Saturday, March 8, 2014

Optimus Prime Takes Las Vegas.

Many of you saw the Facebook posts, a few commented and liked them and a handful of you asked what the deal was with posting pictures of Optimus Prime from various and often random spots in Las Vegas. So now I will write about the story of Optimus Prime:

Our son Gabe has liked Transformers since he saw his first episode of Transformers: Rescue Bots on Netflix. One day, while walking the toy aisles of the local MegaMart, Gabe happened on these tiny Transformer action figures. I don’t remember which ones we bought first but over time we ended up collecting Heatwave (a firetruck), Chase (a police car), Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. Over the next few months Gabe would ask to bring any combination of those four on trips with us. Gabe loved his Transformers and they have been his travel companions on many excursions, and they are probably in the top 5 of his favorite toys. What started to become apparent was that they were more than just toys to him. They protected him and our family to the point that he went through a few weeks where he insisted that the “boys” watched over all of us sleeping.
A couple of weeks ago, Bec was very ill with a sinus infection, unable to talk and without a voice, we pretty much made her stay in bed. Gabe had Heatwave in is hand, and in the sweetest fashion, he climbed over to his Mama and said, “Here Mama, take Heatwave, he’ll help you feel better.” Hello heartstrings, lets yank on you a bit. Needless to say, a tear was shed by Mama and Daddy. Its what nearly every parent wants to see in their child; a kindness and sensitivity that brings hope that your child is that sweet and generous kid that grows up to be a gentle and happy man (tearing up again as I write). Mama gladly accepted and found herself on the path to recovery just in time for our trip to Vegas. (I hope Bec writes something about her journey, because this Vegas trip was huge for her in her newfound life as an amazing portrait photographer)
The night before we were set to head to Vegas, Bec was talking to Gabe about being gone for a few days and trying to help him understand what we would be doing and how long we would be gone for. Sometimes I think these conversations are really for the sake of us, the parents. Gabe seemed hardly phased by the idea of us being gone for a few days; he was thrilled that he would get to spend uninterrupted days with his “Mom” (his grandmother, Sue) and Coco (their Havanese). I can’t speak for other parents, but this first trip away from our son was so difficult, We’ve never been more than fifty miles away, so there always was that comfort of just knowing we were less than an hour away if anything went wrong. We are so fortunate to have a sitter like “Mom” because Gabe loves her so and they have wonderful times together, and Gabe looks forward to seeing her every time, but when you hand over the most precious person in your life and you say “please, don’t let anything hurt him, don’t let him change while we’re gone, and make sure we come back to the same beautiful boy we’re leaving” you are putting the highest level of trust in someone. That is not easy. So you have that conversation with your three year old, but its mostly for you. During the conversation, Bec asked if she could take Optimus Prime and Bumblebee with us to watch over us on the trip. Gabe said Bumblebee had to stay but it was okay for us to take Optimus.
The morning of the trip, we decided that Optimus would document our trip and we would have a way to share our trip with Gabe. One of his boys would be with his Mama and Daddy and he could share in the trip as well. It wasn’t until we were standing in line at the check in counter at the airport that we truly felt how hard this was going to be to leave Gabe behind, but we decided that Optimus would keep him close to us while we were apart. And so the Optimus journey took place. I hope that you followed it, or maybe just saw a couple along the way. Each time we took them, we felt our son was right there with us, and in many ways he was. Mom would show him the pics as we posted them and then in our evening FacetTime chat we would talk about OPtimus’ adventures. So this is the story of how Optimus Prime became the subject of our photo story. It may be a little goofy, but so is this beautiful mighty family of mine. Whatever we do, it’s quite frequently done with passion and love and laughter. I hope that I can always look in my son’s eyes and let him see how much I love him, but at the very least I want him to know he is never far from my thoughts, even in the Sin City. I love you, my beautiful son.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sensor Chips and Salsa

