Friday, December 29, 2006 

Big Al's Top Ten of 2006 Part II

Here's the conclusion with #5-1 of the Top 10 events of 2006.

5. Going to Lester's Wedding (April 2006)
So 2006 was filled with many significant unification's, and I'm happy to be apart of them all like my high school QB Greg Reason, my old friend Michelle G., my co-worker Stevie G., and my college roommate H-Bomb. However, it's kinda' weird to be apart of a wedding where you see one of your oldest friends get hooked up. I was fortunate to not only attend, but be apart of Lester & Trish's wedding in April. I was asked to be a groomsman and with great excitement I accepted.
I've known Lester since the 4th grade in 1988. I remember a few things - he just hit puberty so he had a pretty loud voice , he was pretty good at math and he could play kickball pretty good. Over the last 18 years we've grown to be good friends. It seems like yesterday when we used to have our parents drop us off at the AMC Theater in Vallejo or take us to our basketball and baseball games. Time went by quick, before you knew it Lester was dating Trish and then wedding invites came out.
When they tied the knot that was one of my first experiences of being "grown up". Yeah, we went through the whole college thing, first job thing, pay my own rent thing, etc. But when I saw Lester get "married" I had a big reality check. I was 27 years old and I was no where close to being where Lester & Trish were at.
It was definitely a huge milestone in my life and I'll see it more and more as most of my friends get married. (I have Rey/Karen, Quincy/Jamie & Annora/Mike already lined up for 2007 and it looks like Eric & Ken are shortly thereafter). Part of me is scared as to what will happen to me, but part of me is excited because the unknown is part of the fun. Until then let the good times roll!

4. Leaving my first job that I took out of college (May 2006)
So 2006 was definitely the year of change. I graduated college in March 2001, took a week break in Las Vegas and then went into the daily grind of my first job in April 2001. From that time until May 2006 I took on the responsibilities of bringing home the bacon. It was great at first. The pay was good and I felt like somebody important for once. It was a start-up company that needed me. We worked long hours, but I met some of the greatest and smartest people that I can call friends even today.
However, in the months leading up to May 2006 I started to grow restless. I was curious to see what else was out there. I decided to call it quits at IntruVert/McAfee on May 15, 2006. I really was sad to leave. I was sad to leave the comforts of my home away from home. I took a job in San Francisco that maybe wasn't my best choice, but it was a very important decision nonetheless. (see me at the new company picnic on the right).
Given my pursuit of my dream, I may still need McAfee to lean back on until things get rolling. I'm happy that I had the opportunity to work there for those 5+ years and I'm glad that the door is still open.

3. Going to the Philippines (October 2006)
So I've never really been against going to the Philippines. I just had no huge interest. Even until today, I am more interested in seeing Moscow or Egypt or the Great Wall of China. However, something deep down convinced me to go there. My new career choice has allowed me to go into the Philippines to seek what the Motherland has to offer me. It was one of the greatest decisions of my life. I was finally able to meet the few cousins that I have never seen. I also was able to meet their children, (my only true nephews & niece). It was such a great feeling to go out there. The emotions were unexpected. Despite only meeting them during this trip it felt like I knew them my entire life. I actually cried when I left because it felt like I lost a big part of my family.

2. Starting my business (September 2006)
On September 8, 2006 I finished my final day as a corporate employee. Even though I'm not opposed to going back (which I may have to in order to keep my business running afloat until I make some profit), I finally was able to let go of the corporate trap that keeps you there. When you're so used to the routine of going to work everyday, getting paid twice a month and doing what you're told, your brain tends to shut down. I was so comfortable. When I was with McAfee I was really comfortable. I liked the stability and I knew my place. However when I went to Vontu I lost that comfort and was forced to earn my paycheck. I have no problem doing this, but I felt that the many hours that was giving to help build somebody else's dream I felt that it could be diverted to helping build my own dream.
I finally made the commitment to build my company - a transshiper of fish & corals from the Indo-Pacific area. Even though I have a huge headache everyday from it and for every up there are 2 downs I am very content with what I have chosen to do for the rest of my life.
I definitely could not have gotten here without the help of my family & friends. Just the emotional encouragement to never give up is priceless. If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to quit, I would be rich on that alone.
Now I have to pleasure to get up every morning knowing that I need to work hard because this is my baby and I need to give it my undivided attention in order to be successful.

