Mar 222015

There is this Cupertino Education Endowment Foundation. I didn’t really know much about them, except that they do school fundraisers. Sometimes we goto particular restaurants or grocery stores during the year and money gets kicked back to the Cupertino schools. They have a party every year. Casino themes, Hawaiian themes – all interesting to me, keeping me curious about going but we have never gone.

This year though, I noticed that Sal’s teacher won the teacher of the year award. Which was the tipping point. Strangely enough, in conversations with Sal’s Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers, they didn’t find me bringing up this reason to be as amusing as I did…

We got the tickets not really knowing what we were in for. Some folks we talked to brought up the prospect of spending the evening dining with bureaucrats and fundraisers. Which I hadn’t really considered, but by then, the tickets were bought. And right after we got our seat assignments, I ran into a teacher selling bead necklaces, to be part of a “heads or tails” game to win a dinner. Maybe there was something to that hustling perspective. But the teacher hadn’t really sold many. Thinking that it’s for the kids, I told him we’re in for a couple of necklaces.

A few food tasting stations and wine tasting sessions later, I see him again. And we’re still his most recent sale. So I buy some more, to share. And while we’re talking about how many, another lady working the fundraiser comes by, with a neck full of beads, encouraging me to buy some beads…but I have to take them off her since her hands are full (food station and wine stations).

It’s for the kids I’m thinking again, but since I’m reminded of the kids, I turn back to the original teacher selling the beads and buy some beads from him for our table. And then some more for Sal’s teacher and her fiancé. And I think I bought a few more later too.

The game works like this. Someone’s going to flip a coin. And you’re going to guess if it’s heads (hands on head) or tails (hands on rear). And if you guess right, you get to continue. If you’re wrong, you lose a necklace. If you’ve got no necklaces left, you’re out. The game was more entertaining than I had expected. Though I was out pretty quickly. I was out in 4 flips and I had 3 necklaces…so pretty bad. But fun to cheer on the folks continuing.

The winner had pooled together some of my other gifted necklaces though, so I consider it a partial win.

But all that was a setup to the live auction.

Winning hatI haven’t been to many fundraiser live auctions before. And the last one I really remember taking seriously, I regretted afterwards. Had a chance to win a round of golf with Larry David. Which would have been a great gift for my father. And I let it slip away. I didn’t want to let that happen again.

But nothing really jumped out at me on this auction. Hockey tickets. Some Napa getaway. Another Napa getaway with balloon rides. A diamond pendant. Stay at a resort in Mexico. Dinner for 8 at Testarossa though – that could be interesting. And dinner for 8 at a firehouse – sounded kind of interesting too. But more as girls’ night out. No alcohol on the firehouse premises. Seems like a good policy in general, but certainly quite different themed than the dinner at a winery. Girls’ night out dinner though with firemen cooking leaves a lot to the imagination. Maybe with a chauffeured car. Maybe visit a winery beforehand for a tasting…that could all come together nicely. The Testarossa dinner started at high price and I think I bid with my number facing the wrong way. Embarrassing!

So now I have a fireman’s hat and a toy firetruck too. And plans to get 4 of Sal’s teachers together and his principal (who seems like a blast – very different to talk to principals at a parent instead of as a student) for the dinner.

Catherine tells me it was the most expensive item for the evening. I am not sure I bid properly. In hindsight, I think I treated it like a poker game, where I was bidding aggressively, and that might have been dumb. As soon as the other guy bid, I re-raised. He’d think about it and I’d re-raise instantly. Before the auctioneer could finish asking for the next price. I don’t know if I thought I could bluff him out or what I was really thinking. Probably something like “auctions are fun!” or “Catherine’s putting her hand on my arm as a sign of support!”

I never gave him the joy of seeing me think it over and feel like he might win. And I regret that. Cause I just kept raising my hand instantly. It would have been more fun, for him and crowd, if we had let it go to “going once…going twice…” a couple more times, both ways. I think I have played too much bad poker and haven’t studied Storage Wars enough. (That fire truck is a solid 3 dollar bill though!)

Then he made me feel worse, afterwards, coming up and congratulating me on the win. He pointed out how he could make reservations at Testarossa anytime, but he couldn’t call up the firehouse and ask them to make him a home cooked meal for him and his 7 friends. I think he really wanted to go see the firetrucks and maybe slide down the pole and wear some big pants with suspenders. At that moment, I was already wearing big pants with suspenders…and me saying it was going to be a fun girls’ night out didn’t seem to make him feel any better.

Oh well, it was for the kids!

Jan 162010

The Robinson’s were kind enough to deck our family out with shirts with this on them.

And I guess it was kind of a dig, but they’re not really the type to make digs like that, which makes it that much more special of a dig.

Anyway, I wore the shirt yesterday.  And I was planning on buying 2 dozen donuts on the way to work.  But I got a late start, chit chatting with our nanny and Sal and getting her family tickets to go see Avenue Q and explaining why it wouldn’t be appropriate for my kid to go see this play with muppets, yet it was okay for her kids to go.  Double standards and all.

