Sherman Indian High School (SIHS): City of Riverside Landmark #16

Palm trees still dot the landscape of the school.

Palm trees still dot the landscape of the school.

Location: 9010 Magnolia Avenue.
Date Established: 7/19/1901
Date Visited: 6/28/2015

“The ultimate point of rest and happiness for the Indians is to let our settlements and theirs meet and blend together, to intermix and become one people, incorporating themselves with us as citizens of the U.S. This is what the natural progress of things will of course bring on, and it will be better to promote than retard it. Surely it will be better for them to be identified with us and preserved in the occupation of their lands, than be exposed to the many casualties which may endanger them while a separate people. ” – Thomas Jefferson 1803

Pictures of Sherman Indian school students and how the school used to look like.

Pictures of Sherman Indian school students and how the school used to look like.

In the late 1800’s after decimating Native American population by means of forced resettlement onto territorial land, the United States started to implement the final phase of Indian assimilation. In 1892 the Bureau of Indian Affairs started what was to be called the Perris Indian School in Perris, California. The idea behind the school was that they would take Native American children away from their native lands and people and force them to learn American ideals.

The school operated for a few years but Perris, not having a lot of water, proved to be an unsuitable location for a school and so in 1901 the school was moved to Riverside and named the Sherman Institute. By the fall of 1902 eight grades were in operation and taught students in agricultural and industrial sciences.

At first life was hard for students at the school. Most of the students were from tribes not native to California. Once enrolled in the school they were not allowed to return home. Some students even died at the school and were buried in a special cemetery located in Home Gardens. Gradually enrollment policies changed and by the 1930’s all California Native Americans were integrated into regular public schools.

Sherman's football team was used to showcase the skills of the Native American students.

Sherman’s football team was used to showcase the skills of the Native American students.

The times gradually changed and in the 1960’s the Native American people demanded that the school be formalized. In 1971 after a complete remodel of the school, the name was changed to the Sherman Indian High School and was officially accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Today Sherman Indian High School has transformed itself and stands as a place of higher learning, celebrating the values and cultures of the Native American people. There are an average of 300 to 500 students in any given year. Any student who is a tribal member of a federally-recognized tribe with at least one-fourth blood may apply to attend.

Not being Native Americans ourselves we opted for the Sherman Indian Museum. We had been wanting to go for some time but the hours of operation never seemed to work with my work schedule (Tuesday-Thursday 1PM to 4:30 PM). Lucky for us, Denise found out through Facebook that they were going to have a special fundraiser event on Saturday. We were able to go and visit the museum, eat some fry bread, and learn a little bit of basket weaving. The museum was free, but donations are gladly accepted.

Click on the photos to enlarge:

A new time capsule placed in 1970 sits in the middle of a rose garden.

A new time capsule placed in 1970 sits in the middle of a rose garden.

The contents of the 1901 time capsule that was placed in the cornerstone.

The contents of the 1901 time capsule that was placed in the cornerstone.

In the back of the museum there are student made models of traditional Native American life and culture.

In the back of the museum there are student made models of traditional Native American life and culture.

This plaque dedicates the Sherman Institute as a city landmark.

This plaque dedicates the Sherman Institute as a city landmark.

At the end of our tour we were able to buy some fry bread.

At the end of our tour we were able to buy some fry bread.

The front of the Sherman Museum. The building kind of looks like a old train station.

The front of the Sherman Museum. The building kind of looks like a old train station.

The cornerstone that started the construction of the Sherman Institute in 1901.

The cornerstone that started the construction of the Sherman Institute in 1901.

The school is still considered federal land today and so being we were not allow to go much past the museum grounds.

The school is still considered federal land today and so being we were not allow to go much past the museum grounds.

This 1947 senior class project honors those students who helped in the war effort.

This 1947 senior class project honors those students who helped in the war effort.

The LA Cosplay Con

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For the most part crowds are bad because they make things slow, but sometimes you need a crowd. For example have you ever been to a concert and their were not that many people there? I have and though it makes getting out of the venue easier, for the most part it makes for a sad concert. There just isn’t any energy. For that reason certain events make sure there are a lot of attendees, by giving away discounted tickets.

Goldstar.com is a favorite website of mine for finding discounted tickets. Often I can get my event tickets at a 40 to 50% discount, through the site. I must use the site a lot because a few weeks ago for my birthday Goldstar.com gave me $10 of credit to spend at any event on their website. $10 for most events is not much. It isn’t going to get you to a play or a rock concert, but apparently it is enough to get me two tickets to the LA Cosplay Con.

Yep, that's AJ on the red carpet.

Yep, that’s AJ on the red carpet.