1. Meeting Joleen (September 29, 2006)
It's crazy how things happen. You have to wonder how many missed opportunities occur. I go to Craigslist every once in awhile and I check out "Missed Connections". It's funny but sad at the same time. You wonder "what if". What if that guy went up to that girl to say "hi". Or what if some girl went up to a guy to ask for his number. I guess I can believe in fate because had it not been for nontraditional events (like quitting my job, trying to take advantage of my last bit of insurance and having the guts to speak with a girl) then meeting a cool chick like Joleen would never have happened.
Some of you have had the opportunity to meet Joleen (aka Jo). Yes, we're dating. However, when people asked where we met I tend to beat around the bush. Some days I'll say, "". Other days, I'll say "MySpace" or "Friendster" or "Craigslist" or some other thing to get people laughing (I'm not against these avenues to expand your social network - by all means do what you need to do). The truth is that I met her at the Fremont BART station on a typical work day after. I was headed up to SF for a doctor's appoint, trying to salvage my last few days of regular health insurance. I saw this really pretty girl on the platform and I was trying to find it inside of me to talk with her. I finally did ask her about the next SF-bound train. She mentioned the schedule and that was that. The train finally came and I sat on one side and she sat on the other side. A couple minutes later she came over and sat somewhat close to me (a couple of rows away). At this point, I was like "Whoa! Here's your chance. She made her move" (BTW: She'll deny it and tell you she was trying to get out of the sun.) Over the course of the next hour train ride we talked about how I quit my job to become a "fisherman" and how she was working on getting her CPA. I was definitely interested in at least talking with her more and even though my stop was the Montgomery Station I decided to get out at her stop at the Embarcadero Station to continue our conversation and make sure I get some kind of contact information. After the whole trip I managed to get the courage to get only her email address (yes, I was a pu$$y and didn't ask for her phone number).
From there, a crazy course of events happened. I had to somehow maintain contact with her while I was on my 3 week career recon mission in the Philippines & Indonesia. I luckily managed to do this. I don't know what it was - was it my blog that she visited quite often (stalker-like), was it my witty emails or did she have pity on my attempts. However, I did manage to set up a date when I got back. As crazy as this may sound, I didn't think it would work out after that either. We went out to Sushi and then she received a call and then unexpectedly cut short the date. At that point I thought I was screwed by one of her friends that "bailed" her out. In reality it was her mom that was sick (she's okay now). After that we continued to go out and the rest is history. I've been fortunate to do a bunch of cool things like meet the 49er alumni (Thanks Teri), cook my world famous lasagna together, visit Monterey Bay Aquarium, snowboarding at Heavenly and get my Gnome back from her. We'll be going to Disneyland for New Years.
At this point, I'm very happy to have met her and spend time with her. It's funny how things happen. I was at a stable job where I had a decent paycheck. Had I met Jo while I was at McAfee would I have left that to pursue my dream of starting a business? Probably not since going out is part of the fun when dating and in order to date you need to be cash flow positive. Did God play a role in having me meet Jo while I already decided to chase my dream? Fate had a lot to play in this.
A lot of questions come to mind whenever you're in this dating situation. Not only questions from myself, but from my peers. Is she your girlfriend? Am I in "love"? Is she the "one" - It's premature to be thinking this way in all respects. but everybody in this situation will always have these and other thoughts cross their minds. I'm not the type to give out titles nor do I know what "love" means so at this point my answer is a big fat "?". I guess we're going to have to wait and see what will happen to Big Al from here. It'll actually be funny to read the Top Ten of 2007 and compare it to what I said here.

At this point, I don't know what the future has in store, but I can say that after a whirlwind 2006, I'm pretty excited about 2007. God has blessed me with a lot of opportunities and I am very thankful. I often ask myself "would I be satisfied if I were to die today?". The answer would be "no". However, given what has happened in 2006 I am a lot closer to my dreams than I was at the end of 2005. I still have a lot of things to cross off my list (I'll update my life's to-do list on this site soon) and I'm determined to accomplish all of them before I die. I hope everybody has the opportunity to pursue their dreams and chase whatever makes them happy like I have. In conclusion, God bless you all and I hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy New Years!

