Sunday, July 01, 2012

Our Perfect Wedding in Santa Barbara

Tammy and Matt were married on October 15th 2011 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.  We spent many weekends researching and visiting venues around Los Angeles and Southern California until we went to the Museum of Natural History.  We instantly fell in love with the location, there is a beautiful outdoor area for the ceremony under oaks next to a creek that runs year-round.  Many people said our ceremony was the most beautiful they had witnessed; Our Officiant did a wonderful job with the ceremony, he provided us a template of vows which we personalized a bit.

For the cocktail hour our guests were able to walk a short distance to the peaceful patio area next to the Broder building where we had our guitarist playing some great background music.  During the cocktail hour our photographer took family photos and he did a great job speeding through it so that it only took about 20 minutes and we were able to enjoy visiting with out guests afterwards.  After the cocktail hour we had a fun group shot at Coggeshall bowl and then everyone went to the reception at the Fleischmann Auditorium.  One nice thing about the Museum is that they will let you bring in your own alcohol and your own caterer, we just had to provide a bartender (which our caterer provided).  Many other venues required you to purchase your alcohol from them, which is usually more expensive, and you don't get to choose the beer and wine you want.  The rest of the evening went really well, our DJ did a great job keeping people entertained and the event on-schedule.  We were so happy how the wedding turned out and our guests all had a great time.  Since all of our vendors did a great job we have linked to their websites below. For anyone looking for vendors for an event in Santa Barbara or Los Angeles we would highly reccommend all of the vendors we used.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
   A wonderful venue at a very reasonable price.  Meridith and Pedro were professional and great to work with.

DeFuria Catering
   DeFuria is based out of the San Fernando Valley, and there is limited facilities for food preparation at the museum but Franco did a great job keeping the food warm and fresh.  His services were professional and he was affordable.

Richard Tobin (Officiant)
   We can't say enough great things about Richard, his ceremony was wonderful and the vows he provided for us were perfect.  We would highly recommend Richard for anyone looking to have a memorable wedding ceremony.

Wayne Kjar Cakes
   The staff at Wayne Kjar is very professional and friendly, we enjoyed working with them and they designed a cake exactly how we wanted it, down to the detail of the piping decorations.  They  provided a quality product at a very reasonable price.

DJ Soleil (David Sivits)
   David did a great job with the entire Reception, we liked that he made a draft schedule for us and kept the event moving on schedule the whole night.  Our guests had lots of fun dancing and David was able to tailor the music to our exact needs.

Victor the Florist
  We were very happy with the services at Victor the Florist, the arrangements were beautiful and the staff was professional.  Rae was patient and flexible and a pleasure to work with.  We hadn't ordered enough table arrangements and didn't realize until we needed two more table arrangements, the staff at Victor the Florist was kind enough to go back to their shop and make two more arrangements and deliver them again that day, we were very happy and appreciative!

Baron Spafford (Photographer)
   Baron was a pleasure to work with and photographed our ceremony and reception for a very reasonable price.  We loved that when it came time for photos of the family, he kept everyone focused and it was complete in only about 20 minutes, that was so much better than some weddings where the family photos can take over an hour!  We were also amazed that he learned the families names so easily, this really helped keep everyone involved and he would crack jokes so that he'd get good smiles.  Thanks Baron!

Road Show Media (Sound System for ceremony)
  We were very happy with the services provided by Road Show media, they provided the sound system and microphones for the ceremony and made sure our guests could hear the music and the vows.

Jared Barkan (Guitarist)
  Jared did a great job playing guitar music for the ceremony and for the cocktail hour, he is based in LA and was willing to drive the extra hours to play at our wedding.  He did a great job and the music was perfect, he was professional and a pleasure to work with.  We would recommend Jared to anyone that needs great live guitar music at an event.

Thanks again to all our wonderful vendors, we were really happy with how everything in the wedding turned out and all of our guests had a great time.  Our only regret was that the evening went by so quick that we didn't get a chance to visit each table and talk more with our guests.

