Friday, August 29, 2008

My Take on Proposition 8, Courtesy of My Dad

I've been trying to find a way to put into words what I felt about Proposition 8 that didn't come down to "my religion teaches this" or "the first presidency of the church has asked that we do all in our power to support Proposition 8". Don't get me wrong, those are very good reasons, and I also happen to believe in the preservation of marriage as it's been defined for millenia. Still, I wanted something I could explain that didn't require a religious viewpoint to make my case, because, lets face it, many people are not religious in the slightest, and look at reasoning that uses religion as a baseline to be totally unworthy of consideration.

This is something my father sent in to a local newspaper, and thanks to him, I have permission to post it here. Were I to make my case for Proposition 8 and against same-sex marriage, this is effectively what I'd say (though my Dad tends to have a way of saying this stuff better than I do, so I'm just going to post his comments):

I am writing in support of Proposition 8 – the proposed Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

Many good people are concluding that denying marriage to same-sex couples is unfair. There is a logical fallacy to this. For thousands of years marriage has been considered not a right but a special privilege and responsibility for certain people. That the concept of marriage should be applied to same-sex couples is a novel and very new idea.

Long ago, it became clear that fathers didn’t always stay around to assist with the nurture of their children. Concluding that starving mothers and children in the community were far from desirable, societies created the institution of “marriage”, primarily for the protection of MOTHERS and CHILDREN.

Measures were devised for strengthening this union, such as tax benefits, increased social approval, pressure to stay together, and divorce arrangements like alimony and child support which protected the weaker parties.

If ANY union now can be called marriage, how can “benefits” for traditional marriages be maintained? Marriage and the nuclear family have been assaulted in many ways over the past few decades. Same-sex marriage could be another nail in the coffin.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Karina's Jingle Dress is Almost Here!!!

I've been actively involved in our Order of the Arrow Dance Team as an Advisor for the past three years, and have enjoyed my time doing it immensely. I've learned a lot about Native American dance and about dance outfits. I've made it a point to make all of the dance items that Nick and I wear, and last year I also made a Jingle Dress for Karina.

Seeing as the skill required to make the men's dance clothes doesn't require quite the meticulous level of detail necessary to make a truly spectacular outfit, I decided for the girls that I would turn to a pro. Enter my friend Lauren at Cultural Touch, a wonderfully talented craftswomen and designer, and someone with as warped as sense of humor as I have, too (LOL!).

Lauren has been a great source of information for me over the past couple of years, and when I told her of my ideas to have Karina and Amber be part of the dance team, she came up with some terrific designs for both of them. I don't think it's possible to throw an idea at Lauren that she can't come up with a stunner of an outfit with.

These are the proofs that Lauren sent to me to show me what the dress looks like (she told me her little one really wanted to model the leggings and choker and hair ties, too cute :) ):

This is a shot of the dress as seen from behind. the main dress pattern is a Chinese floral brocade, with accent pieces of different colored material and a horse motif (horses have been a symbol for Karina her whole life, so we asked that they somehow be made part of the dress).

Here's a closer look at the horse motif at the bottom of the dress.
These are the hair ties, choker and drop that is worn on the front of the dress. Again, it carries the horse motif further and really adds a sense of beauty and movement with the swaying ribbons.

The leggings, again with the horse motif.
Lauren said that these will be shipped out later today, so that we can get them in time for the Labor Day Pow Wow we'll be attending this weekend. I can't wait to se the finished items, and I cant wait to see how Karina looks in them :).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Jumong Journey is At Its End

81 episodes, 81 hours, and an absolutely unforgettable ride. Gorgeous from start to finish. Really, there's nothing more to be said other than that.

When Tom introduced me to this series, I had no idea it would have as big an impact on me that it has. It is a wonderfully epic tale, and one that is totally worth watching. I feel as though I have a greater appreciation for the history of the land whose movies I enjoy so much. In addition, I also have a feeling of greater appreciation for the television series that are made in Korea (as I said previously, I've really only paid attention to Korean movies. This was my first experience with a full fledged national K- Drama).

I wonder what I will do with myself now that it's all over, but seeing as I have a house that's changing color, a Labor Day Weekend Pow Wow to attend and other areas of my life that need some focus, as well as a wife and kids that probably would love to spend some additional time with me, I'm sure I can think of something (LOL!).

