Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Welcome Back

First day back in the office after a 10 day vacation. I don't remember what I was doing when I left. They moved my office to a new building, so I don't know where I am going. I ate way too much over the last week and the pants are fitting a little snug this morning. And top it off a few hundred e-mails to get through. Should be an awesome week.

At least the stock is up!

3 years and 5 months till semi-retirement!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Long Time No Talk

I know its been a long time since I wrote, and I don't quite know if I have valid reasons for waiting but hey... what are you gonna do.

Here are the highlights, the big updates you are looking for, if you are so inclined to here about my updates.

We had yet another tragedy in my extended family. My biological father, a man whom I had just really met last year and someone I had only spoken to a handful of times passed away. I returned to KY for the funeral and the biggest thing I noted was the sense that I lost a piece of my history. I will never really get to learn who he was and who he became. I am going to try to make up for some of that with my siblings, and if any of you are reading this please know that I tend to be absorbed with my immediate family but I will try to be an attentive and present brother, albeit one that is 2500 miles away from you.

Generally speaking most other things in my life are going fairly well. Work is fine, boring and tedious, but fine. The stock is up, which is really all I give a crap about. :)

Home life is awesome, as one would expect, I mean hey... its my home. The kids are doing well, although I wish we could connect with other kids in the new neighborhood. I know there are kids there, its just we can't seem to find them. I assume it's a summer thing and come the start of school, next month, we will be knee deep in kids. In our short-time in Foster City, we were the go to house for good times with the neighborhood kids, and I assume the same will happen here.

I joined a vanpool at work, in fact, I am chilling in the van typing this right now. I have to admit it makes the commute seem shorter. I drive myself about half-way to work (25 miles or 1 hour) and then jump in a van for the rest of the trip (25 more miles and 1 more hour). We each take turns driving and the combined cost is only $70/month, saves me cash money, headache, and wear and tear on the car. WINS all around.

Its mercilessly hot in Northern California where we live, but still cool where I work. The temperature is typically 30 degrees different from the office to the house. We are trying to get around and see more of Cali. We have been to the beach a few more times and we bought our pass to the Oakland Zoo, a Zoo pass is a Stary family must. We hope to visit LegoLand in August before the kids start school with a pit stop in LA and San Diego. We might even get a chance to see some extended family from the Stary side, folks I haven't seen in 20 years. GODDAMN I am old.

Side note: I am coming back to Cincy next week to visit family, friends, and golf courses. I am pretty pumped about the trip. Add to that it looks like I will be going back in October for my 20th year HS reunion (see comment above related to age).

So what else can I tell you...

The twins are really doing well, when we left KY they were babies. They couldn't talk, in any coherent way, and now they are full on toddlers. They talk and talk and have developed these awesome little personalities. I still can't tell them apart unless I am holding or talking to one of them. Details has never been a strong suit.

The boys are best buds. We will be out somewhere and you will see them walking hand in hand, its pretty much the sweetest GD thing you have ever seen. Now don't get me wrong, they will be slapping each other ten minutes later but they have developed quite a bond and its nice to see.

Cyndi hasn't left or R U N N O F T (quick name that movie), which considering the sea of testosterone she swims in daily is pretty awesome of her. She has a Mommy vacation coming up in a few weeks, a well-deserved break from the heathens and her disgusting husband. The big question for me is what are the boys and I going to do when she is out or to quote Ferris "what aren't we going to do"!

The movie was "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"...

What else can I tell you...

I don't know... I will think of something else later. So my plan (yeah right) is to update this fairly regularly while I am chilling in the van. What else have I got to do.... NOTHING, except troll twitter for inappropriate pictures and tweets.

See you later and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

California Weekend

Now... that my friends is why people live in California. This past weekend was spectacular. It was just a three day weekend but I feel like I have been on vacation, and it was a good vacation at that.

For starters it was warm to downright hot out here. My house is 50 miles inland from the bay which means it is in a completely different ecosystem than the coast. At my house it was high 90s all weekend, no clouds in the sky. I love heat, just taking a moment to bake in the goodness of warmth. It was dry, of course, because it is basically a desert in Central California. One errant cigarette and the whole place is going up in flames.

But what made the weekend awesome was just the combination of stuff, and not to mention most of it was FREE!

Friday was work and school, but after a 2 hour commute to the house (yes two hours), there was time for 2 Game of Thrones episodes (DVD season 2) and the comfort of sleeping in my own bed.

Saturday and Sunday featured trips to the park and slpashpad (which is just an awesome way to spend a couple of hours on a weekend day). Side note: I saw a bobcat in the park. I grant you I was 100 yards away from it, but either that was a bobcat or that was the biggest house cat in the history of humanity. Either way, that thing was big enough to eat your pet chihuahua.

Monday was a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Cruz for a day at the beach and yet another glorious day it was. Temps were in the mid 70s, no clouds, warm sun, and I didn't see one drunk teenager! We played for hours and the kids passed out in the car on the drive home (bonus).

Back to work for a short week (the kids have half-days at school all week), and then hopefully another great weekend. But what to do... what to do...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Settling In!

Buenos Dias, mis amigos.

We are settling in to our new digs. It is so amazing to have space to spread out again. The kids are upstairs playing in their playroom, while we are sitting on the couch in the living room and all is right as rain. We have most of our stuff moved in, and boy it is awesome to sleep in your own bed. Living in "corporate housing" feels somewhere between a hotel and home, this place feels like home. We are living both here and there until school ends, I will feel bad for the kids. They have made so many friends in Foster City, but I am very confident they will do the same here.

