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Monthly Archives: January 2007

January Ends

Pigeon Point LighthouseAs January comes to a close, it is hard for me to believe that 8.5% of 2007 is already over. It seems like just yesterday that it was rolling over to the new year, and yet that was actually 31 days ago. The year has been busy and exciting already. I returned to the Bay Area after the holidays on Jan. 2 and have been going strong since then. Whether I’ve been keeping busy at the office, hanging out with friends or escaping from the world (see photo – Pigeon Point Lighthouse), the last thing that I’ve been is bored. To be fair, unlike the last four months of last year where I was constantly BUSY, this year has been active, but in a much more relaxed sort of way. Instead of galavanting off to far corners of the world, I haven’t actually flown at all since returning at the beginning of the month. I’ve already turned down two invitations to Germany and an invitation to New Zealand. The only trip I’ve taken was my “Escape From Life,” which was a leisurely drive.

Solvang, CAOne of the stops during my “Escape From Life” was a little town called Solvang. I had actually heard of this town before, though I didn’t recall it at the time I was there. Solvang is a little Dutch town in Central California, not too far from San Luis Obispo, and it happens to appear in the movie Sideways. I ended up in Solvang quite by accident, to be honest. During the drive back to San Francisco from Los Angeles, I decided that I wanted to stop off at several of the California Missions along the El Camino Real. I didn’t have a set plan as I left LA, but I had my GPS and a map and knew basically where the Missions were, so I felt set. Mission Santa InesOne of the Missions, Santa Ynez (pictured right), turned out to be less than a mile from this little Dutch town. I finished at the Santa Ynez Mission around 3:30 or 4 p.m. and knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it to Mission San Luis Obispo before they closed, so when I saw this little Dutch town, I stopped to take a look. It turns out that Solvang is in the heart of the Central Coast’s wine country, so there were several tasting rooms in the town. How could I not stop and do some wine tasting? After doing some tasting, I went to Cafe Angelica, a local establisment recommended to me by one of the pourers in a tasting room. As I was sitting at my table, I distincly recall thinking to myself, “nobody in the world, with the exception of the people sitting here right now, knows exactly where I am. Sure people know I’m in California, but nobody actually knows exactly where.” It was a good feeling – the feeling you get when you’re living your own life, and not someone elses.

Categories: A Day in the Life | Comments Off

Have another hour to spare?

If you’ve ever asked yourself the question, “Does God want me to be rich,” then I have the perfect video for you. Back in November, I presented a talk on the question “Does God want you to be rich?” to my Young Adult Group at St. Dominic’s. It’s taken some time, but it is now available for you to view online. The running time of the entire presentation is about an hour. If you don’t have an hour to watch it, you can put it on in the background and just listen while at work.
While I’m at it, you can also check out this Young Adult Retreat Promo video.

Categories: Video | Comments Off

Partial upgrade rollback

On Tuesday I upgraded the site, but had some issues with the new MediaManager, which is the plugin used to display all of my DVD, Book and Movie media content. For the past several days I have been trying to get the new MediaManager to work properly, but without success. Since I know that you have all been dying to know what books I’m reading and what DVDs I am watching, I rolled back to the older version of MediaManger. The Journal itself is running just find on the upgraded MoveableType Publishing Platform, though!
As an aside, I am currently being stalked by a female ninja. More details on that later…

Categories: Site News | 1 Comment

Site upgrade

Just a quick note. Some portions of the site (like the DVD list and Reading list) are currently not functioning correctly. I upgraded some of the site components today which caused some problems. These are in the process of being corrected, so please be patient. The main site content is unaffected.

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Returning to the World

Mission Santa BarbaraAlas, I have returned to the real world after an amazing vacation! My “Escape from the World” was exactly what I needed to recharge and just find a new level of peace in my life. I hope to write a few words about my travels soon, but in the meantime, you can check out my 201 photos from my “Escape from the World, 2007″ here.

Categories: A Day in the Life | Comments Off

Escaping the World

When I told most people that I was leaving town this weekend, common responses were things like:

  • “Again?”
  • “Jaunting off to Germany again?”
  • “Do you actually live in San Francisco?”

