Yet more change is afoot

A little over a year ago I posted about an upcoming career change that I was embarking on. I’m not at all the kind of person that likes to bounce around from job to job nor am I a huge risk taker when it comes to matters of finance, career growth and personal change. However, sometimes life happens, and sometimes things happen beyond your control that put you into a position of having to pull back the reins and get things in order once again, even if you have to take a risk to do it. To that end, I am heading down a path that I’ve not even so much as entertained the idea of let alone had the guts to pursue. I am changing jobs again.

This change is much needed for various reasons which I don’t need to go into here. But let me just say that while I look back on the last year of my work with mixed emotions, when I look forward I look on with excitement, butterflies and a determination to make some magic happen. I am leaving the comfort of something stable for the vast wonderland of something that is far from proven. I am taking a risk. A big risk. But one I absolutely need to take at this point in my life.

Starting next week I will be the lead architect and head engineer of a niche marketing company in Concord. I will be working a short term contact with long term potential and will be able to make an immediate, very visible impact of the business operations of the company. I will be a part owner and I will be responsible for making business, technology, architecture, implementation and deployment decisions the likes of which I’ve yet to do in my career. I’m more than a little nervous about that. But I am also more than a little excited about that.

There is just something about looking out over the great expanse of the unknown and seeing for yourself what that landscape looks like. Then stepping off the ledge of safety into that unknown, preparing to face all sorts of unexpected happenings and trusting in yourself to not only get through it but kick ass along the way to a major victory in your life. Yeah, I feel like a boxer throwing punches in the locker room just before a title fight. This is going to be freaking awesome and I am looking forward to it.

I do have to say however that there are some people I will miss from my current employer. While I’ve only been here a year I have had a chance to develop some strong professional and personal relationships with some amazing people that do some amazing things day in and day out. I’ve had to work with these folks daily, supporting them, being challenged by them and working with them collaboratively to achieve common goals and mutual awesomeness:

  • Ravi – Dude, I don’t know how you manage to do what you do every day without blowing a gasket. You only have two hands yet you work like an army of employees daily, getting things done by yourself that I’ve seen entire teams not get done at all.
  • Jay – I’ve had more fun working with you, talking with you, debating with you and collaborating with you than anyone else in the office. You are a great developer and I see big things for your future. Also? Competing in triathlons? Bad. Ass.
  • Fai – You are a gifted and talented front end designer and developer. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. You have an eye for style, color, relationships of objects… all of it. You were an asset to our company from the day you came on board.
  • Kim – What can I say dude, you are just bad ass from top to bottom. You get things done, you handle your business, you see a need before the client does and have an amazing work ethic. Any company would be blessed to have you on their team. It has been a tremendous pleasure working with you. And don’t cover up those tattoos. If there isn’t a handbook saying you have to there isn’t a rule saying you have to.
  • Adrian – Bro, you made my job so much more bearable, so much more sane. I’m glad we had a chance to work together, and I am glad you always brought a positive spin to the table every single day. Even if things were awful in my office, you coming over made things better. I hope you realize what an asset you are. Thanks for making my job as wonderful as you did bro.

And there you have it… news of yet another change in my life. So many changes in such a short period of time… and they aren’t done yet. Just you wait and see. 😉

The Charge of the Light Brigade

When the movie “The Blind Side” came out my wife and I went to see it. While I loved the story line of the movie, and the character portrayals in it, there was a subplot to it that really stood out to me.

In the movie, Michael Oher, the character on whom the story is based, was tasked with reading and dissecting an Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem called “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, a poem written about a band of soldiers in the 1850’s that literally rode into the face of death at the command of their superior even though he had made a mistake. They knew they were going to die, they knew it was going to be painful, they knew it was a lost cause. Yet they rode, because that is what soldiers do. Their role as soldiers gave them no latitude to question the motives or commands of their superior. They had pledged to follow him and his orders, and do that they did.

There is a story about life in this. There is also a story about parenting, marriage, education, work and every other aspect of your life that can sometimes catch you up in stress, anger, frustration or doubt. At the end of the day, whatever your role is – be it husband, father, president, stock clerk or son – you have a responsibility to fill that role with every ounce of your being. That is what those soldiers did. And that is what I choose to do daily.