Honorable Metions for Big Al's Top Ten of 2006:
Joe's Birthday Party in SF
- Dear Hilton workers I am still sorry for throwing up all over my room. You can stay over at my place anytime.
Lester's Bachelor Party & pre-wedding golf match
- what happens in Vegas gets advertised on
Judd's Bachelor Party
- what happens in SF gets advertised on &
Going to Paris
- partying with the locals
- making an emergency landing on the way back at Heathrow because we had fuel problems.
The 9th Annaul SCU Christmas White Elephant Party
- seeing all of my fellow SCU alums 5.5 years after we graduated.
Big Al getting his diving license
- PADI Advance Open Water Certified Beeyaattcch!
H-Bomb's Wedding in Hawaii (courtesy of
- Saw H-bomb & da' Lynnator tie the knot.
- Met H-bomb's hot 19 year old cousin.
- "Tried" surfing - never again.
- Did get to see Kylene & Tommy Wolfgruber
Going to Houston
- Going to fish trade show
- Seeing Minute Maid Park
- Crossing off another Fogo de Chao's off my list (4 of 7 US locations visited)
Going to Indonesia
- Scuba diving in a shipwreck
- Scuba diving at night - you can't much more clausterphobic than this

Thursday, December 28, 2006 

Big Al's Top Ten of 2006 Part I

So as 2006 comes to a close, I need to reflect back and look over 2006. This was one of the craziest years of my life. It's going to be hard to top. I can certainly say that I had a blast and I'm happy that you've been apart of it.

Over the next 2 days, while you guys are at work, I'm going to list the Top 10 of 2006. I know that somebody will come up to me next week or next month and say "What about this?" or "You didn't mention that". (Sorry to Emily of Taiwan & Gracelyn of the Jacob's family who I forgot to mention in my video blog). I will try my best to summarize the past 365 days into 10 lines. So without further adu, here's #10-6:

10. The opening of Version 2.0 (March 3, 2006)
For those that are unaware, was originally purchased to market my SCU senior year party - Return of the Broncos in September 2000. It was a success and may have been one of the earliest cases of viral marketing (but I hadn't realized it at that point). I didn't mention my party's specifics I just told random people to visit my website where they could find out the when/where and then I eventually had about 300+ people at my party. After the domain expired I didn't renew it and somebody else bought it. I then was able to get it back again on March 1, 2006. I transfered my blog from MySpace and as of now I have 175+ blog posts and 3800+ hits on my homepage.

9. Going to the AVN's in Las Vegas (January 2006)
So Frenchy has been asking me to go to the AVN's for many years now. I always told him that I would go if he booked his ticket. This was the year that he finally went. Crazy eh? So I lived up to my word and bought myself a ticket. Luckily H-bomb and VJ came along to assist in the lodging expenses. All didn't start out well, I did lose my PSP and Frenchy lost his wallet, but we had a blast in the process.

The convention was super crazy! It surpassed all of my expectations. I thought this was going to be dude-fest, but there probably was as many female visitors as there were male visitors. I was able to see Jenna, Tera, Peter & Ron (to name a few).

There were a few crazy things that happened there. The first was seeing Hammer there and getting to take a picture with him. Can't Touch This!

The second and most craziest thing was that I was asked to star in a movie. You can ask Frenchy to testify about this, and he'll confirm the story. I was walking in the convention center and Mika Tan ( came up to me and asked me to star with her. She introduced me to her manager and he wanted me to star in a film too. Despite Frenchy's insistance that I fulfill his dream, I humbly declined. However, they did give me their contact number and email address just in case I changed my mind.

