced but delicious nachos tonight at the game. They were great.

(BTC - More from the game)


I'm really horrible about finding something interesting on the internet, making note of the link and then not doing anything with it. So as I clean out my inbox and bookmarks I'll just post them here.

Puppies behind bars
Evidently there is a program where in prisoners train dogs for the disabled.

Storage Drawers
In case you are considering building drawers on a carpenter's cart - this is a good resource.

Doing crunches is bad for you.

Marine Mammal Center
Opens on June 15.

Old Faithful
In case you once lived in Idaho but now live California, you can watch Old Faithful live with a new web cam. You can also watch soon-to-be-fired park workers pee into the active volcano.

When you are fighting a war, it is good to not wear bright pink boxers.

Hiking in the Bay Area
This site is great for seeing details about hiking in the Bay Area.

Black Diamond Lines

A model railroad group near my home.

Epi-pens emerging
Interesting article.

OT Schools

For future reference.

Friday, June 5, 2009

tp tree

Oakley, CA

Why is it when you are in the middle of Yellowstone, you can't find any and you end up using poison oak to wipe with, but when you are in Oakley the TP just seems to grow on trees.

The Shoe Pencil

(Gasp - A picture on Teaching Sean. Don't we have another blog for that!)

In 4th grade I had a problem. (And before Katie beats me to it...this is what I look like when I have a problem in 4th grade) I had resource right before recess. The resource room was on one side of campus and Mr. D's classroom was on the other side. (In fact, when I was first told I was going to be in Mr. D's class I told my parents it was surely too far to walk and I needed an electric truck to get me from the house to class and then home again. They thought I could just leave home earlier.)

When I went to resource I took a pencil with me and when I returned to class I carried the same pencil back. However, like I said, I did that reverse trek during recess. In my school we had a game called 9 square - It was like the two and four square games I've seen at the schools I've taught at, but instead - we had nine. Who got into those first nine squares was determined by who got there first. Being in Mr. D's class created a huge disadvantage to all of us compared the rest of the 4th grade because we were so far away. But being in recourse, all I had to do was step out the door. Only one problem - what did I do with my pencil.

Sometimes I would put my pencil in my pocket, only to have the lead poke me as I played (where in I was bleeding and had to leave my square) or the eraser would rub up against me and slow my play (where in I'd lose and had to leave my square). Sometimes I would put my pencil on the ground near where the line started, but this resulted in the pencil getting stolen or stepped on (which in my mind meant I now had two pencils but my resource teacher told me I needed the one long and not the two shorts). I struggled with this for some time.

About half way through the year, Mr. Y (who was one of the coolest science teachers I know) announced we were having an invention fair and that each person needed to think hard about their invention. After some time I decided that having a place to put your pencil was a darn hard thing that needed an invention for it. With my dad we talked about it. We discussed where you could put a pencil and be safe. If it was on your belt you may brush up against it during 9 square. Taping it to your shirt kind of required you having tape readily available.

One day I came home and told my dad we should attach the pencil to your shoe. If it was on the outside of the shoe it wouldn't brush up against anything, it wouldn't poke you, it wouldn't make you bleed (and thus not require any medivac time). It would be on your shoe. So him and I worked together to attach the pencil to the shoe. Having helped my dad around the house, I knew he had tubing we could use. He melted the ends and stuffed some material down either end (He thought it would prevent the pencil from breaking in the tube - it turns out he was right). We used a rubber band to keep the cap in place and to force the pencil into the tube.

Once it was all done, we made our tri-fold display and took it to the fair. I got an A in science because of this project, but more importantly - I got Honorable Mention (4th place), my shoe in the paper, and my name in the paper. I was over joyed. Sadly we did not get any contract deals out of it (as far as I know) and it did not become a world wide sensation, but I am still proud of my little Shoe Pencil.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A member of the new batch

Antioch, CA

When I got home from work today, the kids had the new batch of bunnies (all 8 of them) out for a little run on the lawn.

(BTC - Enjoy 8 more Bunnie Pictures)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Clyde CA

I take issue with people that name their animals after other animals. Take this fine creature. He is a Lab/Greyhound mix. But his name is Moose. When people do that I have wonder - was it because they wanted a moose and they couldn't have one? Or They wanted the dog to be inspired to follow in the foot steps and be like the other animal (Unfortunately this Moose did not do well if that was the goal. No antlers on this dog)? Or did they just want the dog to feel bad? How many dogs wake up every morning and say "I'm never going to be a good moose. I try and I try but I'm just not moose material."?

I think the worse is when people name their dogs "Bear." "He's a tough dog and good to have around if you are ever in trouble. He's just like a bear." (Except for that part where HE IS A DOG!!!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

no fiction

Dear Reader:

I have a 4 chapter story outlined in my head, but I can't get the paragraphs out, so there is no fiction today.

However I'd like to add some non-fiction to your life. I found out today that I got an A in Abnormal Psych. I figured out that takes my GPA from 2.77 (that I graduated BYUI with) to a 2.88. Oh, and I lost five pounds in the last three months. All true - not fiction. I'll try to upload fiction as soon as my head, my fingers and the voices inside come together.



rusty chain

Antioch, CA

I've spent the last few weeks talking to my friend Steve. He recently bought a recumbent trike and has been telling me about adventures with it (such as wrecking the derailer in the first ride and being sidelined for a few days). It gives me a desire to take my bike out for an adventure as well, except my bike has been sittin out for the last few months, exposed to the elements. I called around today and to get someone else to get the bike up to snuff will cost me about $100 (this used to cost me $25 in Idaho - During a good economy!!). So it looks like Saturday morning I might be spending some time tuning it up myself.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It turns out it isn't orange

Antioch, CA

Evidently, I thought I would spend 2009 being wrong when Nina was right - a lot. I really thought this was orange. Shouldn't basketball tie tacks be orange?