This was our first cosplay convention. I have vaguely heard of the term cosplay before, but I have to admit I really don’t know much about the subject. For those like me who are not in the “know”, cosplay is when people dress up as their favorite cartoon characters. Basically, it is like a giant Halloween costume party, but there is no trick-or-treating (which sadly means no candy). There is however LOTS of photography going on. Cosplay conventions are the place to be seen, and the way you get seen is through your costume.

The Century Plaza Hotel was very trendy looking with these 1 foot deep lounging pools.

The Century Plaza Hotel was very trendy looking with these 1 foot deep lounging pools.

The venue for the convention was the Century City Plaza Hotel. The décor of the hotel was very modern and very trendy. A good environment for those wanting to be seen. I noticed there was kind of a game going on at the convention. There was two unofficial games going. One was to see who could take the most amount of pictures (those playing this game were noticed by their very fast shutter cameras). The other game was to see how many people asked you for your picture. AJ did very well at that game.

Apparently going to a cosplay convention dressed as Ash Ketchum will get you lots of attention. I think a lot of it had to with the fact that AJ is 7, but still, lines were forming for the kid. Had I been a little bit more enterprising I would have bought him a booth and I think I could have gotten some money out of this deal. Alas, I was not that smart, but AJ did meet a lot of new friends.

We were not at the convention as long as I would have liked us to be, but we were there long enough for me to learn something about cosplay. Quality and effort put into the actual making of the costume put aside, I found out that a lot of research goes into making a costume for a cosplay convention. Research methods included (but were not limited to): reading lots of comic books, watching cartoons, playing video games (that had cartoons in them), and jousting in a big bounce house with padded battle sticks. I am not sure how that last research method helped me learn more about cosplay, but after watching me fall down two times AJ told me that it made him feel better, so I guess that helped.

Two Ash Ketchums.

Two Ash Ketchums.

I am still not sure how lootcrate.com works but I think they are shipping AJ back to the house next week.

I am still not sure how lootcrate.com works but I think they are shipping AJ back to the house next week.

This lady was having a very serious discussion with a puppet dog for youtube.

This lady was having a very serious discussion with a puppet dog for youtube.

 

 

 

 

 

AJ was bound to find Pikachu. She was very nice to let us take her picture.

AJ was bound to find Pikachu. She was very nice to let us take her picture.

 

I met a lot of people that I were told were professionals in their field. I believe it, they looked like professionals to me. The only two pros that I actually recognized were Kyle Hebert (who does some voiceovers for an anime called Bleach and a game called League of Legends) and Robert Axelrod (who does voiceovers for evil guys on the Power Rangers show). If you haven’t heard of those two people it ok, just sign up for a League of Legends account and join me for a PVP (Player vs. Player) battle, I need the IP points and you wont mind the loss, right?!’

If my writing style on this post seems a little tongue and cheek, it probably matches the vibe that I got from the LA Cosplay Con. I still don’t claim to know hardly anything about cosplay, but I did get the feeling that sometimes you just don’t need to take yourself too seriously, because in the end it is all for fun.

Cowabunga dude!

Cowabunga dude!

The dinosaur inside the crate made cool noises.

The dinosaur inside the crate made cool noises.

Palomar Mountain Observatory

AJ and John with the 200 inch palomar telescope in the distance.

AJ and John with the 200 inch palomar telescope in the distance.

Our plan for Memorial Day 2015 was to go to the water park. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. With lots of cold cloudy weather and a possible chance of a downpour we decided to abandon our original plan and tried to find something else to do. In the end we decided to drive down to Palomar Mountain. It was a long drive but we broke it up by stopping in Temecula for lunch.

 

 

 

 

Palomar Mountain Observatory got it’s start in 1934 when George E. Hale, approached the Corning Glass Works of New York with a proposal to instead cast the 200-inch mirror out of a glass blend called Pyrex. The first attempt failed when the Pyrex cracked in the furnace. Not to be deterred another 20 tons of glass was molded and then shipped out to Palomar Mountain. Palomar Mountain was chosen as the site of the now called Hale 200 Inch Telescope because it’s remote location was thought to be a good place to avoid the light pollution of the then growing city of Los Angeles. In 1936 the second glass mirror was shipped by railway to Palomar and they started to grind it for 11 years (a lot of it had to do with this thing called WWII).Interesting to note that after all the grinding the glass mirror went from 20 tons to 14 tons.

The wait was worth it because as soon as the telescope was activated it started to discover amazing things. The telescope’s first assignment was to look at the Andromeda galaxy where it was proven that stars expand and contract. The telescope has also taken some amazing photos of exploding stars. Still a working telescope today, it is run by Cal Tech every night it is clear (the exception being December 24th and 25th). Anyone who is a scientist and has a good assignment proposal (and let’s face it, probably some money) can put their name on the list and use the telescope. When we were there, they were using the telescope to study the Quasar Evolutionary Model (if you want to know what a Quasar is I suggest going HERE).