I am currently embroiled in one of the greatest challenges in my personal life that I have ever experienced. To that end, I am resolved to do what’s right wholeheartedly throughout the entire ordeal. I absolutely need to. My wife needs me to. My kids need me to. My friends need me to. I need me to. Challenges, battles, sorrow and loss come. It happens. The true test of a man’s character, as I see it, is not his ability to handle those times but the manner in which he handles himself during those times. When faced with certain loss, certain death, certain pain, will you press on anyway?

The Charge Of The Light Brigade
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Written 1854

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter’d & sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse & hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Borrowed from

If, by Rudyard Kipling

Some things come at you hard and fast, and hit you in the face like a rush of ice cold water on a hot summer day. Others wrap their arms around you and tell you it’s going to be ok while coaxing you into a peaceful calm. Still others reach into the very core of who you are and add value – strength, courage, determination, resolve – to an otherwise broken and fragile being. This poem, by Rudyard Kipling, is one of those that just encourages and strengthens me.

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

If you are interested in learning more about this poem or would like to socialize and connect with folks who have delved deep into this piece, check out All Things If, a blog dedicated to this poem.

An outing of sorts

Today my wife needed a break badly. She has been without one for a while and asked me a couple of days ago whether last night would be alright for her to go out and have some “her” time. Last night did not exactly happen for her, but today did, so I gave her that time and decided I would spend some time taking the kids for a walk to get slushies because the kids really love doing that, generally it doesn’t cost too much and it usually wears the kids out and makes for an excellent quiet time when we get home.

Quick tip for the husbands: Your wife needs a break. Whether she tells you or not is irrelevant. Give her a break frequently. She needs it and she will be very appreciative of your thoughtfulness toward her. And even if she isn’t, you should do it anyway.

Quick tip for the fathers: Your kids need to get out the house. They need to blow off steam and they totally need to do that with their dads. This is not to say that they cannot get that with their moms. In fact kids need mom time too. But dad time is crucial, so if you have kids make time for them doing something you all can enjoy together.

So we set off on a walk, the six of us, to the 7-11 just down the street from us. The weather was nice, a little chilly but sunny, so the walk was pleasant right off the pop. We hit up 7-11 and grabbed slushies for all of us – well I prefer coffee so I did that instead – and a couple of bags of chips to snack on. Then we headed out to the front of the store to kick it and snack.

But that is something we always do, so I decided we would change things up a bit so instead of sitting out in front of the store we walked a little bit further to Mission Boulevard where we found a bench and sat on it, snacking and slurping and watching the cars pass us by. This is what it might have looked at from the cars’ perspective:


After our snack time and car watching was over was decided to cross the street and check out Mission San Jose. It wasn’t until we got there that we realized it was going to cost more money that I brought with us so we just sort of hung around the outside and checked out as much as we could without spending any money doing it.

After a short while we decided to start the walk home with a planned stop at the Olive Hyde Art Gallery. This ended up being a much shorter trip than I wanted it to be seeing as the gallery was displaying quilts and artwork that ran as high as $10,000. If not for the fact that four of my kids suddenly had to go to the bathroom at the gallery we would have only been there for a couple of minutes. In fact we were there for almost a half hour.

After that we took a slow stroll home and ended our two hour walk by coming home and resting. So when Sandi got home from her alone time she was able to come home to a quiet, resting house. Now how could this day have gotten any better?

Think BBQ. I know I am.

In memory – Sandra Cantu

A little over a week ago a news story broke in which an eight year old girl had gone missing in Tracy, California. Sandra Cantu, the eight year old girl, was last seen leaving a friends house and walking back to her home in a trailer park in Tracy. She was not seen after that.

Within four hours the missing persons report was filed and the police began investigating. The media began to report it and the community rallied around her and became hopeful that she would be found. It was a touching story and one that served to bring awareness to all families that no matter where you live you need to teach your children how to defend themselves, who to trust and what to do in situations that could result in their harm, abduction or worst of all, their death.

Well yesterday the worst of all possible scenarios was broadcast all over the central valley and bay area. Sandra Cantu, the eight year old girl who had gone missing just 10 days ago, was found dead in a suitcase in an irrigation pond on a farm just two miles away from Sandra Cantu’s home.

As the father of five kids, four of whom are daughters and one of whom is eight, I was rattled by the news. Entirely too many children die each year for the stupidest of reasons. It sickens me and angers me when I hear that any kid has been violated in any way. Even worse is hearing about kids whose lives have been snuffed out because of someone with a penchant for causing harm to a child. I still get confused by acts like these, cowardly, selfish acts for which there is no logical explanation.