8. Going to the Winter Olympic Games (February 2006)
Going on an International Trip is always fun. However, getting to go out there during the Olympic Games was even crazier. I couldn't believe that I had the opportunity to go out to Paris during the weeks of the Olympic Games. This was the trip that almost didn't happen. We were working on an issue with Total (a European based oil company). The problem almost solved itself, but we still needed to put a public face in front of them. I was luckily the one chosen. I packed my bags and headed off to Paris, France. My onsite work took about a week. After that was done I quickly booked a trip to Torino via EasyJet Airlines and went on Craigslist to find a cheap place to stay. From there I met some of the coolest people (Rita, Pike, Lisa & Giacomo). I had no itinerary and I managed to get into the Women's Figure Skating Finals, Short Track Speed Skating and USA vs. Russia Hockey. I met members of the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching staff, John Konkac of the 1984 Olympics Basketball Team, I got to put on a bronze medal of the USA Women's Hockey Team and I also chatted with Sasha Cohen's Grandma. With this trip, I was able to cross another thing off of my life's to do list.

7. Summer Vacation in Thailand (May-June 2006)
During my summer of indecision, I decided to take a 3 week journey to Thailand, Hong Kong & Cambodia. I was able to reunite with my Torino travelling buddy Rita. I budgeted about $2000-3000 for this trip. Given that, I was treated like a king. It was actually pretty hard to spend that much given that my meals were $2-3/meal. Taxi rides were about $2. Drinks were about 50 cents and all souvenirs were only a few dollars. I was able to see Elephant & Tiger shows, see the temples of Angkor Wat and find a new hobby in diving. I also ran into some problems with the law. I decided to rent a scooter while I was in Phuket, but being as dumb as I am I decided to not wear a helmet. I was cited (see picture of ticket on the right) in downtown Phuket and thinking that I was going to go to jail I tried to bribe the officer about $20 USD. He didn't take it and he took my CA driver's license and told me to go to the police station to pay my fine. Luckily the fine was only $3 USD, but it scared the crap out of me. I definitely recommend a trip out here since it's so cheap.

6. Expanding my Social Circle (throughout 2006)
I have always been an advocate that your friends are your biggest asset. In doing so, I have increased my social circle by a few. I'm not the type to have thousands of people on my MySpace or Friendster list. I believe that quality is better than quantity. In 2006 I met some quality people that have influenced my life. I met Neetha around March 2006 as UCLA was trying to get through the NCAA Tournament. I met her in Palo Alto during the UCLA vs. Gonzaga game. She moved up here as she accepted a new position with Space Systems Loral in Palo Alto. Throughout the year we went to Giant's Games, went out bar hopping and other things of nonsense.
I met Natalie (picture with Woodle & Natalie on the right) on the CalTrain. It was crazy how I met her because we both were on the MuniTram and the driver didn't seem to care if we made our 4:33pm CalTrain. The tram just happened to stop about 100 feet from the CalTrain station and it did not want to open its doors. It just stayed there - basically stressing us out that we would miss our train. I remember Natalie came up towards the front of the tram where I was and she started to panic. I just joked around trying to remain as calm as possible, but deep down inside I was a little pissed off that I would miss the train. Over the next few months we would ride home on the train together and reflect on the crazy things that happened in our lives.
A few other people that I met along the way were Sophia who likes to go Salsa dancing. Helen & Jessica from my old SF job were cool lunch buddies.
I lost one of my drinking buddies to school. Thuy (see picture on the left) went up to NYC to pursue her dream of art school. Kirk & Emily decided to pursue their dream of teaching in Taiwan. However, Mikie returned from NYC, so I guess it balances it out.
I'm not gay, so I also met guys. All the guys from Jiu Jitsu & football are there every few days to keep me in shape.
I also met some cool chick named Joleen - I'll talk about her later.

Tune in on Friday before you leave for the weekend to get #5-1 and the honorable mentions.


Big Al Goes to the Emerald Bowl

(Two strangers that helped us open our beer bottles on the train - Go Cal!)