I suppose this type of response it not surprising, considering the amount of travel that I did during the last four months of last year. From September 1 to December 31, I traveled to Kentucky, Notre Dame, Notre Dame, India, Utah, Germany, Los Angeles, Utah, Utah and Denver, respectively. To be perfectly honest, I spent nearly as much time away from San Francisco as I did in San Francsico during the last third of 2006. After traveling so much, you might imagine that I would be ready to just take it easy and settle down at home. Not so. You know how they say that after a vacation you need to go on vacation? Well, with as much travel as I did in just four months last year, I was really feeling it.
I realized that with all of the travel I did, only one trip was one I made just for myself – the trip to Germany. Every other trip was made to see someone specific, do something specific, or accomplish something specific. I traveled for weddings, football games, holidays with the family, “meeting the family,” television premieres, and so on. Germany was the only trip I made that was just “for fun,” but the trip was so short and the flights so long that it was hardly relaxing. 2006 was so busy, and the travel so exhausting, that I truly do need a vacation from all of my vacations. And so… I’m escaping. I’ve taken Friday and Tuesday off from work (Monday is a holiday), and I’m just taking a seriously needed vacation from life. For this five day weekend I have almost no plans at all, and it is going to be fantastic. I’ve cleared my calendar, I’m turning off my phone, and I’m going voluntarily off the grid, if you will. The only people that I’ll talk to will be the ones that are either located in my immediate physical vicinity or people I call. Starting tomorrow morning and going right up until Tuesday, I don’t plan to answer a single phone call, respond to a single e-mail or post anything else here on the blog. I’m also traveling, but only a very few people know exactly where I’m going, and I intend to keep it that way. Basically, these next few days are my time to pretend that the only thing that exists is me and what’s around me. As for the outside world… What outside world?

Categories: A Day in the Life | 1 Comment

Road Rage Strikes

Well, it has taken 9 years of driving, but I have finally witnessed my first case of serious road rage. I wish I could say that this road rage was simply observed by me from afar, but alas, I am unable to say that. The road rage I write of here was directed directly at me.
This past Sunday I was driving to Stonestown Mall here in San Francisco. Everything was going fine as I was pulling up behind the mall and approaching the parking lot when, all of a sudden, a green car in the left hand lane (of a four lane road – two in each direction) decided to try and swerve around a slow-moving car in front of it. Unfortunately, I was in the right hand lane, directly in the path of the impatient, swerving vehicle. Seeing this green car coming into my lane, I quickly adjusted my own direction to the right and ended up hitting the curb pretty hard to avoid an accident. Naturally, I honked my horn, but the teenage driver and his teenage passenger didn’t much seem to care that they had almost caused a serious accident. When we got to the stop sign about 300 feet beyond the near miss, I pulled up along side them and looked over to see the two boys laughing and flipping me off. Needless to say I was pretty upset about this. After all, they are the ones who nearly crashed into me, and then they have the audacity to flip me off as if it was my fault?
Now, my next move was probably a little uncalled for, and certainly helped to provoke what ensued, but just as the teen driver was about to pull away, I nosed my car in front of theirs to prevent them from going through the stop sign. This upset them more than I intended and the driver of the car furiously threw open his door and got out of his car. I wasn’t particularly in the mood to get into any type of physical altercation here, so I drove away. Much to my dismay, though, the driver of the green car got back in and proceeded to follow me. Knowing, of course, that I couldn’t very well get myself into a situation where I had to sit stopped for long periods of time, I started driving towards the freeway. At one point, I came to a stop sign just before turning onto a fairly main road. I glanced in my rearview mirror just in time to see the driver again throw open his door. But this time he didn’t just stand there throwing his arms in the air; rather, he started running full speed towards me. A bit concerned for my car and my safety, I turned the corner quickly, doing everything I could to speed away and lose them while the driver was otherwise occupied. Somehow I had missed it, but the passenger had also gotten out of the car and was trying to chase my car down the street. All the while, cars behind the green car were honking as the car had been abandoned by both passenger and driver who were chasing my car down the street.
I knew that this was my opportunity to lose them – after all, I was already ahead of them in traffic and they still had to return to their car and weave their own way into the traffic that I had already navigated. I drove a few blocks and, confident that I had lost them, I turned onto a small side street that I felt was unlikely to be targeted by the two teens if they were searching me out. My escape was apparently successful as I saw no sign of the teens or their car again.
Now, to be fair, I was a little concerned about this whole thing. It isn’t often that people get out of their cars to chase you down. When they do, you know something is seriously wrong and that they likely have only one motive – to make you pay for your insolence. I highly doubt that they were running over to me to offer their most profound and heartfelt apologies for having nearly crashed into my car. If I had made a wrong choice about which way to go, I could easily have found myself trapped waiting for traffic to clear, thereby leaving myself vulnerable to an attack. Thankfully, though, I chose my path wisely and survived the whole ordeal without injury to anything but my anxiety level.