As a parent I feel it is my responsibility to make sure my kids are safe as much as possible. Doing that sometimes requires shock and awe tactics. Like relating to my kids that at any time, anyone that seeks to do them harm could very well present themselves in a way that appeals to my kids. My wife and I train up our children as best we can. And sometimes the best course of action is to let them in to stories like that of Sandra Cantu.

If you have kids I hope you take the time tonight to tell them just how much you love them. Make it a point to discuss this case with them and the importance of not trusting anyone they don’t know. And make sure you take some time to pray for the family of Sandra Cantu. I cannot even imagine what they must be going through right now

Kids need an island all to themselves

Last night my three older daughters spent the night in an Embassy Suites hotel room with a bunch of other young girls as part of a sleepover birthday party for a good friend of theirs. As per the instruction manual, the kids ate mostly junk food, played very hard, did all sorts of things they would normally not do and stood up way too late.

As a parent I can live with almost all of these things. All, save for the staying up way too late bit. See when a kid stays up too late he/she tends to get crankier than a hungry hippo that is tied up 20 feet away from food with a chain that is 18 feet long. In fact, the only thing worse on this planet than a cranky kid that has stayed up too late is multiples of said cranky children that have stayed up way too late.

Such is the case with my day today.

I picked the kids up this morning at about 10:30 and found out that they had stayed up until about 3:00 in the morning. Not too unusual for a sleep over (heck, there are times when they stay up almost that late, er early, at home under normal circumstances). The unusual thing was that they woke up early so that they could get their breakfast on and prepare to go home for the day. How early you ask? Around 7:00 this morning or so.

Yep, four hours of sleep. Nope, not nearly enough.

As was evidenced by the extraordinary fighting that ensued almost immediately upon them entering the car. 45 minutes is a long time by itself. Put five kids together in a car and let them loose on each other and that 45 minutes begins to feel like 45 weeks. Why five kids you ask, when only three slept over? Well, the law of child physics states that “… whenever a child is in a state of crankiness borne from lack of sleep, food, water or toilets said child will exude crankiness at a distance and to a degree equal to that of their nearest sibling, parent or other human with whom such crankiness might bear resemblance; …”. So in effect three cranky kids makes for a truck full of seven cranky people.

So right now they are all in bed. No, not just their rooms. Their beds. They need sleep. And because of the work involved in just tuning out their crankiness I now need sleep. And so does the wife. So it would seem that because of my three oldest daughters’ refusal to get to sleep at a decent hour last night the entire house is now subject to a property wide lockdown.

Now if I jut had an island that I could send all my kids to in times like this I would be able to sit back, relax and watch some Pro Bowl, seeing as it is the last NFL of the season. Actually, seeing as the Pro Bowl is played in Hawaii, perhaps it isn’t the kids that need an island all to themselves so much as it is me.

Seeing it and doing it are two different things

A couple of days ago I wrote about a profound comment Sarah made and the impact it had on me. Since then I have been thinking that if I see something that needs to be handled and I can handle it then I should handle it. See it, do it.

It’s a simple concept really. Walking through the hallway, see a food wrapper of some sort just sitting there, stop and pick it up and put it in the trash. Really, it isn’t that hard.

So I figured I’d adopt that principle today and as I got home I noticed a few things that could be handled. First off, the garbage bins were still on the curb from yesterday. That is easily overlooked and I figured that really no one else in my family could see the three and a half foot tall, two foot by two foot square carts with wheels on them and smelling really bad in the front of the house for the past 24 hours, so I put them away.

As I put them away I noticed that both of the passenger side doors on our Suburban were open. Knowing how difficult it is to see two car doors open I decided that I would just handle it and close the doors, checking first to make sure nothing was stolen from it and the the lights and everything on it worked properly.

I came in the house, loved on the wife and kids for a few minutes then went in my room to change. I noticed that my little shelf in my room with my router, printer and modem on it was kind disheveled and while I thought that maybe Sandi was in the middle of something, I thought it might be a good idea to put everything back the way it was when I left. Not to mention that in order to have a place on my bed to fold the laundry that sat in my room since yesterday I would need to take care of it. So I handled putting the pieces back from whatever pulled all my electronics out.

