Welcome 2011 and to you, 2010, a not so fond farewell

As I sit down, lazing about toward the end of this, the first day of 2011, I find myself recollecting the happenings of 2010 and thinking of what this fresh new year might bring. I wish I could say, as I recollect, that 2010 was a banner year for my family and I, but the truth is 2010 was riddled with struggle, hardship, challenges and battles. It was really a hard year. And while I know that many people share this sentiment, I am not really one to dwell too long on the negative.

So with that, I’d like to remember a few things that happened this past year that were utterly positive and totally worthy of being remembered fondly:

  • Sandi got a lot better
    After a very long battle with illness and other debilitating health issues, Sandi’s health started to improve dramatically this year. She’ll admit that she’s still not 100% better. But she would also concede that she is doing way better now than she was just a year ago. Thank God for that.
  • I lost a crapload of weight
    In March of 2010 I made a decision to stop being unhealthy and lose some weight. I had no idea what I was in store for, but I knew I couldn’t continue to live my life how I had been. For those of you that were following along, you know that between March and July I lost 60 pounds on the Insanity program. My life was completely transformed because of this. But more important than the weight loss was the lifestyle transformation that took place in me, the most awesome thing being that as of the last day of 2010 I had not gained back a single pound I had lost. Hells yes.
  • My family got bitten by the theater bug
    Sandi, Sarah, Rebekah and Adriannah all auditioned for, and were cast in, Cinderella, a Stage 1 Theatre production. This was the first of what would become a string of performances they would be involved in until the end of the year. It was challenging at times, but it was very liberating for Sandi and the girls so though the nights were long the expenses high and the toll great, over the long haul, it was a win.
  • Sarah started high school, AJ started kindergarten
    As of this year I no longer have babies. This makes me smile. Sarah started high school this year, which is huge for us because it totally exposes how freaking old I really am. Wait, what? Did I really say that? What I meant to say is that it is huge because Sarah is moving into a new phase of her life. And so is AJ, who is now school aged. That means more work for Sandi and I, more work for the older girls and fewer and fewer years until all of the kids are off to college.
  • I got a new job
    In September I had the fortune of running across a Craigslist add that caught my eye. It was a Thursday morning and, without really thinking too much about it, I sent my resume to the email address in the ad at about 11:00 AM. Less than an hour later I was on a phone interview with this company. The next day I was interviewing in person with the VP. After the interview I was tasked with working as a contractor for them on a trial basis so that we could mutually evaluate each other. I fell in love with the work and, as best I can tell, they liked what I did. After my trial was up I was offered a job with them that was too good to refuse and, at the end of October I made one of the bigger life changes I’ve made in a long time.

There were quite a few other things that happened this year that were blessings to me and my family. Many of those things can be gleaned from Sandi’s Facebook, where she has documented pretty well the happenings of our family for the past year or so. Or, if you know me personally, you’ve probably already been bombarded with all of the happenings in my life, both the good and the bad.

Regardless of the state of 2010, it is now entirely behind us and in the past. I’m really not into focusing on the past too much, so as of today, my eyes are set on 2011. I know that with any start to a year, change is bound to occur. However, I know that given the nature of the past few years, 2011 will necessarily have to carry with it severe, positive change if I am to expect to make it out alive or sane. I know things cannot continue the way they are, for the most part, if there is to be any thriving in the Gonzalez house.

So as I begin my journey into this new year, I’m preparing myself for significant change, adventure and excitement. And you know what? I’m way more thrilled about that than I have ever been before.

Happy new year. May your 2011 be the best year of your life and may you gracefully and peacefully release 2010 from your clutches, whether it was good or bad for you.

Candidates for California Superintendent of Public Instruction

I know this is very last minute but I wanted to post some of the replies I received today from the candidates that are running for Superintended of Public Instruction. Voting for the California Primary Election closes at 8:00 PM today, so if you haven’t voted and you have a heart for home schooling, here are the candidates and their responses to the question: “What is your view on home schooling?”