So as we get settled, its time to get back to seeing California. Our next trip is going to be a weekend in Lake Tahoe. I will be booking the weekend stay here shortly, I am looking forward to a weekend in a cabin. After that the next trip will be a weekend in LA.

I also have a quick trip planned for Cincy in July and a vacation break while Cyndi is in Phoenix for a conference. I know I have been slacking on the page, but I fully plan to step up the posting and West Coasting now that we are in a house and getting ready for a full summer.

Side Note: The new house is quite a distance from work, so I will be taking public transportation. I have never done that before (on a regular basis), I am a bit nervous and excited about it. I fully plan to take pictures on the train and bus.

Have a great weekend and less sucky week!

- Eric

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bring on May

After all the glorious weather we had over the winter, not comes the part of Northern California no body tells you about until after you get here.  The weather basically has not changed since day 1.  If it weren't for Outlook, I wouldn't know what time of year it is.  We still get really cool nights and a cold crisp wind.  Highs are generally in the 60-70 range.  Nice, but no different than January was.  Sadface.  On a positive note, it supposed to be nearly 100 degrees on Wed of this coming week on the east side of the bay.  100!

We got a house rented, pics in the twitter feed.  I will be spending the next 5 weekends loading and unloading and building furniture from Ikea.  Those directions are friggin terrible.  I will post a little video once we get all of our stuff moved in.  24 month lease, so we will be there for two years, and I am pretty stoked about having space again.  The commute is gonna blow, but I think I have found some ways to mix it up, use alternate transportation, etc...

Oh well... at least a roof is over our head and food is in our belly.

Speaking of food.  I have been dieting now for a week and a half.  I hate skipping meals or eating light, it is not in my nature.  However, a little suffering is good for the soul, and given the gravy boat of my existence, a little suffering is probably just what the doctor ordered.  My plan is go home for a long weekend in July with a body that I have never had.  Even younger Eric was still fat little Eric.

Hey... enjoy your day, your week, and your month.  Write again soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Long Weekend

Just got back from a long weekend in Santa Barbara, here are my thoughts:

1. SB is nice, about a 5 hour drive down from SF.  But there are homeless people every ten feet, and it was cold.  Not mid-west cold but not shirtless beach warm either.  Next trip will be further south.
2. I spent an ass load of money on this mini-vacation, which reminds me why I don't go on vacations.  However, I love the feeling of staying at a nice hotel.  Nothing better than being treated like you are important.
3. Generally speaking, the kids were great.  We were actually able to do vacation stuff.  Over the next year things will get more fun as the twins turn more into little people and less into demon toddlers.
4. My van is destroyed.  Sand, food, and garbage... ahhhh road trips.
5. SB has breathtaking views, really nice combination of mountains and beaches.  FL may have better beaches and ocean, but the views in Cali are amazing.
6. In between SF and LA is vast open farmland.  I never would have guessed that.
7. I take two days off work and my job collapses upon itself, awesome.
8. I am going to drop 30 pounds, get a giant tattoo on my left arm/shoulder, and find a new way of life.  Before July 15.
9. I have been trying to turn over some new leaves in my professional life, feel free to kick me to get me started.
10. I am amazed at how well my kids make friends.  Take them to a place and in ten minutes they have a new buddy.  I do not possess this skill.
11. Back to work!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Long time no chat...

I have been bad lately, I have not been keeping up with my writing responsibilities.  My bad!  Will do better! That is my personal motto "My bad! Will do better! I should get it tattooed on my ass and a bumper sticker for my car.


I am sitting here at a birthday party for a 7 year old, so while I am chilling waiting for Carson, I thought I would enlighten you on the finer points of our last month.


The last month has been pretty "normal" for us at this point.  Work, school, damage to personal property brought on by two little maniacs and their older brothers.  

We are still homeless, in the broader sense, but I know where I want to live.  The neighborhood I want to live in is pretty far from work, so that is gonna mean some suck ass commutes, but I refuse to be "house poor" when I don't own a house.  The point of being here is to pocket some cash and I can't do that spending $4000/month on rent.  Below is a little graphic I put together to give you a sense of the real estate market in San Fran.

So... we will be living in the "OK" section.  Still about 125% of Cincinnati prices but not Bat Shit Crazy prices, like the rest of the area.  I honestly don't know how regular working class people live west of the Bay.  A two bed room condo will run you over $3000/month.

We are gonna be in a nice sized 4 bedroom out in the "country".  I will be waking at 4AM for the next couple of years, but hey... builds character.


We are taking out first California trip next week, we are going to Santa Barbara for a four day weekend.  I am pretty stoked.  We are staying at a nice hotel, right on the beach, and I can DRIVE there.  I will post lots of pics.

The weather has turned a little "dull".  The high temps are still basically the same as they were before 60s-70s, but it has rained a lot over the last month and the wind is freezing.  You will be standing in the sun, sweating, but then the wind will blow and you need a coat.  In Cincy you don't know the weather from day-to-day, here it may literally change on the minute.

The kids are doing really well.  Carson is really doing well in his school.  The girls love him, we walked into our fourth kids party and 6 girls ran at him and jumped on him.  These California girls are aggressive!

Becks is doing much better in school.  Cyndi  has been blasting him with work on his letters, writing, and reading, and he has really responded.  He is a smart kid, but sometimes he needs a little push.

The twins are blossoming, they don't shut up!  Non-stop chatter from morning to bed.  Lately they have started waking up in the middle of the night for some extra attention.  I have been spending a lot of nights sleeping on the floor of their room.

I will be back in Cincy on July 18-20th, so please schedule accordingly!  ;)


It has already been 3 months, some days it feels like we have been here for years, other days it feels like we got here last week.  I am going to love when we finally get into a house again.  Living in a condo with 4 small kids and 2 dogs is for crazy people.


