Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Christmas Story


You don't believe in Christmas miracles? That's fine... But let me tell you a story anyways: I got into a car accident today... First off, I'm fine and so is the other driver. The fact that we are both safe is a miracle enough, but then the story gets better...

Let me start at the beginning; I had just purchased my morning cup of coffee in South Pasadena. I was driving back to pick up the family when I was faced with crossing a busy intersection. I looked left, the car there was stopped. I checked right, the car on that side had a left turn blinker on, but was also stopped and waiting. Being an opportunist, I took this as a sign to go ahead... I accelerate into the intersection, and make it past both cars when a BIG WHITE VAN appears out of seemingly nowhere! The van had sped past the "blinker car" where it was blocked from my vision. It all happens so fast! I SLAM the brakes as hard as I can, but it's too late... I spear the van directly in the driver's side door... After the collision, I look up and lock eyes with the other driver. We both hold up our hands, wordlessly telling each other that "We're OK." We then pull over to the side of the road... Exciting right? Well, this is where the story gets good...

Both of us then calmly get out of our respective vehicles. Instead of anger or frustration, both of us show only concern for the other person's safety. Once we confirm that we are both OK, the van driver tells me that this is his company's work van, and that he needs to call his Boss. I of course tell him that is totally fine, as I need to call my wife too. I finish my call quickly and stand idly by as the driver finishes up his call. I overhear some of their conversation... "Yup Boss. We're fine... What? You want to talk to him? Now???" The driver then turns to me and says, "Ummm, the Boss wants to talk to you..." Until this very moment, there was a certain PEACE surrounding this whole situation. Calm and Civility reigned. There was no anger, no tension...until now. As the driver of the van passed me his phone in movie-like slow motion, my mind reeled with negative scenarios... Now I'm thinking, "The Boss wants to talk to me? Right here? Right now? This surely can't be good..."

I receive the phone, take one long cleansing breath, and put my most charming voice on... "Hi, How are you today?" I quip. "I'm fine" the Boss says. "Are you OK?" "I'm good thanks" I reply. Then he says this... "OK, you are not going to believe this..." "Umm OK. What's up?" "So this the last day for this particular van." "What do you mean by that?" I reply. "I mean that this is officially the last day this van will be in service. The guys are actually driving the van right now to the site where the new work van is. They will take what they can salvage from the old van, transfer it to the new van, then this van will be scrapped..." "Oh" I say, not fully comprehending what he is telling me... So the Boss continues, "So what I'm saying is... Don't worry about it." "Umm what?" "I mean it... Don't worry about the damage to the van. We're all good. It is going to be scrapped anyways. Don't worry about it..." I just stood there silently and took it all in... In a court of law, I am at fault. I just caused over 1,000 dollars worth of damage to this vehicle, and now he's telling me "Merry Christmas. Don't worry about it?" At this point, I am beyond incredulous! "Are you serious?" I ask. "Totally" he replies... A wave of relief washes over me and I thank him twenty times over. "Merry Christmas to you" I say. "Merry Christmas to you too, and be safe out there."

No harm. No foul. No police report. No dealing with insurance. All is forgiven. No names were even exchanged...

I hand the phone back to the van driver and shake his hand. I look him in the eye, and tell him to NEVER leave this job because his Boss is a Man unlike any I've met... The driver agreed and we wish each other Merry Christmas once more as we part...

Did that really just happen? Is God really that good? It's a Christmas miracle people!!! Believe it!

I drive away feeling blessed. I drive away feeling watched over. Do I live a charmed life? I certainly do... Christmas miracles do happen. It happened to me today...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Evan's Brand New Room




OK guys. My next Room Renovation is now complete... This latest project was to provide my 11 year old son Evan, with a Brand New Room and His very own space. You see, Evan has never had his own space. For all of his years, he's always had to share a room with his sister or his older brother... With that in mind, I put a lot of time and consideration into this space. I wanted to make this room special for him, and him alone. I love how the room turned out. And most importantly, so does Evan...

