Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tour of California

This weekend, the Tour of California made its way down to Southern California, with Stage 6 running from Palmdale to Big Bear and then Stage 7 starting in Ontario just after noon today.  The race today started at the Ontario Convention Center, then came north on Euclid Avenue through the town of Upland and finally onto Mt. Baldy Rd. to climb to to 6800 feet, then head over on Glendora Mountain Road, down into Glendora, back up again along Glendora Mountain Road and back to Mt. Baldy to the finish.

My youngest and I picked out a vantage point at the top end of Euclid just as it made a sweeping left hand turn heading west toward San Antonio Dam on the west side of Upland, before the route would then head back into the canyon, loop around and head up to Mt. Baldy Road.  Last year, the route was very similar, only the start being in Claremont, CA as opposed to Ontario.  This is the second year in a row we've watched the tour.

While I don't follow cycling, it's a colorful spectacle to watch for the 30 seconds or so it takes for the peloton to whiz by.  I do find the stamina of these riders amazing, in that they finished this 75 mile segment, with two major hill climbs, one from 900 feet elevation up to 6800 feet, in just about 3 hours or so.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't ride 20 miles in an hour and these guys are maintaining a pace greater than that while climbing steep hills.  It's just an amazing feat of athleticism.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Our church held their 65th annual church fiesta this weekend.  They always host it on Mother's Day weekend and it's the 2nd or 3rd largest event the city has each year.  Many times in the past, we've been elsewhere, but in the past 10 years or so, we just enjoy the weekend, eating the great food, hanging out with friends and enjoying the live music played there.

My wife is in a jazz group called 11th Hour and two years ago they played at the fiesta to open up the Saturday that weekend.  Small but appreciative crowds were on hand as is usually the case at noon on Saturday.  The fiesta really gets hopping around dinner time both Friday and Saturday and it lasts all the way to 10PM both nights.

The past two years, I've played around with some long exposure settings on my camera.  I really didn't know how to do it very well last year and was just getting 4 second exposures, mainly because I didn't know how to set my camera on the bulb setting.  I fixed that over the past year, learning how to use my camera more and more in the manual setting.

This year, I got several shots that I'm quite pleased with.  The second shot looks like a giant slinky about to tumble over a staircase.  While, I'll never understand the fascination of spinning around and around in circles for five minutes and then throwing up (I exaggerate a little here), but the light trails on these things really lend themselves nicely to some interesting shots.  There were no rollercoasters at the fiesta, so the thrill seekers had to be content with the spinning rides or the bumper cars.

Each year, our church makes a nice profit from the fiesta which helps funds the school there and other things throughout the year.  Even in these tough economic times, it seems that people are willing to spend some money having a little fun in Claremont.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dear Friend

I have many friends, due to the social media giant Facebook, plus other sites.  In fact, any site where there's a discussion board, you can learn about people that share similar interests.  I've also been able to connect with a lot of long lost friends because of these social networks.

One thing I've found through the years is that people like to spout off on discussion boards about their political leanings.  This, in my opinion, is a bad thing.  Mainly because most of the time, all those political discussions do is cause arguments to start.  And although a good flame war can be very entertaining from time to time, it's not something that I relish, nor something that I seek out.

So here's my plea to all of my friends and I fully expect to be flamed for this, but I'm going to say it anyway.  Please keep your politics to yourself.  Think about what you're posting.  There's too much vitriol out there to add to it.  Your position on almost any political or religious subject is not going to convince anyone on the other side to change their position on the given subject.  All it's going to do is cause an argument where everyone will believe they're right and the other person is wrong.  

I like you as a friend.  I liked you when we were in school together.  We talked about a lot of different things, but we really didn't talk about religion or politics.  Those were the things we were told as kids that we shouldn't talk about.  Hmmmm.  Maybe our parents were right.  

I would prefer to maintain these friendships in the coming years.  Talking politics makes that more difficult.  Social media has brought many of us closer together and helped us reconnect with our past friendships that we let drift apart over the years.  I would really love it if I didn't know the political affiliations of my friends.  I just want to be friends with them.  Now, that might make me appear to be like an ostrich with its head buried in the sand.  At the moment, that's OK with me.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Magna cum laude

When she was three years old, she saw Itzhak Perlman playing the violin on Sesame Street. She stated, quite emphatically, that's what she wanted to do.

Saturday, she completed what she set out to do, graduating magna cum laude from the University of the Pacific's Conservatory of Music with a degree in violin performance. She is a fourth generation college graduate. Both of her parents, three of her grandparents and two great grandparents preceded her with degrees.

I wanted to convey some kind of joy with this shot. Of the 257 photos I took on Saturday, I think this one conveys it the best. Even though you can't see my wife's face, you can see her smile in the corner of her eyes. The joy is evident on my daughter's face.

She's off to Salinas to start her job on Monday with El Sistema working with underprivileged children in the Salinas area teaching them music. I don't know if this will mature into a full-time position or not, but they apparently are working around her summer schedule quite a bit just to keep her on. She's taking a week off in July to go on a cruise to Mexico. We'll see her just before that because she's going to a wedding of one of her friends on July 7th. Her cruise begins on July 8th. She said I need to come up and visit her this summer, mainly so she can take me out to dinner once she gets some paychecks under her belt. I shall take her up on the offer. 

But for the most part, she'll not be coming back for any extended stay anymore and unless we contribute a lot to her graduate work, this year may be the last year we will be even able to claim her as a dependent on our tax returns. It's something I knew was coming, yet still hit me hard last night. She really is my "little girl" all grown up now and ready to strike out in the world. Even though she's not been here on a regular basis since last August, I shall miss her terribly.