Thursday, May 29, 2008


I turned 30 today. You know what, I don't feel any older. Well, I didn't until my new Wii Fit told me my body age was 40. Oh well. I guess it is how you feel, right? Power to the kids at heart....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2nd rate (or 3rd)

As a huge soccer fan, it is depressing when you really don't have much to cheer for as far as your home nation goes. International soccer is as big as it gets, but when you want so desperately to cheer for your home nation and they end up disappointing you 90% of the time, it is tough. Today, The US played against England in Wembley Stadium and just looked outclassed in every way. The score was only 2-0, but the outcome was never in doubt. In fact, England looked almost bored. One might say, losing to a good team like England on their home soil 2-0 isn't bad at all, but England isn't that good now right now. In fact, they didn't even qualify for Euro 2008 next month, a World Cup like tournament with the best 16 teams in Europe. Sure, England is probably better some of those 16 teams, but in the end, they didn't qualify, but they were still good enough to make the US look like a team of amateurs.

So what is wrong? Well, first the valid excuse. The US has just not had a bonafide international program as long as many good countries. Secondly, until soccer becomes big in the United States, there will not be a strong commitment towards building a high class quality team. Other countries take players from a very young age and put them into soccer academies. They have youth programs that bring the child up - like a junior Manchester United. We just don't put out funds towards programs like that because frankly, the genral population doesn't care if we have a winner or not. The money is just not coming. Thirdly, our league, MLS, just isn't very good. I watch some games sometimes just to get my soccer fix, but the level of play going from the English Premier League to Major League Soccer is just night and day.

We have had a few successes here and there. In 1994, we made the round of 16 in the World Cup. In 2002, we made the quarterfinals. As the World Cup is only every 4 years, we rarely get to make an impact. Sure, we have qualified for 5 straight World Cups, but besides Mexico, we are qualifying against mediocare teams such as Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Hardly powerhouses by any means. So what is it going to take? I have no clue. In the mid 90s, the US Soccer Foundation outlined a plan to develop a powerhouse team called Project 2010. It's goal - to win the World Cup in 2010. Unless an act of God happens, this will definitely not be happening. I will settle for making it out of the first round. That, is even more sad.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Evil E's Saturday(Tuesday) Scavenger Hunt #17

So I am few days late, but I had a fairly busy weekend as evidenced below. Here are my takes on the word, "number."

Many people hve been posting pictures of their DVD collections so I thought I would show you the large number of DVDs I have. Oh yeah, and Blurays!

A number of chips were used at my last poker game because there were so many people! I took a respectable 2nd place.

These two characters are my number 1 and number 2 favorite characters in comics. I love these statues!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Never too old.....

Today, we had an 18th birthday party for my cousin Rosie at a local park. It was good times and good food, but will be remembered for the fun times on the "kid" playground equipment. Here ya go...

Pushing Jess and Cassie on the swing

Pushing Jess up close

Jess got stuck in the tire swing

After Jess went down the slide, her hair was full of static electricity

Be sure to check out my birthday party pics below if you haven't yet. 30 this Thursday!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My party

So yesterday was my surprise birthday party and I had a great time. I have to thank my parents, sister, and lovely wife for doing such a great job. There was a ton of great food that my dad slaved over making, tons of people, a tequila tasting contest, etc, etc. It was a wonderful time. Here is a picture diary of it...

Saturday, May 24, 2008


It is now 11:20PM and I am just getting home from celebrating my birthday (which is next week). I had a surprise party thrown for me and that kept me from blogging until now. A full report with pictures tomorrow!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Music Meme

Almost the end of the day and I don't have a whole lot to say so I am going to do a fun little meme that I saw on Tara's blog this week. You have to get your iPod(or in my case, my jukebox) and put it on shuffle. Then you fill in the blanks with the songs that get picked. No skipping; if it doesn't make sense, too bad....

1) How would you describe yourself?
"I guess that's why they call it the blues" Elton John - Hmm, no usually I am pretty happy

2) What do you like in a girl/guy?
"Women" Def Leppard - well, better than men

3) What is your motto?
"Savin' Me" Nickelback - I don't need savin'

4) What do your friends think of you?
"Deserted" Blind Melon - Naw, I haven't deserted them

5) What do you think about often?
"Fight For your Right" Beastie Boys - Well sure, who doesn't?!?!

6) What do your parents think of you?
"One Vision" Queen - Well, I guess I can be narrow minded? I don't know..

7) What do you think of your best friend?
"Heartspark dollarsign" Everclear - I don't know even know what that means

8 ) What do you think of the person you like?
"Me" Staind - I like more than me. Not THAT self centered

9) What do you want to be when you grow up?
"Dirty Little Thing" Velvet Revolver - Now THAT is funny!!

