Monday, May 29, 2017

My First Truck

I bought a new truck!  I traded in the 2013 Prius v for this bad-boy.  

I have owned many vehicles.  This is my 10th vehicle.

Cars I've owned:
1. 1984 Red Pontiac Fiero
2. 1996 Gold Saturn SL1
3. 2002 Red Nissan Sentra SE-R
4. 1996 Gold Toyota Previa
5. 2006 Red Toyota RAV4 4WD
6. 2012 Red Chevrolet Convertible Camaro V6
7. 2012 White Chevrolet Traverse (Totaled)
8. 2012 Green Dodge Grand Caravan
9. 2013 Black Toyota Prius V Swag Wagon
10. 2017 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition AWD (Current)

Most of my purchases have been very economical, practical cars.  The 2017 Honda Ridgeline is pretty practical and economical (sort of).

I got the Black Edition which is the highest level trim.  It comes with radar-cruise control, lane departure assist, in-bed speakers, a trunk (YES!), Apple / Android Car Play, premium sound system with subwoofer, moon-roof, electronic sliding rear window and parking sensors.

This is the most high tech vehicle I've ever owned and for the price tag of $38,750 (MSRP $43K) it is a really good truck.






Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pets: An Untapped Market

Did you know that there is $$$ to be made in pets?  If you ever go to PetSmart or Petco, you'll see that there isn't much "variety" in pet products.  Sure, their stores look huge on the outside, but go inside and you'll see that each isle is dedicated to different animals.  Pet stores are seriously lacking in pet products for each type of pet.  For example, the cat isle is usually half an isle dedicated to toys and the other half isle to bowls and litter boxes.  If someone got smart and had a lot of start up cash, there could be warehouse stores about the size of a Walmart Supercenter.  There should be a small zoo and activities for pets to include obstacle courses, various pet hotels with internet cameras, and of course accessories.  These stores should be destinations for socialization... a place where people would want to spend a big part of their day.

Katie the Lovable Cat
 For people that have pets, they treat their animals like humans.  When I was in Japan, practically everything a human has (except for electronic devices) their pets would have.  Everything is shrunk to fit their needs like beds and clothing. 

Pet hotels.  Today, I tried to find a boarding place for my cat so that I can be at ease while I take a week long vacation.  To my surprise, the pet boarding place was completely booked for the summer.  I couldn't believe it.  I even came a month in advance.  The lady at the counter asked if I wanted to be placed on the waitlist.  Of course, I said sure and I looked at the outlook calendar on her desktop computer.  There were 25-30 people on the waitlist for next month!!!  Again, I couldn't believe my eyes.  Knowing this, the pet business is truly an untapped resource.  Only if people knew...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Gripes about living in San Diego

There probably isn't many articles about the downside of living in San Diego, but here are my gripes.

1.  The major league sports teams suck.  The Padres and the San Diego Chargers are among the worst teams.  I really want to love them... I really do.  It's just that every game ends in disappointment.

2.  Expensive!!!  It's really hard to survive out here.  You definitely can't live off minimum wage and trying to raise kids is even more expensive because there's no cheap childcare options.  From eating out to getting gas, everything is so damn expensive because of the "sunshine tax".  Good luck trying to purchase a house.

3.  Homeless people are everywhere.  You'll see them at almost every curb and intersection out here.  With the great weather, it is no question why the homeless would want to live and stay in San Diego.

4.  Micro breweries are everywhere.  I like beer, don't get me wrong.  But I can't tell the difference and there's no major brand that people stick to out here so it's hard to find common ground.  Sitting around and drinking beer isn't at all productive.  With all this drinking, there's a lot of drinking and driving.  I'm sure there's hundreds of intoxicated people on the road right now, so it doesn't become a question if you'll you struck by an drunk driver, it's when.

5.  Fires.  There is a constant threat of fires no matter what time of the year.  Oftentimes, this causes the next issue, traffic.

6.  Traffic and noise.  Like any big city, San Diego has lots and lots of traffic.  If you live in San Diego, you live near a freeway.  They're everywhere.

