Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Multi-Tasking And The Balancing Act

I figure work is a must do and so is family.  That means that the remaining hours of the days have to be equally divided between sleep, cycling, playing guitar or doing art.  Sleep, well, I take it where and when I can.  So the three things that drive me -- riding a bike, playing guitar or doing art, must be balanced fairly tightly and given my free time during the week totaling up to only 2 hrs a day.  Lately, I've rediscovered playing guitar which takes up a good hour means I only ride on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.  When do I have time to do art then?  That's where the boring meetings at work become quality art-work or doodle time for me.  Sam asked me yesterday how many meetings I attend at work.  The more I think about it, the more it really is an opportunity to do art while listening into meetings.  I average four 1-hour meetings daily so that's a boat load of doodle time.  Like this one I did yesterday (above).  What started as a mass of squiggly lines using gel pen morphed into a host-parasite creature after about 2 meetings.  Now, if only I can bring my Taylor acoustic or Fender Strat to work...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stratocaster Guy

There are two kinds of people on just about anything.  Either you're a Ford or a Chevy guy (Chevy for me); either you're a Windows or an Apple user (previously Windows, now Apple); DC or Marvel (Marvel); and finally either you're a Gibson Les Paul or a Fender Strat guy.  I have and will always play Stratocaster electric guitars.  I don't care whether they're American, Japanese, Mexican, Standard, Custom, etc.  If it's a strat, I'll play it.  However, there's a special place in my heart for strats of unusual colors like this Seafoam Green (don't know where the heck that color name came from but I would have called it pistachio) Tom Delonge Strat I found on Craigslist.  Tom Delonge is of Blink 182 fame.  I'm not really a big Blink 182 fan but this guitar is going to make me take a closer look at Delonge's playing.  This one is in perfect shape and it's about 10 years old, which is when Fender stopped producing these very unique guitars.  Besides the smoldering Seymour Duncan Invader pickups and the fixed bridge, the fast neck is another appeal why I picked it up.  Took it home and played my first riff on it -- Ghost Riders In The Sky.  This strat smokes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sign Outside Store In Fish Camp, California

Fish Camp is the last town just before entering Yosemite National Park from the south entrance.  I love the hand-made sign I saw when we did a quick stop to get some sodas and gummy bears for the drive back into the valley.  From Fish Camp, it's another 35 miles of mountain driving to get to the valley.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The "Nasty" (23.5 Mile Tour Of Rancho Cucamonga)

Ever since I started riding again in April of last year, I've always envisioned being able to do this "dream" ride.  As soon as I discovered the foothills of Rancho Cucamonga, I designed this bike ride totaling about 24 miles but I'm no more than 7 miles away from home.  What the ride does is wind up and down some key north-south streets in the city.  I purposely did not include the very top of certain hills as they are very, very steep -- like the last 0.5 mile of Archibald hurts like a mutha probably because of the 10% grade.  On this Sunday, I decided to do a late afternoon ride and feeling pretty good, I took on my dream ride.  The route for this ride is listed, which I call "The Nasty" because it totals up to 5.3 miles of straight climbs, the nasty kind where I can see where I'm going so they're equally painful mentally and physically.
South on Day Creek Blvd
West on Banyan St
North on Hermosa Ave (Climb #1: 0.8 mi)
West on Hillside Rd
South on Archibald Ave
West on LemonAve
North on Amethyst (Climb #2: 1.1 mi)
West on Hillside Rd
South on Hellman Ave
West on Lemon Ave
North on Sapphire St (Climb #3: 1.0 mi)
West on Hillside Rd
North on Ranch Gate (Climb #3.1: 0.2 mi)
East on Appaloosa Ct
South on Turquoise Ave
East on Hillside Rd
South on Sapphire St
East on Lemon Ave
North on Beryl St (Climb #4: 1.0 mi)
East on Hillside Rd
South on Canistel Ave
East on Wilson Ave
South on Milliken Ave
East on Banyan St
North on Etiwanda Ave (Climb #5: 0.5 mi)
West on Wilson Ave
North on Etiwanda Ave (Climb #5.1: 0.7 mi)
West on Day Creek Blvd.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poodle Doodles

These drawings originated during these uber-boring meetings at works where my colleagues would just babble on and on about the most trivial of things.  Of course, these meetings last at least an hour -- even though what needs to get accomplished is done in just a few minutes.  So while I listen, I doodle.  These are doodles are using my gel pen on plain while paper.  They are actually very gesture in nature where I fill in each shape with scribbles that end up looking like poodle hair.  Hence, the label, poodle doodles.  My first poodle doodles are on lined notebook paper (I at least pretend to be writing on my engineering notebook) but the ones above are on 11"x14" drawing paper.  These are fairly easy to make, each one taking on the order of about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Flood Of 1997

In Yosemite, I'm usually so captive with the beauty of the place that I don't even notice the most obvious things.  I must have stopped at this scenic spot along the Merced River in the valley just where the road splits into one going to Fresno and one going to Mariposa.  January 1997 was a good year and a half before Sam was born and he is shown here yesterday at age 13.  He's now 5'6" tall but this sign along the river back easily indicates the water level was once around 10 feet!  The kids have been to Yosemite about 5 times since 2005 and this is the first I've noticed this sign.  If there is ever a bad place to get stuck in a flood, it's in Yosemite Valley.  There is no easy way out and if the natural landscape isn't enough to make you feel small, a flood certainly will put you over the edge.  But then again, if there is a where I want to spend my last moments on earth, Yosemite is the place.  Reading about the flood today, they called it the 100-Year Flood and it left over 200o people stranded in the valley which thankfully, had zero fatalities.  You just don't mess around with Mother Nature.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What's Another Photograph, Right?