To fans of the "Korean Wave", check out this series. While you are at it, show some love for Ya Entertainment and drop them a line saying "thank you" for bringing programs like this state-side.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thinking Back on Our Wedding Day

On a forum that I participate in, we’ve been discussing the in’s and out’s of getting married and weddings, especially as they relate to members of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those non-LDS readers, you’ll notice that “Mormon’s” do weddings differently than other churches. This is because we place great emphasis on getting married and getting sealed in the Temple. We believe that marriage is more than just for time in this life, it is for time and all eternity, and that the power of that eternal bond can only be given inside of the walls of the Temple.

The Temple is a sacred place, and it’s a place that only members that have a temple recommend can go to. If you have family or friends that do not have a temple recommend (i.e. anyone not a member of the church, or member’s who for some reason don’t have one), you cannot see the actual sealing ceremony). Because of this, there are many traditions and approaches to LDS weddings and wedding receptions. As for Christina and I, we didn’t have the first time experience of a wedding and sealing. We had a traditional American style wedding at Peace Lutheran Church in San Bruno (just up the street from where we currently live). It was a very special day for us that we will remember for the rest of our lives, and we enjoyed every single minute of it.

We had some fun with our wedding and we have some fun memories of that day:

* the groomsmen had more hair and longer hair than the bridesmaids did

* the bride wore her hair down and the groom wore his up in a French braid (it was the only way I could honor my mother's request that I look "presentable and respectable" in our pictures. I complied, from the front (LOL!)).

* the fact that during the entire ceremony, Christina hopped up and down on the balls of her feet; whether she was nervous or happy, we don't quite remember, but she did it almost throughout the entire ceremony :) ).

* the Pastor that married us (Pastor Al) was an absolutely *great* guy, and I loved the fact that he met with us about monthly from the time we announced we were getting married until we actually did.

* Seeing the smiles on people’s faces when our musical number was played (“Bella Notte”… yep, the same one from ‘Lady and the Tramp’… long story as to why it was picked, but suffice it to say that Christina and I have had images and icons from Lady and the Tramp in our relationship as long as we’ve known each other, and it’s a bit of a metaphor for the two of us together).

* the mixture of family, friends, and rock scene people was a riot (Old-world German families mixed with long haired glam boys and girls, especially Christina's friend who wore a female equivalent of a groomsman's tux and a stratospheric hairdo (LOL!))

* the toast my wife made saying how very happy she was to finally be rid of her unpronounceable Austrian last name (Puchreiter… poor girl, she didn't realize she was trading it in for a Danish one (Larsen) that would almost *never* be spelled correctly (haha!!) ).

* we did it almost all ourselves, with a little input from both mom's, and little to no input from either of the dads (and they liked it just fine that way (grin!) ).

* we couldn't tell you what we actually had to eat, but the cake was terrific (made by my cousin, Patty) and we got a few chuckles and smiles over our cake top (yes, Lady and the Tramp were on our wedding cake; again, you have to really have a history with Christina and me to understand why ;) ).

Again, it’s not an anniversary and no one we know is getting married any time soon, but it’s always fun to be reminded of that day nearly sixteen years ago when we announce to the world that “two became one”, and I’m very happy to still be as excited about that occasion as I was back when it was happening. What was also nice was that, when our family was sealed in the Oakland Temple in 2002, our Sealing Ordinance certificate listed both of our dates; our marriage date of December 5th, 1992, and our sealing date of March 9th, 2002. I like to tell our kids that we have two anniversaries... but we encourage them to strive to have just one (LOL!).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Taking On The Big One!!!

I'll admit it, it may not seem like a big deal to some, and it may be child's play to others, but there is one project that I dread more than any other that relates to my house, and that is painting. We've lived here for close to ten years, and we have toyed with the idea of having the house repainted. Each and every time, I thought about it in the guide of hiring people to do it... but I could never pull the trigger because I couldn't come to grips with paying that much money to get my house painted (several thousand dollars for our 1800 sq. foot abode).

A few weeks ago, y'all read about my diving into deck repair because boards were damaged and needed to be replaced. I decided that I did not want to have to do something similar for my house at a later date, so I decided now was the time to commit to getting things in order. What's more, the deck work gave me familiarity with using both a presure washer and a paint sprayer. These are two absolutely *wonderful* inventions, and I'm kicking myself for not having learned how to use them sooner.