The telescope is an amazing piece of machinery. It is what is known as a reflector telescope in that the mirror to focus the light coming from space. In it’s younger days a scientist would ride the top of the telescope and use cameras to take pictures. The film would take a few days to develop and then the scientist would be able to see what he spent all night trying to picture. Today instead of humans, computers ride at the top of the telescope. Mechanically the telescope is the same as it ever was, but the computers do the work a lot faster in that they process the images instantaneously. Also new infrared sensors can sort out space distortions better than any human ever could.

Click on images to expand:

The 18 inch telescope on display in the museum.

The 18 inch telescope on display in the museum.

In the old days when scientists used to ride the telescope they would wear Air Force heating suits like this one to keep warm overnight.

In the old days when scientists used to ride the telescope they would wear Air Force heating suits like this one to keep warm overnight.

AJ and Denise at the Gus Webber Picnic area.

AJ and Denise at the Gus Webber Picnic area.

Before the mirror was installed they used this 20 ton concrete disk to test the telescope moving mechanics.

Before the mirror was installed they used this 20 ton concrete disk to test the telescope moving mechanics.

AJ and Denise in front of the Musuem.

AJ and Denise in front of the Musuem.

Gregory Ellen Hale was responsible for finding the funding of the 200 inch telescope (also is who my elementary school is named after).

Gregory Ellen Hale was responsible for finding the funding of the 200 inch telescope (also is who my elementary school is named after).

Denise looking at the Hartman screen which was used to place the 200 inch mirror.

Denise looking at the Hartman screen which was used to place the 200 inch mirror.

This picture shows how the telescope works. Back in the 40's a observer would actually ride the telescope and take pictures manually. Now computers take the pictures.

This picture shows how the telescope works. Back in the 40’s a observer would actually ride the telescope and take pictures manually. Now computers take the pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to the observatory is relatively easy. Coming from Hwy 76 you just go up county road S6 (to the very top) about 14 miles. The road is paved and very easy to drive, there is no gas stations on S6 so you do need to make sure you fill up before hand or you will be doing what we did and paying for very expensive gas at the Indian reservation trading post (click HERE for gas stations close to Palomar). The views from the top of the mountain are amazing, you can see for miles. In addition to the 200 inch telescope there is a 60 inch and 48 inch telescope, but only the 200 inch telescope is open to the public. The site is not very handicap friendly (there are 70 steps to get to the viewing platform), but at 1 PM they do have a handicap accessible tour. It is free to visit the telescope, but if you want to take a tour you need to pay $5. We skipped the tour and just explored on our own.

While walking the grounds of the observatory AJ found a family playing with a drone. He was fascinated with how it worked and asked more questions to the drone’s owner than the telescope. Moving parts are a little more exciting than just staring at stationary objects. Here is a video from the owner of the drone:

The Sharp State Cheerleading Championships at Knott’s Berry Farm

The Charles Shultz Theatre holds 2,085 people and they were filled to the brim.

The Charles Shultz Theatre holds 2,085 people and they were filled to the brim.

Due to my very limiting interaction with cheerleading I have to say that I don’t really know much about cheerleading. Growing up I only remember personably knowing one person who was a cheerleader. She was cute and very energetic but she was not dumb and my most memorable moment was when I broke my arm she offered to carry my books for a week (which was no small task considering I didn’t use my locker).

 

I don't know much about SHARP, but my guess is they are making a lot of money.

I don’t know much about SHARP, but my guess is they are making a lot of money.

It is funny how different worlds can intermingle without touching. As a family we go to Knott’s Berry Farm a lot. There are always different things going on at the park. Most of the events go on without us even knowing about them. The state cheerleading championships are quite a different matter. With so many people in bright uniforms, it was hard to miss them. I don’t know much about cheerleading, but I was able to obverse some commonalities within the group:
1) All uniforms must have some shiny metallic fringe to them. Silver seemed to be the most popular choice, but metallic pink was a close second.

Even the shirts had hair bows on them.

Even the shirts had hair bows on them.