I’ve tried, I really have. It’s partly your fault. You encouraged it with your laughter. At the very least you acknowledged its presence and reacted in some way. I’m speaking of that nasty little tendency to say the most absurd thing at the most absurd time. Whether it be making that most untimely, unsavory joke that makes people a tad bit uncomfortable or saying something hilariously funny while you have the misfortune of being smack dab in the middle of consuming fluids, I do it! I’m the one who makes people laugh, chuckle, giggle snort or spit take. I’m trying to stop. I made a committed effort to seek therapy. I mean a half-hearted attempt at standup. Okay, fine… a weak attempt at an on the air joke contest. It didn’t work. I don’t tell jokes incredibly well, I don’t write “material”. I improvise, I riff. If I were a famous comedian I would be Robin Williams, but I don’t have nearly the fortitude to sustain that level of insanity/genius/ history of substance abuse. Instead I must lay this heavy burden on you my friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, the random person that just asked how to get to Carnegie Hall (practice baby practice), etc. You are being asked to tolerate my absurdity, try desperately not to laugh too hard at my jokes, or at least limit it to a slight chuckle that you mask with a cough. Without you, I don’t know if I can finally act my age, say the adult things, and not make people shoot Dr. Pepper through their nose. Is it too much to ask for your assistance in my time of need?

Screw it! After a few weeks I’d probably go off on a Linsey Lohan-esque binge, where I wrap my clown car around a candy pole, walk off muttering non-sequiturs, stumble into the local grocery store and start spouting off horrific puns as I head to the fabric care aisle in search of an irony board. either chuckled or groaned and now I am forced to continue!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Hunt for Drama Llamas and Trolls

On my recent expedition into the Dark Territory of Cyberland, I came across a wise chieftain of the FaceSpace TweetLife clan, who instructed me on the many pitfalls of traveling in CyberSpace Land and took me on safari to examine the many lethal creatures of this enormous, yet instantly accessible, expanse of virtual world. In their natural habitat, these fierce creatures embodythe dangers of “the Interwebs” (as the simpleton tourists have dubbed it). The most destructive forces, such as the Trojan Horse (keen in its chameleon like capabilities), ravage the land in its entirety, but others are quite territorial in nature and occupy only a certain habitats in this land.

Within Cyberland exists a virtual paradise for tourists to come and share in its fruits and joyous landscape; the So Shell Land. Picturesque flora and fauna remind visitors of days gone by, while creatures of every shape and size allow people to see the current affairs of this beautiful land. This land also contains two dark and insidious inhabitants that have been known to terrorize and harass unsuspecting tourists; damaging their property, stealing food and water, and inciting fear and mistrust. On occasion visitors will completely vacate this paradise and altogether refrain from visiting Cyberland. With the dangerous nature of these two beasts in mind, I implored Pacu, our guide, to allow us to track and observe the behavior of the beasts known as Drama Llama and Troll.

At first glance, causus problemus the common drama llama and postus crapicus the Poster’s troll (named after the first victim of the troll) appear to be unrelated species, but upon thorough DNA examination, it has been determined that the drama llama and the troll are rather close evolutionary cousins. The llama predates the troll several millennia and actually migrated across a cyber bridge from the Real World. The llama has lived a rather stout existence in homo sapien society, but has flourished in Cyberland as its ease of access to all visitors has been prodigious. Poster’s troll seemed to have evolved after the llama’s introduction into Cyberland, The chief distinction from the llama and the troll is that the troll has become more adept at camouflaging it’s interactions with visitors often times steadily stalking its prey while making a clear sign of disinterest to it. However, after long observations, this researcher has determined that the common drama llama and Poster’s troll have very similar feeding, reproductive and survival habits and must be handled and controlled in the same way. Through processing of observational data, genetic coding, fecal examinations and allegorical accounts a proper care, management and control protocol has been formulated. Recommended best practices, precautions and policies will be issued in an upcoming article in the Journal of Screwed Up In the Head. I will post it to this site.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Very Special Day

Three years ago today we were blessed with the most amazing gift, one that has filled each day since with something wonderful, beautiful, heart-wrenching and terrifying. I have loved many things and many people but I have never been this emotionally tied to one thing. A tiny smile, a giggle, a magical phrase can completely change the woes of any day, and a tear, a cough or cry of pain can illicit feelings of sadness. On this day three years ago, I gave my heart to a tiny little boy and he keeps winning it every day.

