James’ SLO Life… Daughter’s First Airshow

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On October 5th, the “Warbirds Over Paso” airshow flew into town (Ha!), and this year was quite a pleasure to attend. Not only was it the first airshow I have been to in close to 15 years, it was my daughter’s first airshow ever. The original plan involved the whole family, but my son got into a fist fight with a cup of tea and is recovering at home with momma. I know what you are thinking, but the tea was way worse off after the fight. So the Jedi and I load up and head out to see us some air planes.

Now to be honest, you don’t really have to pay to go in. You park right next to the air field so you could sit in your car and get a great view. I got free tickets because my work donated a bunch of stuff for the event and we got a few wrist bands so in we went. We got there just in time to see my favorite plane of all time, the P-38 Lightning. I haven’t been able to catch a show where one of these were flying and seeing one was like a childhood dream flying right in front of me. After watching it taxi back in, we walked around the parked planes and my daughter was amazed at the size of the C-130 that the Brits brought over. She had no problem going in all the planes we were allowed to look around in. The next planes were gearing up to fly and the roar of their engines caught my daughter’s attention and we headed towards the planes. 5 P-51 mustangs were heading out to the runway and everyone was getting excited (cool, but ain’t no p-38). I will have to admit, seeing 5 of these birds fly in formation was kinda cool. The next plane to fly was the “flying wing” built out in my home town of Hawthorne by Jim Northrop. Although cool to see, I have seen it before and it was far too quiet for my little Jedi to care for. We took this time to hit up the toy tables so I could be suckered into buying my sweet daughter a toy plane I will more than likely end up stepping on in the dark causing more bombs to drop from my mouth than fell on Berlin in 1945. After getting her toy, she decided it was getting time to go, so we headed towards the gate. She gave me permission, although grudgingly, to watch the bombers take off.She was pretty excited from the thump the engines throw through the air but was over it once they were up.

Although a quick 2 hour experience, it was a great first airshow for my little Jedi to see planes close up and flying in ways she hasn’t seen before. For being up here in Paso, this airshow puts on a great event for the whole family to enjoy. But make sure you bring hats and sunscreen because there isn’t much shade on the tarmac.

Ribbet collage

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James’ SLO Life… My Birthday!


The fall is here, and with it another birthday. Yesterday (10/01) marked my 32nd year on this planet. Normally I would have been at Disneyland but having a daughter with a birthday 15 days after mine, I am conceding that fun to her. So for my birthday, I took advantage of a couple of those great “free” on your birthday things that float around. Wait, I am getting ahead of myself. First thing in the morning was me walking out into the living room to find that my wife and daughter had decorated the dining room in celebration for my birthday. There were balloons, streamers, and Star Wars decor all over the place. Then my wife served up some great roasted country potatoes and eggs with turkey bacon (my favorite breakfast combo) and we all ate together as a family.

After breakfast, we opened presents and hung out while we all got dressed for outside. Out to Atascadero for Cold Stones for my birthday special. This year they changed from a free creation on your birthday, to a buy one get one deal (times are hard and money is tight). So luckily I had a wife to go with so I could get my freebie. SO after scarfing down my free bowl of heaven (shared with my daughter of course), We all head back home to drop off the kids with my mother in law (newly moved into the area from Georgia) and head back to Atascadero for $5.50 tuesdays at the Galaxy Theater (if you sign up for their club). Saw the movie “Rush” starring Chris Helmsworth, and was not disappointed with the outcome.

After the movie, I had my choice between Big Bad Bubba’s BBQ or Sylvester’s Hamburgers as both have free meals on your birthday specials. I have eaten at both before so I decided to choose the one I (and lower regions of I) wouldn’t be sad because of later. Sylvester’s is probably one of the best burgers on the central coast for the price. Yes, there are far greater burgers I’ve had but they also had a far greater price I had to pay to enjoy. So I grabbed me a 1/2 lb. California burger to go, snapped my birthday picture for the wall, and headed back home to hang out with my kids whom after a 2 hour movie, I was starting to miss.

Having exhausted them with non stop daddy time after I got home, I got them tucked in and kissed them goodnight. I spent the rest of the night with a buddy and my wife watching the Avengers… again… and that completed my birthday. Not as eventful or quite as exciting as birthdays in my youth, but I couldn’t ask for anything else. To spend my time around the woman of my dreams that I don’t deserve, and the gifts of my children that she gave me, is the absolute best birthday an ex punker from the South Bay could ever have imagined.