10) What do you think when you see the person you like?
"Tourette's" Nirvana - I don't know, maybe my mind just says random noises?

11) What song will they play at your wedding?
"So Far Away" Staind - Nope, I can tell you this was NOT played at my wedding

12) What will they play at your funeral?
"Runnning From an Angel" Hootie and the Blowfish - Ouch, that is scary if that is played at my funeral. If I am running from and Angel, where am I running to?!?!

13) What is your hobby/interest?
"Enter Sandman" Metallica - Well, I do like to sleep??

14) What is your biggest fear?
" I am the bullgod" Kid Rock - Yes, I owuld be fear being a bullgod. Sounds scary

15) What is your biggest secret?
"Bad Seed" Metallica - I AM NOT!!!!

16) What do you think of your friends?
"Every Rose has its Thorn" Poison - Well, I certainly don't think well of my friends do I?!?!

17) What is your theme song?
"Believe" Disturbed - That is nice....

18 ) What do you think of your family?
"All I ever Wanted" Shinedown - Awww.......

19) What is your best friend’s theme song?
"Hotter Than Hell" Kiss - I swear on everything that I randomly picked this! Jessica will be so happy!!!

20) What is your mood right now?
"Blitzkrieg" Metallica - No, pretty calm right now

21) If your heart could talk what would it say?
"So much for the afterglow" Everclear - Hmmm.....

22) What do your co-workers think of you?
"The Garden" - Guns n Roses - Am I a pretty flower?

23) What does your future look like?
"Above" Blue Man Group - Well that is good news!!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manuel on Movies #3 - Indiana Jones edition

So I just got back from seeing the new Indiana Jones movie. It was, I don't know, good I guess. There were parts that I LOVED and parts that I despised. First off, it was great to see Ford back in the Jones character. He had it dead on as if Last Crusade was just a few years ago. Besides the wrinkles, I don't think he showed the age at all. It was like revisiting a new friend. And Shia, who I am growing to like more and more with everything I see him in, was his usual good self. The story was decent. It was out there, but then again, weren't the other ones too with Holy Grails, Arks, and Shankara stones?

The thing that bugged the shit out of me though were some over the top action sequences that had things that were just so absurd, it would take me out of it for a second as I shook my head in disbelief. Now normally, I will go with it if that is the type of movie it is, but Indy has never been THAT over the top with scenes. For instance, Shia as a monkey. If you have seen it, you know. If you haven't just wait. Little things like that. And the CGI at times was downright atrocious, and that is not including the couple of scale models that were also blatantly obvious.

I liked it. I am glad I saw it. I will own the movie and maybe come to appreciate it more after repeat viewings. But it was no Iron Man. I will give it an 8 out of 10, but you take the exact same story and make it just an adventure movie with no Indiana Jones in it, it would have received maybe a 6 or so.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cloud 9

I feel like I am on top of the world tonight. Earlier today, my team, my Manchester United, won the Champions League final. They were crowned the best team in Europe for the third time in their history; the other crowns coming in 1968 and 1999. I remember watching the 1999 final, but I was nowhere near the fan I am now. They are my team, my favorite team out of any sport. Today, they won after a thrilling 1-1 tie that went to overtime and eventually penalty kicks where they won 6-5. The europhia of having your team win a championship is like no other. You never know when and if you will ever have a chance to win a championship. You have to seize the opportunity when you get a chance. Today, my boys did it. Today they won it and what an honor it is in the 50th anniversary of the Munich Disaster where they lost many members of their team in a plane crash. What a day. Cloud 9.......

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Foothill High Represent!!!

A pretty exciting time for a former high school classmate of mine. Andrea Jones is a friend from high school who I had almost all my classes with. She's been a great singer since I have known her and she even sang at our wedding. Her singing career is really starting to take off. She had her own show at a local restaurant/nightclub here in town last month. Last night, she appeared on the Jay Leno show as a backup singer for Josh Groban. Tomorrow, she is appearing on the Ellen show. She has a Masters in social work and has a fully functional backup plan, but it is awesome to see that she is getting the breaks she totally deserves. We couldn't be more proud of her! Here is the video from last night...

Monday, May 19, 2008

How I became a metal head

Ok, I use the term "metal head" loosely, only because I know Evil E will disagree slightly with me calling myself one after this blog. He is a true one - bands like Slayer, Sabbath, and Maiden top his list. I didn't start off so hard when I was growing up. When I first started appreciating popular music, it was the early 80s and Michael Jackson was all the rage. I liked him or stuff from the oldies stations my parents listened to. Not rock type oldies like I listen to now, but 50s oldies like Under the Boardwalk and Stand By Me. You know, the fun to sing golden oldies.

