Lame toppings …

The weekend before last, I took my son Sam out to spend some time with
my parents in the Bay Area of California.  While we were there we
also ran around so that he could visit with with my sisters and their
families.  On the Saturday he and I ran down to Big Basin,
one of my favorite parks just outside of Silicon Valley.  We spent
several hours hiking around the immense trees, enjoying the quiet, and
the incredible coniferous forest smells.

On the way back we met up with my sister Susan and her family.  We
ran to get dinner at a local soup and salad place.  As usual they
have the dessert bar, with soft ice cream.  Sam wanted a ice cream
cone, and so we walked up to the machine and I pulled a chair up for
him to stand on … he is really wanting to do everything
himself these days.  He did a good job of filling his cone with
the mixed chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and then asked if he could
get some “sprinkles.”

We walked over to where the “sprinkles” are, and I was surprised that
they only had raisins, broken Oreo cookies, coconut shreds, and crushed
peanuts.  No other choices.  I immediated commented to Sam,
“Oh man … they only have LAME sprinkles!”

Sam  immediately replied, “Daddy … I want lame sprinkles!  I want lame sprinkles!”

To Sam … even LAME sprinkles are better than no sprinkles.  I’ve become tainted with age.  We did have some peanuts, and Oreos.

The Trip to Baguio

After spending one day and night in Manila, we headed up to Baguio City
… north of Manila in the Mountains.  We left early and flew
Asian Spirit … in a YS-11
… an old turboprop airliner.  After taking off, we quickly
climbed to ~10,000 feet.  The grey color of Manila slowly began to
be sprinkled with green, and the quantity of green again continued to
grow as we flew north away from Metro manila.

As we continued our flight, the spots of green continued to grow until
we were over a large flat valley with some large winding rivers. 
Various roads – paved and otherwise – cut convoluted paths between
farms, towns, and open ground.  All of these roads seemed to wind
in strange directions with no rhyme or reason.  Below, one large
river wound below us, leaving groups of buildings, and maybe whole
towns, stranded on empty oxbows.  And then the foothills appeared.

It was impressive to see the mountains rise from the valley as a series
of large sharp ridges.  The river winding below us came from a
valley in between some of these ridges, and a large reservior with a
dam had been built to hold back its waters.  The mountains
continued to rise.  And rise!  All of the sudden the
stewardess announced that we were approaching Baguio … and the
mountains continued to climb up towards our altitude.  Below us
there were now a few roads winding up the jagged mountain sides … all
looking like dirt roads.  And then the first towns appeared up in
the mountains.  As we passed over one of the larger ones … now
looking only a few thousand feet below us … I caught site of a runway
cut into the mountains … one end spilling out over a shear mountain
face.  Baguio Airport?

As we now passed that runway the plane began to turn … yep … that’s
Baguio!  I actually shot some pretty good footage of the landing
… amazing mountain with a mix of small homes and big mansions. 
The vacation homes of the upper-class, mixed with the homes of the
average people.  We continued to bank hard left … circling
around to the other end of the runway that I saw … to land in the
direction of the shear mountain face.  As we got lower and lower
there were all sorts of streams and rivers flowing down the mountain,
with waterfalls all over the place.  We continued to decend, and
finally touched down.  We’re in Baguio!

As we exited the aircraft, it was immediately cooler than Manila … by
far!  Nice.  We wandered the parking lot … found a cab …
and headed to Session Road … one of the main roads in Baguio. 
I’ll write more later.

Arriving in Manila

We flew to Manila, from Los Angeles, on Sunday the 21st.  One of
the first things that was nice was the free wireless Internet provided
by the Asian carriers in the LA terminal.  Getting there early we
were able to get our seats (nice big aisle exit-rows!) and then hang
out and get work done.

The Philippines Airlines flight over left at ~10:00pm, so we flew into
the darkness, being chased by the sun.  The flight actually landed
at ~4:00am in Guam for refueling, and then continued its way to
Manila.  We approached the Philippines at daybreak, just before
sunrise.  As we crossed over the first edges of the Philippines,
it was a combination of islands and then the mountains of Luzon. 
The mountains turned into a large flat valley, and then the density of
grey structures began to grow.  Slowly, the grey started to
overwhelm the green and we had started to cross over the outer edges of
Manila.  As we continued to descend, the grey color took over …
it was impressive to see the sprawl of Manila below us.

We landed and got off of the plane, walked into the terminal and passed
through immigration … very uneventful.  We had both packed in
only carry-on, so we had no luggage to claim … instead we headed
right out into the hot and humid air to look for our car.

The first thing that hit me as the humidity wrapped all around me was
the smell of smoke.  Everywhere.  Like a fireplace nearby
kicking out the smoke of burning wood.  I had been told about this
… it was the smell of forests being burned in Indonesia.  Some
of my contacts here indicated that a month ago it was a constant haze
that was almost unbearable.  Even today in Iloilo I am greeted
each morning to the same smell as I leave my hotel room.