Then I folded laundry because it was there. All night. And all day. And if you see it you should do it. But since it is difficult to see a hamper full of laundry sitting right in front of a TV it makes sense that it would not be done. But since I happened up on it, I did it. And I did the other laundry that had been sitting in the dryer since yesterday, too. And I moved laundry down and started a new load because if you see it you should do it. And I saw a mountain that needed to be done.

After removing some trash and a coffee cup from my bedroom and taking them to the kitchen I noticed that there was a large stack of dishes sitting in the sink. Well, not large enough for anyone to see during the day time. But just large enough for a guy that just got home to see. And since I saw it, I did it. I put away what was already clean and dry, washed the rest, dried many and put those away too.

And while I was seeing and doing things I realized that I forgot to look for something that I should have looked for when say hi to the kids. Did my kids do their homework today? For Sarah, the answer was no. So seeing that she needed to get some homework done, since that is only visible after 8:00 PM, I had her start it.

Then I was finally able to sit down, take a breathe and start working for myself.

See it. Do it. Got to bed.

Going on a date

Today I was able to go out on a date. And it was not with my wife either. Scandalous you say? Hardly. My date was with my daughter Rebekah.

I try, as often as I can, to take time to spend with my kids individually to sort of gauge how they are doing in our family. I like to get their point of view to see how they are seeing what is happening in our household and in the affairs of the Gonzalez family. There is so much insight to be gained from the experiences of a child if you take the time to dig deep enough to find it. I love taking some time every now and again to get back in touch with my kids.

That said, this is something that I have been planning for a while now. I already had a date with Sarah a while ago and it was my intent to have one with all of my kids shortly after that. For some reason that never happened. Until today.

So we had made small plans to go out to get something to eat and maybe grab a coffee or something. We ended up going to this great little burrito place in Newark and eating these freaking hugemongous burritos that I could barely finish (but Bekah kept up pretty well). Then we headed to the mall to try to find a card for my brother for his birthday party tomorrow. After a few laps around the place and a quick browse of the Hallmark store we found a card and headed to the Starbucks for fraps. Then we walked more.

All in all we spent about three hours out and about having fun, eating, getting coffee and talking. Yes, talking. The entire point of the date was so that I could reconnect with her, get a feel for what was going on with her as of late and see if things are manageable in her life. And it sounded like they were.

Altogether it was an awesome day and an awesome date. We had a good time, were able to talk, were able to laugh and were able to just spend some time with each other. Which was desperately needed for the two of us.

Just your typical Manday, erm, Sunday

I’m not sure if I was lucky or unlucky today, but I can say that I had fun regardless of my fortune. A few weeks ago my wife had me pickup a work table for her. Well, it was really a solid core that had four 4 X 4 posts attached to it as legs. She really wants to add counter space to our kitchen and felt this was a good way to do it. The only thing was the table was about nine inches too wide.

A wide table is a useless table. It had to be shortened and the only way to do that was to run it through the table saw. Which is not really a difficult thing to do. When your saw is set up. But mine was still in the box it came in. Which meant I got to become Bob the Builder for a time.

The nice thing is that the assembly of this saw was not rocket science. It did take some time, but it wasn’t hard to do. In fact it was easy enough that I was able to set it up almost completely before we had to take a small break and head out for a little while.

See, three of my daughters were performing in a recital. So we had to head to Hayward in the middle of the day so they could awe the throngs of parents (all 10 of us) with their magical fingers and playing prowess. A nice little surprise in the midst of all this was that my daughter Alaynah was on the performance list. I had no idea she would be singing. And it was awesome.

The kids did great, the parents had fun, and after a little bit of snacking and mingling it was time to head home so I could get back to work on the saw. It didn’t take long to get the saw completed. I wish I could say that for cutting the door.

The door, as I said, was a solid core door. It was heavy. And it didn’t want to be cut. At least not by some small little table like the one I have. Don’t get me wrong. My saw is fine for cutting smaller pieces of wood. But for solid core inch and half think doors, making a seven foot long cut is probably too much to ask it to do.

In the end though the saw won. It did what saws do and it cut that door. And I was able to assemble it and give my wife the counter space she has wanted for a long time now. Plus I was able to to play with power tools. Heck, I was able to even build the power tool I used. Throw in the fact that I was able to watch about three minutes of football and I’d say today was a pretty cool day.

And if nothing else I now have even more surface in my kitchen to stack crap that never gets cleaned.