I would have to say that is was my older cousins Jennifer and Allison that got me into rock. They were teenage girls or close to it so it wasn't really the hard stuff, but more of the glam rock pretty boys - Motley Crue, Poison, etc. Sure, not exactly mosh pit bang your head stuff, but it was rock nonetheless. I wouldn't say I was exclusively rock by this time yet. Guns and Roses hit the scene, probably the hardest I had heard at that time, and loved them. But it was the late 80s/early 90s and I was also into rap/hip hop at the same time - Bel Biv Devoe, Hammer, Vanilla Ice, C&C Music Factory, etc.

Use Your Illusion I and II hit around junior high time and by this time G n R was now my favorite band. Metallica's Black album hit around the same time and I was slowly leaning towards rock exclusively. Rap was just not holding my interest. Metallica was really the one who surprised me though. As a kid growing up and having never heard a Metallica song in my life, I was scared of them. I would see guys walking around with shirts from the band with skulls, snakes, and the like. I was surprised to find with the black album that they were fun and nothing to be scared of. Of course, I also didn't know this album was where many old school fans think they went downhill, but that is neither here nor there. Eager to hear more Metallica, I discovered One, and it was the loudest, angriest song I had ever heard....and I loved it. Then I heard a song on the radio from a new band called Nirvana and all my hip hop blood was completely washed out.

The grunge scene was what really brought me over to rock exclusively. Sure grunge wasn't hard rock, but it was rock to me, loud, angry, and yet, still fun to sing. Nirvana lead to Pearl Jam which lead to Stone Temple Pilots, etc, etc. By now, rock was all I bought. As time went on and I slowly finished HS and went on to college, my tastes just got louder. I discovered that Metallica's early albums kicked ass. I discovered a great new loud album, Antichrist Superstar, by a guy named Marilyn Manson. Hell, my mom was so scared of him that when she got the album for me for Christmas, she wrapped in a brown paper bag because, "He didn't deserve wrapping paper!" Loud and angry just became so fun. Manson, System of a Down, Disturbed, Godsmack, Korn, Kid Rock, Static X, etc, etc. The louder the better. Sure, it was neatly packaged mainstream rock, not the raw, but good stuff like Slayer and Pantera and the like, but I loved it. I haven't looked back. Hell, the song can be in German, a la Rammstein and I iwll love it as long as it is loud. Who cares if I don't know what they are saying. Sure, I occasionally go out of the box now and then, but I am a rocker. Rock on....

I leave you with one of the loudest, angriest songs on my jukebox.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Evil E's Saturday Scavenger Hunt #16

Zephyr. I must admit, I had heard the word before, but I had to look it up to make sure and confirm. It had a couple of meanings, but I decided to go with " a light wind." Here ya go....

First, my Manchester United flag proudly blowing in the wind. Championship of Europe is this Wednesday!

Here are the wind chimes in our back yard. Haven't been making much noise the last couple of days as the wind has been minimal and the temperatures have been around 100 degrees.

This is the ceiling fan in our living room. It gives us a nice breeze on those hot Sacramento days.

Thanks for visiting...

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Short Saturday post today. I will be doing the scavenger hunt tomorrow as I don't have time to get the pictures before poker starts in 30 minutes, but it is (finally) coming. Instead, watch this video and tell me this isn't the STRANGEST goal celebration you have ever seen. First, you have to watch a replay of the goal like 10 times. But the payoff at the very end is something else. If I still played, I would have to try this....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Oh the Humanity!!!

Ok, so I got my television issue fixed. I figured it was a directv issue since my Playstation still worked. So, after I finished blogging last night and after the TIVO was done recording, I power cycled the box and the picture was back good as new. Kind of weird, but what are you going to do. At least it is back working. Back working so as not to miss.........

New Kids on the Block?!?!?!?! I turn on the tv this morning only to find out that New Kids on the Block were about to perform on the television. Not a recording from years ago, but live. Ok, truth be told, I heard they were talking about getting back together and even had a tour planned, but to actually see them made it real. Now, I made fun of them to no end when I was young, but I have to hand it to them. If people are still going to come out and see them after all this time and they are going to make a lot of money doing it, all power to them. Plus, they weren't lip syncing this morning like other boy bands. Still, the synchronized dancing has to go.

Ok, here are the answer to the picture question from the other day. First, the picture again so you don't have to scroll down...