Happy Birthday Gabriel!

Each day I am more proud of you and each day I fall deeper in love with the little person you are becoming. I see the best of me and your mother in you and try desperately to help you survive the worst of us. I try to remember everything that my parents gave me that made my childhood joyous and special and shelter you from those things that were hurtful and sad. I hope one day, when I am very old and very gray and you have a son of your own that you can say as I often do of my father, “There goes my hero, a man who loved me with all his heart and tried to give me his best every day, No, he’s far from perfect, but he’s loved me as perfect as he could.” Forgive me for the days when I’m not my best, and there will be plenty. Send me your psychiatrist bills, I’m sure I’ll earn them. You’re only three today so none of this makes sense but maybe thirty years from now it will, and I pray with all my heart that we are blessed enough to sit down and reflect with each other on those thirty years. No one knows when we will part but I will desperately try every day that we have together to let you know how much you are loved, cherished and held dear.

Happy Birthday my baby boy, Daddy loves you more than you could possibly know!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Not A Thing In Common

(Warning: This is a fair and balanced political opinion piece. Only read if you are a sane and rational person)

If you believe the news, whether you want to label it conservative or liberal, we have nothing in common and the evil from the other side is coming to get us. You're either a bleeding heart liberal or a right wing conservative. Obama is the devil or Mitt Romney will send us back to the 1950's with his crazy Mormon views. Labels, labels, labels. It's how our politics are spoon fed to us, and I'm absolutely through with it. It's incredibly lazy and shame on us as a nation for accepting it. I'm not deluded enough to believe that we all have the perceived time to research every issue, every candidate and every media source, but please don't regurgitate something that Rush Limbaugh or Al Franken spouts on the air. They're cashing large checks because they move your meter with ridiculous assertions and hyperbole, and by how they manage to stratify us as a nation. We are taught to despise that which does not match our own identity: Judeo Christians vilify Muslims, Republicans disparage Democrats, blacks accuse whites. All to distract us from the great truth: The ties that bind are deeper and stronger than the chasms that seperate.


We all struggle for the same things. The writers of the Declaration of Independence put it this way: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It seems so simple, but its really what we're all after and most of us are struggling in the same way to get there. The vast majority of us either pay rent or a mortgage, have utilities to pay, and then add cars, amenities, food, school. We all struggle with how we're going to support ourselves, our children, our aging parents. We consume, we pay taxes, we work. Most of us would want to pay less in taxes, earn more, have less unemployment, have a safe secure future for ourselves and our families. Yet, we still have nothing in common? Oh wait, I forgot. Your faith, the color of your skin, your sexual orientation. That is what makes us different? Don't we all just want to practice our faith without fear, be treated as equals in our society, allowed to love who we are compelled to love. So if our differences are what is used to divide us, shouldn't our acceptance be that which unites us. If I expect the right to express myself in my own fashion, should I not be the first to defend another's right to the same. In a sense we have forgotten what it means to be a true American: the right to civil dissent and civil discord should be defended by every citizen and on every account, even if they disagree with the point of view of the one they are defending (i.e. I am a Pro-Life supporter and express my opinion vehemently but I must defend the Pro Choice supporters right to express their opinion and even more so I must defend their civil liberty to practice their choice unimpeded). Imagine how much more could be accomplished in our Great Society if we were all committed to reaching a common ground. If the idealogical precepts we held dear, were those of defending the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of our fellow citizens and not the promotion of our own individual ideals.
Yes, its a brave new world, and maybe our candidate won or maybe he lost. Maybe that ballot issue or levy that was important to us passed or failed. Either way, remember that we are all Americans and have one President, one Congress, and one Supreme Court. We make change through healthy debate not derisive assaults, through coalitions not demonizations, through partnerships not fractures. Together everyone achieves more, that is what makes us a team. We're passionate because we care, but we're all on the same team.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Day I Learned To Live

Warning! This is not the normal farcical blog you get from me.