Lots of friends and family have had bouts of illness.  Getting old sucks.  It has really made me take stock in my life and what I want to do with the rest of it.  My next job, is going to be something I want to do, a big difference from what I need to do.  

That is probably enough rambling for now.  Check twitter or facebook for pics from Santa Barbara later in the month.  


- Eric

Monday, March 3, 2014

2 Months

It’s been two months already.  Still seems like some sort of extended vacation.  We have had some high highs and some very low lows over our first 60 days here on the left coast.  Since the lows should be allowed to disappear back into the recesses of my mind, I thought I would focus on the cool stuff we have done/tried to do while here.

Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz is this prototypical beach town about an hour south.  It has a wide and long public beach (read pain in the ass to drag the stroller with 60 pounds of kid in it to a nice spot) that has great waves and is cheap (free beach with ten dollar parking).  It has a boardwalk, which is almost a small amusement park, full of games and rides.  It also had a pier and a bunch of restaurants we didn’t get to check out on our first trip.  We will be hitting that up on trip number two.  The kids love the beach and so far it is the best part of California.  Did I mention it was free?  We will be going there EVERY nice weekend until we find a better spot.

Muir Beach – We tried to go to Muir woods one particularly nice weekend day.  When we got there, an hour’s drive away, it was so packed people were parking two miles down hill and literally walking up a mountain to get there.  We just kept driving through and stumbled upon Muir Beach.  Completely free, it’s a nice little cozy beach.  Much smaller than Santa Cruz, but nice none-the-less.  It is basically in a park, so there is nothing to do around it.  Very cool scenery and trails to burn out the kids. 

Half-Moon Bay – We have tried twice to do stuff in here, they should rename it to traffic jam bay!  It’s foggy and isolated, only connected to the rest of the peninsula by two roads.  Both times we have been there traffic was awful.  They have a pumpkin festival in the fall and a nice little downtown area, so we will try it again eventually.  But we will pack snacks for traffic!

Six Flags – If you had to pay the regular admission price ($63/person), this place would be a rip-off.  It is a third of the size of Kings Island.  However, we got tickets for $20/person and that was totally worth it.  Great park for the kids, and they serve BEER.  Would do this again if we can find more discounted tickets.

Downtown SF – Overpriced and overcrowded, especially on nice days.  It is fun to do the tourist stuff, like the Wharf and Chinatown, but parking is $20, and everything is marked up 100%.  We need to go back and do it without the kids, where Cyndi and I could actually eat at the little restaurants.  Carson got to participate in a street performers show, which was awesome, and the view is sweet.  We have to go back and do Alcatraz but it’s really pricey.  And one more note, people are rude as hell on won’t get out of your damn way, but this is the same in EVERY downtown.

East Bay – Most likely where we will live when we get out of corporate housing.  Prices are more affordable, at least less nuts, and the area is very suburban, which I like.  Plenty of stuff to do and good schools, only about 30 minutes from work.  Each city (Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore) have these really cool downtown areas that look like something straight out of a movie.

Oakland – Oakland is the armpit of the bay.  It is dirty and run down, save for a few nice neighborhoods.  The scene in Family Vacation where Clark tells the kids to look at the plight!  That is pretty much Oakland.

San Jose – It is actually the largest city in the area, but it has the feel of Lexington KY.  We visited the Children’s Museum, right in the middle of downtown.  And outside of a few homeless dudes, it is pretty nice and seems small for a city of 900,000.  The museum was excellent and the kids had a great time, but it was insanely crowded.

Foster City – Where we live now, great place for kids, where my office is, and insanely overpriced real estate.  We would love to live here, but I can’t afford it.  I don’t know what that says about a place when you make the kind of money we make and I can’t afford to rent.  Great access to parks and a nearly private beach.  We will enjoy the remaining 4 months we have in housing before we head to the burbs.

San Mateo – This is the city next door to Foster City.  Densely populated, with everything you need to do located on one street.  We have been to movies a couple of times and one of these nights I will hire a baby sitter so Cyndi and I can check out their downtown area.  Tons of bars and restaurants in yet another really cool little area.

We have a few more adventures planned for the next couple of months, including a long weekend in Santa Barbara over spring break (SB is just north of LA).  I think we are going to do Santa Cruz again this coming weekend as temps are supposed to be in the 70s.  We are also planning trips to LA and San Diego but those will probably be over the summer when the kids are out of school.

Next time, I will be funny!  :)

- Eric

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Week with Daddy

So due to the terrible circumstances of last week, I found myself at home with 4 kids, 2 dogs, and 0 domestic partners.  For your joy I will now recount the struggle of the week, using a random day as a template for the goodness (since they were all pretty much the same).  I will not spare you the details.

Cyndi got up at the ass crack of dawn to head to the airport.  I helped her out to the car, kissed her goodbye and went inside for breakfast.

6:00 AM the twins are already starting to get up.  I love the way they wake up.  Most of us drag ourselves from our beds and force ourselves to start our days.  The twins wake up like they are at a rave and are somewhere between their 14th and 15th redbull.  Straight out of bed and they just start banging on the walls and the door.  This is your signal that the day is about to begin whether you are ready or not.

I get the twins downstairs, find them a show, and get them started on breakfast.  Breakfast was usually a waffle and a cup of water, so the dog got half a waffle every morning.  I had about 30 mins of time with just the twins before it was time to wake up the older kids.  I tried to be gentle, and wake them slowly.  I would rub their back and tell them it was time to wake up.  I usually had to make 3 trips back to the room before Becks actually got out of bed.  It helped if I had a football or ninja shirt ready for him to wear.