2) All cheerleaders must have a bow on their head. The flashier and bigger the better. I saw some bows that I think were bigger than some of the girls heads.
3) Girl cheerleaders must have long hair. This of course gives some rationale to the hair bow. My guess is they also have a lot of hairbrushes too. Denise says there could have been extensions being used.
4) When receiving an award the cheerleaders will sit in a circle and start slapping the stage. I wasn’t sure if they were trying to do a drumroll or get out some pent up frustration, it was very confusing
5) There can be boy cheerleaders, but they will never be put to the front of the line and will mostly be relegated to “support at the bottom of the pyramid” role.
6) Despite the posted rules and continual notices by the announcer to not save seats, cheerleading moms rule the stands and they are going to save seats. Do not even attempt to ask how long the seat has been vacant because messing with a frazzled mother is about effective as trying to evict a grizzly bear from it’s den.
7) Being a cheerleader costs a lot of money. I don’t know exactly how much money but it can’t be cheap. To give you an example I can tell you that the competition fee was $67. I saw a very small hair bow (definitely not competition grade) going for $7 dollars. I can only imagine that the fancy uniforms, the coaching fees, and transportation fees have to add up.
8) If a Taylor Swift (aka. “T. Swifty) song is played over the PA system. Every cheerleader in earshot must stop and immediately sing along.
9) To be a cheerleader you must be extremely elastic. I am convinced some of those girls were made of rubber. I don’t know why the majority of these girls are not in gymnastics, it seems to me they could make more money. Maybe it has to do with the fact that they like bows, and gymnastics doesn’t have hair bows.
10) Cheerleaders will have a cheery disposition and are very outgoing. In a world where most girls are taught to be wallflowers I was pleasantly surprised to see outgoing girls. While in line waiting for rides we spoke to a few and they seemed to me to be very happy people.

The cheerleaders were very good about watching and respecting the other teams while they performed.

The cheerleaders were very good about watching and respecting the other teams while they performed.

Overall my take on the experience was a positive one. I know that there is a lot more to cheerleading than my casual observance. My take on anything I don’t know is to observe the result of the action. It was a apparent to me that with the shiny uniforms, big trophies, and even bigger hair bows that there was a lot of money wrapped up in cheerleading (SHARP is a big production). I also observed that there were quite a few adults that I think needed to relax a little. The best thing I think was my observation of how the cheerleaders themselves acted. To me they were very well composed young women. Very energetic and very outgoing, I wish more girls had those qualities. I am still not sure about the big hair bows, but if it is giving young women courage than I am all for it.

California Welcome Center, Buena Park, CA

visitfrontAre you new to California? If so don’t worry your not the first. California has for a long time been a place of travel. For many centuries now people have been traveling to California in search of what has been called “California’s Gold.”

There are many California Welcome Centers but the one in Buena Park might be one of the oldest. First named the Stage Stop Hotel, the building was first established in 1890. Before there were cars, California had wagons. Wagon travel in California was not an easy mode of travel. California is crisscrossed with some of the largest mountain ranges in the continental United States. Add to that the fact that most of the state is a desert, it makes for a long and bumpy ride. To recuperate from long journey stagecoach stops were build across the state. At The Stage Stop Hotel weary travelers could stretch their legs, stay at one of the six upstairs rooms, or get a quick bite to eat before continuing on their journey.

Following the tradition, the last time we went to Buena Park (last Saturday) we decided to make a stop and were happy to take a bit of stretch break. The welcome center is located at 6601 Beach Blvd. in Buena Park, they are open most days from 9am to 5pm (no cost to visit). It is very easy to get to on the way to Knott’s Berry Farm. When we were their we had fun taking a few cheesy pictures at the photo ops and got some brochures that we plan to use for some future outings.

Continuing it’s centuries long mission to help travelers on their journey, the California Welcome Center is still welcoming people to California. They will help you find what you are looking for, whether it is a hiking brochure, a discounted amusement park ticket, or a interesting dining center you are likely to find a tip or two at the California Welcome Center.

Click on the pictures to enlarge:

AJ trying to imagine what it was like taking the wagon to California.

AJ trying to imagine what it was like taking the wagon to California.

At the visitor center there are brochures on almost everything you can think of doing.

At the visitor center there are brochures on almost everything you can think of doing.

We can't afford to go to Medieval Times, but we got to wear the crown.

We can’t afford to go to Medieval Times, but we got to wear the crown.

The building is very well maintained.

The building is very well maintained.

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Apparently Orange County has a pirates problem.

Apparently Orange County has a pirates problem.

 

Gol Brazilian Restaurant, Riverside, CA

goldenisebuffet Today for lunch Denise and I (John) were able to try a new restaurant called Gol in Riverside. It is a Brazilian restaurant. I have been to many different Brazilian restaurants but this one was different in that it was a buffet style. Usually in the Brazilian restaurants I have been to you pay a set price and then servers rotate different meat selections to your plate. At this place you can pay a set price ($21.95) or pay by weight ($8.50 per pound). The way it works is you take your plate, get what you want, then they weigh the plate at the end of the buffet line. You pay after you are done eating. For Denise and I this was a very good restaurant in that they had a lot of different dishes. Denise was able to appease her vegetarian and fish side, while I was able to satisfy my carnivore nature. We were not that hungry and went for the weigh in option. For the two plates we got, plus dessert, tax, and tip we paid $33. The concept of weighing in the food was novel to us, kind of like being at a frozen yogurt place with hot food instead of frozen food. I also never have thought about how much my food weighs, kind of helped me from going overboard with too much food. We were able to try many different dishes but both agreed that our favorite item was the cheese buns (how can you go wrong mixing bread and cheese?). The restaurant is very small, fitting the name of the restaurant the music played was in Portuguese and the flat screens TVs were showing soccer games. If you want to try the place yourself it is at 10436 Magnolia Avenue (same shopping center where the Dragon House is located) in Riverside.