I know I shouldn't be going out as much because I should be concentrating on other "things". However, I did go out with the UCLA crew to check out the Emerald Bowl featuring the UCLA Bruins and the Florida State Seminoles at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The 'Noles downed the Fruins 44-27. It was actually a good game until the 4th quarter when UCLA just gave up.
(Dentist Leslie, Engineer Ted, Dude I don't know, Engineer Neetha just after they pounded several drinks)

It's so funny that whenever I go out with the UCLA people to watch their team, they always lose:
UofA breaks up undefeated UCLA season
Florida Gators beat UCLA in the Nat'l Championship Basketball Game
The 'Noles beat UCLA in the Emerald Bowl

I wonder why they keep on inviting me out?

(Amanda & Judd taking a break from baby duty)

(Nurse Helen & Neetha sharing a moment. Neetha was especially nosey about my personal life that night.)

BTW: I'm starting to reconsider the public transportation options (aka The Cal Train). It took me 1 hour & 45 minutes to get home last night. It sucked since I wasn't even drunk by the end of the game.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 

Big Al's Festivus Football Madness

(Veteran Irman checking out the field conditions at Wardlaw Elementary)

Just a little background: My high school buddies and I played 2 football games per year since we got out of college - the Turkey Bowl and the Mama Sita Lechon Sauce Bowl. This year we played the 4th and 3rd editions (respectively). I'm happy to say that I'm 6-1 in the series including a sweep this year. Big Al was teamed up with newcomer Ken, Steve & VJ. Eric's Losers team was Irman, Sean & Lester. This year's M.S.L. Bowl score was:
(Lester, Eric, Officer Steve, VJ(down), Irman, Officer Ken & Big Al)

Big Al & Friends: 10
Eric & Losers: 9

Here are the pictures:
(Officer Steve, Officer Ken & CPA Eric trying to get loose)

(Officer Steve trying to recollect all the events that happened that day. If asked in court, he'll probably make things up.)

(The two Mr. Irrelevants of the Draft - VJ Bustos & Lester Visita)

BTW: Eric and I did the rock/paper/scissor method to determine who would draft first. Always pick paper foo!

Saturday, December 23, 2006 

Big Al Wins Mama Sita Lechon Sauce Bowl III

Quick update on this Festivus Weekend. Big Al & Friends (Steve, Ken & VJ) win The Mama Sita Lechon Sauce Bowl III (The 2nd of the two holiday football games of St Pat's High School Alums). Big Al defeated Eric & Friends (Lester, Sean & Irman) by the score of 10-9 at Wardlaw Elementary, Vallejo. More info & pics to come. Happy Festivus!

Friday, December 22, 2006 

Big Al Wishes Everybody A Happy Holiday!

So here's my Christmas message for 2006. Be safe & take care!

Thursday, December 21, 2006 

The 9th Annual Holiday Party

(Big Al making a mad dash after he picks up his White Elephant at Holiday Party IX)

So it actually wasn't a party that put on, but it was sponsored by us. On Friday, December 15, the Santa Clara University crew celebrated it's 9th annual Christmas dinner and gift exchange. For those that haven't been apart of it, it's a really cool thing. We started this our sophomore year and managed to keep it going until now.

(Pam & Big Al doing the Signature)

This years event was put together by Ito (once again). We've held at different venue's each time such as Applebee's & Chevy's. This year's event took a little twist as we went to dinner at the Tied House in downtown San Jose and then back to the Big Al's House for the White Elephant gift exchange. The problem with the Tied House was that they only have one section that can host a party of 24 and they had a previous party occupying that place from 5-9pm. Our original reservation was for 8pm. So given that extended wait, the Tied House people bought us our first round of drinks. Not bad given that the first round that I chose was the beer sampler. I was pretty wasted by the time dinner came out.
(The SCU alumni guys (from left-right): Sina, Toan, Quincy, Rey, Ito, Karl, Big Al)

We then took it back to my place for the ever popular White Elephant. For those that have never done this, we get a gift between $20-30 and put it in a pile. We all randomly draw numbers and when it comes to your turn, you have the choice of pulling an unwrapped gift from the pile or "stealing" one from a person that has already opened one. I did some pretty good choosing - I first went after the Nerf gun set then Ito took that away from me, then I got a Cranium Pop Culture game and then Quincy took that away from me. I eventually got a portable plug-in cooler. Not bad. As for the gift that I brought, I think it was the coolest of all the gifts that I've brought. Just a recap of what I've brought before:
1. Penis Pump
2. Humping Monkey

