I had some friends over tonight so I missed it when both Skype rang on my computer and my phone rang. When I finally got around to listening to the voicemail that was left there for me on my phone... my heart melted!

I love my sister... and I love my little niece!


My Take On The Tea Fire

So Thursday night Kyle and I are sitting in the front room of the house with the TV on... it's windy outside. Really windy outside! Our fire alarms do a little sound off... which isn't too big of a surprise. Kyle and I look at each other and just shake our heads. The wind always seems to get our fire alarms to go off... so we don't think too much of it.

The phone rings... it's my buddy and former roommate, Alex. He's calling to chat and find out what's going on with me. We start to chat and I get up to walk around... which is pretty typical. Five minutes into the conversation I'm in the office when all of the sudden someone is wildly banging on the front door. I walk over to the door thinking... what in the world could be so urgent that this person needs to bang so wildly on the door?!?! After opening it... I'm met with some words that will make anybody's gut immediatly twist.

"Fire! Fire! There's a fire really close. Come outside I can show you."

I follow this wonderful woman who has taken the time to help save my life... out to my driveway. I look back behind my house up onto the side of the mountain. Roughly a half-mile to a mile further up the mountain is a wall of flames... looking very similar to this picture actually taken of the Tea Fire. The woman is already gone back to her car and on to find the next house that doesn't already have activity going on outside... Alex has overheard the conversation... says his goodbye and hangs up realizing the severity of the moment. Within seconds my brain makes the connection... it's super windy... the fire is on top of us... we've got 10 minutes to grab what's most important... and the rest will burn. These will be my last few rushed minutes in this house.

Kyle and I don't really panic... but we both know we have to work quickly. Dashing back inside I quickly prop open the inside door to the garage... open the outside garage door... unlock the truck and open all the doors. Quickly back inside... right to the computer. Unplug all the cables and leave them on the ground. Kyle grabs the other PC with his hard drive in it. Computers are in the truck. Another quick trip for 5 external hard drives... minus any cables. Another couple trips for photo albums and loose pictures in shoe boxes. Another trip for the laptop and briefcase. Filing cabinet open... passport... financial info.. tax info... into the truck.

Five minutes have passed since we laid our eyes on the fire baring down on us... the sun is down and the light outside is waning. Omedi comes home and dashes into his room to start filling his car with stuff. I tell Kyle to just start grabbing clothes and filling up whatever space is left in the truck. We both make a couple trips with clothes. Then we both turn our attention to helping Omedi with his stuff. On a trip to his car, Omedi drops and almost tragically steps on his glasses in the shrubs in front of the house. Luckily the glare from the front porch light gives them away to me within seconds and we side step what could have been a huge problem.

Within 10 minutes Kyle and I are in the truck... and pulling away. Kyle's car is in the shop so he is with me. Omedi is in his own car leaving ahead of us. Pulling out of the driveway I immediately begin to pray for our neighborhood... our house... the people... the 1200 students on the Westmont campus right next to us. I stop praying for a brief moment as driving away we are met with a clear view again of the huge flames headed at us. Kyle and I are both certain that our house will not be there after tonight.

Kyle and I are fortunate to have a couple different places to evacuate to... Kirsten has a spare bedroom open at her house in and Jen and Garth open there house up to us as well. We both are glued to the news all night... watching the footage of different houses burn... hoping to catch a glimpse of our neighborhood. If my house is going to burn... I want to at least know for sure... and to actually watch it burn.

Firefighters are quick to respond on this night... but they are fighting a losing battle. Winds are intense and the fire does what it wants. In fact... the wind makes the fire do crazy things. It jumps wildly around the hills of Montecito. Hot embers fly through the air... starting fires in the completely random places. One house burns while the two on both sides of it remain standing.

I get to bed around 2 AM tonight and am up at 4:45 AM checking different websites for the most recent information. The Westmont website gives me some of the best details... 14 houses in my neighborhood have been confirmed as destroyed. This hits me with mixed feelings... I had assumed the worst... but now hope was climbing back in. Which 14? Is the neighborhood still at risk? Will more burn? The sun starts to come up and I need to get in front of a TV again.