Denise got fish over mashed potatoes, tomato and arugula salad, fried plantains, and rice and pumpkin. $11.61

Denise got fish over mashed potatoes, tomato and arugula salad, fried plantains, and rice and pumpkin. $11.61

John got noodles with chicken, some fried chicken dumplings, fried yucca, cheese buns, tri-tip, and pork wrapped in bacon (covered with chimichurri sauce). $11.81

John got noodles with chicken, some fried chicken dumplings, fried yucca, cheese buns, tri-tip, and pork wrapped in bacon (covered with chimichurri sauce). $11.81

For dessert we shared a guava and cheese empanada with ice cream. $4.00

For dessert we shared a guava and cheese empanada with ice cream. $4.00

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The Hoover Dam: A Taming of a River

There is a lot of concrete in the Hoover Dam.

There is a lot of concrete in the Hoover Dam.

The collective mind must have been working overtime this week because I know three other families that went to the Hoover Dam this week (we should have saved on gas and carpooled). My guess behind the phenomenon is that the Hoover Dam it isn’t very hard to get to, it is really big (3.25 million cubic yards of concrete), and it doesn’t cost much to visit ($15 for adults and $12 for children).

The story of the Colorado River is pretty much the story of “The West.” For millions of years the Colorado River ran strong, starting in streams in Colorado and Wyoming, it gathered strength and speed until it came out in full force to the Gulf of Mexico. Well most of the time, truth is the Colorado River was never really reliable. Some years it was a raging monster flooding all of Southern California, but other years it wouldn’t even get to California. Many entrepreneurial businessmen saw the potential of the water coming from the Colorado River, but no company was big enough for the task. In steps government…

The final cost of building the Hoover Dam was $49 million dollars in 1936. To put this in perspective that would be about $833 in 2015 dollars. This was more than a job for any one company and six companies temporarily merged together to form what would be known as Six Companies, Inc. At the peak of construction, the dam employed 5,251 employees. Boulder City was created to house all the newly employed workers. To pay for the bill Congress authorized the dam to install hydraulic turbines to sell electricity. It took 50 years, but in 1987 the Hoover Dam fully paid off all of the costs of construction.

John checking out the water power turbines.

John checking out the water power turbines.

The Hoover Dam is currently run by the Bureau of Reclamation and still regulates both the water and the electricity at the dam. Doing a bit of research I was able to find out where the electricity goes:

Arizona – 18.9527 percent
Nevada – 23.3706 percent
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – 28.5393 percent
Burbank, CA – 0.5876 percent
Glendale, CA – 1.5874 percent
Pasadena, CA – 1.3629 percent
Los Angeles, CA – 15.4229 percent
Southern California Edison Co. – 5.5377 percent
Azusa, CA – 0.1104 percent
Anaheim, CA – 1.1487 percent
Banning, CA – 0.0442 percent
Colton, CA – 0.0884 percent
Riverside, CA – 0.8615 percent
Vernon, CA – 0.6185 percent
Boulder City, NV – 1.7672 percent

It was interesting to find out that some of that energy goes all the way to Riverside, California. For all I know some of the energy I am using now comes from the Hoover Dam. Unfortunately due to drought conditions the dam is currently operating at only 85% of it’s total capacity.

Hey AJ it's Arizona time!

Hey AJ it’s Arizona time!

Touring the Hoover Dam was interesting. We had fun walking across the dam and telling AJ that he was “time traveling.”

Hey AJ it's Nevada time!

Hey AJ it’s Nevada time!

Which is sort of true because the Hoover Dam marks the boundary line between Pacific and (Arizona) Mountain time. In addition to the dam on the grounds there is a memorial to those who died at the dam (none are buried in the dam), two visitor centers, and a gift shop. The tour we went on went to one of the massive overflow tunnels and to the generator rooms. The visitors center was nice because it had a lot of fun interactive displays.

They say these overflow tunnels are so big you can fit a battleship into them.

They say these overflow tunnels are so big you can fit a battleship into them.

The family with the intake valves for the turbines in the background.

The family with the intake valves for the turbines in the background.

Denise said she was fascinated by the art deco design.

Denise said she was fascinated by the art deco design.

The family looking at the friendship bridge (goes across Boulder Canyon).

The family looking at the friendship bridge (goes across Boulder Canyon).

A view of Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam.

A view of Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam.