The only problem is that, in my life, having dedicated time to blow out a project at one shot is rare and hard to come by, which means taking on projects like this have to get stretched into multiple days, if not weeks. Still, if it's going to get done, one must make the time and commit to the process, which I now have. This week, I invested in my own power washer and took on the prep work of the house. All the paint has been purchased (at least all the paint that I *think* I'll need). Now it's just a matter of covering, taping, painting and waiting to dry. Lather rinse and repeat. For however long it takes.

This is the before shot.

I'm looking forward to when I can post the "after" picture. Goodbye Baby Blue, hello Stone Gray and Colonial White.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Ode to My San Bruno

Having Lived in San Bruno now for the better part of ten years, I consider it home and home town now. For Christina, it was a homecoming when we settled in San Bruno. For our youngest, Amber, it's the only home she's ever known.

Sometimes I get interesting raised eyebrows from people when they hear that I live in San Bruno and that I love living there. Granted, San Bruno get a reputation as being a windy place, where it's often colder than other parts of the Bay Area, and where there's a layer of overcast or fog nearby or present just about every day. Some people find San Bruno's "outdoor air conditioning" to be a bother, but personally I love it. Some other reasons I love my town are:

* I'm about 15 miles south of a great city to do lots of cool stuff in (some weird people and politics at times, to be sure,, but a gorgeous place on the whole )

* I have an awesome view of the San Francisco Bay from my hill as I come down the street.

* It's easy to find work in a broad variety of industries (OK, easy is relative, but there's a lot of stuff you can do here and a variety of jobs in many industries is what I'm trying to say).

* We're ten minutes from the beach (granted, it's a north pacific beach, and you need 5 mm of Neoprene to surf it, but beach it is )

* We're just three hours from snow and snowboarding (which means I can visit it when I want to without having to live in it)

* There's a lot of biking, hiking, climbing and wilderness trails within a short walk, bike ride or drive in most cases

* Having an international airport so close by makes traveling quite nice. Having BART and Caltrain running through the city also make commuting much easier.

* We love the school that's right across the street from our house (we've had our kids attending there now for the past seven years, and we expect another five years before all of our children are finished there). this year, the Junior High oddysey begins.

* I love having the Stake Center for my church right in my town, plus two of the best Stakes I've ever been part of are within four miles of each other (I love my current one on Sneath, but will always have a special place in my heart for the San Francisco West Stake on Sharp Park Road

* It has some really terrific families here, and I've enjoyed every minute of raising my children in this town.

* See above in my initial comments, but to me, the weather is just plain awesome.

* My in-laws live just a half mile down the street from us (I'll admit I was wary of that when we first bought the house, but have since grown to totally love having them so close by. they are a tremendous help to me and my family, and I greatly appreciate all that they do for us).

So tell me, what do you like about your town :)?

Friday, August 15, 2008

And the Jumong Obsession Keeps Growing

Volume 3, covering episodes 41-61.

Intrigue and plot twists and swordplay, oh my!

What more do you need to know... I have it, I'm watching it, taking breaks for the bathroom and eating, and I'm ignoring everything else in my life that is not scheduled or urgent.

Have I expressed enough yet just how much I'm digging this series (LOL!)?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Quote of the Day :)

Courtesy of one of my quirky co-workers:

"I have a date with Destiny, or at least her in-bred cousin, Circumstance."

-Will Clarke, Lord Vishnu's Love Handles

Yeah, I definitely have days like this (LOL!)

Happy Birthday, Nicholas

Today my son Nicholas turns twelve.

As many may know (and some may not), twelve is a significant age in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for both young men and young women. First, officially, my son is now considered a "Young Man" in the church. Second, at the age of twelve, Nicholas is now eligible to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and participate in the physical ordinaces that our church performs. Looking back to when I was twelve, I remember a certain excitement to being able to pass the sacrament, being able to participate in youth trips to the Oakland Temple for temple baptisms, and being able to join the Young Men's program and priesthood meetings where all of the "big guys" hung out. I'm hoping Nicholas has a similar feeling of excitement.

So much has happened since we brought a litle pink bundle home from the hospital in August of 1996. At the time, we were living in a house in san Francisco's Richmond District, and we were honestly a youngish couple who were ready to have children, but not entirely prepared for the changes in our life that would come with it. We learned, of course, and we had our moments of struggle (sleepless nights, concerns over health, irrational fears, etc.) Fortunately, we realized that kids are pretty resilient, and that they are able to thrive with a litle help from a loving family.