Friday, March 09, 2012

The never ending quest to stop Junk Mail and unwanted direct Mail

Thanks to the CAN-SPAM Act (and better spam filters), junk email has become less of a problem over the years, however physical junk mail is still a huge problem and it can be very painful to get companies to stop sending you junkmail, especially if you live in an apartment and you get all the prior tenant's mail.

Many catalogues and mailings have ways to remove yourself from their mailing lists, sometimes it is listed on the mailing itself, or sometimes you'll need to do a search, it is time consuming, and sometimes it doesn't work, but is a good start.

Here are some resources I've found to help stop the junk mail.
Stop Junk Mail and Save 1 Million Trees Annually
Junk Mail - Fight back! Get junkmail out of your life for good!

We really need legislation like the CAN-SPAM Act for junk mail and direct mail, but until then the tips and sites listed can slow down the endless waste that comes through the post office.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Costa Rica through cheapOair - review and warning

We just got back from our Honeymoon in Costa Rica and had a great time, despite problems with the company we booked our flight and rental car through. I had never heard of this company before cheapOair, but when I was trying to book a flight to Costa Rica, their prices were less than the rest of the well known travel sites such as expedia and travelocity. So I booked the flight, LAX (Los Angeles) with a layover in MIA (Miami) and finally to LIR (Liberia). Everything was fine, except I don't like American Airlines and won't be flying with them again if I can avoid it because of problems getting an assigned seat at LAX, but that's another story. Anyways, relatively smooth trip until we landed in Liberia and tried to find our rental car. We booked a car through cheapOair and I choose the cheapest option for a rental car, this company called "NU" turns out that there is no rental car company called "NU" in Liberia and they are probably in the capitol city of San Jose instead. So we just land in Costa Rica and about 20 different people are trying to rent us a car and nobody has heard of this company NU, "You want a new car?." After trying to call customer service with no luck, and the phone calls costing $30 we give up and choose Thrifty, and instead of costing $250 for the trip our car cost over $800! That kinda started the trip off on the wrong foot to say the least. With the difference in price I should have just gone with a more reputable company instead of this cheapOair in the first place and I would have saved money and hassle. I'll never make the mistake of booking with cheapOair again.

Many people have had similar experiences, just see these pages:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Space Strategy Games Sector

Recently I discovered the site:, Adam Solo has really created a great site for blogs, reviews, and a community forum for the types of games I love to play: 4x space strategy games! Since the early days of my gaming persuits my favorite games were space strategy games. For the Amiga I played Overlord and Stellar Conflict, for the PC I loved Star Reach and for the genesis (and other platforms) I loved playing Star Control. Probably my favorite game of all time is MOO 2 (Master of Orion 2), it was completely addictive and has infinite playability. Newer games that come close to the enjoyment of MOO2 include Sins of a Solar Empire and Galactic Civilizations. I am especially grateful to Adam for writing a great blog post about Astriarch: Ruler of the Stars, my own space statrategy game that I've developed in Silverlight and am in the progress of releasing on other platforms.

If you love space games as much as I do, head on over to SSGS!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who Caused the Mortgage Meltdown Financial Crisis

My coworkers were discussing the housing bubble and the financial crisis today and I had heard lots of talk about different things causing the crisis, from deregulation to credit default swaps and everything in-between. I found a couple of good articles on the subject:

This article appeals to my democratic sensibilities:
The Real Cause of the Mortgage Crisis: Conservative Opposition to Sensible Financial Standards

It has some compelling arguments about the Bush administration failing to act back in 2004, but in my view this crisis is far too large to simply blame the Republicans.

I think this article from is much more fair laying the blame:
Who Caused the Economic Crisis? (

Some of the deregulation of the banking industry goes back to the Clinton administration yet the crisis was further enabled by the Bush administration's failure to regulate the mortgage-backed securities market. Of course it wasn't just deregulation that caused the crisis, it was Americans buying houses they couldn't afford and irresponsibility and greed on the part of Wall street that has caused the economy to tank for the last two or three years.

It is frustrating that it seems that hard-working american families have to pay the price for Wall Street's greed and there has been no bailout for the middle class, just billions of dollars of the taxpayer's money going to line the pockets of the rich bankers and investors that got us into this mess.

