June and July 2004

June and July ... well, I'm cheating a bit since it's only the tenth, but who's counting ... included two big ticket items and a few smaller ones.  The smaller ticket items include Brie's Piano Recital (a yearly event), the end of the school year (the kids disagree that this is a small ticket item), and a fishing expedition in Boston Harbor.  The first big ticket item is that we now have a dog, Patric.  More precisely, Will has a dog.  The rest of us just borrow him from time to time.  The second was Summer vacation, two weeks in California visiting with Kate's Mom and Stepdad.  This included a whirlwind of activities, including the standard (beach and pool), the semi-standard (Nick's birthday party, 4th of July weekend, visiting the old RIP... I mean, RPI ... crowd), and the non-standard (California Adventure, La Brea Tar Pits, building a new computer for Bill from scratch).  Oh, and of course, it wouldn't have been a real vacation without the kids getting to Rock and Roll with a variety of automatic weapons and ride those most dreaded of extreme-allergic-reaction-generating animals, horses (did you ever wonder why the four horsemen of the apocalypse ride horses?  Other than that they are horsemen, that is).  


Patrick is a pure bred Welsh Corgi.  the Corgi is a herding dog, and typically has a coarse layer of fur that makes them shed water easily.  Not Patric.  He's a "Fluffy," which means he's very soft and, from a breeding standpoint, a genetic defect.  But we love him anyway.  He's not too good at hiding, though.




^ Fishing in Boston Harbor with the crew from work, my first real fishing expedition in maybe 20 years?  I caught two sharks, which were casually bludgeoned to death and thrown overboard.  The guy with the look of fury is my Boss.  At least he pulled in some keepers! 

< Brie at her Piano Recital.  She played "Almost like a Dream" and "Spanish Caballero."


The standard fun-in-the-grandparent's pool with Aunt Annie.  Below left, cousin Caroline (who visited with sister Emily and Mom Liz for several days), below middle playing miniature golf with Aunt Annie, and below right building a computer from scratch for Bill.  I'd never done that before but, hey, it was his nickel.




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Uncle Nick's birthday party.  This is a yearly water-gun version of Armageddon, a battle to the death with arsenals of high-tech water guns, deadly water balloon grenades, and the occasional sneak attack with hoses or buckets of water.  Afterwards, when the sun is low in the sky, Nick and company pull out musical instruments and play mournful, soulful songs like "She's darn cute but for personality I like my dog better."  Well, OK, I actually don't know what songs they are playing but they SOUND like they should have a name like that.  Brie and Will, to the right, have the latest in Water Gun Armament (that's a pun... you'll get it in a sec).  They pump up by flexing your bicep.  Ha!  Get it?  Armament?  Heh heh.  

more Nick Birthday Photos




Cousin Emily looking incredibly cute... but she has some competition this time...


Janet, smiling because I threatened to soak her if she didn't


Kate with Matt and Cindy, parents of the equally incredibly cute....


Oh, look, it's the incredibly cute Lucia






Ummmmm.... who the heck is this guy?  How did he get in this picture?


Liz and Nick... the future's so bright, they have to wear shades...


We did California Adventure this year, having hit Disneyland several times in the past, along with Gabriel (a friend of Brie's) and her parents.  It was a blast, although it's more like a six-flags amusement park (this is, freaking scary rides) than traditional Disney.  My favorite part was doing the "Maliboomer" with Will.  Strapped to the outside of a 180 foot tower (with puke shields the only thing between you and a looooonnnnnggg way down), you accelerate up like a bat out of heck, then freefall back down.  Will was so scared, he couldn't scream.  I thought he was going to pass out.

more California Adventure photos (IE only)





The Boy's Boardgame Day Out with Jeff Goldsmith, Jeff Stern, and Barry Maurer (photo to right with Jeff's "Wall of Games").  We played Puerto Rico, which was a great game, and I only say that because I won.  Jeff, having collected big time when www.IGN.com went public, moved to a huge... cavernous... well, pretty big house, literally backed up against the Angeles Crest National Forest.  It had a certain atmosphere that was both heady and familiar, although it's hard to put a finger exactly on what made it so... comforting.  Oh, wait, I know!  It was the keg of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on tap!

more photos of BBDO





Oh, and finally, the 9 mm automatic weapons.  Barry invited us over for a little shooting and horseback riding.  But he also brought along his friend, Pat, who has a class 3 weapons license and plays weapons master for different Hollywood movies (the only one I remember is "Interceptor").  As a result, he has twenty or thirty fully automatic weapons that are movie props, including a belt-fed .308 machine gun.  He let us play around with the Callico M950 and Beretta PM125.  We also fired a .22 cal Ruger Mark II, a Sig Sauer Model 229 (a .40 cal, kicked like a mule), a .357 Mag revolver I sold to Barry, and a .22 with silencer (Will, to the right), which was just like the movies... a soft cough (followed by a "WHANG" as the bullet hits the backstop).  The funniest thing about it was that Brie quickly glommed onto the .22, and was all about accuracy and bull's-eyes, where Will immediately glommed onto the the guns that made the most noise (the .357 Magnum Colt Police Python), and didn't care what he hit.

The horseback riding was courtesy of Barry's wife, Rhonda (middle right photo), who took Brie, then Will for a long horseback ride.  They rode Smoky, a retired Police Horse, while Rhonda rode Girlfriend.  A third horse, Nicky, was too young (and high spirited) for the kids to ride.

more pictures of guns 'n horses







The fourth of July included visits from the Stern clan (middle right), and Alex and Koreen (far right).  Below we find Bill Garber and... who is that guy? ... the legal and lethal sparklers, and (the next morning) the equally lethal batch o' kids 'n cousins. 

more 4th of July photos



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Das Beach... with Will and I, the Girls (Brie, Caroline, and Emily), and fun trikes on Venice beach (all different days, actually).  Will and I participated in a SoCal visit ritualy, catching sand crabs ... can you count the number in the bucket?


More Beach Photos






And finally, the La Brea Tar Pits, where we saw excavation in progress (left), along with the previously excavated fossils in the Page Museum (lower left, upper and lower right). 


more fossil photos