So I thought I could grab a donut at lunch, or a snickerdoodle, or at least a couple cookies from the catered lunch at the interview function I was set to rebel against my shirt.

I got distracted at lunch, figuring out how much more food I could get into the to-go box vs. a plate.  But it was chicken saag…with extra carne asada fajitas on the side under the naan.

And then the interview thing – there were no cookies left.

And when 5 o’clock rolled around and Brian was getting a coffee I looked at the donuts behind the glass and I just kept on venting about work instead of throwing down some change for the donut.

So the shirt kind of worked in a reverse negative backwards kind of way.  We’ll see if it still works post fat dunking.

Aug 142009

I had been wondering what my exit strategy would be for the kettlebell class.  I mean, are we just going to be his students forever, or is there a natural point where we just part ways?  Harinder’s talking about a New Years Eve marathon workout (with some people actually running a marathon) and that seems interesting…and very tiring.

Anyway, those thoughts are gone as he started talking about doing some mace training.  When he said we needed to buy ropes and were going to be doing a lot of climbing up trees, I was thinking that sounded like a natural point to say good bye, but when he said mace training, the flame was rekindled.

Partially cause I thought a morning star was a mace.  But still, the mace is kind of interesting.

This week, our homework was to make our own.  Seemed like a reasonable way to save $150.

But I’ve said that too many times and been wrong.  Turns out there are lots of times when $150 is well spent.

Last night, we went to OSH to get a shovel handle and cement and some nails.  I figured Sal had a mini basketball that I could use.  It reminded me of when my grandfather cut my football in half so he could use it to hold cement while he did patch work around the yard.  Except that I had the ball owner’s permission this time.  When we got home, we couldn’t find the basketball – we might have donated it.  I found one today at Sports Basement for $6.  The cement was $10 and the handle was $10 and the nails were a couple of dollars.  $30 bucks and a little elbow grease beats spending $170 + shipping and handling right?

Sure, I wasn’t sure how long a handle to buy.  Or what girth.  But I bought what felt comfortable.

And I didn’t notice how much cement I was buying.  For this project could they package too little cement?  Though when we did the math, the ball was supposed to come out to 15 pounds and when I looked at my bucket of cement it was 10 pounds.  1 more trip to OSH.  Catherine pointed out, as we were mixing the cement that the bucket looked bigger than the ball.

She was on a roll.  That was probably the 3rd or 4th mistake I had made that she was pointing out.  Pacing herself.

Turns out, making cement is a lot like making cookies.  In Jason’s Bishop class a few years back, I mixed all the ingredients in together and mixed them and didn’t get a good dough.  Gotta add things in order and mix in order.  So one should really add cement to water, not water to cement mix.  Says that on the box, but I was more focused on the 5-1 ratio with water.   I need to balance my focus.

So we made some crazy cement with that first batch. Good thing we had two buckets.  Though the water ratio was way off.  Soupy.  Started up the 2nd 10 pounds of cement, adding the cement to water, instead of the other way around.  The idea was that we wouldn’t put in that much water, then add cement, then add our soupy cement to balance out the ratio.  Which was working out well, until the soupy cement started to set and wasn’t that easy to scoop out of its bucket.  Wasn’t exactly “quick” but it wasn’t still soupy.  That’s when the panic set in.

Started to pile the cement into the ball with some gardening tools. It was getting chunky.  It was like diffusing a bomb, but not really. The time pressure was there, but instead of an explosion, we were only faced with 20 bucks/pounds of wasted cement.  Still, it shouldn’t be this hard.  In the end, it stands on its own, but is slightly cockeyed and probably stands on its own cause of a flat spot, not because of a well designed center of gravity.

And it’s a pain to swing around one’s head.  The off center center of gravity should just make exercising with it that much more challenging, right?

So, to recap, what I would do differently next time (cause there will be a next time unless I get smarter soon):

  • buy the enough cement the first time.
  • add cement to water – not water to cement.
  • cut a larger whole in the ball to make it easier to fill and keep the handle aligned while filling.  Mis-aligned handle isn’t really correctable once the ball is packed with cement and its mostly set.
  • maybe use a size 4 soccer ball.
  • Ha.  I forgot to mention that screws are better than nails if you don’t have holes in your shovel handle already.  With the nails, I managed to scratch my leg with the claw while removing a nail.  Then Sal started crying and I thought I hurt him somehow, but it turned out he didn’t like me bleeding.  Though I could hardly feel it, he needed me in a bandage.  How does tetanus work?

Now I have a heavy ball with a handle and a heavy ball with a stick and six weeks to make a difference…

May 222009

Ice cream cone...Now.

Two years ago, we got the first BlackBerry photos of Sal.  Now they’ll become 3.2 megapixel autofocused pictures of Sal.