At this point we are all dressed, kids are eating.  I am checking lunch boxes, backpacks, shoes and socks.  I am combing hair (not my own - sad face from bald guy), and barking at the boys to brush their teeth.  You would think the toothbrushes are made out of steel wool the way they try to get out of brushing their teeth.  Time for the last check.  OK.  Out the door.

Everybody to the van.  The twins sprint to the van like I run after the beer cart on a hot day of golfing.  They open the door and climb in, do they get in their seat? Nope! Straight to the front, the drivers seat to turn on the lights, turn signals, honk the horn, and do their very best to throw the van in drive.  Grab the twins to throw them in their seats as we are now 5 minutes off the pace to get to school on time.  But wait... what is this gift the twins have given me.  Its a double face-melter brown bomb!  AWESOME!  Sprint back in side to change diapers.  Both twins are now screaming at me.  I am elbow deep in diaper as the second twin has ran outside and is dancing in the street.  As I yell at Carson to watch his brother, he comes inside to tell me Grant is outside.  Yes... Carson... I know... Sprint back outside to load the van.  Yes Carson, you can start the engine.

Get to school, load up the twins and head for class.  At this point I get a very snarky comment from a teacher about how the twins are dressed.  If I had wanted your opinion, I would have asked!  And while I realize it is Northern California, please note that 60 degrees is not cold.

Get to class, drop off Becks, drop off Carson.  Back to the van and head to the house.  time to try to get some work done.  Getting work done with the twins running around is not the easiest task.  Every 5 minutes one of them would pull on my pants leg for "drink" or "cwackers" or "chips".  The best part of the week had to be when I was on a teleconference with the line muted of course.  Someone asked me a question, I carefully unmuted my line to answer, and right at that specific moment one of the twins lets out "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH".  I am told those in the meeting got a kick out of it.  I am sure it will be noted on my year end evaluation.  After 3 hours of struggling to answer e-mail while listening to the twins flush the toilet, it was time to get Becks.  Put the twins in the stroller and head to school.  The walk to school is just shy of a mile and goes through two parks.  Needless to say the twins have a hard time walking through a park and not stopping.

Get to school and Beck's teacher is looking for me, the kind of look like "you are failing as a parent".  She means to tell me that he needs to work a little harder in class.  Even at 37 you don't want to be on the teachers bad side.  Pick up my wounded parental pride and haul these kids to the park to burn some energy.  30 minutes of Becks riding his bike in a circle around the park and the twins climbing up and down the slide does the trick.  One would think doing the same thing over and over for 30 minutes is boring, one would be wrong.

Back at the house its time for lunch.  Here is where I flex my cooking skills and open a lunchable!  Boom!  I would have gladly cooked but they don't really care.  I tried to work again during the hour and half between Beck's pickup and Carsons' but 3 little screamers made it even harder to focus.  Especially cause Becks brings out the destructive force in the twins, like a mayhem multiplier.

OK.  2:20.  Time to go get Carson.  Same as last time, load up the twins, grab Beck's scooter and hit the road for our walk.  Really tough to get through those parks now. "Down... down... slide... slide".  The park moms are noticing me.  I get the look from them where they don't know if they should smile at me or call the police or child welfare.  Yes... I am aware the twins have taken off their shoes and socks.  No... I am not going to do anything about it.

Here we are at school, last pickup for the day.  Carson's teacher gives me the opposite look.  "Such a good parent!".  Amazing the difference in opinion when one kid is good in school and the other is struggling.  Back to the parks.

An exact repeat of 2 hours ago, only with on more kid riding his scooter in a circle.  A mom approaches me and introduces herself.  In California having 4 kids is borderline cult.  I should start carrying around pamphlets full of just crazy end of the world gibberish and give them to people who ask me about 4 kids.  And Yes... I do have my hands full!  Thank you for pointing that out to me.

Back home, now to do home work and try to squeeze in a little more office work before I get fired.  If I get fired I am opening a restaurant with a gym in the back.  It will be like a positive feedback loop.  Workout, get hungry, eat, feel fat, workout, repeat...!

Sorry back to topic...

Dinner time... I really felt like I excelled at dinner.  I cooked them a meal each night (save for one trip to McD), I really cooked.  I enjoy cooking, I just don't enjoy clean up.  Anyhow.  We made pasta, pizza, pasta, bacon.  This family eats a lot of bacon.  Dinner was the messiest time of the day.  You have to cook two meals for the twins (one to eat and one to destroy).  After dinner there was a little time to play and then it was off to bath.

Bath time is 70% fun and 30% throwing water out of the bath on the floor.  The twins could have kept the Titanic from sinking they bail water so fast.

Bath is over and now its time to watch a little TV and then off to bed.  TV time is as much about me turning the TV back on when the twins turn it off and laugh as it is about actually winding down.  They take such pleasure in driving me nuts.  But after one last change of atomic doodie we can head to bed.  Bed time is getting so much easier now.  I have to make 8 trips back up stairs to tell the twins to get in their beds and to tell the boys to shut-up, but seeing as how the rest of my day went that was pretty good.

It is now 8:30, twins are in their room, the boys are watching a show in their bed.  I am left to clean up the fallout.  It looks like a bomb went off in the living room.  Toys are broken, dismantled, and strewn about, it looks more like modern art than a place to sit.  I clean, I clean, I clean.  Reset the room.  If you have ever watched 50 First Dates, there is a scene where they reset the day after Drew Barrymore's character goes to bed.  That is every day in Daddy Day Care.

It is now 9:30.  Time to watch a little Adult Swim on Cartoon Network and pass-out.  Its gonna be a long day tomorrow.