In my opinion this crisis should show us that Government intervention into the economy is necessary, without oversight, checks and balances, and regulation, basic human greed will outweigh personal ethics and companies will do anything in their power to make money. It's time for the American people to stand up and take back the government from lobbyists and greedy corporations! Vote with your hearts and don't buy into this two party system where both sides of the fence are equally corrupt, doing whatever it takes to be re-elected. Electing President Obama was a start, but we need to get involved like we did in the 2008 election, come together as one country instead of bickering between Republicrats and Democrans to solve the important problems that face our generation such as Wars, Healthcare, Poverty and Global Warming.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

House Hunting

I've been starting a search for a house recently, I've been using this nice site:

It has a really nice user interface and is pretty snappy.

Tammy's dad (Darrold) is pretty experienced with buying houses and here is a list he gave me for big ticket items to look for when viewing houses:

  • Copper Piping
  • Tile Roof
  • Double paned (or newer) windows
  • Hardwood floors
  • Main water line to the street (has it been recently replaced?)
  • Blockwall in backyard (or is it a wood fence, blockwalls are expensive to build)
  • Patio / Covered
  • Hot Water Heater (how new is it? what shape is it in?)
  • Raised Foundation (slab foundation is cheaper but can have more problems and is expensive to repair)
  • Central Heat / Air (what condition is the A/C in?)
  • Landscaping

Friday, March 06, 2009

Surgery for myself and my computer

Yesterday I had surgery to remove a piece of bone that was loose in my knee. The history of this injury is long and perhaps a bit uninteresting but I'm going to share it anyways.
It started during a skiing trip in Tahoe when I was in High School, it was the end of the day and I was tired and thought I could do a little jump but I turned in the air and somehow landed with my right ski going uphill and at that point my knee swelled up and the ride back to Santa Rosa in the car was pretty miserable.
The second serious injury was when I was working in San Francisco for Landor Associates and a couple of us were kicking a soccer ball around at an off site party. I planted my foot and turned and heard my knee pop, this time it was really bad, I was taken to an urgent care in San Francisco because the swelling was so bad they drained some of it from my knee, which was very unpleasant. I suspect that it was this injury which broke off the bone that I had removed yesterday, since that time (which I think was about 7 years ago), every so often the bone would slip out of it's place within my knee and it would be very painful, but I could push it back down into it's hiding spot and it would be ok. I think because that injury was Worker's Compensation, the doctors just kinda pushed me through the process, at that point I didn't know that I had this large piece of bone floating around in my knee.
The most recent injury to my knee happened while practicing the Japanese martial art: Aikido where once again my kneed popped and swelled up. Months after many x-rays, MRIs and Doctors apointments I finally got the surgery (The HMO run-around is a topic for another blog post) and now I'm happilly recovering at home. This recovery is almost like a vacation for me because I've been insanely busy at work lately and am enjoying "Working from home," catching up on TiVo, Facebook, Blogging and other things that some of my coworkers do while "working."

In a related topic, the day before my surgery I moved my computer downstairs so that I could work from home without going up and down the stairs all the time. While moving my computer I heard a sound of a light clanging around in the box but didn't think much of it because there are some small peices that make noice on the system when I move it. Last night when I went to power on the system it gave me an error in the bootup sequence, something about CMOS or BIOS checksum failed which I'd never seen before, I went into the BIOS and checked for anything obviously amuck, but didn't notice anything glaring. Attempting to continue past the checksum error the system refused to boot up giving some RAID error. I then realized that the BIOS wasn't detecting my primary hard-drive and then proceeded to perform some surgery of my own on my system. I quickly found the cause of the noise, somehow a metal drive mount had come loose and was sitting on top of my main HD, I removed the offending metal piece (which incidentially I wasn't able to find where it had come from), and tried to boot up my system. After a bit of tinkering it looked like the BIOS was set for RAID (which I don't have), so I disabled the RAID settings and my drive was detected and the computer booted up sucessfully, what a relief! Somehow it seems that the metal peice must have caused the BIOS to reset back to factory defaults, I'm just lucky that it didn't fry my motherboard. The strangest thing to me about all this is that my Computer needed surgery at the same time I did.