I’ll write more later … have to catch the high speed boat to Bacolod!

Blogging from Iloilo, Philippines

I’ve been telling myself each day this week that I was going to post
… and I’m only getting to it right now. I’m sitting in the
Amigo Terrace Hotel in Iloilo, Philippines … and after completing a
whole ton of work, I’m now ready to post. I’m in the lobby
restaurant … on wireless.

I’ll probably break this into a whole set of posts … there is too
much to write about. It’s been a very cool trip so far, and a lot
has changed since the last time I travelled in this region. I’ve
never been to the Philippines before, but when I was with Novell I
visited a number of Asian countries … Singapore, Sri Lanka, Pakistan,
India, Nepal, Thailand … all amazing places. But these trips
were in the early 1990’s and predated the penetration of the
Internet. What a huge difference. I’m floored. The
Internet is everywhere.

So where exactly am I right now? I’m at the hotel here in Iloilo. I’ve been here a few days after visiting Manila … we stayed in Makati … then visited Baguio City. Tomorrow we’ll be heading over to Bacolod for the day … then another day back here in Iloilo, before heading back to Manila and home.

I’ll write more … it’s been eye opening. An amazing trip.

Sam and his swimming progress

There are certain skills that I believe can really alter your life
experience.  Swimming is one of them.  I remember learning
how to swim as a child at the Hidden Valley Swimming Pool near our
home.  There were a couple of eventful lessons, but then there was
no looking back.  I love to swim, and it has enabled me to
participate in numerous activities around water.

Over this last summer I have made it a point ot take my son Sam, now
just over three years old, to the local swimming pool one or two times
a week.  Its been fun to be a part of his progress from being
uneasy in the pool, to being ok floating by himself wearing his life
jacket.  Months ago he progressed to kicking and paddling with his
hands, and a month or so ago he started to jump into the pool … not
caring about going under water anymore.

Two nights ago, he amazed me as he demonstrated absolutely no fear
about doing belly-flops in the pool … and intentionally putting his
face into the water while holding his breath.  It was too funny to
watch.  Somehow he got the idea, and then for the next 15 minutes
he would stand … walk forward .. and the dive forward onto his belly
and go underwater.  He repeated this over and over.  And then
it got better.  He suddenly ran towards me and said “I want a

The pool that we go to has all sorts of equipment that is free to use,
and we went and got a mask for him.  As he put it on, he seemed to
question the fit, but then quickly walked forward and dove on his
belly.  He got up smiling and spent the next 30 minutes repeating
this over and over again.  He told me several times that he could
hold his breath.  It was a blast to see.

I again have to admit that having a child, and watching them develop,
has to be one of the most amazing experiences.  I get one set of
feelings watching him learn and accomplish things.  I get another
set of feelings imagining that I too went through this process. 
Its wild what we forget about our own development and learning. 
Its fun thinking about how Sam will enjoy going to Hawaii the next time!

The Meaning of Life

Every now and then I find a really well written document on the Internet that explains a perspective very well.  This site contains a very well written perspective about life, the mind, and The Meaning of Life.  I really like this first page
which offers a wide range of options depending on what you are after in
this explanation.  If you are able to truly be open to
possibility, then it offers The Meaning of Life – Part II which more thoroughly explores the subject in a very deep way.

I’m very impressed with this … and would recommend it as reading to anyone exploring the subject, and inquiring about life.

Hiking up the mountain

On Sunday night, you wanted to go and hike the mountain behind our
house.  You started to say that you wanted to hike to the shed …
the wireless Internet shed that I built up on the mountain.  So I
talked your mom into going, and we all headed up the mountain.

It was funny as you started to yell at your mom – “Mom … let’s go!” –
and you scurried up the trail.  I have to admit that I was
impressed … this was the first time that you were able to go all the
way up with out stopping!  And when we got to the top, you wanted
to just keep going!  It was a blast.

On Monday night, after I got home from work, your mom wanted to go hang
out with Joe, and so you and I went hiking up the mountain again. 
This time we went up the main trail, and up to the “flat” area … and
then we just kept going.  I was again amazing at your stamina and
excitement.  We crawled through the trees, went off trail (which
you kept yelling “bush wackin'”) and you just wanted to keep
going.  We ended up at the top of the trails … almost to the
point of going up the ridge above the gravel pit.  It was a long
ways up.

On the way down, you fell twice … doing complete “chest plants” …
and you got up and shook it off.  I can see that I am going to
enjoy taking you out and hiking more … we’ll have to plan a camping
trip before long … maybe even this summer!


Note to self:  At some point it would be fun to learn how to weld.