Categories: A Day in the Life | 1 Comment

What are we teaching our girls?

As almost anyone who knows me well can tell you, I rarely watch TV. In fact, despite the fact that I have a television set in my apartment, it was only in the past month or two that anyone finally hooked up an antenna to it. Since the antenna has been hooked up, I have turned the TV on a grand total of two times with the intention of actually watching broadcast television (I had turned it on other times to watch DVDs or play XBox). One of those times happened to be yesterday morning as I was eating a quick breakfast prior to leaving to pick up my friends so we could go up to wine country for the day. I don’t even know what channels we get on the TV, so I just stopped at the first channel that wasn’t static. It was a Saturday morning on broadcast, so it should come as no surprise that I stumbled upon a cartoon. The cartoon was Bratz.
I don’t know much about Bratz, to be honest, but I do know that I have never really supported the concept. The dolls and characters are meant to represent teenagers, but they are clearly marketed to young children – girls around the age of 8. Two years ago, my then-8-year-old cousin, just had to have these Bratz dolls – they were all the rage. For some reason, probably mostly as a brief study in the American child’s popular culture, I decided to watch a little of the show while eating my breakfast rather than change the channel. In the maybe three minutes that I watched the show, I was completely offended and disgusted.
In one particular scene, a girl who was clearly the “ugly chick” was talking to one of her “hot friends,” and the “hot friend” was saying that they were going to give the the “ugly chick” a makeover. To this idea, the ugly girl said, “That guy that I’m crushing on won’t even talk to me. Do whatever you want. Turn me into a blonde fashion doll if you have to.” I heard this and was immediately so outraged that I had to write it down so I wouldn’t forget to write about it here in the Journal. Is this what we are teaching our girls? That they need to become “fashion dolls” to get a guy to notice them? That they aren’t good enough as they are? Now, the show could have used this as an opportunity to teach girls that they don’t have to become someone else, but instead, the show immediately cuts to the girl’s “new look,” which was basically a slut. Rather than having her original unique, modest (if a little “grunge”) appearance, she now looked like every other hot girl – sexy haircut, short skirt, tight shirt, make-up and high heels. And the destructve teachings didn’t stop here. Not only did this girl have to change her physical appearance completely, but her friends started to coach her on how to compeltely change her behavior to be more attractive, as well. I couldn’t even get through this scene, it was too much.
How can American society promote this image for our young girls? Some people have argued that, because the characters and dolls are meant to be teenagers (one of them was learning how to drive in another scene), the target audience is teens, but that’s just plain gobbledygook. To suggest this would be to suggest that Barbie dolls are meant for adults since Barbie had a limo, her own house, and Ken, a pseudo-husband. When is the last time you saw Barbie dolls marketed to adults? Yah, never. So if anyone thinks that the Bratz target audience is teens, they need to – pardon the expression – get their heads out of their asses. There is no getting around the fact that these characters are setting examples that our 8-year-old girls are going to follow. They dress like skanks, talk like complete morons, act like bitches, but get all the best things in life. They have money to go shopping, they have the attention of all the boys, and they leave the “normal crowd” in the dust. It is disgusting.
Inevitably, any discussion about the things that influence children will come around to the parents, and rightfully so. Moreso that anything else, parents influence their children and their children’s behaviors. A good, parent, then, would PREVENT THEIR CHILD from watching shows like this. I’m sorry, but no matter how deluded you might be, you can’t possibly argue that an 8-year-old girl will watch this show and logically reason in her own mind that what is being portrayed is wrong. It is a simple fact of life that children don’t have the experience or logical reasoning capability of adults – they are easily influenced. By allowing their daughters to watch shows like this, parents are indirectly telling the daughters that the Bratz are good role models for what girls should be. And girls aren’t the only ones impacted by this – boys are, too. Boys who watch this show are being taught that girls are objects whose goalss are to look pretty and act slutty for the enjoyment of men. In my opinion, parents have no right to complain about the mistreatment of women as sexual objects if they are allowing their children – girls and boys – to watch shows or wear clothes that promote that image. Children simply don’t understand that it isn’t right if they’re not told.
So no, I can’t say that American media has single handedly corrupted our 8-year-old girls, but they definitely play a huge role. They are providing the example that parents are indirectly telling their children is the right one to follow. If parents didn’t support shows like this, they simply wouldn’t be made. American media doesn’t, I believe, set out to courrupt moral values – they simply give people what they want because they can make the most money off of it. And parents are clearly sending our media the message that this is what they want by continuing to support it. It’s time we all wake up and protect our children.
For my religiously-based perspective on Faith, Marriage & Sexuality, check out my December 31 post in God’s Promise.