2015 LA Travel and Adventure Show

latravelshowclassOn Saturday, February 21st, we went to the LA Travel and Adventure show. According to my mom it was advertised on TV but I don’t watch much TV so I didn’t see any TV ads. It did however come up on my Goldstar (it is a discount ticket dealer kind of like Ticketmaster but a lot less expensive) email. I wasn’t fast enough to get the free tickets but I did get $10 tickets (they were $18) at the door. Denise had a church meeting so she didn’t come with us, but my sister was in town so it ended up being AJ, my mom, my sister, and myself.

The floor was rows and rows of different travel stuff to see.

The floor was rows and rows of different travel stuff to see.

Not knowing much about the show I didn’t really factor in how many people were going to be at the Long Beach Convention center. The travel show took up the majority of the venue, but there was also a Herbalife and International Coffee convention going on. Getting into the convention center was kind of interesting. There was a really long line of cars leading into the convention center. We ended up ditching the line and parked at Pike Center across the street (which ended up saving us a $12 parking fee).

There was a fee to getting into the travel show and we exchanged our vouchers for wrist bands that gave us access to the show. We were honest but I didn’t see anyone checking our wristbands, so my guess was many people were getting in for free.

AJ guessing turtle ages with a National Park Ranger from Joshua Tree.

AJ guessing turtle ages with a National Park Ranger from Joshua Tree.

Inside the show their were so many things to see and do. There were lectures, dances, food, and games. Every state was represented and many different countries. Some places like the Travel Channel had whole sections reserved.

Rick Steves was very patient in signing autographs.

Rick Steves was very patient in signing autographs.

The first thing we did was to go to a lecture by Rick Steves. It was about finding bargains in Europe which I thought was interesting and he had a lot of good slides (whoever thought it would be entertaining to watch other people’s travel slides). After the lecture he waited for anyone wanting to get his autograph. I was able to have a very brief conversation with him. He seems like a very down to earth person. I don’t think I could ever afford his tours but I plan to continue to read his guidebooks.

Most of our day was spent visiting different booths. I enjoyed talking to people about their different areas of expertise. For AJ it was fun because a lot of the booths had little games you could play. At one you had to find the key that opened the hotel room, at another you looked at turtle shell and guess how old it was, AJ’s favorite game was from the city of Big Bear where they gave you a balloon with a name on it and you had to find someone else with the same balloon. AJ ran around the whole convention center looking for balloons saying “what kind of balloon are you?” Unfortunately he never found a match, but he enjoyed his balloon.

This guy from Taiwan taught me some new dance moves.

This guy from Taiwan taught me some new dance moves.

I enjoyed talking to these dancers from the Islands.

I enjoyed talking to these dancers from the Islands.

Mom and Amy decided their souvenir picture needed a chicken and bunny ears.

Mom and Amy decided their souvenir picture needed a chicken and bunny ears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got a lot of free stuff at the show.

We got a lot of free stuff at the show.

One of the benefits of the travel show is we got a lot of freebies. In addition to the balloon we got lots of stuff. From Japan I got a souvenir ice cream dish. My sister got a mixing cup. We got stickers, calendars, band aids, and snacks from different countries.

After we had our fill of the show we went to Islands for lunch. They messed up our order but they made it up to us by discounting our meal and validating our parking for three hours, which meant we only had to pay $4.50 for parking (as opposed to the $12 we would have paid at the convention center).

My take away from the show was that I had a fun time. Just like when you travel to different places it is mostly about the people you meet and we met a lot of people. I don’t think I will be buying any packaged tours but I did get some ideas of new places to visit and things to do so that was good. For $10 I think I got a lot of good travel experience and information. If I can get some cheap tickets I will probably go again next year.

Here is a video of Rick Steves talking about the booths at the show (this is the Santa Clara venue, the Long Beach venue was much bigger):

2015 Riverside Lunar Festival

AJ posing with the Chinese character of Happy New Year.

AJ posing with the Chinese character of Happy New Year.

Every year in January the City of Riverside celebrates the Lunar Festival. The Lunar Festival is more of a Chinese tradition but in Riverside the festival is more of a Pan-Asian event celebrating all of Riverside’s Asian ties. This year the city of Riverside added the city of Can Tho, Vietnam as a sister city. This caused a bit of controversy and there have been some protests because of this (click here for more information). I personally didn’t see a problem with the new sister city relationship and noticed that almost all of the protesters were from Orange County.

Going back to the festival. The festival is very typical of what I saw in Japan during the Matsuri season. First off was a parade. The parade featured many groups, dragons, and Chinese fireworks. My favorite part of the parade were the Kung Fu demonstrations and the Japanese flute and drum band. The parade led up to the festival grounds where there were games, crafts, and food.

