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On December 11th, 2020, my Kara passed away. It was sudden, unexpected, and has affected me in ways I’ve just not been ready for. Part of my grieving process has always been to journal my thoughts. I’m guessing this is going to be that.

September 2020

I moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles back in June 2014. Anyone who really knew me at the time knew how hard of a transition it was. I struggled not being around the people I left behind. I struggled connecting with my new local communities. I felt very alone and defeated. Before moving up here, though, I knew a dog was going to be an immediate addition to my life and soon after getting settled in, I started that search. Little did I know a month before my move, on May 10th, 2014, Kara had been born and was waiting to be found.

I knew I wanted a Doberman and it took a little time finding the right litter, but discovered one about 70 miles away to check out. Thirteen puppies made up of nine males and four females. When we finally went to check them out, eleven had been claimed and two females were left. One was a very happy, very approachable black/rust that immediately ran up to me for attention. “This is her,” was my thought, as she played with me on the grass, clearly excited to do so. Marie, though, focused more on the last pup. She was red/rust who was more subdued. Her tail had been docked too short, she had a small white star on her chest, there were these bright green eyes, and her ears were left floppy, all traits that Doberman owners actually try to avoid, but there was no denying she was absolutely beautiful. When picked up, she was still and seemed to like being held, but when put back down, you could definitely see her safe spot was back with her mom.

As I started settling in and remembering my research on choosing, it became clear the green-eyed red/rust pup with nub tail was coming home with us. We proceeded with the adoption on June 29th, 2014, picked her up, and started walking away. Upon doing so, she began to cry and continue throughout the car ride home as I sat and held her. This felt familiar. Moving from your comfort zone and into the unknown. Yeah, this felt all too familiar and I couldn’t help but feel sad and empathetic to her. She did calm down, though, and eventually fell asleep in my arms the rest of the way home.

After a couple iterations, I eventually landed on the name. Inspired by the little star patch on her chest, we called her Kara after the fictional character Kara Thrace because she was our little Starbuck. We quickly bonded her first year. She was so smart and intuitive. She knew when it was time for work, she played hard, and she was beyond affectionate. Personal space just doesn’t exist with Dobermans and Kara made sure there was none between us almost all of the time. It didn’t matter where I was because she was just always there… and I needed that.

First trip to the dog park, August 2014

This house I eventually moved into, there were a lot of things that helped make that transition easier, but Kara was a significant factor. When I would cry or was weary or felt conquered, she gave me strength. Whenever I felt lost and couldn’t find a way out of the dark, she’d lead me to light. She loved me so much and made sure I knew that every existing moment between us. And I loved her back more than I thought I was capable of at the time. I don’t believe unconditional love is something that can exist between two humans, but it absolutely happens between a fur baby and parent. She loved us all unconditionally.

1st birthday hike, April 2015

As the years went by, our family grew with two more kids, human ones this time, and Kara would continue bringing her spark and joy to us. She bonded quickly with Luke and those two got into a ton of trouble and adventures together. We’d all have our ups and down, but Kara was a constant whirlwind of support and never let you stay down for long. The house finally felt like a home, our family felt complete, and Kara was, without a doubt, the glue that helped keep it all together.

But she’s gone now and I haven’t known this house without her. The liveliness that use to fill the rooms seems dissipated. Everyone seems to be going through their own way of grieving. Marie is staying more positive than me, remembering all of the good times. She’s good at supporting me when seeing I’m down. Luke, unprovoked, mentions how much he misses her. He cites all the times she jumped in his bed and slept with him or how much “exercise” they got outside playing tag, noting she was way too fast for him. He asked a couple day ago about details on how Kara passed away. She died from a heart attack and immediately left, so he got the simplified version of that. I added that she just loved us so much, her heart couldn’t support her body anymore. He understood. Logan is far too young to know what’s happened.

This last week has been a blur. I can’t believe she isn’t here anymore. I just can’t believe it. She was right there and was her normal high-energy puppy self. I keep replaying all of the events leading up to finding her to see if there was more I could do to prevent it. I know there was nothing, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It was inevitable. This is just how it is with the breed. I’m still so heartbroken, though.

I have regrets, too. They are there for us through everything. Everything. Without fail, they are there. One of the only things we need to do to repay them is to be there in the end so they don’t have to cross the bridge alone. We help them finish their journey. I found her after she was gone, though. I wasn’t there. She crossed by herself laying down in the grass. I just wasn’t there. I will carry that regret with me for the rest of my life. I’m so sorry, Kara. You deserved more and I have a debt to you that will never be repaid. I’m so sorry, girl.

She burned so bright for the six years she was with us and left way too soon. I always told myself I just can’t see her growing up. That she was just too silly to every be old. I guess I was right. She was the goofiest, most childish, yet somehow gentle pup around. So intelligent and loyal. Above all, I don’t think I’ve never met a more affectionate dog in my life. She was just the perfect companion. I know she knew how much she was loved and, oh boy, did she know I was a complete sucker for her and how to take advantage of it. She knew exactly how big a part of the family she was. I hope she understood how essential she was to keeping me safe and sane all these years. I tried my best to give her a life filled with love and affection. I don’t know what to do without her and really hope the memories we had together eventually bring me some sort of peace.