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James’ SLO Life… Banking Injustice

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Summer is just about over, although the weather would not allude to that fact having crept back into the 90’s up here in north county. I am starting to get the garden together for my wife to start her fall plantings and some fence maintenance now that the temp is moderately bearable. I took a trip down to the South Bay to help with cleaning out my Bachan’s (japanese grandmother) house so that the bank can come take it back in a very crooked manner.

The amount of history that was found was amazing. Having spent the early part of her life in an internment camp and having only 1 truck to her name, she kept everything after being released as if it were all treasure. Coins, pictures, jewelry, and even toys from the 60’s and before were put in boxes all over the house and in closets and in the attic, probably untouched since being bought (as many were still in original packaging). As most Japanese Americans did when called to these camps, they went willingly because they considered themselves Americans and were doing what their country asked in scary times. Unfortunately, after leaving, their houses, property, and belongings (including family heirlooms) were taken and sold off in their absence leaving them only what was brought with them to the camps. What a sad and disgusting time in our country’s history. After all that, now the bank is trying to do the whole thing over again after selling her a predatory loan that compounded to make her owe twice what her house was worth. These types of people need to be taken out in public and shot in the stomach and left there to die over the next couple days, bleeding out slowly, as they do to their financial victims. Now this amount must be paid by my mom even when the bank is going to be taking the house.

The stress that this has put on my mother over the last year has been enough to drive someone into actions many might deem immoral, if not illegal, and I commend her for keeping herself on the straight and narrow because I would not be able to handle it so well. As Americans, we love throwing around the word freedom but don’t question the slavery in which we have all willingly succumb to by the banking industry. It’s way past time to force a change these big fat cat bankers seem to keep getting away with ignoring.

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James’ SLO Life…Organizing the Garage

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So this last week I had to tackle a job that everyone who owns a house must do once and a while… organize the garage. When first starting in on this, I will admit I was a little overwhelmed. I had tools all over the place and nothing on my work bench was where it should be or put away in the tool box. I had a couple of larger items hanging on nails in the studs of the wall but all in all nothing was utilizing space well. I went down to my local hardware/home improvement store to see what I could do. Cruising the aisles I noticed that they had their items all on hooks that were in peg boards. The light bulb went off and I was a little embarrassed having not thought of this sooner. I picked up 3 peg boards in the ply wood section which measured 3’x1.5′ each and some hardware to hang the items on.

Once home, I cleared the section of wall I was planning on using and plotted out the layout. I too a couple of 2x4s and a 2×2 and secured them to the wall for securing the peg boards to (can’t have the peg board flush against the wall or you won’t be able to put the hooks in). I trimmed up the peg boards to fit the layout and used the extra pieces I trimmed off to fill in strips below the main boards for smaller items and knick knacks. Once all secured to the wall, it was time for the fun part… organizing the tools on the wall. There is something therapeutic about getting your tools in order and kinda gratifying putting them on display like this. I don’t know why I waited so long but this is definitely worth the work. For less than $50 and a half day(or full day if also taking care of kids) you can bring a sense of organization to your work station that will give you a sense of pride and ease and in the long run, make for a happier garage going experience… and as you can see, there is still room to add items and grow my wall of tools.

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James’ SLO Life… The Other F Word, a review



Recently I watched a great documentary that spoke so clear to me, The Other F Word. It is about these big time punk rock band members; such as Jim from Pennywise, Lars from Rancid, and Fat Mike from NOFX among others and their struggles and realizations of raising kids while still trying to do the whole punk rock thing. I will admit that I was a little biased going into this because I grew up listening to all these bands but was quite surprised with the way they ended portraying themselves and their lives. They stripped away all that they represent themselves with being while on stage to reveal who they are as dads. It was very close to home as it is something I will have to address my kids when they are older with me playing punk for over 10 years and now trying to be a symbol of authority as their dad and still hold on to what I have become from playing punk for so long.

The most common thought from all of the dads in the documentary is that they need to spend more time with their kids. These big time punkers all agree that they never thought about what it would be like with kids and how they couldn’t even have guessed the challenges that come across but they all love the work and trials that come along with the role of being someone’s father. The best story in the film was the main story that followed Jim Lindberg from Pennywise on his last tour and his struggles and thoughts that led up to his quitting the band after the tour. Anyone who has tried to play music as a career or spends a lot of time on business trips will feel like Jim is talking directly to them as I am sure it is a very common thing to feel this way when you have kids you leave at home to make money to raise them.

Whether you are a career musician or someone who does a lot of business travel, the struggles with earning money and spending time are the same and this movie should be a great view of how even those we don’t hold up as very responsible, walk the line in order to fulfill the expectations of bosses (fans) and their kids and the separation of one persona from the persona of parent. I definitely rate this one as 5 stars.