  • Gloria Romero
    I couldn’t contact her in my email list because her email address is not published anywhere. I find this a little odd for a state senator but, having exhausted my efforts in trying to located a contact email address, I chose to give up lest I spent my entire day trying to find her email address.
  • Lydia Gutierrez
    “Thank you for doing the ground work in wanting to support the best person who will fight for your child’s well being.
    I fully support homeschooling. Before traditional education, children were taught at home or self-taught, like our most favored President, Abraham Lincoln. I am concern what has been happening around the world of children being forced to go to public school or even families having to flee their country because of fear of being arrested because they homeschooled.
    We must fight for parental rights and this is why I supported the ‘Right to Work’ initiative that would not allow unions to use dues for political use without the permission of the member. My union, California Teacher’s Association (CTA) supported the ‘No’ vote on Proposition 4. This was wrong; every parent has a right to know what is happening to his or her child at school.
    When it comes to educating a child, the best scenario is parents, teachers, and the community are playing an active role in the child’s academic success.”
  • Alexia L. Deligianni
    “I support a parent’s right to homeschool their child.”
  • Leonard J. Martin
    Please refer to a previous post of mine detailing Mr. Martin’s response to this question.
  • Grant McMicken
    No response as of this writing.
  • Karen Blake
    “I fully support home schooling. I would work to keep the home schooling a viable option for all parents.”
  • Daniel M. Nusbaum
    “Dear Ms. H., I support and encourage families who privately homeschool their children. As long as the parent(s) have sufficient education, they should be left alone by government to teach their own children. If anything, government could and should do more to support homeschooling parents in their efforts, by providing teaching materials and other educational support requested by parents in order to be the best homeschoolers they can be! If elected I will educate myself to learn as much as I can about the homeschooling movement and the laws pertaining to it in California.” [NOTE: This is from his website. I could not find an email address for Mr. Nusbaum]
  • Tom Torlakson
    “Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate having an opportunity to respond to questions from voters. I’m glad you took the time to ask on Election Day!

    Homeschooling is an option about which many parents feel strongly and want to pursue. So, I support parents’ rights to choose this option for their children. “

  • Faarax Dahir Sheikh-Noor
    No response as of this writing.
  • Henry Williams Jr.
    “We homeschooled our children for 12 years in California (San Francisco Bay Area). I will see to it that parents have the full freedom to home educate their children.

    Sending you my Candidate Statement attachment with important media links.

    Just loaded this MUST WATCH YouTube video

    See: Queering the Schools

    In addition, I am highly recommending that Californians vote for Ken Miller as our next governor. Here are 2 of his media links.



    Please feel free to forward this information to your circles of influence to help them decide on what is best for their families.”

  • Diane A. Lenning
    “Hi Robert, I support “free choice” in education which includes home schooling. My nephew was home schooled and got a quality education. It is important for parents and students to have choices in education.”
  • Larry Aceves
    “Larry believes that homeschooling is a parent’s right and if a parent chooses to home-school their child, he would support that decision.

    I hope that this helps to answer your question. If not, please let us know.”

If I get more responses I will post them as they come. Again, sorry for the late posting.

The pig of death comes for us

Yesterday my daughter went to the doctor because she was running a rather high fever and was feeling generally unwell. Wrapped in a blanket most the day, she even got so far as to just lay down and cry from the pain in her throat so she had to be seen, in my opinion.

My wife set the appointment for the afternoon and took her in. A little while after the appointment I got the message that my daughter had been diagnosed with H1N1.

I was a little taken aback by this news at first. The thought that “swine flu” had made it into my family was a little unnerving to say the least. But as I thought about it a little more I realized that H1N1, as nasty as it has been portrayed in the media, is indeed just a flu. Yes, I said that. Just a flu.

Every year people get the flu. Lots and lots of people die every year from it. Yet for some reason our nation, in fact the world, has been duped into thinking that the swine flu is some megakiller virus that will consume you, your animals and everything you love in mere seconds if you don’t crawl under a rug and hide from it. I refuse to believe that.

And I refuse to believe that my daughter has that flu. In reading through the symptoms of swine flu, she does exhibit some of them. But for a doctor to look at my daughter for a few minutes and say she has H1N1 without so much as a throat culture or blood test is just silly.

Still, I will make sure my daughter takes her medication. But I am not buying into the hysteria surrounding swine flu. It is, after all, just a flu. It’s not like some cloaked pig adorned in a black grim reaper outfit will be knocking on our door anytime soon. And if he does, he better be prepared. This family loves bacon, blackened or otherwise.

Uninstalling Windows Live Messenger on Windows XP

The other day, while doing some routine cleanup on my machine at work, I ran into a bit of a snag when trying to uninstall Windows Live Messenger. Unlike most common software packages that include an uninstall utility, Windows Live Messenger, in a move typical of the Redmond Beast known commonly as Microsoft, does not.

After searching for a tutorial on how to remove this piece of crap software from my machine I decided to just try something.

Quick sidebar: If you are ever at the point of not trying something yourself in favor of asking someone how to do what you need to do, slap yourself three times, repeat “I am not a n00b” to yourself three times, send me $10 then try something. Seriously, just try something.

What I did was launch my Add/Remove Programs utility from the control panel (Start -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs) then, after much searching, cursing and an increased disposition to hate Microsoft, finding, I decided to click on the Windows Live Essentials package and click the Change/Remove button.