You were such a good girl, Kara. I miss you so much.

Bridge Over Troubled Water, Johnny Cash

Dodgers and a Full Circle

Being born and raised in LA, it was only a quick 20 minute drive to Dodgers Stadium from Pasadena. My family bled Blue, so I bled Blue. At 10 years old, I remember the ‘88 championship vividly, celebrating with them. There may have been years I wasn’t invested in it, but I’ve never wavered. I love LA sports and the people who play them. I always will.

In 2014, I left my Dodger-family and friends and made the move to the Bay Area in the middle of the Giants’ run. I remember thinking how much fun it would be around rival baseball fans and with the opportunity to have more critical discussion, but instead found mostly the fair-weather crowd that was more interested in gloating than they were about the actual sport. I wore the blue when I could, but I’m not gonna lie. It was really sucked a lot of days and it made my already difficult transition up here harder than it should have been, but I eventually got use to it. The Giants would win and the fans would gloat. In time, that would stop, but it didn’t matter because the Dodgers continue to not finish and that was enough to make other fans happy. Sure, we’d get close several times, but just never finish. It was frustrating, sad, and would make me mind-numbingly angry at times.

During this time, my family grew. My five-year-old Luke had been primed to bleed blue, knows the Giants suck, and is prepped for the opposition he’ll face. 2-year-old Logan isn’t far off from getting it all either. Maybe, though, maybe they wont have to deal with it as much as I thought they might have to?

Last night, 32 long years later, as the last pitch was thrown and the cheering begun, I got to see Luke rush in yelling, “We won! We won! Go Dodgers!” and it was just the best. As my family high-fived and hugged and my eyes watered endlessly, I was flooded with memories from my own childhood. My phone starts ringing and I’m connected with my LA family and we watch the celebration together. What a moment. This morning, the Dodgers and fans everywhere wake up champions. As hard and as dark as it’s been at times, today we all join together in the sun.

It’s funny. Sports, at least on paper, are just so silly. I can completely understand someone looking at it and thinking, “What’s the big deal?” and you wont hear an argument from me about it. Still, it’s amazing how much of a catalyst it can be to help revisit the past, enjoy the present, and anticipate future memories. And now it was my turn to enjoy with my own family as this big old circle of life chugs on. It’s pretty damn fantastic.

I can’t imagine ending any season without our Vin putting the period on it… “There will be a new day and, eventually, a new year. And when the upcoming winter gives way to spring, ohh rest assured, once again it will be time for Dodger baseball.”

Mark & Brian

Well today has been all nostalgia and feels. Mark & Brian returned to KLOS in Los Angeles to celebrate the station’s 50th anniversary and promote their Radio Hall of Fame bid. It’s been nothing but M&B content ingestion all day for me. Watched all of their promoting of the show on several different media outlets, listened to them on the Frosty, Heidi and Frank Show in the morning, and just got done listening to their four hour reunion show. It’s been great.

These guys were a significant part of my life. Four hours every morning through a lot of grade school, all of highschool, and well beyond until they left the air in 2012. I think about the changes and struggles me or anyone would deal with over those years, but one of the things that was always constant was Mark & Brian. No matter what stupid or shitty thing was happening, you know they were there to lift your spirits with all the gags and laughs. They went well beyond that, though, with how much they shared personally on the air, particularly some of the negative things like loss of loved ones, or loss of pets, or relationship struggles, or countless other life events. Needless to say, they were endlessly supportive and easily relatable. It sounds stupid, I know, but there was a moral compass behind a lot it and they definitely influenced mine. It was much more than a radio show for us listeners. Mark & Brian were damn near family. When they decided to leave, it was at a time I had to make some serious life decisions and their retirement was momentously symbolic that my 35+ years in Southern California were coming to an end.

And so as I fast forward, who’d of thought equipping my car with dual windbags all of those years would have been that important? I’m able to remember all of the little life lessons I got from a stupid radio morning show that contributed at least a little bit to the reason why I’m happy and healthy with an amazing family. Like I said, lots of good feels today.