California has spoken on marriage once again

There were probably no greater a controversial ballot proposition this past election than that of Proposition 8 in my home state of California. The erroneously named “Same-sex marriage ban” proposition had gotten the attention of just about every state in the nation along with just about every media outlet in the nation. It was one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive proposition campaign ever and it is likely to be far from over now that California has, for the second time, voted to recognize marriage as being between a man and a woman.

For those unfamiliar to this proposition (have you been living under a rock?), the entire premise of the proposition is the adding of the following text to the California constitution:

“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”

Somehow this has gotten the name of the “Same-sex marriage ban” proposition. The “OFFICIAL TITLE AND SUMMARY” as “PREPARED BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL” in the California voter guide was “ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME–SEX COUPLES TO MARRY”. It was even referred to in some circles as the “Gay Marriage ban” proposition.

I have to tell you I was extremely disappointed with just about every aspect of Proposition 8 with the exception of it’s passing. The text of the proposed constitutional amendment was the exact same text that was proposed in the 2000 election under proposition 22. The text of the law specifically states “marriage between a man and woman”. Minor apologies to those of you who believe that this was a same-sex issue, but the reality of it is that this proposition was for people that believe marriage to be between a man and woman. This was not a “same-sex” issue, it was a “marriage between a man and woman” issue.

I found it ironic that so many people turned the desire of a group of people that want to protect marriage into something that was based on same-gender marriage or homosexual marriage. That is ludicrous. And to say it eliminated rights is just as ludicrous. In 2000 the people of the state of California voted to make marriage valid only when between a man and woman. 52 of 58 counties voted for Prop 22. It was passed overwhelmingly by the people of the state.

Eight years later four judges, four, on the California supreme court overruled the people’s decision stating the Prop 22 was unconstitutional because it discriminated against couples of the same gender that sought marriage. Since when have judges been given the right to overturn vote results? If they can do that, why vote at all? Why not just ask judges to pass all of our laws for us?

So they did. They overturned Prop 22 and for the last five and a half months marriages were being performed between couples of the same gender. They in effect handed the right of marriage to people that up until that time did not have the right to marry under that context. Keep in mind that people of the same gender that have sought to become united have been able to do so for some time now under California’s and America’s laws recognizing civil unions. The only difference is that the term “marriage” has not been recognized in California as marriage unless it was between a man and a woman. Until the judges got involved.

So their decision then gave the Attorney General the ability to label Proposition 8 as “Eliminates the rights of same-sex couples to marry”. Astonishing. Why not read the text of the proposed law and label the proposition as such? “Recognizes marriage as being between a man and a woman”. That sounds more like the proposed law to me.

For the record I want to say that I have no ill feelings toward anyone. I don’t hate homosexual people. I am not afraid of homosexual people. I am not mad at homosexual people. My opinions on marriage are not about the choices people make in their lifestyle. They are about what I believe marriage is. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Period.

I do, however, get bothered somewhat by folks that believe that because someone makes a choice they should be granted rights that they would not normally have had they not made that choice. These are the people that make statements associating homosexuality to ethnicity or gender. People that believe the struggle of the homosexual community is akin to the struggle of African-Americans that marched with Dr. Martin Luther King or Malcolm X. People that associate homosexuality to me being a male or me being Mexican. Thanks for trying to make your point but please do not place your sexual preference in the same category as my ethnic heritage or my gender. I didn’t choose to be a man nor did I choose to be Mexican. Homosexuality cannot be compared to these.

It can be compared to being a Christian. Or being a smoker. Or being a Republican. Those are all choices that are made. And not one of them carries with it a privilege afforded it simply because one aligns himself or herself with that particular group. A smoker that is told to smoke outside a restaurant because it is a non-smoking restaurant is not being discriminated against. The smoker chooses to smoke and must smoke according to the law.

A man that wants to marry has every right to marry. But if that man chooses to wed another man, according to the law, he cannot. He can unite with the other man in a civil union. But he cannot marry him. Simple. Understandable. Nondiscriminatory.

I am glad the political campaigning is over. I am glad the elections are over. And I am glad that Proposition 8 passed. I know this is not over yet. We live in a state where when certain people don’t get what they want they throw a fit and scream until someone bends. I can assure you there will still be noise on this matter for some time.

But I can also assure you that the state of California has spoken in a mighty voice and it has said clearly that marriage, regardless of your position on it, is supposed to be between a man and woman. It is clear. It is understandable. And now it is constitutional.