No footage of our neighborhood... but over 100 houses are confirmed as destroyed... a 98 year old gentleman from my neighborhood is the only fatality from the fire... but it's not confirmed that the fire is really the cause. Omedi had taken off to his girlfriend's house and his phone goes right to voicemail... I don't know what he knows or doesn't know. I try to get ahold of other people in my neighborhood. I finally connect with Eileen...

Her phone is dying and she can barely understand me. She had most likely sheltered in place at Westmont with all of the students and other people who had been caught on campus. She is my neighbor from two houses away and had been able to walk over to the neighborhood this morning before being forced to evacuate like the rest of us. As I scream my name into the phone so she can hear me and understand who it is she's talking to... she tells me that she is standing in front of what used to be her house. My heart sinks for her... but I have to know... can you see my house?

Yes... your house is still standing.

And quickly she gets off the phone to save battery. A warm rush comes over my body... and again... mixed feelings. My neighborhood has been devastated... but for some reason my house has seemed to make it through. A feeling of relief and sadness at the same time... and still... uncertainty.

As I write this it is Saturday night... two nights later. Evacuation warnings have been lifted in certain places... but my house remains deep in the area burned by the fire... I am still not allowed back. Firefighters will have to assess the neighborhood I live in... yellow cards to deem the house unlivable but safe for retrieving belongings... green cards to deem the house livable. The most recent information says that this may take several more days.

Here is an image of my neighborhood that someone found on a BBC website of all places. My house is highlighted by the blue arrow and a red arrow for each of the houses destroyed. My next door neighbor has lost their house! How does something like this happen?!? Fire and wind are such crazy things!


Magic Mountain

I don't really know the full story on how Bethany scored tickets to Magic Mountain... but I do know that Kyle and I were the beneficiaries of those tickets this last Sunday. It had been awhile since the last time I was at Magic Mountain and I can't remember ever being there on such a brisk day. It was actually pretty nice in Santa Clarita for the most part. Check out the flag in the picture above... there was definitely a nice "breeze" at the top of all the rides.

This was Kyle's first time to Magic Mountain in the last nine years... so we obliged him when he wanted to take pictures with all the characters walking around. Doesn't he look so proud! Ahhh... so special.

The lines weren't too bad through most of the day so we were able to hit all the newest rides. X2 and Déjà Vu were probably the highlights... at least that's where we got the most genuine mid-sentence screams out of Bethany.

By the end of it all... my head was feeling pretty dizzy. I probably could have made myself puke after we got off the last ride... but I couldn't let Kyle and Bethany have the pleasure of holding that one against me. After we took off and got some water and hot chocolate at the nearby Starbucks... we figured out that we hadn't eaten much and hadn't had any water all day either. After getting some water and food I think we all felt a little bit better.

It was a great day! It always is when you're with friends and you're at Magic Mountain.

P.S. I'm awfully hairy right now. I thought I might keep it around for a couple more weeks just to give it an honest chance... but I don't know how much longer I can keep this stuff on my face.


Happy Birthday Annemarie!

My heart is in Austin today... as Annemarie celebrates her birthday! I'm headed out there in a couple of weeks, so a flight to Austin for the weekend... although extremely tempting... seemed a little bit overboard. I did look into it though.

So I am forced to sing to her over a cell phone... which I did with my most best-er-est singing voice at the stroke of midnight. I think she rather enjoyed it.


I snapped this while I was in Austin the last time... ain't she a looker!!!


I Voted

My neighborhood always gets mail-in ballots because of the low number of residents in a large area... so I actually voted over the weekend. But I wanted to make sure that my vote actually made it in on time to be counted... so I walked my ballot into a poll today.

And I also wanted to get my sticker too! :o)


Scrolling Bliss

So a week or so ago... my Mighty Mouse scroll wheel decided to stop working. I tried all the tricks of cleaning the scroll ball and nothing seemed to work. So I was forced to swap it out for an old Dell mouse... uggghhh. I quickly realized how much I scroll left and right inside of Mac OS X... and how lame this old mouse was.

A new mouse was going to cost $50... but what I really want is a new Mac Pro! I figured I'd get a new mouse if I bought a whole new computer... right?!?!? My old G5 is just that... 3 years old! That's like 90 in computer years! And it doesn't have an Intel processor... which would allow me to run both Windows and OS X... which I could actually use at this point for testing of Showit Sites.