7. Male to Female Ratio.  Because of the numerous military bases in the area, males outnumber females nearly 7 to one.  There is a big gay community here which includes lesbians.  Women have a major advantage here to find a mate if they wanted one.  This is good for them in the dating scene but bad for them on the professional career scene where men of power in the workplace treat attractive, unattached women with concierge preferential treatment. 

8.  Drugs and the border.  The news is constantly showing drug busts and tunnels.  There's a huge amount of drugs flowing in and out of San Diego.  With that brings crime and human trafficking.  Children are constantly being eyed for kidnapping near schools in this area.  So I wouldn't consider San Diego a good place to raise a family, rather than a great place for young adults.

9.  Military presence.  Yes, I know.  I'm in the military but that doesn't mean that I embrace everything about it.  Military people of every branch are everywhere which isn't a bad thing, but it annoys the shit out of me.  I don't know why, but it does.  Maybe because it NEVER feels like I'm out relaxing and that I'm constantly reminded that I'm on duty 24 hours a day.

10.  Everyone is trying to one-up each other.  What you wear and what you drive matters.  You are what you present yourself to be.  Individuality is strong here and there's a lot of diversity.  Everyone thinks that their home country/culture is the best in the world and is not afraid to show it; almost obnoxiously so.  Some people may think this is a good thing, but I see it as exploitation.   As a result, people are trying to appear much richer than they actually are and are contributing to the problem with the decline in human values.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Reverse Lottery

I watched this interesting documentary about living in a van.  This lady talks about giving up her house and living in a van.  Giving up possessions and spending less on things to fill up a house with.  It's like the ultimate form of freedom and with a cost effective lifestyle.  The more that is given up, the more time that is given to you.  The energy that used to be spent on fixing, maintaining and cleaning your home is draining and relaxation time often means sitting on a couch and staring unproductively at a TV screen.  Whereas the van life is spent doing cool and fun stuff and meeting new people and experiencing new things.  Van life forces you to have less clothes and possessions.  The payoff is better than living a life where you are constantly paying for things.  Not having so much stuff and so much responsibilities is liberating so you have time to actually do things that you are interested in.  Having a home that is too big and too comfortable will only keep you from all the things that happen outside in the world that is constantly evolving. 

Before taking on something like this, you have to ask yourself a few questions.  Would you mind taking baby-wipe showers?  What would you do if you needed to use the restroom?  Can you give up internet?

This is not a lifestyle that everyone should do, but this is a lifestyle best reserved for the most adventurous and most interesting people on Earth.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Family Pic

A simple family picture that was taken at Admiral Baker Park.  V (8) N(9) 

Things like Facebook and Instagram is taking me away from Blogging.  I hate that I don't update this as much as I used to.  One of my hard-drives crashed so I lost a ton of digital pictures from the past.  I'm uncertain if I can recover them all.  So I'll do my best to post some updates here and there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Number 22

22.  Do you know what 22 is?  22 is the number of young military veterans that take their own lives everyday.  It is an epidemic that can be prevented, yet so little is done to actually address the issue.  For one day that is a lot.  The number surpasses the number of suicides by civilians by 2 times.  Is it because of the operational tempo at which military members deploy and separate from their families and loved ones?  Is it due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?  Is 22 an accurate number and should we be concerned that this number would create an unhealthy stereotype that all military members of the armed forces have a wire lose somewhere?  The truth is, the vast majority of our young veterans are okay.  Most of them are healthy and doing well.  Most of them have strong, everlasting friendships.  The pay isn't even that bad.  The military provides enough money and allowances for food, shelter, education, healthcare and beer.  So why are they killing themselves?  I believe the answer to this is one simple phrase.  "High expectations."  In the military, members are taught to have a slightly greater than zero tolerance for failure.  Military members have sharper instincts, they show up on time, they have a greater understanding of responsibility and have an uncanny sense of attention to detail.  That type of stuff cannot be taught in college.  Teenagers are thrown into bootcamp and are challenged mentally and physically and are forced to make swift decisions as if their life and the lives of their fellow members depend on it.  Military members are taught to adapt and overcome any adversary that may come along the way in life, however the one thing that isn't taught... is dealing with failure.  Everything that is done, there is an "instruction" or manual for it.  Instructions must be followed or consequences will be dealt with via the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).  Of course, there is annual "training" to identify that there is indeed a problem with suicide, but given how military members are programmed, failure is too much.  The problem is, high expectations are expected.   There's gotta be a phrase that says if you keep your expectations low, than you'll never be disappointed.  The cure for suicide?  There isn't any, but you know what helps?  The Swahili's got it right.  "HAKUNA MATATA."