So this year I bought a little messenger bag and filled it with one bottle of orange sauce from La Victoria's. When Jenny first opened it up she thought it was just a bag until she opened it. All the ooh's & aah's came out. (Just a little background, this is pretty good sauce to put on just about anything. We really liked it back in college and even now we'll go out every once in a whileto eat at La Vic's, but we never actually buy the sauce)
(Matt & Nic making Stef jealous)

(Wasted Big Al taking pictures (crooked clockwise): Jo, Holly, Jas, Annora, Toan, Nic & Matt)

We were able to celebrate this party with about 24 people - our largest turnout since our college days. A few missing people that I hoped would be there were Brandon & Steph, Karen & Cary. Luckily we had a bunch of returnee's show up like Steve-o, Sarah, Rey, Karl, Samphon, Annora, Mike, Ito, Emily, Pam, Sina, Jenny, Toan, Jas, Quincy & Jamie. A big surprise was Nicole showing up. She's been there before, but not in the past few years. She just happened to be working in Monterey and she happened to be passing by. A couple of newcomers were Jo, Holly, Pam's boyfriend (forgot your name dude), Joe (who showed up late), Stef & Matt - hopefully they'll join us again in future SCU holiday parties.

(Wasted Big Al & Stef)

Saturday, December 16, 2006 

Big Al's Piano Teacher Passes Away

I was informed today that my piano teach passed away on November, 21, 2006. Ms. Loida taught me so much about music and piano. Every Wednesday between 4:15-4:45 I took lessons from her. I hated it so much that I never practiced and I always tried to play it off as if I did... she knew.
I went to her for several years at the Vallejo Conservatory of Music, but I switched to teacher that taught me Jazz. I deeply regret that decision. I would have been a much better piano player now had I stayed with Ms. Loida.

A few things that I remember:
- She was really strict on me that I often cried.
- She used to pat me (hard) on my back so that I could get the beat.
- She always made me play these dumb classical songs. All I wanted to play was Pop and Jazz music.
- She would often times leave the room as I played practiced my scales. Sometimes I would hit a wrong note and her hearing was so good that she knew which note I hit and which note should have been hit.
- One time she scheduled me for a piano recital and I wasn't ready. Oddly enough my grandmother died that week and I got excused from that recital. That would have been really bad had I performed.
- I think I'm a pretty good piano player now, but I wonder how good I would be if I actually did practice.
- The last song I remember is Sonitina, Opus 39 by Frank Lynes and I can still play it.

Ms. Loida - you're gone but not forgotten. Thanks so much for sharing your musical wisdom. You will be missed.


Maria Loida Tirtawinata
Sept. 21, 1935 - Nov. 21, 2006

Maria Loida Tirtawinata passed away in Los Angeles. Born in Baguio City, Philippines, to Brigido and Florencia Cruz, Loida received her bachelor's degree in music from the University of the Philippines. In 1961 she was a Fulbright scholar at the UCLA Graduate School of Ethnomusicology, specializing in Indonesian music. She married Eddie Tirtawinata in 1962, and a son, Daniel, was born in 1963.

The Tirtawinatas settled in Vallejo in 1973 and Loida began teaching classical piano at home. In 1977, she opened the Vallejo Conservatory of Music where, in addition to piano, she ran a preschool using Montessori-style technique. Loida was also very active with the Solano Branch of the Music Teachers Association of California. Di-vorced in 1983, she continued teaching at the conservatory until her retirement in 2002. She moved to Los Angeles in 2003 to live with her son and daughter-in-law Sachi Yagyu.

A memorial gathering for friends, students and family will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006, at the home of Norman Ortiz, 111 Corkwood Street, Vallejo (707) 642-0377.

Donations in Loida's memory are being accepted for the Music Teachers Association of California Loida Tirtawinata Scholarship, c/o Norman Ortiz, 111 Corkwood Street, Vallejo CA 94590.
Published in the TimesHeraldOnline on 12/12/2006.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 

Big Al Goes Snowboarding at Heavenly

(Big Al having a conference with Chief Smoke a Lot)

So I went snowboarding this weekend with Jo and her Mission San Jose High School friends. (They've been removed from high school for quite some time in case you were wondering you pedophiles). The weather on the way up really sucked - hard rain, windy and cold. When we did get to Tahoe it snowed all night and morning. At least it cleared it up in the afternoon for some good runs.