From there I was presented a dialog box that gave me two options: Uninstall and Repair. I selected Uninstall and was then taken to a menu of currently installed Windows Live software. That list, for me, included one application: Messenger. I checked the box next to messenger and started the uninstall process (which I cannot show you because I was so excited to actually get this off my computer that I forgot to take screenshots… and no, I am not reinstalling it just so I can uninstall it again to get screenshots).

Anyway, after a few minutes of working and thinking and more working, Windows reported to me that the application had been successfully uninstalled. Which is way better than I can say for the instructions I found at these two links:

So if you are tired of having Messenger on your system this is the fastest and most efficient way of getting it off of there. Enjoy!

A season for all sports

Yesterday was opening day for the Golden State Warriors basketball team. The NBA season officially opened Tuesday, October 27, 2009 and for the first time ever, it became clear to me that there is a relatively short period of time in which all four major sports are in season.

Football starts the first weekend in September. Basketball, as I just stated, starts at the end of October. The Baseball regular season ended the first week of October and the Hockey season started at the very beginning of October. That means that for the month of October and November you have the ability to catch a game in each of the four major sports within days of each other. When did this happen?

I swear I remember a time when sports had their own part of the year that they played in. I always remember Football being a fall sport, basketball (and hockey) being a winter sport and baseball being a spring/summer sport. Four seasons, four sports, one in each season.

But now it seems that all four sports seasons have to coincide right here, right now, during the month of October. Dude, I think this is a conspiracy.

Banished to the working chair

Last night, while the family and I settled in to watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, I decided to try to redeem some much needed work time and code while we watched it. So I took my position on the couch, opened my laptop and began to work. A few seconds later I heard “If you’re going to work, can you sit in the chair instead of on the couch?”.

The chair is not at all in front of the TV. In fact, it is to the side of the TV, so watching TV from the chair is not ever going to happen without serious neck pain afterward. So I asked “Is that my punishment for working during the movie?”. To which I was responded to with “No, I just don’t want you to take up space on the couch that the kids who are actually watching the movie could use.”. That made senses to me, since our couches are kinda small and in order for all seven us to sit on them we almost invariably have to have a child or two on either my lap or my wife’s lap. So I switched seats.

As I worked from my chair of solitude I was able to see my family sitting on our couches, all comfy and not squished, laughing at the movie and generally enjoying themselves. It was a scene to behold, momma with all her kids at her side, the glow of the TV reflecting off their faces, the small smiles every now and again creeping from their faces. There was one scene in particular, which I cannot recall since I could not see the TV, that really touched me in which all five of the kids and my wife chuckled and let out a corporate “Awwwww”. It was at that moment that I realized how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family to work as hard as I do for.

Yes, I would have loved to have been able to sit with them and enjoy the movie. Times being what they are, I had to work last night. For them. Because they are worth it, they deserve it and I love them enough to work for them. So my time on my little punishment of a chair was well spent, in my opinion, if even for a short time. And I’d do it again if necessary, though I hope the necessity of that will not show itself. Still, I work because I love them and want the best for them.

Perhaps next time I will be able to spend that time on the couches with my family.

An homage to Geocities

All I can say is thank God Geocities is shutting down today. I wouldn’t have known that save for a link sent to me by my coworker. The link was to xkcd.com, one our favorite sites, which today featured a tribute to Geocities websites of old.

In case you missed it, here is the XKCD homepage today:

XKCD homage to Geocities thumbnail

Anyone else as glad as me that most of those websites (*cough* MySpace *cough*) are now off the internet?

Christianity: ur doin it wrong

Our family got back to church today for the first time in a long time. Part of me missed the community of the church. Another part of me was just plain pissed off.

What I believe about Christianity
I believe the bible. I believe it is the divinely inspired word of God. I believe the God of the Bible is my God, my heavenly Father, and that His son Jesus is the Christ, that He was sent to Earth to redeem us from sin and to allow us to fellowship with the Father in heaven after our death.

I believe that as Christians we have been given an enormous responsibility to love and serve our Lord, love and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ and to profess the gospel of our Lord Jesus to the entire world.

I believe there are rules that we have to live by and there are commands that we must obey. And I believe, at this moment, that most Christians are screwing this up.

The commandments
Pretty much everyone in any advanced nation has heard the ten commandments. Some people may have had to memorize them at one point. Some people may even know them off the top of their head.

Every Christian should know these commandments, or at the very least, know where to find them. These instructions form the basis for any Christian’s religious beliefs. But regardless of your religious background, there is a pretty good chance you have run across this list before:

  1. Have no other gods before God the Father.
  2. Do not make for yourself any idol in any form.
  3. Do not take the name of your Lord God in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your mother and your father.
  6. Do not kill.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. Do not covet that which belongs to your neighbor.