- Eric

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Our family has had a rough couple of days, with the sudden and unexpected loss of Grandma Tina.  It, along with some other stuff, is making the distance we have between us and our families feel bigger than it already is.

I have been a ridiculously fortunate person for the first thirty-seven some odd years of my life.  I have really experienced no significant loss on any level.  Even our old dogs are still poking around the house.  This moment has has led to my first discussions with the boys about loss.  When my grandmother passed away a couple of months ago, I didn't really discuss it with the boys.  While they had met Great-grandma Hazel, they had only been with her a couple of times, they didn't have an emotional bond beyond the fact we were telling them that this was a relative.

Grandma Tina of course will be different.  The boys know her, we tried talking around the subject and they led us right back to it.  So my wife jumped in and started the conversation.  My boys, like their dad, are emotional.  I am an old man, and I still can't deal with grief.  I can't watch TV shows that deal with loss logically like medical dramas, and I will NOT watch a movie where I know the protagonist dies, unless its Gladiator.  We have introduced the topic of "heaven", and then come the questions.  Where is it?  How do you get there?  How does your spirit get out?  Questions that I have no answer to.  I try to fall back on simple explanations.  As an adult, I am a science man.  My person beliefs in the hereafter are very complicated and involve the Carbon cycle.  But I do believe in a another plane of existence beyond the physical self, the Universe is too big and wondrous a place for there not to be more than meets the eye.

I don't know how I will answer their questions.  I will try to give logical answers, but answers that a 6 and 7 year old deserve to hear, answers that help them deal with the loss and give them hope.

Sorry for rambling... I will do better next time.

- Eric

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What Training?

I have had just a few grown-up professional jobs in my adult life.  Each time you go through the same frustrations at the start.  Trying to lean the nuances of the job, trying to learn who should not get pissed off at you, and trying to learn what you are actually going to be paid to do.  Different companies do training differently, some have been great at it, others terrible.  I won't get into the details of each different gig, but to this day the best training I ever received was at Rafferty's.  That is right, a restaurant was by far and away the best training experience of my life.  Let me explain why their training was the best:

When you start they did not assume you were a complete moron, which let me tell you can be a significant thing all on its own.  Your training was essentially broken into 5 periods, each period had progressive levels of responsibility and action of you own while your trainers did less.  You did not progress until you were ready, and most importantly they had a plan and stuck with it.  Thus far 100% of my professional roles did not have a plan and therefore had nothing to stick to.

On your first day you were basically just coasting, walking along with your trainer.  You had no responsibility, you were basically the equivalent of hat (just along for the ride).  But you were expected to listen and follow along.  To learn things that would prepare you for day two.

Day two was your first real foray into doing any work.  You only did 25% of the work and focused on the simpler tasks with trainer oversight.  You got further introduced to the work, but you were not a roadblock to progress or success.  The trainer still did the heavy lifting.

Day three you assumed a 50/50 role with your trainer.  At times you were on your own with oversight, at times you were watching and learning.  This was the first time responsibility would be put in your lap, you were no longer a hat.  You had to learn the talk, the walk, and the specifics of the job.

Day four you assumed 75% of the role, the trainer was now standing behind you, offering help and answering questions.  This was the most difficult of the training days and the most was expected of you because you still had the full support of a trainer.

Day five was the final training day.  Here you assumed full responsibility and the trainer became your hat.  The trainer stood back, off to the side, effectively allowing you to assume the full responsibility of your work but being there if the train came off the tracks (you are in fact still a brand new employee and are bound to make mistakes).

Once you cleared training you were loose upon the world, free to screw up orders and forget refills like every other server that ever lived.

Now think about your professional life.  How much smoother would your training be if you followed a program like this.  What if you spent your first 5 weeks really being trained.  You might actually be worth a damn by the end of the training period.

Monday, February 10, 2014

One Month in California

No matter how much we try, it still feels like some sort of vacation.  A crappy vacation where I have to go to work and the kids have to go to school but vacation none-the-less.  Its 1/24th of my minimal stay (that’s over 4% for those of you playing with your calculator and not spelling out the “5318008” up-side down).


There has been an absolute explosion of change with the twins.  I don’t know if they were just due (which they were) or it’s the shaking up of routine or comfort zone, but they are really developing fast.  Grant could barely speak in recognizable sounds two months ago, and now he can tell you a story.  Together they have now mastered escaping  from their cribs, the kitchen drawers, the fridge, the door locks, the toilet, and they have become our very own little portable alarm clocks.  No need to set your iPhone, when you hear the squeal of joy you know it’s 6:30 AM, and when you hear the cries you know it’s 7:00 PM.  Clockwork!


The big boys are getting along.  One minute they seem to be right as rain, the next minute they say something that makes it seem like they are miserable.  It’s hard to tell if they are struggling or it they are just being drama queens.  We need to get through this school year and find our “house” so we can settle into a neighborhood.  I have to admit the parks and beach are nice but I will gladly take a family room and a fenced in back yard over that stuff any day.  They boys keep getting invited to birthday parties, which is a big plus, outside of the fact that I don’t have much conversational Mandarin to bust out at parties.  Note to self… work on that.


The weather has finally started to head south for us, its cooler and rainy and looks like we are finally entering what these wimps call winter, we call it April.  To add insult to this little bit of injury my allergies are going bonkers here, perpetual spring (as it turns out) does have a downside.


Work is finally starting to come around, like any new job there is a period of “I have no flipping idea what I am supposed to do”.  It was a little magnified for me because of the design of the workplace here.  Everyone is very spread out, and you don’t meet people until you have already pissed them off.  Well… at least I have already pissed them off.  I have to admit the free Starbucks is pretty awesome though!  However, the gym SUCKS!  How can I be expected to get my swole on in a 1980’s looking jazzercise gym. 


