The New Year

Happy New Year Everyone.

Neither I nor Amy did much to celebrate the New Year. She had to work on New Year’s Day, therefore needed to get to sleep at a normal time so we just had some wine and watched the East coast feed of the ball drop in Times Square and then made our ways to bed. And New Year’s Day wasn’t anything special for me, essentially cleaning up the house and doing laundry. Although I did go out and have lunch with my good friend Mike, who is in a very challenging situation and I intended to address that in a future post. But for me the New Year Day celebration comprised of mainly laundry, cleaning, playing a some video games and thinking about what the last year meant and what this new year will mean.

2012 was an interesting yet very challenging year. I turned 31 years old. I got to go out of the country for one of my best friend’s weddings in Mexico. I celebrated 5 years of marriage. I got to have one of my best friends move back to the Southern California area. I began to take a serious leadership role in my local church. I left the family business after working there more than six years. I got to see my middle younger brother, and the last McCormick boy, get married to a woman he adores. And both myself and my wife began new careers wife the County of Los Angeles.

In retrospect a lot happened and now I have a new year to try and set and achieve some real goals.

First and foremost I really want to work on my prayer life. While I have practiced occasionally with I want begin regular centering and contemplative prayer. I have read and studied it and I really want to put it to use this year.

Along with that I want to begin the exercise of prayer the divine hours, which is a way of praying at set times throughout the day. Just another practice that I want to make regular.

Like just about everyone else in the country I need to exercise more, so I hope to begin some sort of a regular exercise regimen, we will have to see how that one goes. As it is something I have never been good at but I hope to achieve and maybe drop some pound sby the time summer comes around.

Attached to that is my wish for a better diet. Amy has really been on me about eating better and I hope to do this with her and stop eating like I am 10 years younger than I really am.

I want to also work on my relationship in general, both with my wife and with people in general around me. As I age I have come to realize how important relationships are and I want to truly develop stronger more meaningful relationships with those around me.

I do want to get back to reading more. I have been inspired in this by my youngest brother who has become quite the voracious reader. So, my initial goal is to try and read a book every two weeks. We will see how I do on this one.

I also want to write more. While my new job does require more writing than my old one I want to really work at organizing and rational presenting my thoughts. I think it helps clean the brain out and hopefully helps me with my grammar and spelling.

Get back to school, somehow someway I want to be headed back to school by the end of this year. With my goal being to be in a Masters program, hopefully an MBA or MPA by the end of the year or at leats making progress towards that.

And finally I want to strive for honesty and transparency in life. To often we just fake our way through things and I don’t want that I want people to see me and really know what they are getting. But then I want people to get the real me, not some fake version I put out there but the real me.

So that is it, a long list, a tall list, but I want to be committed to it and really try to follow through, and hopefully I am a better person 12 months from now.

So Nothing Happens Here

So nothing really happens here but I am hoping to change that for 2013.  But then again I was hoping to change that for 2012 and look what it got me.  But much has changed this past year, so much that I never would have imagines that I would be where I am now.  So we shall see.  Do you care to come along and find out?

{Product Review} Epson LabelWorks LW-400 Label Printer

Great Alternative to Brother Label Printers

I had always thought of Epson as a printer company.  As in you bought their printers for computer to print documents or photos…things like that.  I suppose it only makes since that they got into the label printing market too.

I had always used Brother brand label printers at work and I had been relatively happy with them, they printed labels for things that I needed to have labeled.  Well I have to say Epson has upped the ante.

First the printer is handheld, not too heavy, but not so light that it feels cheap and crappy.  I just use the batteries and I haven’t had to change them in the several months I have used the product.  You can use an AC adapter, but I have not had too.

When cutting the labels you do have to do it manually, no automatic cutter.  Probably a good thing as it saves on battery life and it is as simple as pressing down on a tab/button.

Epson is well known for have a dearth of features for their products and the LabelWorks LW-400 is no different.  You have 14 different fonts to choose from, almost a dozen different styles, I think just about every obscure symbol you could want is in there to use too.  The printer also prints barcodes if you are that hi-tech, although that isn’t me.

The other nice feature is that when you print labels there isn’t a lot of wasted label that doesn’t get printed on.  Like when I would use a Brother label maker, sometimes I would get an inch of blank label before the text started, much less on this product.  So you do not waste the label making material.  That is a very big plus in my book.

My only real beef is that the labels feel a little thin and cheap.  I haven’t had any problems with them quality wise, none have peeled off or failed for me yet, but they are significantly thinner than other brands.  I just think that is worth noting.

Finally the labels are affordable.  Thanks goodness you can find just about any style of label you need for under $20 on Amazon.  This is great as I know the brother brand labels especially the genuine ones get real expensive, most of the time on Amazon you can find the genuine Epson labels for $17.50.