This weekend, I had a primary pully on my mower desk shear off.  I
have a John Deere 12-hp lawn tractor that I use to cut my back yard …
my back field.  While out cutting, I suddenly heard a screech from
underneath and the blades stopped.  I quickly shut off the PTO to
see what was up, and there laying next to the front tire was a
pulley.  I recognized it as one from the mower deck, and so I
headed to my barn to investigate further.  Once I had the mower
deck off, it was obvious where the pulley came from, however there were
no signs of how it had been attached!  No threads, no key, no
nothing.  I called my neighbor Jerry Ellis and he came over to
look.  Jerry retired from the Utah Highway Dept. years ago, and is
a skilled mechanic and welder.  He too was puzzled on how the
pulley had been attached, but offered to weld it back on if I wanted.

I put the mower deck on my wheelbarrow and rolled it up the street to
his house, and then around the back to his shop.  There he had his
electric welder with it’s thick black cables.  Ten minutes later I
had a repaired mower deck … along with a quick education about
current technology in welding equipment.  (He had this killer
helmet that had an automatic lens to protect your eyes!  Something
like this!)

Within 30 minutes I had the mower deck re-installed on my tractor and
was cutting the back yard again.  Man … if I didn’t know someone
like Jerry, it probably would have been a long time to get this fixed
… and a lot of money.  Hmmm … I’ve always wanted to learn how
to weld …

What an amazing turn of events … by an amazing woman …


I have to admit that I really could not have believed that we would be
where we are today. You mom is giving you a bath in the bathroom,
and I’m working on zombieTrack again. The last couple of days
have been amazing … and your mother has really surprised me … and a
lot of other people.

On Monday I called your mom as I headed to Salt Lake City to meeting
with potential attorneys. I went to Sugarhouse Coffee and worked
on some programming and e-mail. She let me know that she was
going to enroll Joe in a school in Salt Lake City. She called me
when that was done, and we met in Sugarhouse Park … it was so good to
see you. It was great to see both of you. You mother and I
talked for quite a while and you played in the playground. I
think that we must have talked, and cried, for almost two hours.
it was wonderful. I was so glad that your mother chose to call
and be in communication. Once we started to talk again, we were
quickly able to work out a lot of issues. I was amazed that she
was truly ready to offer to do so much to salvage and rebuild our
relationship … and I was open to the idea only because of who she was

I asked her what she had to ‘undo’ … what had to be reversed and
recovered. She admitted that she had filed for divorce, in order
to file a “ex parte temporary restraining order’ to attempt to get
access to the building and salon in Heber City. Sam … we’ll
have to remind her forever that she divorced me to get access to the
building to cut some hair! I’ll forgive her if you do! So
… she had to contact her attorney to stop the various actions.

I left and went to see an attorney at 4:00pm … I went through the
meeting to fully understand what I would have been able to do to ensure
that I would have adequate access to you … and to push for as much
custody as I could get. The entire time I could not really think
about anything except for the fact that I no longer believed that I
needed an attorney … I really wanted to believe that this entire
episode was over. We were going to be a family again.

Your mother is an amazing woman. She had to do a lot to be able
to call me the way that she did … and to be willing to really take on
life. She had some tough choices to make, and she made
them. And we are all going to benefit from them. I love her
a lot … and always will.

I’ll write more as I get some time … but your mother and you came
home to me on Monday night. And it was great to put your to bed
in your crib, and to go to sleep with your mother beside me.
We’re back together as a family.

The calls …

I woke up this morning at ~5:50am … I wasn’t sure why.  I
thought that I had heard something … but nothing was there.  I
laid there looking at the clock.

For some reason I then noticed the light on my phone turn off.  I
picked it up, and looked at the phone … 5 missed calls.  I
clicked to see who called and there were three calls from Grandma
Sanchez’s house, and two from your moms phone.  I laid there
wondering what to do … what might be going on.

I called your mom at your great-grandmothers house … and she
answered.  We talked about things … Grandma Sanchez had been
taken to the hospital after she woke up and seemed to have had a
stroke.  Later, we found out that she simply had extremely low
blood sugar.

You mother and I talked about things more … our lives … or
relationship … Joe … and what had gone on the last week.  She
indicated that she had got a lawyer to see what her rights were to take
you away from me.  She also filed for divorce, so that she could
sue for access to the building.  She looked into getting Joe into
school in Salt Lake City … and into therapy.  She refused to
admit … or say … that Joe has any problems.  She wants to stay
separated … although she is not specific about how she wants to do
things.  She has not indicated how you and I will see each
other.  She let me say “Hi” to you on the phone.

I have to admit that I am truly not sure of what I want to do.  I
am thinking that I am going to give her the chance to talk more … to
tell me what she is thinking … and to commit to how things are going
to be moving forward.  I want to hear her say that she is willing
to do what it takes … and to somehow demonstrate that this is the
case.  I am not sure how to do that in a day …