This year I noticed that they had a Takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and Okonomiyaki booth. I wanted to get some Takoyaki but I couldn’t convince my mother to try it with me. It is just as well because the line was really long. We settled instead for some Mochi and Cheese Okonomiyaki with a side of fried squid legs. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese fair food that can be liked unto a pancake. Instead of being sweet okonomiyaki is savory. It is made with a pancake like batter, cabbage, potato, green onions, and fish flakes. We got Mochi and Cheese as an extra topping. Mochi is pounded rice, I had never seen that as a topping before. Also, in Japan there isn’t many dishes with cheese so I am guessing that was a California okonomiyaki. It was very good. Heated the cheese and mocha got really gooey and it was almost like a pizza without dough. I hope they come back next year.

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Watching how they make Takoyaki is always interesting.

Watching how they make Takoyaki is always interesting.

I was immediately drawn to the Okonomiyaki sign. Unfortunately, the wind got really strong and they had to take it down.

I was immediately drawn to the Okonomiyaki sign. Unfortunately, the wind got really strong and they had to take it down.

A display of some of the okonomiyaki being sold.

A display of some of the okonomiyaki being sold.

My finished Okonomiyaki with mayonnaise and sauce.

My finished Okonomiyaki with mayonnaise and sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were at the fair for about 4 hrs. and then we went on to Knott’s. It was  a long day but it was fun.

 

A Chinese exchange student in the parade.

A Chinese exchange student in the parade.

I enjoyed listening to the Japanese flute and drum players.

I enjoyed listening to the Japanese flute and drum players.

This year is the year of the goat.

This year is the year of the goat.

AJ with a Chinese cut out.

AJ with a Chinese cut out.

Some pedal carts were decorated by the various sister cities.

Some pedal carts were decorated by the various sister cities.

A good luck dragon made it's way through the parade.

A good luck dragon made it’s way through the parade.

Ms. Asia and her court.

Ms. Asia and her court.

Some Indian dancers.

Some Indian dancers.

New Years Goals: The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good

We started 2014 by going to the 2014 Rose Bowl Parade.

We started 2014 by going to the Rose Bowl Parade.

2014 was a good year! Now it is time to talk about 2015. There has been a trend for people lately to dis New Years resolutions. I guess if you have no plan on keeping any of your goals that is an OK thing to do, but I have found goals to be an effective way of keeping myself on track and reaching new milestones. I think it is good to reflect on where you have been and where you are going.

If your wondering about the title, yes, I (John) know it is reversed, but I like being upbeat. Who wants to end with something ugly? Most of this is going to be about me (John) but I plan on adding a little bit Denise and AJ gave me.

 

 

 

The Ugly:

This year was not a good year weight wise. In 2013 I (John) zealously tracked every bit of food I ate and I was even starting to add in a lot of vegetables. This year I got a little stressed out about a few things and I developed a really bad chocolate habit. I was really bad about tracking my calories in 2014. I think I ate chocolate almost every day this year. I also didn’t move that much. I only ran two 5Ks this year and looking at my run log I didn’t really do much distance over 6 miles. The result of all that stagnation is that I currently weigh 255 lbs.

In May AJ and John went on a trip out to Hollywood.

In May AJ and John went on a trip out to Hollywood.

Gaining 55 pounds in one year is not good. It needs to be stopped and quickly reversed. Luckily for me this is something I have already done before so I know what to do to go back to where I belong. For this year I have already signed up for the Fontana Days Half Marathon and I am currently in week 2 of training. The miles at this point are low, last week I only did 6 miles total of running and this week will probably be the same. The training plan slowly builds up the length and intensity. By June I think I can lose about 25 pounds and I think a 2 hr. 45 min half marathon is possible. That would put me at a 12:35 pace, not my fastest ever, but this is not about pace. This is about health. I am also limiting the amount of chocolate I plan to consume this year (if you think I am giving it up your crazy). I bought a pick package of full size candy bars and when I hit my goals I will be rewarding myself with a sweet treat. I renewed my subscription to loseit.com, it is a calorie tracking site. There are lots of ways to lose weight but this is the only thing I have found that has worked for me.

Denise said that for her ugly was being out of shape. She is tracking her weight and says that one of her goals for the new year is to run a sub 40 min. 5K (3.1 miles). She says that she is going to try to track her eating and include more vegetables.

The Bad

There were some tragedies that happened this year. Those were kind of out of our control this year so we don’t really count things out of our control as bad. Yes, we would rather they not have happened, but it doesn’t really help you to dwell on things that are out of your control. Things to us are bad when something you could have done didn’t happen and as a result of the inaction you suffered a loss.

AJ with his reading award.

AJ with his reading award.

Bad things for me (John) this year were not reading enough and/or studying. Both Denise and AJ were great readers, but I can’t remember any really good book I read this year. Which is sad because I like reading. I went to the library earlier this week and got some books, hopefully I can spend a little less time on a screen and more on a book. Along with that I want to study more. I am more of a non-fiction reader. I am no longer in school but I do like to be constantly learning. My scripture study this year I felt was a bit sporadic. I did complete my goal to memorize all the Articles of Faith this year, but I have another goal of memorizing a book in the New Testament. I need to get on that one. I am thinking 2nd John, but there a lot of good books out there. Either way reading the bible more just can’t be a bad thing.