Saturday, June 06, 2015

San Diego Comic Art Gallery

 
Every first Friday of the Month at NTC, Liberty Station there are free art exhibits.  On June 5, 2015, Kevin Eastman, the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, came to show off his first turtle sketches.  It was a great night with super-TMNT-fans, photographs and autograph signing.

















Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hillcrest Farmer's Market in San Diego

I just stopped by the Hillcrest Farmer's Market in San Diego and here are my unbiased observations.

Perks:
-Get to run into a lot of great people with positive attitudes.  There's no hate here.  Everyone is the same and they all love each other.
-Nice variety of fresh grown organic produce.
-Nice variety of world cuisine.
-People watching.  There's a lot of unusual looking humans of all types on Hillcrest.

Cons:
-Park far and take a free trolley bus, it says "FREE" all over the bus, but there's a huge tip jar at the exit next to the driver with dollars spilling out, so exiting the bus without tipping feels kind of bad.
-Price of produce.  How do they decide the price of their food???  Do they just round up and guess what the local price is?  Have the sellers NEVER visited a grocery store?  It's like $5 for a bag of ugly Naval oranges whereas it's $2.50 at a local grocery store for the same amount.  A small basket of strawberries are also nearly double priced as well.  Do they think I'm stupid? 
-Bring cash.  Sorry, you can't utilize your "rewards" card and earn points here.  I spotted maybe two or three places that took credit.
-People bring their dogs.  If you don't like dogs or are allergic to them, avoid this place at all costs!


Overall, don't expect to go bargain shopping here, but to find a good local variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, and world cuisine.  It is a good way to try out unusual foods like raw sea urchin or tofu dipping sauce.

My New Crib

I moved into this new place in San Diego at the Rancho Mission Villas.  I've been remodeling this place by myself.  So far, I've replaced the flooring with porcelain wood-like tile, repainted all the walls, repainted all the baseboards and replaced the damaged ones, removed the popcorn ceiling, replaced all the outlets with updated ones including those with USB, placed motion sensing light switches to automatically shutoff, replaced kitchen lighting fixtures with LED, installed a ceiling fan in the dining area, replaced all chrome faucets and knobs with brushed nickel... the projects don't stop.  I'm planning on putting a backsplash in the kitchen and vanity room.  So far all the improvement projects have cost me around $3,000 doing it all myself.
 
 




Monday, October 13, 2014

Analyzing the Possibility and the Advantages of Homelessness

Being that rents, mortgages and HOA fees are so ridiculously high, homelessness has become an option for many here in San Diego.  The average rent as of June 2015 is $1,514.  Middle class families are forced to move out of rentals and purchase, which is driving up home prices.  Although, apartment complexes are being built, it could take many years for the home market and rents to drop again.

After speaking with some active duty Sailors that work with me, I have found out that some of them are indeed homeless and are bouncing around on people's couches.  Make no mistake, these guys are still collecting BAH which is the basic allowance for housing, yet they want to pocket that money or pay for a home in a remote location which makes it unfeasible to drive to and from work.  After contemplating this option myself, I have opted not to.  It would be rather simple to just live in my car and shower at work, eat at the galley for breakfast, lunch and dinner for less than $8 a day.  It's quite enticing if you put the numbers together.  The savings are exponential.  A major question I would have for myself would be what I would do with all the extra time?  Would I hang out at the beach all day?  Where would I sleep?  A rental solves that issue since I have a bed, wireless internet, laptop and cable TV to keep me company.  But I've always wondered can I do without it?  Can't I just sleep in my car and read books at the public library to kill time?  Doing things like dating and going to bars is out of the question for me for I pay child support which consumes a big chunk of my pay.  The money I have left is better utilized for food and other basic necessities in order to survive.  So would I do it? 

No. 