My Own Damn Movie Awards for 2018

Another year, another plethora of flicks watched. Here’s my own damn list of favorites for 2018…

Best Pictures of 2018

  1. Leave No Trace (Best Picture)
  2. First Reformed (Best Screenplay)
  3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  4. Black Panther (Best Director)
  5. Thoroughbreds
  6. The Rider
  7. Blindspotting
  8. You Were Never Really Here
  9. First Man (Best Visuals, Best Sound)
  10. Wildlife

Honorable Mentions: Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Solo: A Star Wars Story, A Quiet Place, Avengers: Infinity War, Mandy, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, BlacKkKlansman, Annihilation, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Best Actresses of 2018

  1. Thomasin McKenzie – Leave No Trace
  2. Carey Mulligan – Wildlife
  3. Claire Foy – First Man
  4. Anya Taylor-Joy – Thoroughbreds
  5. Olivia Cooke – Thoroughbreds
  6. Emily Blunt – A Quiet Place
  7. Elsie Fisher – Eighth Grade

Best Actors of 2018

  1. Ethan Hawke – First Reformed
  2. Ben Foster – Leave No Trace, Galveston
  3. Michael B. Jordan – Black Panther
  4. Shameik Moore – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  5. Joaquin Phoenix – You Were Never Really Here
  6. Ryan Gosling – First Man
  7. Daveed Diggs – Blindspotting
  8. Jake Gyllenhaal – Wildlife

So yeah, there were a large amount of movies I missed this year. Life gets in the way and it happens. I wish I would have had time to see Outlaw King or The Sisters Brothers or Green Book or Boy Erased or Paddington or Roma or countless others, but it just didn’t happen. So with that, let’s go through the top five I did see.

Drain all of the remorse, all the empathy, and any of the warmth that the human spirit is capable of and you’re left with Thoroughbreds. It’s an odd mix of quirkiness and psychological thriller that you somehow smile through. Well, most of the time.

What can you say about Black Panther that hasn’t already been said? Ryan Coogler was able to build such a rich and vibrant world with just a single movie that no other Marvel flick has been able to rival. The guy has always had a serious vision with the serious chops to implement that vision, which he did to near perfection, yet again.

The best time I had at a theater this last year was, hands down, with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. They somehow managed to be so utterly precise with what it’s like in your own head when you read a comic book. And, seriously, can we just shelve Peter Parker for a couple decades and go with Miles Morales anytime we need to see Spider-Man on the big screen?

First Reformed is just layers upon layers of bleak and dreadful uncomfortableness. Purposefully ambiguous in nature, I love how many ways it can be watched and interpreted. Check it out on a good day could make it the most hopeful movie ever, but a bad day could bring the most dreadful of dire experiences. Whatever you get out of it, Ethan Hawke has never been more brilliant playing this person of faith in the middle of a spiritual breakdown. First Reformed is one that needs to be seen by all.

All great movies, but there can only be one best.

What happens when your struggles stop you from living a conventional life? How do you deal with those struggles or do you even deal with them at all? Moreover, how do you take care of the ones you love when you can’t care for yourself? Leave No Trace tries to answer some of this. Ben Foster is effortless as the wounded warrior who can’t seem to adapt to a modern society. His silence through most of the movie is down right deafening. His daughter can see the conflict, but struggles to identify how or if she should reach him. Played by Thomasin McKenzie, she’s so extraordinary confident in her role and is, without a doubt, a star in the making. This story is one of very slow burn, but never without purpose. It’s powerful and moving from start to finish with heartbreak at nearly every turn. Hellbent on burying the hurt and leaving no trace, this movie has definitely left a mark.

Not today

It’s been 24 hours of processing and, in that time, I’ve run the gamut of emotions. To my own disappointment, it’s mostly been dishearten and anger. I’m not a fun person to be around right now and the people closest to me would definitely agree. I’m sure I’ll have some apologizing to do to them in the next couple of days. It’s just hard.

In the past 24 hours, though, I’ve also discovered one thing I’m very thankful for. I’m thankful that my son is far too young to understand what has been going on. I’m thankful I didn’t have to wake up this morning, make his breakfast, and answer the questions he would inevitably have. Why bullying or belittling anyone isn’t a way to gain respect. Why hating and fearing people who may be different from you are not the values we should encourage or celebrate. Why racial, sexual, and cultural diversity isn’t something we want to run from, limit, or throw walls between. Or why sexual violence against women isn’t something that should be nominalized.

I would jump at the opportunity to answer my son if I needed to, but I’m thankful that won’t happen today and I entirely sympathize with and applaud all of the parents who had to. You’ll always be an example I can learn from. It’s just the people of this country just made it far too hard to justify any of those arguments. I so look forward to guiding my boy, instilling values, and teaching him about basic rights and wrongs. Just not today.


Grandma passed away this week. She had just turned 99. She was always a part of our lives and was loved very much. I know she always told us how lucky she was to have us around, but we were the lucky ones for being able to have her for so very long. She was an awesome Grandma and, even with the small amount of time she had with Luke, was an awesome Great Grandma. My heart is broken and I miss her a lot.

Great Tutorial on Headlight Restoration

I’ve seen a lot of tutorials on YouTube for headlight restoration, but this one is, by far, the best, most comprehensive one and it still manages to be fairly brief. Gonna be doing this on the S2000 and MDX this week. Just make sure you have a good random orbital polisher or sander, such as my Porter Cable 7424 XP, if you go with the professional method.

2014 Euro Trip Map

A map of our recent trip to UK and Germany told from geotags. We started in London, flew to Berlin, flew to Frankfurt/Mainz, and took a train to Munich. Full album will be posted soon.