So overall I am very pleased with the product.  If does what is claims to do and it does it quite well, and I highly recommend it.  If you have a question feel free to leave a comment and I will be happy to try to respond and answer.

{Book Review} Star Wars: The Old Republic: Deceived

The Run-Up and Backstory to The Old Republic Online Game

This novel takes place in the time right before and during the beginning of the Star Wars Bioware game The Old Republic. The story focuses on three major characters Darth Malgus (The main antagonist from the game), Jedi Knight Aryn Leneer and smuggler Zeerid Korr.

The story begins just as the cutscene from the game begin with the Sith led by Darth Malgus attacking the Jedi temple on Coruscant. We then follow the story of our three characters as their stories all begin to intertwine.

This book is good at keeping things within the Star Wars universe and not going to far outside the box. The author has penned Star Wars related books before and is an established fantasy/science fiction writer and it shows. The characters are multidimensional and in reading the story you begin to understand their motivations for what they do, rather than they just being good guys or bad guys.

A little bit of history is shown as too what led to the run –up to the war and how it was planned, but not enough in my opinion, but then this is a book about characters more so than the struggle between the Sith and the Jedi.

Overall I enjoyed the book. I found it to be a fun read and it fits well into the Star Wars universe and if you are a fan of the new Bioware game based on the Old Republic I think you might enjoy this book as well.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.

Thoughts on Thirty-One:

When I was younger I never thought I would appreciate a good pen as much as I do now.

I have come to realize a lot of things in my life that I care about are just entertainment related and I could probably easily give them up and not be any worse off in my quality of life.

Being silly is different is just as much fun now as it was when I was 11.

I can finally grow decent facial hair.

Too bad there is so much grey in it.

When I was younger I enjoy watching baseball players hit home runs.  Now I think I enjoy a 12 pitch at-bat between a great pitcher and a great hitter that ends in a weak ground ball to third more.

While my music tastes in general have become more and more esoteric, I still love a really good pop/rock/hip-hop song.

I am slowly coming to realize that great friends and good relationship are the truly valuable things in my life.

While I have tried to develop a palate and start enjoying more varied and different tasting foods and even enjoy some of the finer food available to consumers, there is still something about the McDonalds Chicken McNugget that captivates me and makes me want to eat them.

I was not as misinformed about things as people thought I was when I was younger.  But I realize my priorities where way out of whack.

A well made video game can still be as engrossing to me as it was when I was a teenager.

I cannot say the same about the majority of the programming on network television.

Story means much, much more to me now.

But I am still willing to put up with big plot holes if you make it look pretty on the screen.

I appreciate clear, sunny, cloudless, days more.

And I find rainy days to be fun now too.

I still love trivia.

Even though I realize more and more how compromising/corrupt politicians are, I have become fascinated by the political process, legislation, elections, votes and such.

But as much as I like it I don’t think I would want to run for office, out of what it may make me do/become or compromise.

Congress, local law enforcement, the DMV, Best Buy during Christmas and the 5 freeway are all things that I think need to be blown up and rebuilt from scratch.

I also realize now as a regular middle class private citizen how very little power I have in the world.

Unless you count my power to still bake the best chocolate chip cookies you have ever tasted.

A well made cocktail makes things much better.

Being able to go home for lunch has sort have become a little treasure for me.

I want to help people more and give more, never would have thought of that when I was younger.

Oddly I was very conservative in my ideals and beliefs growing up, I can only imagine that was because I just believed what I was “Taught/Indoctrinated” with.  As I matured into thinking for myself I find I fall much more on the progressive/liberal side of the thought spectrum.

I still love baseball more than any other sport and every year I still think the Dodgers have chance.

In general my grammar is still bad and my spelling is still atrocious; but I know what sounds good to the ear and can fake my way through just about anything.

I don’t like being fake though.

I am not as easily provoked or upset as I used to be.

I do realize that most of my problems and the worlds just revolves around us being selfish.

I think I know how to live a good life…but doing the things that would be required seem quite difficult.

God is more important in my life now than ever before.

I also see his work around me more and more.

Prayer seems much more important now too.

Now I tend to think lists are over-rated.

But they are fun to read.

Things Today

This was a post I made in a discussion on Facebook, just felt like sharing it here.