It started like most days do. I was heading out to do a job about an hour away, just cruising along in my van, when everything changed. At first it was a pain in my jaw, then discomfort in my shoulder, then dizziness and I knew something was very wrong. The little article I read on Yahoo the night before said if you were feeling these symptoms, you very likely were in the early stages of a heart attack. In the midst of panic, I pulled to the side of the freeway and dialed 911. Trying to calm myself and not pass out, I waited for the ambulance to arrive, hoping and praying that they would be there in time, begging God not to let my son grow up without his Dad. Then I had to be call enough to call my wife and wake her with the news of something that has always been in the back of her head: her “unhealthy” husband riding in an ambulance to the hospital. I can only imagine the thoughts that crossed her mind.

They took me into the ambulance and hooked me up to the EKG machine, took my blood pressure and my pulse. Good news…no active heart attack…but my BP was really high and my heart rate was above normal. Paramedic said “your call, but what would your wife tell you if she were here.” Off to the hospital we went. Blood draws, urine tests, doctors and nurses asking me questions, until finally the result: “Mr. Pacheco, have you ever been diagnosed with high blood sugar? Your blood sugar was over 500 upon arriving at the ER, and it appears you have Type 2 Diabetes.” I was admitted for observation, a stress test and diabetic treatment.

I would be lying if I said I was surprised. In the back of my mind there’s been this feeling that I was headed for this, but as stupidity seems to have invaded my life, I failed to change before I hit the wall. They say for addicts and abusers you have to hit rock bottom before you can change. Truth be told, I am and have been for a great deal of my life, a food abuser, and this is the rock bottom for food abusers like myself. I ignored doctors, family, and friends, continuing on a destructive path of obesity, food abuse, and overall poor health. Now for my sake, and the sake of the people that rely on me, I must change. I must become a healthier, happier me and in turn provide a solid example for my son and his future sibling(s) to look up to and learn from.

It’s been three weeks since the scare of my life and I am happy to report that I am on the path to wellness. I know that this will be a long journey with potholes and hazards but, gladly, less likely dead ends. One thing that has become clear to me is how poorly I was treating my temple, the one tangible visible gift that we are given. I’ve shed just over ten pounds, and eat things that actually sustain me as they should. I don’t feel starved or deprived and I miss very little of the foods that put me on the path to destruction. When I do feel like eating those destructive things the choice becomes an easy one: life or death.

I’m learning to control my sugar through diet and medication, but I hope that one day in the not too distant future I will be able to control it through diet and exercise (a work in progress). Every day is a learning experience in my life as a diabetic, but every new day brings a sense of hope that I can live a long and full life because I know I have the power to make a difference in my own health. Please don’t pity my condition for I brought this on myself, and I can bring myself back. Today I continue on this path to recovery so that tomorrow I can see what the world has in store. This begins the journey of a diabetic!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

An Open Letter to 2010

Dear 2010,
Your reign has come to an end, and like most of your predecessors, you leave in your wake some powerful memories. I know some people aren’t your biggest fans, yet some people view you as the best that’s ever been. I try really hard not to apply such hyperbole to you and your kind because you are always so full of contradictions. In truth 2010, you brought something that no other year has bestowed on me (well, years 1973 through 1991 had no shot at doing it, and 1992 through 1996 were on the serious doubt list) and for that you rank as my best so far. Thank you for the gift of our son, Gabriel Alexander Tomas Pacheco, for he has been a blessing, and has made you my banner year. Other years in the future may bring other blessings that will parallel you, but you my friend are the pioneer year. You also brought us what no other year has been able to bring; a World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. You have also given me a wealth of memories of friends and family that will sustain me for years to come. Not all of what you delivered to my doorstep has been good, but I understand that everything you bring, good or bad, builds the house of memories that I reside in.
As you go on your great journey into past, know that you hold a special place in my heart, and I sincerely hope that those people I hold dear will look upon you with the same kind eyes. And for those that don’t, may the end of your reign bring them comfort and hope, and may your newest sibling bring them greater happiness than you could. I have not the slightest idea what 2011 will hold for my mighty little family, but I hope she aspires to be as wonderful as you.

Goodbye 2010, and thanks for the memories!