So much for month one.  Looking forward to month two and hopefully a return to some sunshine.


To bring you joy… here are some more gripes from CA.


1.       When I finally move from this part of the country, I am going to relish space!  Not outer space, but good old fashioned room. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have a family in NY or Tokyo.  I am quite literally going to walk around everywhere with my arms extended out, because I can.

2.       There are these weird on ramps to the freeway system here, they have stop lights and from the GPS you can’t tell if you are supposed to exit to them or to the actual exit.  As a result I make a wrong turn every time I go anywhere on the damn thing. This is totally us…

3.       I have to walk my dogs twice a day, and they still destroy the patio.  I don’t mind the walking as much as do the doo.  I could go my life and never pick up a turd again, fine by me.  What makes the whole thing worse is that the dogs mess with me and I know that is what they are doing.  They go, I clean it up, throw it away, they go again!  AGH!  Couple this with dirty diapers and my job and I can quite truthfully say I shovel shit all day long.




Monday, February 3, 2014


5000 page views! That is pretty friggin awesome!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week 4: Bayside

Greetings and Happy Super Bowl Sunday and Groundhog Day.  While its not his birthday Carson was born on Super Bowl Sunday, so we always end up eating some extra cake and ice cream on this fine day.

Its been a good week, but a bit of a stressful week.  I think I have mentioned before, the biggest change has been the lack of control over the twins.  In our house back in KY, we had the twins on lock down.  While this was great for Mom and Dad it probably wasn't the best for the twins.  They didn't get to explore the house all that often and maybe it kept them "babies" a little longer than otherwise.  Well regardless of that, in CA its open house and on top of open house the twins have figured out how to climb out of their crib.  Cyndi captured a fantastic video of the twins going nuts in their cribs climbing in and out.  There is one shot of Gabe about half way in where he just does a face plant.  Classic.... Check out the video below (if you are not friends with Cyndi you won't be able to view it, but I will upload it to youtube soon).

To make matters one step worse the twins have also discovered the toilets and the locks.  On MULTIPLE occasions we have found the twins at the toilet, hands in the water, squealing with joy.  I proceed to freak out and scream, they proceed to laugh louder and splash toilet water.  DIS - GUS - TING.  The twins won't be potty trained until they are 17 because every time they get near the bathroom I scream at them.  To make matters worse, they have figured out how to lock their doors.  It got so bad with their bedroom, I flipped the lock around so now we can LOCK THEM IN!  Locking them in has been hugely successful at bed time, they literally just tear their room apart until they get tired and pass out (it's like college minus all the booze).

Side note: Cyndi and I went out to dinner last night and we hired a sitter.  When the sitter showed up we gave her the rundown. When we explained that the twins were locked in their bed room, she looked at us like we were maniacs!  She had to envision a dungeon with twins chained to the walls.  We told her she was welcome to go up there and check on them as often as she liked, but it was a priceless reaction.

Side Side note: We are such party animals, we went to BJs and Target to celebrate our anniversary.  Someone better schedule an intervention!

The rest of the fam is doing well.  Carson had his first drop-off  birthday party.  While he seemed to fine with the drop off part, when I picked him up he was by himself (as in not playing with others). That made me feel like a big old POS, but a stop at McDonalds seemed to cure him.  Becks has his first drop-off party today, hopefully it goes better.

While Carson was out at his party the rest of us went to try In and Out Burger and holy mother of pearl, that is the best fast food burger you are ever going to eat.  When we ordered, I was nervous, like asking a girl to prom nervous.  I finished our order and the employee asked me if we will be eating in our car (which we were going to do), I was completely freaked out for a second.  I though how did this person know we were going to eat in the car?!?! Oh... they ask that of everybody.  California is weird.

We also took a driving tour of the East Bay cities yesterday, we liked what we saw.  We saw lots of malls and Targets and places to eat and shop.  Now we just need to find a house with rent under a million a month.

We have a little Superbowl Party planned for the Stary 6.  With some snacks and cake and ice cream.  I hope yours is as delicious as ours will be.

- Eric

Sunday, January 26, 2014

West Coast Week 3 - Daddy's day with the kids

So I know this is starting to get boring but the weather is here is awesome.  Its 70 everyday, and CA is in the middle of a drought which is killing the agriculture but screw farming, I love it.  There is no rain, the sky is blue, the breeze is calm, and the sun is burning.  I think I might actually have some form of a tan.  Maybe I can turn back into a Tanican American, like 15-20 year old Eric.  Those were the days. During the summer I would get so tan I would take on a new ethnicity cause white don't bronze like that homie!

Anyhow... We tried a Stary Family staple, which is to give Cyndi the day off on Saturday.  It helps to keep her sane (at least saner), after all spending all of your time with 4 snot monsters is the number 3 cause of insanity in adults (right behind schizophrenia and viagra overdoses).  So... the wife went to a thing in San Jose and I spent the day with the kids.  Now this is different than previous attempts at Daddy Day Care.  There is no gated off play room, there is no wide open front yard to run in, there is no gated back yard for the dogs, there is no screened in porch, there is just me and some leashes.

We started out the day at the park.  Its close (almost across the street), its big and open and fenced in, so it was a perfect place to have my first mini-breakdown.  The problem was I tried to take the kids and the dogs.  So I had 6 little turd factories going in 6 different directions and apparently my voice is inaudible in the park, that is the only way to explain how little anyone was listening.  One twin is literally diving into bushes, the other twin is 100 feet away and has climbed up into the playset, one big kid is 200 feet away playing with a water fountain, the other big kid has run off to the basketball court at the other end of the park.  It is at this moment when my attention is the most divided that my dogs decide is the best time to take their morning dump.  And for some reason my dogs feel the best place to do this is not in the grass or the bushes but rather the mother flipping center of the play area for the kids.