 Enjoy the tour! (Click on the individual pics to see a full size photo)


1st shot of the Evan's actual bed. Doesn't everyone want Godzilla to watch over them as they sleep? (That's a rhetorical question)
 
Here's the full view of the bed side of the room. It's a Queen bed, and much too large for an 11 year old. So I had two side bolsters made specifically to fit along the wall. I wanted to make the bed smaller, more intimate, and also more functional. Now Evan can lie, sit on the bed sideways up against the bolsters to read or just hang out.
Here's a shot of the desk area... In actuality, this is not a desk. I bought it at The Salvation Army store and I'm pretty sure it's a retail store display table. But with adjustable height legs, it makes for an awesome desk with a ton of real estate...


Here's a shot of the 2 desk chairs. Who has 2 desk chairs? Well, Evan does... I love the modern lines, but with the fabric backing and seating area, it's still very warm, especially with it's brown tones.


OK, transitioning to the other side of the room... Usagi waiting on the other side.


I love these chairs... I originally bought them as additional party seating with additional patio lounge duties. They will still serve those purposes when duty calls, but on a daily basis, they will serve Evan well.


Here we see my chairs and a huge print I had made of Usagi Yojimbo. Usagi is my, and my kids' favorite comic book character. It was important to bring Evan's interests into the space as it was starting to look too much like KYLE's space...


Little corner shot of my brother's old dresser, another vintage radio, a cactus, and a vintage sketch of the Guggenheim museum. Love the lamp too (Target).


Tried to balance out the sophistication of the room with a little whimsy here and there... Lunchbox, Kubo poster, and this tiny little red kid's nightstand add a little fun to the space.


Here's a "Before" shot... This room was once my "Junk Room" as you can see.  Much work, hours, and sweat was involved in transforming this space.


This final shot is actually the first view you see as you enter the door from the hallway. I smile every time I walk though this door...

So that's the end of the tour... Like I just said, I smile every time I walk though this door... Frankly, I think I am smiling more out of jealousy than happiness... I so want this room for myself! This room renovation was a pleasure from start to finish. I had a blast doing it and to be able to express my creativity and channel that toward benefiting a more than deserving son, all the better...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Welcome to The Igloo

    Today is April 29th, 2015. And my 2nd Room Renovation of the year is now complete. For this project, I transformed what was a Kid's Playroom and created a new space that I like to call a Kid's Lounge. It's basically an age appropriate space where my kids and their friends can hang out, play video games, play board games, read comics and just chill... Come take a look inside.

    But before we move ahead, we have to remember where we came from...


    I remember creating this playroom for my kids when the twins were barely 2 years old. The twins are now 9 and Nash is nearly 12. It was certainly time to move on from the princess castle and plastic kitchen, and create a new space for the next chapter of their lives. This picture fondly takes one last look at the old space and a bygone era...
With that, let's move on to the New Space shall we?



As I was creating this Kids Lounge, I thought the space was deserving of a name. I was thinking along the lines of "The Loft," but my kids had other ideas. They now call it "The Igloo" because it's so COOL in here. FYI, my daughter McKenna made this sign. Chill Peeps...


As you come up the stairs, this will be the first thing you see... a 4ft x 4ft wall decal of an AT-AT Imperial Walker. This thing is MASSIVE! Once you see it, you instantly know that you are not in Kansas anymore...


Welcome to Star Wars Corner... When I first visualized this room, I knew I wanted to incorporate some of my kids' favorite things (and let's be honest, mine too).


The original concept for this room was based on incorporating 3 things into the room design: Star Wars, Comic Books, and Video Games. However, I wanted to showcase all of those things in a "Vintage Style," more specifically a Mid Century Modern Style...


This is how you represent Classic Star Wars in a vintage fashion. I love these prints. They keep to the overall theme while still staying well within the design scheme.


This Paul McCobb vintage desk located in the center of the room is basically the transition between the 2 distinct areas. Vintage Radio and a Bluetooth speaker all on a vintage desk... Angry Birds, Mameshiba, R2D2., TMNT. All coexisting in harmony...


In keeping with the 50's period. This class photo is from 1953. It is my father's Junior High School Graduating Class Photo. It was important to me that we include my father, who has since passed away, into the space. You can find him on the top row, second in from the right side. Handsome fellow... Love you Dad.


Here's the other side of the transition space. On the wall is an actual Disneyland Map from the late 50's that my brother Kenny bought me years ago. I heart Vintage Disneyland. You will see Vintage Disneyland represented all over my house. Inside the bench below the map, you will find board games and various fun things that are available to play anytime. We've never had a Scrabble Night as a family until recently. Now we all love Scrabble Night!