1. I am Number 11. I think everyone got that right.
2. My cousin Mike is #10. I don't think anyone but my sister(who wasn't supposed to answer) got it right. He is a few months older than me.
3. My old friend Gabe is #2. I have known him since preschool and still see him every 2 weeks for poker.
4. My friend Josh, #13, was the class clown. A good handful got this right. The hair for sure.
5. My friend Rich is #3 and he is MrVideoGuy. Have known him since my sophomore year of HS and I consider him one of my best friends.
6. #8 is Jaime, and he officiated my wedding. He is 2 years older than me and he was my next door neighbor and like an older brother to me.
7. #12 is Phil, the ladies man. He talks more than any male I know!

Thanks to all who participated. I know they were all shots in the dark so I appreciate you playing along anyways. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


So....a little bit ago, I had to go into the next room and I turned off the tv in the living room. I just walked back in and turned it on and I get no picture. If I turn on the PS3, it works, but that is on a different HDMI cable. My tv works, I can adjust settings and stuff, but I am getting to feed from the cable. I cannot figure it out. It is killing me, but I will have to tackle it tomorrow. It was JUST WORKING!!! So, that is all you get tonight. I will give you the answers to yesterday's trivia tomorrow. Promise...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I had every intention of posting a video for wordless wednesday today, but the video is taking forever to upload. So, since I still have to get a post in, here is a picture of me and my friends on my wedding day, November 2, 2002.

Here is a quiz based on the picture. Family members and friends from school cannot answer...

1. What number is me?
2. What number is my cousin?
3. Which friend have I known the longest?
4. Which of these was the class clown in school?
5. Which of these is MrVideoguy, the sometime poster on my blog?
6. Who officiated my wedidng?
7. Who is the big ladies man (although he is finally engaged)?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Top Five Tuesday #20

We're still pretty down here in the household about the baby situation whenever we think about it. Still, they say laughter is the best medicine. Let me try to make light of a tough situation. Here are the top 5 reasons why it is probably better I won't be a dad. I am just going to use he to make it easier and not have to write he/she every time.

#5 - I am not a fan of veggies at all! I really don't like any true vegetables at all except spinach. What kind of example would I set for my kid that he should always eat his vegetables when I never do?

#4 - I swear like a drunken sailor. Sometimes I don't even know I do it; it just comes out. I don't need to be raising a kid when every sentence I use has a swear word of some sort in it.

#3 - I have this thing with collecting. I think action figures are things that should be displayed on shelves and looked at from afar. Sure, I would have bought all the action figures my boy wanted, but would I let him actually play with them? Not so sure.

#2 - I am a super competitive person. I don't like to lose ever. I'm not so sure I would have been able to let him win at anything. Sports, board games, video games etc - the only way he would learn to get better and challenge himself - beat him down!

#1 - I have a thing with spit up and vomit. I can't see it. I can't smell it. I am pretty sure that babies do that no matter what you do. I see or smell it though and I start gagging harshly. I just don't know how I would ever be able to get over it. It wouldn't be fair for Jessica to pick up all the messes. So, I would have had to do some of the mess clean up....and then she could pick up the mess I made while doing it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The 5 things that pissed me off last week #16

I am going to do this one a little different. Sure, I had pretty much the worst week in my life because of one circumstance. So to change it up a little, I am going to list 5 things that were good about last week...

#5 - Marvel made it official that they will be making an Avengers movie. The X-Men movie worked out, why can't an Avengers movie? I am so excited for this, even though it is 3 years away.

#4 - An association here in town had a community shred day which I took full advantage of. The lady who I purchased the business from kept way more files and paper than she needed to. Slowly, I had been making stacks of paper that needed to be shredded. Unfortunately, the stack reacher around 4 feet over four feet tall. My shredder would take nearly a full day to shred all of that. The UPS store shreds by the pound, but it would have been around $100. Luckily, I found out about the shred day and I got it all shredded for the reasonable price of $25. Big weight off my shoulder.

#3 - I got to spend a lot of time with my family this weekend. From barbecues to movies, I got to see a lot of them this weekend and it was a good time from start to finish.

#2 - Manchester United won their league this past weekend. Sports fans will agree - there is nothing more thrilling or exciting than having your team win a championship. It is a memory you will keep forever.

#1 - Despite the fact that it appears now that Jessica and I will never have a child, I know that we will be fine because we have each other. We are best friends. We enjoy each other's company and don't get bored of each other. After being together over 10 years and married over 5, we are still in love as we ever were. A friend commented not to long ago when he saw us holding hands. His comment, "Wow, you guys still hold hands and cuddle like that?" Somehow, we will be fine...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Post #700

Alright, another hundred posts down the drain. I was starting to fade there, but I feel like I have my mojo back. I had a great weekend and it didn't come soon enough. After a very stressful and emotional week, I was ready to let loose this weekend.