A few weird things happened while I was up there. The first was in the elevator in Harrah's. I accidentally leaned up against the buttons and pushed an additional 3 buttons that caused our lift to stop at 3 unintended floors. I apologized to the crowd inside and one guy smartly said, "Only an Asian could do that". Wow! Could you believe that? Anyways, I said, "Only an Asian could do that?" He nodded. I then said, "Make sure you never come to our country." And I gave him and his wife the evil Big Al stare for the rest of the ride. Oooohhh. He could have felt the wrath of my Jiu Jitsu.
(Making my mark with assistance from Jo)

The other thing was while we were walking from Harrah's the parking lot. Jenn, Jo's friend, got hit by an can of Arizona Ice Tea in the back of her head from a passing car. By the time we found out what happened the car was a long ways away. I wonder if it was the same guy from the elevator.

I learned a couple of things this trip:
1. I'm getting a little older now - I'm slower on the slopes and I don't take as many risks.
2. Even though the roads say "Chain Control - Chains Necessary" doesn't necessarily mean you need chains.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006 

Update: Missing Gnome

Gnome is safely home. Gnome has been treated and release by medical personal. The authorities are working on suspects and motive.

Thanks to the vitual community for all their love and support during this difficult time. Your prayers have been answered.

More details to follow. Staff

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 

Missing: Lawn Gnome

(not actual picture)

Somebody took my lawn gnome! Give it back!

Height: 8"
Weight: 2 lbs
Last seen wearing suspenders and carrying a bird in his backpack.


Sunday, December 03, 2006 

Big Al Goes Fishing at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

I took a little break from work by going out to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) for a little rest and relaxation with Jo. I had some high expectations going to this place given that I'm in the "industry". Unfortunately, the MBA did not meet them.

(Leaving the Big Al mark at the MBA)

I'm not here to bash the MBA because it is a great place. I was here about 20+ years ago and from what I can remember there was much improvement. The only thing I can remember from the 1980's was the cylinder anchovie tank. To my surprise it's still there probably with the great-great-great grandchildren of the fish that I saw back in the days. I guess I was hoping for more of a coral selection. They have one corner that has the marine fish and corals, but it's very small. One would more of a kick by going to a good aquarium store.
(Jo molesting the bat rays at the touch pool)

We covered the aquarium in about 3-4 hours. The most impressive things were the touch pools where we could grab the bat rays, sea cucumbers, snails and other interesting things.

(2 Marmaduke's outside the MBA)

They have a rather large tank that housed a huge sun fish, a great white shark, gigantic tuna and barricudas. The jelly fish aquarium was pretty impressive too as they had several different species there that had some kind of blacklight that made the jellyfish light up.

The MBA is a great place to visit for a day trip. So in the great words of Reading Rainbow, I highly recommend it, but "don't take my word for it". Ciao!

Saturday, December 02, 2006 

Big Al's High School Wins First Section Championship in 19 years

(2006 North Coast Section A Champions - SPSV Bruins)

Mark it today that on December 1, 2006, my alma mater, St. Patrick-St.Vincent High School, has won the North Coast Section A Championship. This is our first championship won since the 1987-1988 school. It was really weird being there. I hope I don't have to wait until 2021 until I see the next one.

(Big Al saluting the Champs!)

I saw about 7 of my old classmates and a few other people that attended high school like President Sesilia, Jamin, Marty, Tedesco, Kennedy and my old coach Korby Altman. The stands were full of old alumni that I didn't recognize, but you could tell that they attended that school years ago.

(The SP-SV alums of years past came out from the woodworks)

St. Pat's beat Salesian High School 43-28. We came back from a 20-14 halftime deficit and we also had to beat the best running back in California - Jahvid Best.

(It was a little cold for Joe (top) and VJ (bottom) as they braved the weather in Walnut Creek, CA)