Here's the first shot of the Lounge, Video Game, and Comic Book area. Whenever I don't know where my kids are, and the house is much too quiet, I can usually find them here...reading comic books.


Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, The Green Lantern, and Captain America. I grew up with these stories, these characters... Now my kids can too.


Now transitioning over to the media side of the area.


This little media area was the first area of the room to be completed. It holds PS2 games, the coveted NEO GEO games, comics, dvds, and assorted Pokemon, Avatar, and random figures.


I tried several iterations of posters on this wall, but nothing seemed to work until I found these...  I knew that I wanted art that was video game related for this wall, but whatever I put up also needed to stay with the vintage theme. These prints fit the bill perfectly. These are the actual US Patent design sketches for the Atari 2600 and the original Nintendo Gameboy. To be honest, they probably mean more to me than my kids, but they still appreciate them.


Now here are some wider shots of the bigger space. Here you can see the transition desk and lounge area working together to make a cohesive space. No one will notice this but me, but do you see that little yellow pillow on the bottom left hand corner? I use that to bring some of the yellow from the left side of the room to the other side. Conversely, I use the white of the pillows to balance the white chairs on the other side of the room. When you are dealing with a space this long, balance and marrying the 2 sides is key...


Here's a shot of the full room from the back. Overall, I'm very happy with the space. And more importantly, my kids love the room and generally hang out here everyday...


 One last shot. May the Force Be With You...

Friday, February 13, 2015

For Nash






On June 3rd, my son Nash will be graduating from Carver Elementary and moving on to Huntington Middle School. While that's nearly 3 months away, the yearbook committee recently requested that each parent write a congratulatory note for their child to be included in the upcoming yearbook. 

That note is due today. 

Because I tend to be long-winded, only a portion of this note will make it into the yearbook. However, when Graduation Day arrives and my son walks across that stage, THIS is the note that I will tearfully place into his hands...


Nash,

Your mother and I are so proud of the man you are becoming... 

And it has nothing to do with your grades, how many trophies you bring home, or how popular you turn out to be. 

You have proven to be a man of integrity. You truly care about others, and have a heart for those who can’t help themselves.

Whatever you may achieve in this life, know that our love for you will not ever change, for we couldn't be any prouder of you than we already are. 

So as you go forth in whichever direction you choose, I give you permission to take chances. I give you permission to try new things and walk different paths. And most importantly, I offer you the unlimited opportunity to make mistakes, and the freedom to fail...  

While we’re excited for the things you’ll do and Oh, the places you’ll go, know that the only thing that matters, is the person you are and the character you show.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

New Workout Space

    Well, the first house project of 2015 is complete.

    While it may not look like it at first, this is my new workout room. OK, workout/multi-media/man room. No doubt, the room ended up much more sophisticated than I had previously planned. I want to call it the "Smoking Room," but I don't smoke, or the "Whisky" room, but I very rarely drink anymore... 

    Now that the room is complete, I find myself spending much more time in this room than I had originally thought. The room turned out to be the perfect retreat for me, packed with a lot of function.

    Feel free to drop in and hang with me anytime, but you'll have to bring the whisky...

    The Opening Shot...
    Some might remember these chairs. These are the chairs I saved from Goodwill about 2 months ago. With some elbow grease and quick instructions from YouTube, these now look fantastic. Worn in just enough to tell stories, but nice enough to shine.


    So yes... I do workout here. I probably workout here 3 times a week in the mornings.
    My favorite routine... Especially #4 and #5.

    
    I originally had artwork hanging here, but it didn't make sense, so I bought a picture ledge to display some of my vinyl collection as art. I love how this looks...
    Madonna, Oingo Boingo, Tears For Fears
    REM, U2, The Smiths

    I actually was in a band in high school... OK, I was really only one of the backup singers. - A proud member of The Hello Kitty Korus.
    Etch A Sketch
    View from the other side... Here is *most* of my music and movie collection.

      One of my prized possessions... An Eames molded plywood chair from the Mid Century Modern era.  Ain't it beautiful?