It started off by seeing Iron Man again Saturday morning with my parents and Jessica's parents. They both wanted to see it and since it was so good the first time, Jess and I didn't mind seeing it again. Thankfully, all loved it and couldn't stop talking about it later. That always makes you feel good when you recommend something, anything, and people agree with you. I am convinced that when this movie comes out on Bluray, I am going to need a bigger subwoofer. I kid honey, I kid.....

Saturday night was the aformentioned Cinco de Mayo party. Perhaps because I was looking to drown my sorrows in alcohol after the past week, perhaps it was because I was just looking to let loose and have fun, but I decided to do shots of tequila last night. Jessica mentioned that it was 8 shots, but in fact, it was 9. I like to count my shots. Anyways, I had a good time as I am always a happy, laughing drunk. Thankfully, this morning there was no hangover. Not even a slight headache. Thank goodness...

Probably not typical of most people after a night of drinking, I woke up a little before 6 this morning to watch a soccer game. Well, it just wasn't any soccer game. It was the final game of the English Premier League season. Manchester was tied for first place with rival Chelsea. However, due to a superior goal differential, all Manchester had to do was match whatever Chelsea was doing as they were playing at the exact same time. But, as long as Manchester won, there was nothing Chelsea could do except to literally win their match by about 20 goals. Thankfully, it went the way I wanted and Manchester United were crowned champions of the league. Now just one game remains in their season - May 21st in Moscow to determine the best team in all of Europe, the Champions league final against funnily enough, Chelsea again. I can't wait. But first, some pictures from today...

Finally, this afternoon, we had a mother's day barbecue at our house for Mother's Day. Everything turned out great including the shrimp which I barbecued for the first time ever. So overall, this weekend was a complete 180 from what the week was. I needed it. Now back to the grind of the work week. Have a good week everyone...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Too Drunk

Manuel's not a big drinker. He doesn't really like the taste of alcohol. He'll only drink alcohol if he can shoot it, presumably because it's fast and the taste isn't with him as long. Probably once or twice a year, Manuel will get drunk. Tonight was one of those nights. We have a monthly family dinner with my dad's extended family who, because his immediate family are all pieces of crap, we've adopted as our immediate family. The theme was Mexican food, in honor of that white holiday Cinco de Mayo. Naturally, there was tequila. And Manuel had some. Ok, not some - 8 shots. He ate and had some sodas too, but he's feeling pretty damn drunk right now, which is why I'm writing this and not him. It was important to him to keep up the post-a-day-in-May, so I hope you will accept this as today's post, even if it's from me and not him. I'm sure he'll be back tomorrow.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Thank you....

Just a quick post tonight to make sure I still post every day in May. I just wanted to take this moment to thank you for all your support in this very tough time for us. Really, that is all that needs to be said in a time like this. Happier posts to follow....

Thursday, May 08, 2008

An explanation

Ok, I guess you deserve an explanation for yesterday's post. Well, I guess I don't really need to say and I could keep it to myself, but hey, that is what a blog is for right. Then at least you can see where I am coming from in the future.

Yesterday, Jessica and I found out the artificial insemination we were trying for the 3rd time failed. We have been trying to have a child for 4 whole years now and have obviously had zero luck. A few months ago, we met with a fertility specialist and decided on artificial insemination. The insurance would pay(well, 50% or so) for 3 cycles. Well, this was our last try and we have not been successful. We could do it again and pay for it, but the studies show that after 3 attempts at it, it probably won't be happening. So yesterday we came to the conclusion and final realization that we will be without a child in our lifetime. No celebration of Mother's or Father's Day in our house. No child to teach how to do things. No child to look at and say, "That child is a part of us and we created him/her." No child to kick a soccer ball with and everything else that comes with a child of your own. We see crackheads everywhere having kids. People who can't even care for themselves having kids. People who DON'T want kids having kids. And yet, a couple like us, a couple who wants nothing more than to have a kid and raise him/her in a good home can not and will not have one. Jessica will never get to experience the job of being pregnant. I will never get the opportunity to talk to her belly. And it is just not fair. Screw it all.....

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

For your information

Life sucks and is unfair. So much for the power of hope and prayer...

That is all....

A Favor

I didn't want to spam your page or attempt to advertaise via comments, so I figured I'd ask you for a favor. I am attempting to get a lil writing project off the ground via Myspace. I am trying to offer my services as a male advice columnist to any females out there who are curious about anything having to do with men. I believe I offer a good perspective and have been told I give good advice.