For Christians what is required of us does not stop at these ten commandments. Jesus Himself gave us two more (Matt 22):

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

So in addition to what we were told by God the Father, we also have two more, very important, instructions given to us by our Savior Jesus. And while this post is not at all the post where I discuss love and the type of love God has called us to, it is important to understand that after loving God with everything you have, your next great instruction is to love your neighbor even as you love yourself.

The great commission
After Christ was resurrected He revealed himself to several people. At the end of the book of Mark, He again gave us a command that is often referred to as the Great Commission (Mark 16:15):

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Now the stage is set for how Christians are really supposed to live. First of all, we are to love our God with all we have. Then we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Then we are to go into all the world and tell everyone about the good new of the Lord Jesus. Yes, the entire world.

Christians, where you at?
One of the things that has bothered me the last few years within the Christian church is how complacent the church seems to be. I have not ever received a call from my pastor just to check on me. Now in his defense, our church is very large, so it is not necessarily practical for him to call everyone in his church. Still, there are a lot of staff members that could reach out to the congregation, yet it seems like they all wait for the member to contact them.

I have also noticed what seems like a complete lack of outreach in our church. It appears that no one wants to go out and reach out to “the lost”. Seriously, it looks like throughout the Christian church that the prevalent attitude is “if you are hurting, if you’re in need, come to the house of the Lord and be taken care of”. That is so not how Christ did things.

It also seems like we are very quick to help people in other areas, other countries, other situations while at the same time neglecting those people that are closest to us. This can be your immediate family, your extended family or even your next door neighbor. Regardless, why is it that some Christians are totally fine with traveling to Africa or India or South America to minister while passing by their neighbor’s house without ever asking how they are doing? Why does it seem like Christians just don’t care about anyone?

If we are supposed to be Christ-like it would make sense to me that there would be some localized motion in the church. Christ took the good news to the masses, but he didn’t pass by His own folks. He talked to everyone, not with judgment or anger or condemnation, but with conviction and love. He didn’t wait for people to come to Him – though they did come to Him – but rather went out and sought out those that He could love into the kingdom. And he didn’t pass people by.

I am hungry to see this type of ministry presented in the Christian church. And I am more than a little hesitant to step out to do this on my own, seeing as I am pretty sour at the church right now and I am afraid I would only minister anger and discontentment if I were to reach out to anyone right now.

Still, in this midst of what I see as total confusion surrounding the call on Christians, my prayer is that someday the true commission of Christ to His church will be fulfilled, that Christians will start to care about everyone, not just the sick children in Africa or the persecuted church in China or the polytheists in India. I pray that someday a Christian in my church, or even in my neighborhood, would listen to what was commanded him and actually step out, in love, and pursue his neighbor, ask me how I’m doing or if he can pray for me and actually love me, for who I am, how I am and where I am.

Reconciling the past

You ever have a moment where something you did weeks, months or perhaps even years ago rears itself up and manifests itself in your life again? I had that experience this morning.

This morning I discovered that some of the things that I have written in this blog have offended some very specific, very special people in my life. I won’t go into detail on those people or the subject matter in question; however, I will say that I am truly sorry for the grief, anguish and betrayal I have caused you by writing about those specific experiences in my life.

While I don’t think it is ever the intent of anyone to purposefully cause pain to someone (unless that anyone is mean and truly wants to hurt the someone), nevertheless, people do get hurt. And while I will not take responsibility for anyone’s feelings, I will certainly take responsibility for my actions.

To that end, I apologize for the latitude I have taken in some of the writings I have posted here. And though I cannot promise to not post from my heart again, I can promise that I will be more cognizant of the potential harm it could cause to those that read this blog.

All three of you. 😉

Hey, Robert, where you been?

I was looking back over my blog activity the other day and realized that I have not produced nearly as much content as I have in the past. For a while I was shooting for a post a day and I was pretty successful at it. But things happen, wake-up calls are answered, life beckons, yadda yadda… and the next thing you know it has been months since I have posted anything.

Generally this wouldn’t mean too much. But for me it is starting to get to me. I have used my blog as my soap box, my psychiatrist, my drinking buddy, my locker room. It has been a way for me to get things off my chest, shout to the world and broadcast my experience, my personality, my rants, my wisdom and sometimes my ignorance 🙂 . It has also been a way that some of my friends and family have used to keep up with me and my life. Which means that if I don’t talk to them on a regular basis then they might have no idea what is going on with me.

Given the nature of things in the Gonzalez atmosphere as of late, and specifically my world (because we all know how self-centered, egotistical and wrapped up in myself I am) I’ve decided to put more time and effort into my blog. I think I need the therapeutic value of it more than anything, but I also would love for my friends and family to be able to know what is happening with yours truly when they want to know.

So if I haven’t lost you as a reader because of my lack of involvement in this thing I am glad you stuck around. I hope with some upcoming changes I am making that keeping up with me will be even easier for you and will prompt even more output from me.