Because after speaking with the Sailors actually living on the streets are extremely unhappy with their lives and their current situation.  They tend to be embarrassed to explain what they did on the weekend or end up finding 2nd employment. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Observances of my years while active duty.

The 20 year mark in the military marks a milestone for the incredibly small percentage of folks that actually stay in for that long.  In less than four years, I'll reach that milestone and it makes me a little bit nervous.  I joined during a period of time when no one used cellphones.  E-mail was rudimentary.  We were using Windows 98.  I can recall vividly when bell-bottoms were worn and I stood watch during the whole Y2K scare where all electronic devices were supposed to fizzle out when the clock stroke midnight when the clocks changed to the year 2000.  The Clinton years were the good times, no one thought about war, the only major thing going on was the BRAC (base realignment).  Bases were getting shut down everywhere.  I remember being in biomed school when 9/11 happened.  The break-room was eerily silent as the second plane hit the second world trade center.  The angry faces of all my fellow Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen as they stared at the television while the events were unraveling had been permanently etched in my mind.  When I checked into Lemoore, I remember President Bush declaring war and sending troops to Iraq.  Some of my fellow friends and Shipmates were sent there and they came back with stories of taking down the statue of Saddam Hussein.  I got married.  I went to more school.  I got stationed half a world away with a weird and quirky culture, Japan.  I was sent to Kuwait.  I traveled some more and got stationed in DC.  I even deployed to Africa and Afghanistan.  Almost got killed several times in my epic journeys.  In some instances, I almost shit my pants but I'm not even allowed to talk about it.  I even honorably served with the President of the United States which was a very humbling experience that made me respect our government even more.    With numerous deployments and absences, I contributed to Navy statistics, I was ultimately betrayed and I got divorced.  The marriage produced two kids who are fantastic little people.  I'm now serving my last and final tour.  Getting closer and closer to retirement.  I've grown from past experience not to trust anyone.  I'm prepping myself for the worst.  Paying off all my debts, saving for 2 years of unemployment and completing my Bachelors in Applied Science.  The life of this Sailor has been filled with death-defying adventure, constant relocation and intense loneliness.  But do I regret joining the U.S. Navy?  Hell no!  All of the above is part of the package.  I look forward towards the next chapter of my life, the civilian life.  I am older, more mature, and disenchanted with love.  I have been trained by the best and I can't wait to move on.  It feels as though as an American, I live to work rather than live to live because living is so mundane while working with people to achieve a common goal is so damned satisfying.



The Lone Sailor Statue which ironically and unexpectedly defines my current life in the Navy.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Awesome Things to do with Kids in San Diego

You can read a million articles online about what there is to do in San Diego.  I have made it my life's mission to find cool and unique things to do that you and your kids will surely enjoy.  With this blog article being a LIVING post, I'll update it as often as possible as I discover new things!  Unlike other posts about family events, I'll clue you in on the parking situation as well, because parking is a premium in San Diego!

1.  Bring your family on a bicycle ride around Coronado Island.  As soon as you cross the Coronado Island bridge, take the first right and another right into the park.  From there, find parking and off load your bikes and go for a bike ride around this island!  There is a long paved road for bikes to travel around this island.  There's free parking if you make two rights right after crossing the bridge.  I've never had trouble finding parking here.

2.  Get an annual pass to the San Diego Zoo!  There are unique events going on throughout the year and having an annual pass gives you a chance to see all the animals up close which is something you cannot do if you just visit the zoo once or twice.  The tigers and monkeys are active during different times.  After visiting the zoo many different times, the tiger only came out for up-close viewing once.
**In the summertime, the San Diego Zoo does Night-time Zoo!  This is truly a unique experience where you get to see animals that are usually asleep during the day roam and prowl around at night.  The kids and I got to hear the lion roar and the kids were terrified.  The predators are active during this time and with spotty lighting, it can be scary for little ones.  There is a huge parking lot here.