The whole point of this is in order to write these articles I need questions from ladies. If you would like examples of my work please visit my page and check my blog entries that are titles the "Voice of Reason." That is my initial advice column answering two questions for two close friends of mine. If you would like, feel free to send me a question via Myspace. That way I can earn the opportunity to broaden my writing talents to more than just my lil circle. And prove to you that I am not just screwing off with this venture. All I ask is one comment or bulletin post or blog sending any or all of your friends in the Myspace world my way. That way I can bring in more eyes for my work. Just one time and I will hopefully take it from there.

I understand if you want to pass on doing this for me. I just figured I would give it a shot and hope to strengthen my abilities as a writer and learn more about people and females. Thank you for your time and take care.

Rich B.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Marvel's Upcoming Plans

By now, you have probably read my review of Iron Man and maybe even seen it yourself. I know at least some of you have based on all the other Iron Man reviews I have read in blog world. The movie came out great and made around 200 million worldwide in the first weekend. Naturally, the next step is to talk sequels. Not only did they announce sequel plans, but they planned out their direction for the next few years. Here is what Marvel announced as their plans for the next few years. You will notice that the new Punisher movie coming out this year and the solo Wolverine movie coming out next year are not on the list because they are not Marvel produced movies. Iron Man was the first movie mainly produced by Marvel where they had free reign with the direction of the character. So here ya go, this is what I have to look forward to...

- April 2010 - Iron Man 2

- June 2010 - Thor

- May 2011 - Captain America

- July 2011 - The Avengers

So, no self financed films in 2009, but once 2010 hits, it is an Avengers extravaganza! I myself, couldn't be more thrilled. This gives me some great films to look forward to and hopefully, these all come to fruition. They are also hoping to do an Ant-Man film somewhere in this schedule, but nothing is set yet. So now, the debate and speculation over who should play these roles begins. There are names being thrown around already, but nothing is set yet. These are exciting times for a comic nerd like me!!!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Why Soccer?

Another recollection post and I figured I would talk about one of the most important things in my life - soccer. How did I become so big into soccer when I live in the United States, a country that pretty much shuns the sport despite the the best efforts of many fans in this country? And you know it is rare because I know my fellow blogger Rhys has referred to me on his blog as the Yank who actually likes soccer. My love for soccer started many years ago and I really owe it all to my dad.

I started playing soccer on a club team at the young age of six. Why soccer and not T Ball like all the other kids. Well, as I mentioned before, this is because of my father. He signed me up and it is mainly because he had played all his life. In fact, he was apparently pretty good when he was young and played in some of the finest stadiums in Mexico as a sort of semi-pro. He continued to play when he came to the U.S. and it just seemed like a natural progression for me to continue in his footsteps.

I joined a team with my classmates from elementary school and my dad helped as the assistant coach. By the second year, he was coach as he clearly knew more and he would be my club team coach for the rest of my life. It is here that I made some of my longest friendships and this is partially because not only did I get along with my teammates, my parents got along with their parents. Get togethers were plentiful because everyone got along so well. Friendships were built that lasted many years.

There was not a year that I didn't play soccer as a kid and I never got tired of it. In high school, it was just an understood thing that I would be playing soccer. The high school soccer years were made up of good and bad times, but it was fun to be part of two teams. It was really around high school that my true love of soccer came about. This is the part that separated me from the large majority of my soccer playing friends. This is when I learned to appreciate actually watching soccer. You always (well, usually) like a sport when you are playing it, but soccer here is one of the sports that is not quiet understood and appreciated even by those who play it. Hence, the majority of my friends who I played with didn't really like to watch professional soccer. A major event changed me forever.

We were lucky enough to have the World Cup here in the United States in 1994. The biggest spectacle in the sport and it was in our own backyard. Before this, soccer was fun, but I wasn't a big fan of the international game. When the World Cup came, it was Summer time and in the right time zone. I got to watch all the games at times that were convenient. Not only did I get to watch all the games, but I was lucky enough to even go to a game. It wasn't a huge game. No major super powers were playing. It was just Russia vs Cameroon. But the atmosphere was something that I will never forget. It was something that truly opened my eyes to soccer and probably is the turning point in my love soccer now that I look back. Here I was in a stadium and it wasn't filled with the usual stadium idiots who are too drunk to even pay attention. No, here I was sitting down and to my left were a group of Russians who probably made the journey from Russia, chanting their cheers in unison. On my right, a group of people from Cameroon in their full native garb, banging their drums and dancing in the stands even when their team was getting blown out. This is what soccer was about. This was an atmosphere that is just not found anywhere else. Since then, I have been a fan and the 4 years in between World Cup tournaments is hell for me.