So I actually had my sandals on to head down to the Mac store and buy myself a new computer (which I definitely can't afford)... when I figured I'd perform some surgery on my Might Mouse. Heck... it was useless anyhow. I had been hesitant before because you actually have to break the darn thing to get into it. They actually glue it together as the last step in manufacturing... stupid.

But alas... after a minor surgery and a little TLC... I saved myself $3000 by giving it one last go. And now I'm back to all of my left-to-right scrolling bliss!


My California Quake

So... this will probably not make the news or anything... but Santa Barbara just had a little earthquake all to itself!! As you can see... the center of the earthquake was right out my back door! That line is only about 2 miles as the bird flies!

I was actually awake working when it hit... and wasn't quite sure what it was. I actually got up from my desk and went outside to see if anything was swaying or if animals were making any noises... but there was nothing. I then proceeded to my favorite USGS site to check out how much California is shakin'... and again found nothing.

So off to sleep I went... to catch myself a little three hour nap before a conference call I had this morning... not really thinking too much about it. When I woke up... there was an email from DJ asking me how much I had swayed around. A return trip to the USGS site revealed this:

So I hadn't been crazy... there actually was a little earthquake... and it was right out my back door!



In keeping with my recent number crunching... I've been doing a lot more of it in the last two days. And I'm still counting minutes... that hasn't changed either.

Annemarie is coming out to California and I'm so excited!! She was out here briefly in March but I didn't get a chance to introduce her to anyone... that'll change this time! She's out on the west coast for just over two weeks and we've got a bunch of stuff planned for that time... again... I'm so excited!

I made a very bad mistake though. :o(

I was somewhat teasing around with her on Monday and said that we shouldn't talk again until she arrives at baggage claim out here on Thursday. You know... to just build up the anticipation and excitement. I was half joking around... thinking there was no way she could ever do that... but I think I may have underestimated her will power!

So now... here I sit... in silence... watching and counting the hours and minutes go by. Let me share with you...

Time that will have elapsed since I last saw Annemarie: 24 days, 3 hours, 10 minutes

Time from this post until I see her again: 21 hours, 57 mins, 39 seconds

The anticipation is killing me!


Is That A Lot?

Let's see here....

407 + 1733 + 2531...

That's 4671.

4671 / 60...

That's 77.85.

Is that alot?

Never in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought my phone usage would look like this. My throat hurts just thinking about this...

I need some water.


The Reason

So it's definitely been awhile since I've posted. I always get behind the ball... meaning to catch up... not wanting to post new stuff and then post stuff before it that no one will ever see. However... I just can't hold back on this one.

One of the big reasons I haven't gotten around to posting... is that most of my free time and probably too much of my work time lately has been spent getting to know one of the most fabulous people I have ever met! And that would be this beautiful woman you're looking at... Annemarie. I'll save all the wonderful stories for these other blog posts that I intend to get around to... but back to the reason for these pictures and this post.

Recently our dear friend and photographer Shyla had Annemarie out to the east coast to help her shoot a wedding in Martha's Vineyard. They had a wonderful weekend together... and ended up grabbing some amazing shots (check them out) of Annemarie one of the days. I, of course, loved them! Thank you Shyla, you're fabulous!! I also immediately wanted to reciprocate.

After getting a sneak peek of these pics on my iPhone, I immediately turned to my buddy DJ (who happens to be a legit photographer) while we were standing around after church. I asked him if he wanted to take some shots of me real quick... super low key... but just something. It only took him a split second to throw out the fact that our good friend and super star photographer Jasmine was coming into town this week and she'd be awesome at something like that.

So Jasmine and I traded emails back and forth a little bit... and she was sweet enough to go out with me for a couple hours this week and grab some shots. Jasmine and I have known each other for the past couple of years... but really got to know each other through living on a tour bus together this summer. We had some great conversations as the wheels on the bus went round and round. She's so much fun and has such a wonderful heart! Oh yeah... and she's got some serious skills too! I mean... she made someone like me look half way decent in some photos. :o)

You can see more of 'em here.

Thank you Jasmine for helping me reciprocate!!! You are wonderful!