3.  Take your family to the beach!  San Diego has several different beaches.  Some have cliffs, some have shallow areas full of wild life and some are completely flat and some are lit up at night. 
  • Mission Beach - This beach is lit up at night and is near a carnival.  The carnival, a.k.a. Belmont Park, has a wooden roller coaster, arcade, carnival games and plenty of rides.
  • Coronado Beach - This is the only beach in the world with gold flakey sand.  It is not real gold, it is mica which has no real value, but it is really nice to bring the kids to.  It is long, flat and wet which make it a runners sanctuary and sand castle builder's dream.
  • Sunset Cliffs - This is off the end of Interstate 8.  It leads directly into the Sunset Cliffs before you get to Point Loma.  There are a lot of surfers and spectacular views.  The edge may be a bit scary for those afraid of heights.  Keep your kids on a short leash.
  • Point Loma Tide Pool - After paying the $5 entrance fee, you can see wild sea creatures at the tide pool.  This area is protected by the Department of Agriculture and you can be fined for taking anything you find there including sea shells.  Some of the shells here are perfect for hermit crabs and on occasion, you may see one.  Kids really enjoy this one-on-one experience and beautiful views of the ocean.
4.  Visit "The Living Coast".  This is an interactive aquarium with a sting ray petting area, shark tank, eagles, etc.  They have animal feedings about 4 times a day which draw large crowds.  There's also a trail that leads out to the bay with the ruins of the old gunpowder plant and overgrown railroad tracks.  Parking is free and there is a free shuttle from the parking lot to the nature center.

5.  Go Cruising around Downtown San Diego.  This is rather an inexpensive journey.  From Petco Park to Adams Avenue, there's plenty to see, cool things to discover.  Small businesses thrive here.  Cupcake stores to costume shops.  You never know what you'll find unless you go out and explore.  Kids will awe in amazement with the city skyscrapers of downtown and the beautiful treed landscape while cruising through Balboa Park.

6.  Friday Night Liberty @ NTC at Liberty Station.  Every first Friday of the Month between 5-9 pm the art galleries are no cost.   There are live performances and art studios for kids.  It's also a beautiful place to visit outside of Balboa Park.  Lots of open room, parks and plenty of parking.  www.ntclibertystation.com

7.  The Cat CafĂ©.  This idea came from cat cafes in Japan where you can just sip coffee (hot chocolate or whatever) and play with cats.  The price of admission is the cost of a cup of coffee; just buy a cup and they'll let you in.  On crowded days, they let people in in 30 minute intervals and on slower days, you have plenty of time to enjoy the cats.  All the cats are up for adoption.  The cats are not always active so just let them be cats and take all the pictures you want.  Parking in downtown can be pretty hairy so I just park in the south end of Horton Plaza parking structure and get my ticket validated inside to score 3 hours of free parking at the cost of buying candy or something in Horton Plaza.  http://www.catcafesd.com/ 

Friday, July 04, 2014

The FAB FAIR





This year's San Diego County Fair was themed The FAB FAIR which honored the old pop band, The Beatles.  Right before you step in, you'll see the yellow submarine and a museum on the right.  It was pretty fun.  The fair is split into two sides, the adult side and the kid side.  We did both to maximize the fun!













 
 
 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Homecoming Zero Dark Thirty

Soco is back from her six month deployment in Afghanistan!  The girls were so happy to see their mom.  I'm very glad that she made it out okay and a little bit richer.  Being stationed with the Marines is probably the best experience that she has ever had and this deployment was very good for her.








Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Job is to Make Things Better

Red tape makes everything worse.  Incompetence makes things even more worse.  I have found out through trial and error that our average turnaround time for broken equipment is roughly 2 1/2 months.  And no one even notices that this is a concern!  The red tape involved using checks and balances have made ordering parts a nightmare and the recent budget cuts are not helping any.  Of course, high priority items get taken care of within days, but if you have something rather routine forget about it.  So I have made it my duty... my purpose in life in the next year or so to make things better.  Given my past knowledge of how a shop works elsewhere from five different hospitals, have given me vision to spot out all the bottlenecks in our process.  Gee... sometimes I wish I was a commissioned officer because it seems like I think like one.  I'm pretty sure that I have this problem solved so that our turnaround time can turn from months to weeks or even days.  Challenge accepted.

Also, here is a recent video taken by me showing Vicky going across the monkey bars.


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Trading in for a newer car.

When trading in your old car for a new one and when they say that they retain a high resale value, ask them to prove it. - Exion H.