Okay to get real here, talk of financial numbers when referring to the President’s administration is just plain silly.  No matter how you slice it he not only inherited two expensive overseas wars but the worst economic collapse since the great depression.  Wars don’t pay for themselves and you can’t just pick up and leave so the President was handcuffed into continuing to pay for two very technical, resource consuming and just plain costly wars.  He has since gotten us out of one and work has begun to remove us from the other.  And as far as stimulus and other government spending, I frankly don’t like it.  But if you look at history and really study the economics of it all….no large country has ever gotten itself out of a major recession with cuts to spending.  It just doesn’t happen.  I hate to admit it but Keynes was right, you spend your way out of a recession.  And also let’s not kid ourselves, the stimulus packages, and the auto industry bailout that were all ideas that started in the Bush administration.  Wha you say?  Yes because all the economists told President Bush the same things they told President Obama you have to get money out there to prevent things form getting worse.

If you want to talk about manufacturing jobs, don’t look to the President.  Exports (Manufacturing) have done nothing but go up since he has taken office.  They have gotten better every year.  And if you want to blame him for the lost jobs, that is myopic, don’t blame him, blame the CEO’s that are doing nothing more than making money by shipping jobs overseas.  We cannot compete with China on manufacturing….we can’t they will do it cheaper and faster.  American needs new industries, we never be able to match China in cost and efficiency of assembling an Ipad or flat screen tv.  And for those who say we don’t make anything anymore.  Turn off Glenn Beck and put down the Kool aide.  The USA accounted for 19.4% of all world manufacturing last year.  Only behind China with 19.8%.  Problem is America is just too damn good at manufacturing.  We far outpace the world in our productivity.  Our factories are not full of people placing transistors on board, we have huge machines that do it for us.  We are too darn productive to require the great workforce that was required of US manufacturing decades ago.  That isn’t any President’s problem that is just progress.  And work will always go where it is cheapest.  Jobs left England and Europe for the American colonies in the 1700’s and now they have moved to Asia, it is just the way the world works.

I do admit the President had appointed members to the Executive branch that are pro-abortion.  I dislike/hate the idea of abortion.  I do firmly believe life begins at conception.  I feel every abortion is a death of a human life and oppose it.  I also oppose the death penalty, which oddly most other anti-abortionists do not (But that is another argument).  So while I am morally against abortion and don’t like the fact that the Father may never have a say in the act, I recognize that abortions are not going away, and I am not sure I want them made illegal.  I don’t want a return to back room abortions or young teens running to Mexico or Canada to get an abortion because they can’t in the USA.  Abortions had been on a steady decline since the 1990’s but recently have stopped declining; I fear this is a sign of the recession.  With women not wanting to have baby since they may not have a job to support it, this saddens me deeply.  But the fact remains the right to an abortion will not be overturned.  And if by some chance it is, you will only force women to take more and more drastic measure.  This battle must be won by providing support for those women who are pregnant and are unsure about keeping the baby.  To use the cliché it is a battle that must be won in the hearts and minds and not in the courtrooms. 

And as far as Arizona is concerned, if it weren’t for the laws on the books now they would probably shoot people with Brown skin on sight if they could.  I frankly think that yes, America has been so blessed that if someone wants to come here (even illegally), work to support a family on a minimum wage and still save enough  money to send some back to their home country then good for them.  I do feel a responsibility to my poor neighbor, the weary travelers to share with them and help them out.  In a nation of such abundance and waste, I think there is plenty to go around.  And if we want to be brutally honest, all anti-immigration stuff had an intimation of xenophobia/racism in it, that is if you are brutally honest.  For some reason in any multicultural place I have ever lived I have never heard any uproar about anti-immigration.  It always seems to be rich white men who are in positions of power that make all the fuss.  But then again I don’t think the Native Americans were big fans of illegal immigration either.  They probably wish they built a bigger fence.

And in walked 2012

Good Morning 2012.

Raymond here, I know I am a few days late but I was trying to enjoy my last extended weekend for a while. The Holidays were really good to me and my wife this year. We had a great Christmas with family, and for the first year we used Skype to talk to all of the extended family in other parts of the country, so we got to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, which was really fun.

Then on the 1st we went down below to Orange County to enjoy the wonderful weather, have lunch with the In-Laws, do some shopping, and see a movie; which was Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, an excellent, excellent movie, and easily the best action movie I have seen in a long time.

Which brings me back to work and the New Year. 2012. I have never been big with New Year resolutions because I practically never keep them. But this year without being strict with them I do want to make some changes in my life.

1, I want to spend more time in prayer and contemplation. I know I can read all the books I want and listen to all the sermons I want, but if I don’t spend time in quiet, talking with God I know there won’t be much growth. I plan to work with fixed hour prayer, centering/contemplative prayer and just trying to be in a state of constant prayer, and try to live out the whole pray without ceasing. If won’t be easy and it will require time but I do plan to work at it.

2, I want to eat more breakfasts and smaller lunches.