Watching Nicholas grow and develop over the past twelve years has been a fun, interesting and occassionally stressful experience. For the most part, he's a pretty awesome kid. He has traits that can get on my nerves, but then, that's because I see many of those traits in myself, and I know how they can affect one's life. Some cool traits my son has, however, deserve to be mentioned:

* Nicholas is an easy kid to get along with, and he has no problem making friends

* He enjoys reading, learning and having new experiences

* He's tenacious when he finds something he enjoys doing, though finding that thing that he enjoys seems to be hit and miss at times

* He is fun-loving and finds pleasure in many simple things

* He is genuinely a good brother to his younger sisters, and he enjoys actively playing with them

* He has been a conscientious Cub scout and Boy Scout, and does strive to be a good example to other boys in the program. He's gone a long way in a short amount of time.

* He enjoys a lot of the same things that I do (snowboading, outdoor activities, manga and anime, tweaking computers, etc).

* He gets high marks from his various Sunday School teachers, in that he pays attention, provides good comments, and seems to "get it" when gospel principal are discussed in his classes. Application needs some refinement, but hey, the same could be said of all of us at times :).

* He's developing an appreciation of various different kinds of music, and isn't afraid to voice his opinion about what he likes and why, and what he doesn't like and why (general rule in our house is that all music is in the open, and all music gets filtered through mom and dad. Net result is that we have a lot of discussions regarding music and what makes it subjectively good or not. Nick is holding his own in many of those conversations now (as a former professional musician, that brings a smile to my face :) ).

* He's willing to stick his neck out and try things that might intimidate others, such as run for Student Body President and serve in the Student Government at school (he became the Student Body Vice President in 6th grade).

I could go on and on about how proud I am of my son as well as all of my kids, but suffice it to say I just felt like giving a little time to write down some thoughts of my little guy, who's becoming not so little each day.

Happy Birthday, dude!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jumong Fever Still Has a Hold On Me

This volume covers Episodes 21-40. I received it in the mail last Thursday. I'm already up to Episode 37.

For those who are curious as to what this whole series is about, the story as told (actual history and the drama as portrayed vary a little) takes place around 80 B.C., during the period of the Han Dynasty in China, and their expansion and military conquests in the areas known today as North & South Korea and Manchuria. It is the story of Jumong, son of Haemosu, a military hero to the Ancient Josun migrant population (the Kingdom/Empire the Han brought to a close) who is captured and believed killed. Haemosu's best friend and comrade, Prince Kumwa, takes in Haemosu's love, Lady Yuhwa and her new son, Jumong. Kumwa becomes King and raises Jumong in the royal court of Puyo (one of the contested lands under threat by the Han Dynasty) as his own son. The story revolves around Jumong coming of age and fulfilling his destiny, changing from a spoiled and cowardly noble into a legendary hero, one who would ultimately unite tribes, repel the Han, and establish the kingdom of Goguryeo (from which we get the Anglicized word "Korea" today).

The story is geting really good now. Lots of crazy twists and turns at this stage, and an even greater desire to jump headfirst into Volume 3 (which I now need to get, and hadn't anticipated needing this quickly... I've really got to slow down my consumption of this!).

I think this is the point where I confess to the world that I should probably seek psychatric help (LOL!).

Putting Off Until Tomorrow Is Never a Good Idea...

I've been knee deep in a project the past couple of weeks, and it's one that really didn't have to go this far if I'd only been proactive about it.

When we bought our house back in 1999, one of the features was a long deck that's immediately outside the sliding glass door from our kitchen. It's about 50 feet long by about 16 feet deep. The deck was somewhat weathered, so my dad and I did the whole refinishing thing and put on water seal, plus a new opaque stain. Well, about three years into owning the house the finish we put on started to blister and crack. I didn't like the look of that at all, so I got the bright idea to sand down the deck and put a new oil based sealant on it, guaranteed to last for three years. I'll admit it looked pretty good after we finished it.

Well, something happened in those ensuing years; I got laid off from a couple of jobs, went back to school, got my degree, retooled my career, and focused on my kids growing up. All this time, the deck got progressively worse and worse. I kept saying to myself, it's no big deal, I'll just clean it up one weekend when I have some free time. Well that free time finally came last weekend, or rather, my hand was forced when I noticed several boards that were literally rotting away. Nothing like an obvious problem to get your butt into gear.