Well... I need to clean this mess up before one of the twins pays tennis with it, so I go to the opposite end of the park to get the clean up supplies.  As I do this a signal goes off in the twins heads... NOW... RUN IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS AND HEAD FOR THE STREET NOW!  I am now sprinting through the park with two dogs on leashes tangled around my feet, a bag full of doggie doo, screaming at the big kids to corral their brothers (which of course they only hear me when I go full on hulk monster).

OK.  That failed but no worries, all kids are still accounted for.  So we head back to the condo, drop off the dogs (which proceed to yelp at the door every single waking second we are not with them - the neighbors love us), and head to the beach.  New place, same problems.  I can't keep the twins in the same zip code.  I run to collect one and the other has darted off in another direction.  Becks is busy crashing his bike (he keeps trying to ride on the beach regardless of how many times he crashes and how many times I tell him he can not ride on the beach), and Carson is busy chasing which ever twin I don't have at the moment.  After 30 minutes of this nonsense, I just blew up in front of everybody at the beach (nice Clark... real nice).  Threw the kids in the stroller and went back home.

Two parks = two fails.  So... what else do we want to do today.  I thought maybe we could go for a drive.  Piled up in the van and headed out to the ATM, I didn't want to get stuck at a toll without cash.  Well... I have completely forgotten my PIN (still can't remember it).  I tried a few numbers to no luck.  So fail #3.  Silver lining to the ATM trip is that both twins fell asleep, so I just drove around town until they woke up.  No sense waking the sleeping baby, right?

OK, so now we are back home.  Let's just play outside, what can go wrong there.  Let me tell you friend, the same exact stuff is gonna go wrong.  Its like watching a bad sequel, the location may have changed but its the same damn movie.  Sure enough, within ten minutes the twins are running in opposite directions again.  This time they are doing it on a sidewalk, so every time they bite the dust you are waiting for tears.  This little party comes to a close when Becks whacks his head on the wall of the house, that kid could hurt himself in a room full of pillows.  This time I just said screw it, we are going inside and we are staying put.

I ordered pizza, what could go wrong there.  Plenty.  It took 90 minutes to get here (the store is only 2 miles away) and when it showed up it was terrible.  I never ate Pizza Hut back home and now I remember why, because its terrible.  This brings my fail count to 5, and 5 is my physical limit.  I just shut her down.  From that point on I didn't even try.  Kids were hungry, fine, if you can reach it you can eat it.  Kids start to fight, fine, if you win the fight you get the toy.  I got out the vacuum, the steam mop, pots and pans, and every other non-toy which slightly entertains them.  I was done.

The night was brought to a merciful end when Cyndi came home.  The good thing about me is that I have ZERO short-term memory, seriously I have already forgotten what I am doing.  So come next weekend, I will be ready to fail again.

Thanks... I hope you are not buried in snow and that your tushy is nice and warm.

- Eric

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week 2: The good, the bad, the friggin terrible

Week 2 has come and gone.  For the most part we are settled.  Our clothes are in the closets and there is food in fridge (boom).  There has been a wide variety of experiences, from the awesome to the not so awesome, here is the rundown.

The Good:

The weather is friggin' ridiculous awesome, it has been 70 nearly everyday, no rain.  The kids have gone to a park everyday, I can walk the dogs (which I have been doing everyday), and we have been walking everywhere.  I even walked the 2.8 miles to work one day (since my car has yet to arrive).  Work is finally getting interesting, after getting through those first few days of trying to look busy while trying to not melt down from boredom.  The kids are in school, and they love their school.  They only go from 8 - 2 (short day), and they get 2 recess periods.  Slackers!  As one would expect they are the minority in their class, it's funny to go from a community that is 90% Caucasian to another that is 20%.  It speaks to the awesomeness of the kids that they don't even seem to notice this.

Generally, the place is starting to feel like home (at least not like a hotel), and we have mastered the drive to work and to the store.

The Bad:

My car is still in transit (it will take it a MONTH to get here by the time it arrives), and being a one car family blows.  It's hard to get into my normal routine because I don't have my ride.  I actually broke down and rented a car yesterday, so I could move as needed.  I rented a Toyota Yaris.  It's like a toy.  It would easily fit in the back of the van with the seats folded down, it only has one windshield wiper on the front, and the two hamsters running on that wheel they call an engine is laughable.  However, it was so nice to drive home after work without having to pack up the kids and fight the battle about getting out of car.  The twins now think every time you get in the car, you are going for a long drive, and they expect you to take them on a stroller ride when you get out.

The twins have completely taken over this house, and we are losing the battle with them.  In the old house everything was gated off, so we could literally drop them into their play space and not worry about the rest of the house.  This place probably doesn't have the square footage of our old living room so the twins roam the house like nomads.  They walk to the kitchen, dump our all the drawers then move to the living room (like house locusts).

I am pretty sure most of neighbors hate my dogs, and they are going to have to learn to curse at me in English or I am going to have to learn some Japanese curses.

Cyndi and I are uncontrollably drawn to looking at rental prices, the problem is we are in this corporate unit until July (free of charge), so we keep seeing these awesome houses for rent further inland and we think how awesome they would be (more space, yard, sidewalk) but then we come back to the reality that we are here until the kids are done with school.  Free is free!  And I am not passing up on the free!