3, I want to reach out and engage people more. It is a little sad but I often don’t like people and being around them, you can call it agoraphobia, or just being a jerk. Which is kinda funny, since at work I pride myself on my customer service skills.

4, Drink more water, less soda, more wine, and better cocktails.

5, Write more in this blog. I guess I just think writing helps keep my mind working and I should have some sort of mental exercise and recollection of what I do year to year. I never have been the type to keep a diary, and I don’t think I ever will, but having some place that keeps all my thoughts together would be nice.

5, Exercise. Been thinking about this one for years, time to act on it.

6, Eat more of those leafy green vegetables that I always read that I should be eating. Is it a bad thing that when I think leafy green vegetable the first thing that comes to my mind is lettuce? Probably not what the dieticians are talking about.

7, Read more, watch less television, watch no reality television except for maybe Top Chef.

8, Take the GMAT and finally get enrolled in an MBA program. Been wanting to this for years and it is time to act on it. Get my mind working, help my job prospects and help cure that education inferiority complex I have.

9, Cook more meals at home. I really enjoy cooking, so you wouldn’t think this would be so hard, but being lazy I find myself not wanting to cook or being repelled by the idea of the cleanup involved afterwards. I have a great kitchen now I really need to take advantage of it.

10, Complain less about things and be a better husband, son, brother, employee, driver, friend and child of God in general.

I guess we will just see how it all goes.

Looking For Mike

For those who had been looking for information on Mike Huber, I have taken down my post at his request.  Fortunately the newspaper article about him did not cause any negative stir, but rather revealed to many people great testimony he has the and amazing journey God has brought him through.  Many people have learned the truth through the post I made and have come to support Mike in his ministry.  If you would like to know more you may contact me and I will be happy to respond appropriately.


{Book Review} Kahuna Kevin’s Why is the Rum Gone? By Kahuna Kevin

Why's the Rum Gone?The newer cocktail books of the Tiki genre seem to fall into one of two categories nowadays, one type of book tends to be a well researched tome of full old tiki drink recipes.  The drinks crafted by the patriarchs of tiki decades ago and secretly passed down until revealed today in all their glory.  The other type of book is usually a kitschy collection of (Usually over) simple and (Usually over) sweet recipes complied for the casual home drinker who doesn’t want to spend the time or the money to craft truly complex and tasty drinks.

This is where Kahuna Kevin comes in and offers us a glorious and refreshing third-way in “Why is the Rum Gone?”  Kevin has taken up the banner of the tiki drink-makers of old by crafting original, innovative, complex and most importantly tasty rum based cocktails.  The drinks in his book are not for the faint of heart or weak of liver.  You will often have drinks with over ten ingredients, and many a time they will call for somewhat obscure (Yet still readily available online and in big liquor stores) ingredients.  But when the long and winding recipes are followed you are often treated to magical and mysterious rum based libation that is sure to put your mind at ease and liver on red alert.

My only mild criticism of the book and its recipes is that author is very specific in his ingredients, almost always requesting certain brands and ages of rums, syrups and mixers.  While this is good for providing an accurate replication of the drink as it was developed in the Kahuna’s Tiki Test Labs is can make some drinks a daunting task to round up all the required recipes.  Perhaps calling for slightly more generalized genres of rum would make for a more accessible and serviceable ingredients list.

But baring that one suggestion I am very impressed with Kahuna Kevin’s book and the included recipes.  With forty original concoctions from the “Addled Wench” to the “Unassuming Bastard” you are sure to find something to tickle the taste buds, soothe the nerves and probably kill some brain cells too.  I encourage you to pick up this book if you want some truly original tiki cocktail recipes made in the spirit of what the original tiki drink makers had in mind for their drinks and their patrons.

{Book Review} Hi-de-ho : The Life of Cab Calloway by Alyn Shipton

To put it simply this is the definitive Cab Calloway biography.  I don’t think anywhere else you will find a better researched or better documented book about the jazz legend.  The author had the arduous job or researching and writing about a larger than life character with a huge stage persona who actually lead a very private life.  Shipton has done an excellent job sourcing out every interview with the legend himself and talking with as many sidemen, friends and family as possible to give us an idea of what Cab Calloway was really like.  Easily one of the most charismatic and entertaining band leaders of all time Calloway deserves and receives excellent treatment in this book.  I had always considered myself a fan of Calloway ever since I saw him in the Blues Brothers movie as a young child and my fascination with him grew as I got older, I would search out magazine articles and excerpts in book when I could find them about the Jazz Pioneer.  But I never found a well written comprehensive telling of his life story till now.  For anyone interested in the man Cab Calloway I cannot recommend this book anymore highly, and also if you are interested in the era of Cab’s existence and the racial issues of the early to mid 20th century jazz scene this book is also well worth reading, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.