My brother and dad are both fairly handy sorts. I'm getting there, but I'll admit my forte is closer aligned to computers and gadgets rather than decks and home improvements. Still, it was clear we had to do something. My brother has a hefty and powerful pressure washer that runs on gasoline and hooks up to a hose. As we decided to do what we should have done the first time, i.e. give the deck a thorough pressure washing and abrasion, we noticed that the ends of many of the boards were disintegrating as the water hit them. We're talking chunks of wood flying. Ugh!

Net result was that we made a decision to replace about ten boards that were in the worst condition, and we've earmarked about two dozen others that are still good and solid, but could become questionable later. After finishing the pressure wash and waiting a week for it to dry out, we then put down ten gallons of primer. Right now, our back yard deck looks like a blizzard just came through (i.e it's pure white and rather blinding at the moment). Yesterday I ran through and made a second pass because so much redwood was still showing through after the primer coat had dried (redwood just sucks up paint like nobody's business). Tomorrow, the real color goes on (California Rustic, a nice deep opaque redwood stain). After that it's 72 hours of curing and drying, and then I can replace the furniture and my family can go into the back yard again.

The moral to this story? Little issues can become big issues if you do not take care of them early on. Had we done the level of prep work and cleaning that we did this time around back in 1999, we would just now be coming to the point where we'd need to do the work again, only the wood would have been in 100% better condition, and the need to replace boards would have been minimal if required at all. As it stands, I know that there's more work in store on this deck, and I'll be in the process of rotating sections and replacing boards for years to come, potentially having to replace the entire deck over the next few years. In other words, what could have just been a simple finishing job for a couple of hundred dollars in the cost of primer, stain and sealant will now potentially cost thousands of dollars over the next few years.

One thing's for sure, though; I'm scheduling a yearly check-up and touch-up for the deck every August from now on. I do *not* want to be in this situation again, if I have anything to say or do about it!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Jumong Is My Twilight (LOL!)

My introduction to this series comes courtesy of my friend Tom at church. Tom served a mission in Korea when he was younger, and subsequently, he is fluent in Korean to this day. He is president of a company that does localization (i.e. translates into English) for Korean movies and television shows and distributes them in the United States. Being a fan of the "Korean Wave" myself, I kept asking him if he had worked on particular titles (usually movies, since most of the Korean titles I'm familiar with are theatrical releases). After half a dozen or so I'd mentioned I'd seen, with Tom shaking his head and saying "nope, we didn't do that one", he came to church a couple of weeks ago with a gorgeous box set of a series, saying "*THIS* is one I worked on. Let me know what you think."

What do I think? Well, frankly, I think this is *INCREDIBLE*! From the packaging, to the guide book, to the DVD production, to the translation, to the story, it's fantastic. However, Tom... you now owe me my life back, because it feels like every waking moment for the past two weeks that I've not been involved in work or scouts has involved me sitting with my little portable DVD player watching this thing. Seriously, when you are walking down the street from BART to your place of work early in the morning balancing a DVD player in your hand, walking into the elevator at work balancing said same DVD player, walking out of work towards BART balancing said DVD player, walking back to your car from BART balancing said DVD player... these are signs of serious neurosis... or signs of an incredibly well done series. Hey, when a show is able to draw in more than 50% of a country's viewing audience, that's a pretty good indication that there's some serious quality going on here.

For those of you not into period stories from other lands, or if you don't like epic dramas based on legendary characters, this may not do much for you. As for me, I've already put in my order for season two and am waiting impatiently for it to arrive. Now, what am I going to do with my time until it gets here... oh, sure, I suppose I could mow the grass I haven't touched in two weeks... or fix some things in the backyard... or clean up the garage... or spend some quality time with my family... but really, where's the fun in that (LOL!)? I'm kidding, gang, don't throw things at me, please.

Seriously, this is good stuff. Even if you have *zero* interest in ancient Korean history, the scenery, costume design and story is wonderful. The acting is excellent, in that classically subdued Korean manner (Korean cinema and television just doesn't rise to the level of histrionics you see in American or Japanese cinema) and the story ideas are very inventive (one of the great hallmarks of Korean cinema; they come up with some of the wildest stuff).

There are four seasons in total, and I can honestly see me lining up one after the other until it's all finished.

Seriously, Tom, thanks for introducing me to this, but really... you owe me my life back (LOL!).