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James’ SLO Life… Trader Joe’s Insider Information

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Summer is slowly coming to a close and with Cuesta [college] back in on Monday and schools (Templeton) starting back in on Wednesday, normalcy is returning to North County. The droves of tourists are slowly dwindling and we are heading to the last week of concerts in the park. The basics such as bread, milk, lunch meat, and juice boxes are once again the hot commodity at your local Trader Joe’s. Kids are walking around sulking from disbelief that summer has flown past so quickly as their parents dance through the aisles acting like some Disney character singing a musical number in their heads. As routine returns to our customers (@trader joes) so does it return to us (tj’s). Ordering for the store becomes regular as does the products being sold. The rush of customers happens all at the same time each week and can be easily avoided if your schedule is flexible.

During the week the busiest times are 9:30-10, noon-1, 3-4, & 5:30-7:30. It follows school drop off/pick up and the end of the work day. The weekends are different, Saturdays are a zoo pretty much all day after 9 so getting there when we open at 8 is essential to beat the crowd. Sundays are dead until church gets out. Around 10:30 we get in the first trickle of a rush from those folk I so lovingly refer to as “sinners”. These are the ones who got communion and went straight out the church doors without waiting for the final blessing. By 11:15 the “good” church goers are starting to storm the gates and by noon, we are in full tilt craziness as those who went to brunch are now out shopping. By 7, the store is a ghost town haunted by not only the spirits of those who were shopping just a couple hours earlier as well as the product that used to stock our shelves. Shopping sunday evening is only for those who are extremely flexible in what they are buying since there is not much left but don’t want to run into ANYBODY. If you pay attention and schedule your shopping time appropriately, you too can take advantage and apply the joy all the parents feel with the conclusion of summer and the normalcy that comes with a regular routine back in their lives.

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James’ SLO Life…

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I made it, Eid has arrived. Eid Al Fitr is the celebration ending the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. In the past, I have driven with the family down to Santa Barbara to attend Eid prayer with my wife’s family. This year we wanted something closer and part of our own community. With the 50+ houses of Christian worship up here in North county, we have no places of Islamic worship. There is only one Mosque that serves the entire county and that is the Mosque of Nasreen in south county SLO. On their site they have a lot of articles and resources for those interested in what Islam really is and not what “news” stations such as “FAUX” news tries to tell everyone what Islam is. Here is an exert from one of these describing Eid and it’s meaning.


The end of Ramadan is marked by the sighting of the new moon, which is followed by a day of celebration known as Eid-ul-Fitr or the ‘festival of fast-breaking’. Families wake up early in the morning, put on their best clothes and go to the mosque for the Eid sermon and congregational prayers. They thank the Merciful God for having given them the opportunity to experience the blessed month of Ramadan. The day is accompanied by celebration, socializing, festive meals and modest gift-giving especially to children. But before the festivities begin, every person, adult and child, must have already contributed towards Zakat-ul-Fitra. This is the giving of a meal, or cash equivalent, to a needy person to make sure that none are excluded from this happy occasion.

The Eid celebration is not merely about feasting and socializing. There is a deep significance for those who truly observed the holy month with their fasting, abstaining from all bad habits and striving hard to earn the pleasure of God. For the observant, the Merciful Allah has granted Eid as a day for forgiveness of sins. The Muslim is left with a feeling of happiness and joy and a renewed energy to face the rest of the year with faith and determination. Islam teaches that the objective of life is to earn the pleasure of God. The spiritual closeness that can be achieved during the month of Ramadan serves this purpose for those who truly work hard to benefit from it. “

This will be my 5th year of fasting and probably the hardest one yet. Having 2 kids both at ages that take a lot of attention and time made for a rough time keeping the mind in the proper place to get through the day. Tempers got short and emotions started to flare especially the closer we got to bed time and fast breaking. I am grateful everyday for the gifts of children God(Allah is arabic for God and the names are interchangeable. I use God since I live in America and don’t want to put people off before they get to know me) has given me and my life he continues to grant me, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t trying on the brain. So I will be celebrating succeeding in keeping it all together during this month of sacrifice by eating during the day time and jumping right back into all my bad habits. Ha, that is not the way to do it but many go that route. It’s like giving up something for Lent, it supposed to help keep those habits at bay for good, not just keep them repressed for a month.

It will be nice to get to meet others who share the same faith as my family as the number I have met up here in North County can be counted on one hand, which makes for a pretty lonely faith to be held. If anyone is interested in Islam or just want to know more about the true faith and not what misguided religious zealots keep thrusting into the news with their misguided actions, I have provided the link below. Eid Mubarek to all on this successful end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.

Eid Prayer on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 7:15 AM
Mosque of Nasreen
1136 Walnut St
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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