      Overall, I'm very pleased the way this room turned out. It has become way more than a "Workout Room" to be sure. I now use it as music room, quiet room, reading room, and generally just an escape I can go to when life starts moving too fast...

      On to the next project.





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stand-Up Desk


I sit way too much...

I sit down to eat.

I sit down to read.

I sit down to watch "American Ninja Warrior" on TV.

It's not an exaggeration to say that 80% of my entire existence is spent in either a "full upright position" or a reclined one...

And while there are many time sucking vampires competing for my "ass time," there is no doubt that the bulk of my time spent in a seated position, is in front of the computer.

If you've followed along on my journey from "Fat" to "Overbearing Health and Wellness Geek," you know that I'm always looking for new ways to improve my overall health and to stay more active. With that in mind, I've been toying with the idea of a Stand-Up Desk for almost a year now. The benefits of a Stand-Up Desk being:

*Better posture and putting your body into a more natural ergonomic position.

*Less stress on the body and less repetitive stress injuries.

*Increased energy and a general active position in which to work, think, and perform optimally.

There are additional benefits to be sure, but at the end of the day, I just knew I was much too sedentary for my own liking...

A couple of weeks later, I ran into an article on Lifehacker how others were able to modify their existing desks to accommodate a standing position. Buying a new Stand-Desk was much too pricey of an option, but if others could build their own Stand-Up Desks, why couldn't I?  The desk I currently own is solid, functional, and fits the space perfectly.  I just somehow needed to make it...taller.


I won't get into all the nitty gritty, but this is the basic list of all the items I needed to get this job done correctly:

11 inch Concrete Piers (Home Depot)
Sweat
Patience
Towel to wipe sweat


Other than that, the whole process took me one full day from going to Home Depot, cleaning out the office, re-positioning the concrete piers and desk, and finally, a bit of redecorating.

It's been a few months now, and I couldn't be more pleased with how my "New Office" turned out. Sometimes my feet do get a bit weary towards the end of the day, but to remedy that, I purchased an appropriate height bar stool for when that becomes a problem. Now, I always have the option to sit or stand as I so choose...

Even as I type this, I am standing at my new Stand-Up Desk and I love it.

 Is it right for you? Who knows...

All I know is that I now spend less of my time sitting on my posterior. I spend less time in front of the computer. And therefore, I spend more time doing "real life." In my book, that's a win...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween Stories

Yesterday was Halloween. But this time, instead of a bag full of candy,  I believe I received so much more than Snickers Bars...

I had previously shared these 2 stories on Facebook, but they had received such a positive reaction, that I thought I would post them up on my blog as well.  Take a look and see why Halloween 2013 was so special this year.


 Halloween story #1




In this blurry photo, it appears my kids are taking candy from a bowl left out on the doorstep. However, this would prove not to be the case. Let me explain...

On Halloween night, the Wong kids are out trick or treating like everybody else when they come upon this house. They walk up to the front door where a bowl is left out, but the candy is long gone. "There's no more candy!" they shout, so I tell them to just move along to the next house.
But that's not what they do...


My kids then huddle around the bowl and start chattering amongst themselves.  At this point, I'm starting to wonder why it's taking so long.  It finally dawns on me what my kids are up to, and I quickly snap this photo.


The photo doesn't show my kids taking candy from the bowl...

What they were doing was "re-filling" the bowl with their own candy they had collected that night.

When they were finished, I asked Nash why they did that and he replied, "Dad, can you imagine if a kid starts off his night trick or treating at this house?  He would be so disappointed." 

Then he ends with this, "Tonight is a special night. And it should be special for everybody..." 


OK, here's the BONUS story...

So, the Wong kids walk up to another random house to trick or treat.  They collect their goods and then sprint back to me excitedly.

"Dad! They are giving out HEALTHY candy!" I am of course incredibly skeptical so I ask if I can see the object of their excitement. Nash hands me the candy and says, "See, it's a HEALTH BAR." After inspecting the merchandise, I could only put my head in my hands and kindly reply,

"Dude, that's a HEATH BAR, not a HEALTH BAR... Big difference."

Wrapping up...

Any parent would agree that we all think the world of our own kids.  But I have to say,

My kids surprised me tonight.

They not only surprised me with their random act of selflessness, they impressed me with their heart for others.

My kids are good kids.

And I couldn't be prouder...