And big food.

Or both.

Waited 3 months to save 300 bucks on the phone.  Booked tickets 3 days in advance to spend 14 hours in Vegas ($50 flight) to lose $150 in craps and slots (was down $600 at one point) and eat 3 tiny tacos for $40. 

Priorities. I guess.

Apr 292009

SoleCollector had a little review on some shoes I was interested in.  I was interested in them cause they were on sale if I was willing to get the IU branded version.  I got them, but didn’t like their fit. Exchanged them and got more expensive shoes.  Which, turns out, gave me a few blisters anyway.  So maybe I’ll go back and give those IU shoes another try, cause they were such a deal and I’m a sucker for deals.

I did not get a deal on these shorts though.  I got them, cause I’m a sucker for marketing.  Give 100%, get 104%.  They’ve got some “powerweb” lining which stores your energy and releases it back into you as you’re leaping.  Supposed to give you 4%.  But as the dude on SoleCollector pointed out for himself, “I’m not within 4% of dunking.”  But 4% is 4%.   So I’m 4% closer to dunking now.

Do the shorts work?  Not really sure.  I mean, I feel better in them.  And that’s more than half the battle, no matter what G.I. Joe says.  If anything, yesterday, as I was playing in them for the first time, my shot was off.  About 4% off.  Instead of getting just the net, I was hitting the back of the rim an awful lot.  So perhaps they were working and I just need to adjust for these new abilities.

The 1-2 punch that sells me on the shoes is that Dwight (in the photo) is in SI last week wearing the powerweb and the shoes…but his version of them, not the IU branded ones. I figure once I get the shorts and the shoes, then those arms would be next…just need to find the right website.

Jul 272008

Went to go test drive the CLS55 the other day.  For some reason, I’ve gotten real fond of that car.  Seems like a nice performance sedan, getting it used saves me 30k, and the smaller, older engines get a little better gas mileage than the newer ones do…and 469 hp is more than enough for me.

Anyway, I was a bit heartbroken, cause the car that I had convinced myself was perfect was in SF and I thought, yeah, I’ll drive up there this weekend and test drive it – and probably drop the corvette off the next day.  But on thursday or something, it disappeared from the website, sold (curse my lack of impulsiveness!) and I started to chalk it up as it just wasn’t meant to be.

But because Catherine and I are so out of sync timing wise with each other, she started to suggest going to test drive a CLS 55 more often.  So we went Friday night.  And it turns out that this car, in a used state, is still worthy of being inside on the showroom floor.  There was a $515,000 McLaren on the floor too – but as I pointed out to Sal, it doesn’t have 3 seats, which was the whole reason why we were there.

Cause that’s the only thing stopping us from getting the McLaren.

So we ask for a test drive and the sales guy says that there are too many cars blocking the way to get the CLS55 out (1) and takes us out in a 550.  It was a comfortable ride – Catherine can sit behind me, so we can fit 4 in the car. But wasn’t really that impressive. It just seemed like a car.  Not a car I’d have a bond with.  Just a car.

So I started to think that maybe the Passat CC coming out later this year is really the way to go.  Would add some symmetry to my automotive history – passat, corvette, passat.  Clean.  And would set me up for a Corvette in another 8-10 years again.  That type of argument should not be undervalued.

Then today, we’re driving back from San Leandro (more on that later – but it was basically a 2 hour drive for a 20 minute task – was still pretty fun and worth it) and I was thinking that there was another MB dealership in San Jose that had a CLS 55 in it so I asked the family if they’re up for going to try and test drive that one, cause maybe it’s not inside a showroom.

We find it on the lot just as the fleet dealer finds us. He goes to get the keys and right away, he just starts it up. And right away, I’m noticing a more distinct rumble and it’s not coming from within me, though it is communicating with my gut. Now I’m interested. Put Sal inside.  I go sit in the other back seat.  Kind of a tight fit for me, but it is possible.  Get out as I hear Catherine and sales guy talking about the test drive.

Low on gas?  What the what what?  But he calls over a lackey and off they go to fill up the tank.  Kind of.  Came back 1/4th full – but that was good enough. Fought through some traffic (3 police cars and a lot of debris) but made it to the highway, where I kind of fell in love.

On the on ramp.

I like doing 65 on the on ramp in 2nd gear in the corvette. I then use the next 4 gears to get to 80.  No need for more tickets.  And this car had the same sort of thrill within it.  I liked it.  A lot.  Catherine could feel the difference in the back seat and Sal, if he leans over into the center, can look up the middle and see the nav system (he likes being able to see the map).

Sal and Catherine did find an emergency hospital receipt in the back of the car, which kind of puts an odd aura on the car.  Still, the car was very, very, very nice.

The first sales dude was an idiot for taking me out for a drive in the non AMG car – I was kind of ready to write off the whole CLS class.  And then I was an idiot for considering it.  Lesson learned.  Email alerts set up over at