I'm guessing at least a billion photographs had been taken from this spot where I stood in Yosemite Valley this morning.  We headed up for JJ's birthday to get some snow play but there wasn't any snow in the valley until we were about to head back home.  An overnight dusting left about an inch or two which was enough to complement the sledding we did up Badger Pass, which is a higher elevation.  El Capitan to the left and Half Dome to the right in this image is probably the most photographed rock formation in this little planet of our.  As the sun came up, the light snow off El Capitan's 7500 foot peak started boiling off and looked like steam coming out of every crack in this gigantic piece of granite.  This year is also the first time we've actually stayed in the valley, at Yosemite Lodge and although it is convenient, the luxury of Tenaya, just outside the southern entrance to the park is my preferred place to stay.  Sad to go home and return to work but thankful at least for the show that Mother Nature put on for us.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Long Commute

It was one of those dream-like drive.  Given the time I was on the road at the obscene hours from 330am through 630am, I may as well be in R.E.M. sleep.  I had to be at Vandenberg AFB by 7am and the 197 miles from Rancho Cucamonga meant a 315am wake-up alarm.  I must have made the drive to Santa Barbara over a hundred times but this one was different.  I was going 70 to 80 all the way and not once did I notice the rolling hills in the west SF Valley nor the farms of Camarillo nor ocean at Ventura.  Instead, I had This American Life and The Moth podcasts keeping me company.  Something about reaping what you sow is most of what I remember in the 2 hours it took to get from Day Creek Blvd to the Roco at State Street, where I got my hot americano and cinnamon twist pastry.  Two customers and a barista at 530am.  No tourists, no UCSB students.  Not even any music.  That somewhat woke me up until I started tracking the full moon setting in the west just above the rolling hills of Lompoc.  It's been at least 20 years since I did the Solvang Century that went through Santa Rosa Road.  I don't ever remember it taking close to an hour by car from US101 to VAFB but the 30 miles wasn't easy driving.  Might have been the anxiety of sitting in a room with a conference table with half a dozen full-bird colonels.  Or maybe it was just plain of sleep deprivation.  I was in such an altered state that I headed straight for the guard checkpoint, completely forgetting that I need to get a visitor pass.  If anything will wake me up, it's an 18 year old MP with an M16 rifle telling me to please turn around and go to the visitor center.  Yes, sir.  That was all I needed today.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Outdoor Seating

This is why I carry a camera everywhere I drive.  I have a collection of abandoned couches, loveseats, recliners from all over Los Angeles.  You never know when an opportunity for an image will present itself and add to my collection.  Last Saturday, we drove around Pasadena running errands and visiting my brother's new digs off Linda Vista Drive just above the Rose Bowl.  On our way, we hit the World Market store by Rosemead and Colorado and had to turn around at the end of the block when I saw this white couch against this painted green brick wall that is somewhat curved.  I believe this is the old Circuit City building -- now a Sprouts Market, and what used to be red paint is now green, the color of Sprouts.  On a beautiful Southern California day, it was in the mid 70s and the sky was as blue as they get around mid afternoon.  Was the couch placed here because it was a great place to enjoy the warmth of the winter sun?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Home Studio

I still contend that the formal living room in our Rancho house is the most useless area -- until I decided to move in all our music equipment into it last week.  To put this in context, when we lived in our tiny Pasadena house, the living room was the central place where we relaxed, watched TV, read, play music, etc.  When we moved to Rancho, Sam or I used to pound the drum in the downstairs bedroom closest to our neighbor to the south -- who has a little baby born last year.  With JJ's 100 Watt bass amp and my 100 Watt guitar amp, it's only a matter of time before the neighbors complain.  Moving the music equipment into the living room served to minimize the noise exposure to most neighbors as well as find some utility for this room.  The acoustics in the 20 foot ceiling also helps us hear each other better when we're playing, meaning we can also crank up the volume a couple ticks more.  The photo above is the living room as viewed from the balcony -- definitely, the best seat in the house.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Intersection of Route 66 and Azusa Avenue

I've been leaving Rancho Cucamonga at 6am all year and usually get to this intersection around 630am on my way to work.  I always have the camera handy just in case something interesting catches my eye.  Today, the almost-blue sky just before sunrise formed a nice complement to the orange glow of the streetlamps on the northbound one-way Azusa Avenue.  This area had changed over the years.  I vaguely remember buying a used acoustic guitar from a pawnshop, Wimpey's that used to be right where that empty parking lot is today.  Although this intersection had changed a lot, the City of Azusa seemed to have stayed the same (to me at least after having worked here for the last 11 years).