Denise said that her bad thing was that she was not yet translated. I (John) am not quite sure how that works out as far as a yearly goal, but when the angelic ministers come knocking out our door I am sure the three days of rest I am bound to receive will be nice (for reference of what I am talking about please see Alma 36:10 (ok, maybe it wont be that restful after all).

AJ said that it was not fun putting a Lego in his ear. Legos are fun, but they don’t belong in ears. Good lesson to learn. AJ has told us that in the new year he plans to get better with his Lego creations. He is pretty good already so it should be interesting to see what he will be able to create during the year.

The Good

AJ and Denise inspecting a cacao pod.

AJ and Denise inspecting a cacao pod.

For me (John again) 2014 was the marked by two awesome things. Travel and money. Those things often go together, but usually it is because travel costs money. We however bucked the trend and were able to both travel and save money. In 2014, I did a lot of investing in the stock market. If you read the headlines it was doom and gloom, but I knew it wasn’t so. I know that negative headlines sell papers, but the truth was it was what stock investors call a bull market. People get frightened of the stock market because they can lose money. Yes, it is true, you can lose money. Sometimes I did that, but most of the time I didn’t, in fact most of the time I beat the market. The stuff I invested in was not boring stuff. I like penny stocks, growth stocks, utilities with high dividends. According to all the experts these are all the stocks you should avoid like the plaque, but I didn’t and it paid off really well. In April 2014 I got the paperwork that our student loans were paid in full. I can’t even begin to tell you the joy it is not to have any debts.

It is a new level of freedom I have never experienced and I want more of it. I am not completely free, I still need a job. I am very lucky to be in the job I currently have, but I am putting my finances in order to where maybe one day I will not need it. I am not saying I plan to quit my job, there is some joy in working. The world is a crazy place and you never know what it will bring and trading in the stock market has taught me that lowering your risk is a good thing. To that end I am building up a solid core of dividend paying stocks. This year I earned about $5,000 in just dividends. These are profits paid to me for being a stock holder. I don’t have to do anything other than own a stock and companies pay me ever quarter. The way I have it set up now is that the dividends are reinvested in the company. So basically there are several companies out there paying me to own more of their company (and people wonder why the rich get richer). Our current net worth is $79,776.22. Not quite the $80K I was hoping for but considering we were in debt last year being off by only a couple hundred dollars is not that bad. I think by the end of 2015 with some active portfolio management I can get that net worth up to $100K (it all about using compounding interest to your advantage).

The second good was that of travel. Travel was surprisingly cheap this year. We took two big trips this year. One was to Aguascalientes to see La Feria de San Marcos and the other was to Belize. To help save on travel we flew on lower cost airlines and stayed with friends and family. We eat a lot of street food when we travel and take a lot of public transportation (or just walk). Sadly, we currently have no plans as a family to travel. 2015 was supposed to be a family reunion year, but there are no plans for a family reunion. I (John) have made a personal goal to save up for one of my goal trips to Mt. Fuji, but that will take a while. I invited AJ along with me and he told me “Papi, Mt. Fuji is a volcano, that’s dangerous.” Yes, it is volcano, but it has been around for a few thousand years. Geologists say is due for another eruption soon (last one was in 1717), but that is a risk I will have to take. I am using some of my investment and business money to put $150 a month into a special portfolio just for this trip. I figure not this year, but by July 2016 I will have enough money to travel to Japan and climb Mt. Fuji. Assuming of course it doesn’t erupt first.

Denise said the good in 2014 was that she was very happy with her scripture study plan. She reads the scriptures and at least one general conference talk a day. Denise was very happy to go to Woodbadge (advanced Scout training) this year and has made a goal to finish her Woodbadge ticket. Which is good because if she doesn’t I am sure her Troop Guide (it isn’t John) will be bugging her. Denise finished 2014 slightly down in weight and is hoping to continue that trend.

AJ said that 2014 was good because he did good in school. He did do well there and even got a reading award. AJ likes reading and can read most books he picks up. He says he wants to improve his reading. He also has a goal to get older, which he seems to be working on every day.

Good luck!

We spent our New Years Eve at Knott's Berry Farm. We have season passes for 2015.

We spent our New Years Eve at Knott’s Berry Farm. We have season passes for 2015.

2014 was a good year. We had lots of adventures and lots of fun. We wish you good luck in 2015. I had a friend who used to tell me “if I get up on the green side of the grass I know it is going to be good day.” Truer words were never spoken. Every day you can wake up is a great day. The Pedroza family is a family of hope. We are by no means perfect, but we try to improve the best we can.