After high school, I still managed to play a little soccer here and there. I played in an adult league which was fun, but memorable for me because I was now on the same team as my father. He wasn't my coach, but my teammate. His good years had passed him by due to knee surgery, but at least once every game, you could see the brilliance he used to have. It was an honor to play with him. I played a little indoor soccer a few years ago, but that has really been it for me. The last two times I have played have been in alumni games for my high school and although they have been fun, they have been less than memorable for me due to my weight game since I used to play consistently.

And now, my love for soccer is stronger than ever. I try to catch every big soccer game I can. Hell, I pay for two channels that are strictly soccer channels. How lucky am I? This has helped me follow my favorite team better, Manchester United. Hard to follow the team when you can never see their games. Now I barely miss a game of theirs. Manchester United got me involved in the biggest sports bed I had ever made in my life. I have talked about it before, but I am happy to report that I won my bet with my friend Rich last week and I am now $75 richer thanks to Manchester! How much do I love Manchester? Here is the flag outside my house...

And oh yeah, here is the new license plate I got last week...

Am I a fan? Yeah, I guess you could say that...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Manuel on Movies #2

No recollection story today, but I have another planned for tomorrow. For now, I really need to catch up on my movie reviews. I have seen 7 movies since my last review post so I have a lot to catch up on all the way up to my viewing of Iron Man today.

Zodiac - This is the movie based on the real life hunt for the Zodiac Killer. I don't know how much was truthful and how much was made up for the story, but it was a pretty good film. There is really not any action in it like typical Hollywood serial killer movies, but then again, I expected that. If it was based on a real life killer who was never captured, why would I expect their to be chase scenes and the like? The story mainly focuses on the people who became so obsessed with capturing this criminal. The movie is almost devastatingly slow, but if you can appreciate a slow movie that relies mainly on character build up and conversations, then I would give this a try. Be warned, it is nearly three hours long. 7 out of 10

The Mist - This is horror/supernatural movie based on the Stephen King story. The movie starts out like a 50s B-horror movie. It's not too bad. I was enjoying it. Then the movie becomes so much more and deals with the horrors that the human race brings on themselves. The end of the movie is one of the most difficult endings I have ever seen. It is at this point that the movie becomes memorable and one that is difficult to shake. 7.5 out of 10

Sicko - This is the newest Michael Moore film. In this film, he deals with the horrors of the health care industry on the United States. It is a very interesting movie even though I know, like all of his movies, it has his biased viewpoint. Regardless, I know some of it had to be true and it is just sickening. A pretty good watch as long as you don't hate Michael Moore(which I know some of my fellow bloggers do! :-)) 7 out of 10

Reno 911: Miami - Silly. I watched this because I think the Reno 911 show on tv is fairly amusing and I was hoping the movie would at least give me a couple of laughs. Well, I was right. It gave me a couple of chuckles. But 2 or 3 chuckles in a 90 minute period is not a very good ratio for a comedy. Oh well... 2.5 out of 10

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - I really didn't care too much for the first Fantastic Four movie, but I had heard from everyone who had seen it that the second one was better. They were right, it was better, but not considerably. The problem I have with this series is it is too family friendly and happy go lucky. It borders on slap stick like. I just think for a super hero movie, it never feels like anything is ever very serious. 6 out of 10

Beowulf - This is the "animated" movie based on the old story. I say animated because the characters are made to look as real as possible and many of the characters are made to look exactly like the actors who supply voices. Overall, the film looks spectacular and you sometimes forget you are watching an animated movie. This is what drives this movie as the story is only so-so. The story is good enough, but probably not enough to hold up to multiple viewings once the wow factor of the animations wears off. 6.5 out of 10

Iron Man - Awesome! Really, if this is the way my Summer movie season is going to go, it is going to be spectacular. This one will be hard to top. This may be my favorite comic movie to date and that is saying a lot. The main reason for the greatness of this movie? Robert Downey Jr. completely nailed the character of Tony Stark. It was almost as if her was born to play this role because it is his movie. The story itself is great and has the right mixture of action/humor/etc. As a comic movie, everything just felt perfect. If you do go see it, be sure wait and see the scene after the credits roll. Classic mark out moment for comic fans!!! 9.5 out of 10.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

One of the cutest things I have ever seen...

Small post today because I want to give everyone a chance to read the last two posts. This video is one of the cutest things I have ever seen. If you like animals, you'll agree...

This guy is still out there because my in laws visited Santa Barbara last week and drove right past him. I would love to see him in person.

Don't forget to read the last two posts if you already haven't to see the exciting things coming this month.

Friday, May 02, 2008

How I ended up where I am.....