Categories: Commentary | 2 Comments

In Honor of Mario Danelo

As much as I dislike USC as a team, I was shocked and saddened when I read that their kicker, Mario Danelo, was found dead on Saturday at the bottom of a cliff in the San Pedro area of Los Angeles. My dislike of the USC Trojans extends only to the team as a whole, and never to any of the individual members. When the Trojans lose a game, of course I celebrate; however, when one of their players loses his life tragically, I find it not only impossible to be elated, but also completely insensitive to be even remotely satisfied. After all, this is a human life, a life that is loved infinitely by God and without reservation. When I read the story abot 21 year old Danelo’s body being found, my first reaction was something to the effect of, “WHAT? HOW TERRIBLE!” It was certainly not a reaction of excitement; rather, it was a reaction of deep sorrow.
Regardless of our allegiances, may we all recognize that every life lost so tragically is a loss for the entire human race. Let us all, therefore, offer our prayers for the repose of the soul of Mario Danelo, whose life was lost tragically and suddenly. Let us also pray that his family may be healed and comforted in this time of great loss.

Categories: General | Comments Off

What is it about dentists?

I found my mind wandering a little today and through a strange, convoluted series of twists and turns, my mind went from real estate to dentists, where I stopped to contemplate a very interesting facet of the dental profession – their seemingly ceaseless interest in the love lives of their patients. Perhaps it’s just me and the dentists I visit, but every dentist that I’ve ever been to has asked me on every visit how my love life is, including my childhood dentist. The most curious dentist I’ve had so far has been the new dentist that I’ve started seeing here in Berkeley, Dr. Williams. On my first visit the day before Thanksgiving, 2006, the following exchange took place:
DW: Are you married?
LJ: No yet.
DW: Are you engaged?
LJ: Not yet.
DW: Do you have a girlfriend?
LJ: I do. (Note: At the time of this conversation, I did.)
DW: Oh good, I thought you were going to say not yet.
Dr. Williams left the conversation at that – for the time being. After this exchange, the examination and cleaning went along as normal, but I was asked to return in about two week’s time for a secondary check-up. Not long before this exam, I had eaten something that caused a small abrasion on the roof of my mouth and she wanted to check up on it to make sure it was healing correctly. When I returned for this follow up, Dr. William’s first question to me was, “How’s that engagement coming?” Did she make a note of our conversation two weeks ago, I had to wonder? Or am I really just that memorable and fascinating that she was dwelling on my personal life for two weeks, constantly contemplating my romantic pursuits? I was a little surprised by the question, more by the fact that she even remembered than by the fact that she asked it (after all, dentists just seem to ask these things as part of their nature – do they teach that to them in dental school, I wonder), but I answered truthfully. “I’m working on it,” I said, “Maybe next year [2007].” (Note: Again, at the time of this conversation that was still true.)
So, tell me, what is it about dentists? As far as I recall, none of my other physicians have ever asked me about my love life, and yet, somehow, every dentist I have ever encountered seems to take a keen interest in it. I swear, even dentists walking down the street probably stop every third person to randomly ask them how their love life is. Perhaps dentists are secretly employed by matchmaking websites like or to conduct covert, sociological surveys. I think that’s the most likely answer to this question. I wonder how my next conversation with Dr. Williams will go. I guess eHarmony will be targeting me heavily after they get her next report!

Categories: A Day in the Life | 1 Comment