Yeah, so this continues my recollection stories for my countdown to 30. For those of you who are family or know me really well, this will be old news to you. I have my own Medical Billing business. But nobody goes grows up saying, "I want to bill medical insurance companies when I grow up!" So how did I get here?

Well, growing up, my family wanted me to become a doctor and really, that is what I thought I wanted to. I was super smart and when you are smart like that, that is just one of those jobs people expect you to do. I don't know when I realized deep down that I didn't want to become a doctor, but I know it was around the end of my elementary school days. I never mentioned it to family though as I wanted to please them. It was also around this time that I had some great teachers and I started thinking about becoming a teacher myself.

Going into Junior High and High School, I still pretended to want to become a doctor when I really knew by now that a teacher job was what I really wanted. As I was now very much into sports, I decided that maybe I would stick to the doctor path by being a physical therapist with a goal of a sports team doctor. For a while, near the end of High School, I actually became excited about this proposition. It also didn't help that I was now hinting at becoming a teacher and it was not only shot down by my family, but by the teachers I idolized.

So, I started college with the goal of physical therapist. I just wasn't into it though and that coupled with my sudden freedom and dramatically more difficult classes left me in academic probation in my first year. I tried to turn it around and after the first quarter of my second year, I was still on academic probation. This is when my life turned around. I met with a counselor at school and discussed my options and future. I mentioned the teacher dream and she convinced me to go for it. I was hesitant at first, but then jumped at the opportunity once I thought about it more and more. I changed my major to a wonderful major called American Studies which analyzed the American Culture. I was able to take some amazing classes in this major that I will remember forever and while I took this, I took my prerequisites for a teaching career. A couple of quarters later, I made the Dean's List. Quite a turn around. I graduated happy and with a goal in site.

I then took the year program to become an elementary school teacher which was thrilling and easy at the same time. After one year of training to get my credential, I was now teaching 4th grade in the same district where I grew up. I started my first year full of confidence and wanting to have the same kind of fun classes I had as a kid...

But I only lasted three years. In those three years, I had some wonderful students. The thing is though, my ideal of what teaching was had completely changed since I was a kid mostly because of a change in the way kids were in that period. When I was a kid, kid's were scared to death when a teacher threatened to call home. When I taught, most kids just laughed and shrugged their shoulders when I threatened to call home. I just had no support and that included from administration. I knew after one my students stabbed me with his pencil in my hand and he only was suspended 2 days that I had to get out. I actually ended up teaching one more year after that incident, but that is mostly because that incident happened at the end of the 2nd year and it was too late to change my mind for the following year. I was miserable the 3rd year and it didn't help that the class was mostly a class of rugrats.

I wanted out, but I didn't know what to do. This is about the time Jessica and I bought our first house and I fell in love with the home buying process. I decided after much deliberation to leave teaching at the end of the year and try my hand at real estate. And why not? Real Estate was BOOMING in town! I made many friends while teaching and had some amazing students, but I happily left and was excited to start my new job.

So I started my real estate career and almost right away, the real estate market took a giant dive downwards. I became depressed as deal after deal fell through. I couldn't believe my luck or lack of it as everything seemed to go against me. It didn't help that Sacramento was now being called the 3rd worst real estate market in the entire United States. I made a little money, but after a year, I had to get out. I LOVED the job, but I couldn't stay in a job where I wasn't making money. In fact, the market has only become worse since then.

I applied for some State positions and scored extremely well on their entrance tests, but I was either too well qualified for entry positions(which I was okay with taking) or they just weren't hiring. To make some money on the side while I waited for a job to apppear, I started working the Medical Billing business with my mother in law. And then a funny thing happened; I actually liked it. I liked all the math I got to do. I liked having to make things balance at the end. I liked the freedom of working from home. Perhaps as a gift from above for my bad luck, a colleague of my mother in law decided she was ready to retire and wanted to sell her business. I jumped at the opportunity and as of yesterday, I have now had the business one full year. And you know what? I love it! Yeah, I deal with stupid people and I get frustrated at times, but I love it. Let's hope the ride lasts...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy May

Yup, it is May already and I am going to do something special this month and I absolutely promise I will do it, even if it kills me - I am going to blog every day this month in honor of a special occassion. What is it? I officially go from my
20s to my 30s the 29th of this month. Yup, I will be turning the big 3-0. I am going to try to do some recollection stories, reflection stories, and of course, the usual nonsense posts that I usually do. So here it is, my official countdown to 30. Am I bummed? Naw, age is just a number. I just spent the last few hours capping fools on Grand Theft Auto IV online. I would hardly call myself an adult simply because the calendar says so!