Prices are bad, but not nearly as bad as everyone told us they would be.  Yes, you pay a couple bucks more for those groceries and yes it adds up, but its not the be all end all.  And most importantly we know we have to modify our lifestyle to accommodate (I will not be paying for the full TV package).  And you guys will be glad to know we have figured out the "grocery bags" thing.  We still don't know how to recycle (suck on that hippies)!  Once we start paying rent and we are paying double my mortgage for a house half the size, this will move to the "sucks" portion of this blog.

The Mother Friggin' Terrible:

We have been riddled with germs since we climbed into the car to drive west.  Each of us had had a stomach bug, and nasty cold with congestion, and we woke last night to an exorcism.  We can't seem to catch a health break.  5 of the 6 of us are mostly healthy, so maybe next week we will finally get our Cali legs under us so we can do some exploring.  Cyndi and I have a corporate party to attend to tonight that we will probably have to cancel if kiddo number one doesn't show some improvement in the next hour.

With all of the illness, we have yet to be able to explore our surroundings.  I still have not been downtown, although I am hopeful for tonight's party, and we have not started our neighborhood shopping.  Everyone we meet provides their two cents and it certainly seems like we are "East Inland Bay" people.  This will mean a long commute for Daddy, but should result in a reasonably priced rental house with a yard and a sidewalk (see above).

So... Week 2 is in the bag.  If you are keeping score at home that is 2% of our "minimal" California stay (2 years).  I am looking forward to Week 3, getting to do some actual work, getting to see the Bay, and watching our white blood cells finally start to dominate.

Thanks for reading, will chat soon.  I promise I will get funnier, I know that is why you stop by.

- Eric

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


So last year I made a big deal about the year of Eric (see Summer of George on YouTube).  I did what all those hippie make yourself better jerks do, and I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish and things I should focus on for the year.  Those aforementioned hippie make yourself better jerks know what they are talking about.  By making that stupid little list and looking at it every day, I made a real effort to achieve what I wrote down.  In spite of a few failures (one of my items was to blog daily – Capital “F”, FAIL), I think I did OK.

So here, without further blah blah, is my list for 2014.

  1. Weigh in under 185 with a 34 inch waist
  2. Increase my savings (no, you cannot know the target number, but there is one)
  3. Write 50 blog posts (already on number 3)
  4. 12 weekend trips (take advantage of being in California), with a couple trips being without kids.
  5. Get home at least twice (I am thinking once in summer and definitely over Christmas)
  6. Attend a Reds v. Giants game here in SF.  I know, it’s not much of a goal but it will be really cool
  7. Call home every Sunday
  8. Take care of family coming here (you know the offer I made, and I stand by it)
  9. Dress like a grown man (in my defense I spent the past couple of years working at a place that allowed me to wear jeans, which is like allowing someone to drink Beer in the office.  If you allow it, I will be doing it).
  10. Eat and Drink like a grown man (dinners by the Bay, drinking beer and Bourbon)

Obviously, the big thing for me and the family will be taking advantage of living in California.  We have to get out and do stuff, shake things up, break the mold, insert cliché, etc, etc, etc…

The first big thing will be to see San Fran, we will take the rest of it from there.  Happy 2014!

Eric Stary

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Week 1

Well we have been over here on the goofy coast for a week, and here are the high level thoughts about California from a life long Kentuckian.

1. So its July and the high temps are in the 60s and the lows are in the 40s, I will take that all day long.  Ask me about the weather again in July when the highs are in the 60s and I really miss summer.

2. There is this awesome park/bike path that runs along the bay for miles.  The problem with this is the people on it.  Just because you own tight pants and a helmet you are not training for the Tour de France.  I used to ride my bike 20 miles in a day and I wasn't dressed like a jackass.  If you are going to dress like a jack ass at least be polite.  The next fatty in spandex that blows past me saying "on your left" is getting a rock in the back of their head.

3. Real estate is in such short supply that parking lots and thusly parking spaces are smaller.  If you park next to a car or van with KY plates, you do so at your own risk #baddriver

4. The people here are generally rude, I mean you would expect them to be ruder than back in Cincy.  There is a direct mathematical correlation to dickeadedness and city size.  Here in the bay we are several more notches up the dickhead meter.  But come 'on... what do you dill weeds have to be cranky about... oh never mind, they are all pissed off about their rent.

5. In stores out here you have to pay for bags, and the bags you buy are cheap and fall apart as you try to get your groceries into your house.  You can not buy plastic bags, I will elaborate more on this in a minute.

6. There is no trash, there is compostables, recyclables, and trash.  There needs to be a training class, when you enter the state that tells you how to process your trash.  In KY we call in trash!  Hell, my grandparents didn't even take their trash to the curb, they took it out back and burned it.  While I appreciate the fact that everyone here is trying to save the world, I hope they realize for all the good they are doing, there is someone in KY right now burning plastic bags in their back yard.

7. Traffic is bad, but not in the sense that it takes long to get somewhere, I mean in just volume of people on the road.  I bought Cyndi and I two new GPS systems so we can stop getting lost, at least so I can get lost less.  I keep getting into lanes that somehow end up on the freeway, its like a quantum leap, where I just keep leaping into a car that is entering the freeway.

8. In KY people always looked at Cyndi and I like we had 4 heads when we were out with all the kids.  People would stop and count, "oh my... 4 boys".  Yep... jackass, you can count.  In Cali, this is magnified like 5000X.  The general thought around here is that two kids is two too many.  I see lots of single-child families.  I honestly, can not recall seeing another mini-van since we entered Cali.  Guess what douchebags, I got 4 kids, and they are going make a mess at dinner.  Deal with it!

First impressions aside, the biggest thing has been trying to acclimate to our new place.  The kids are a wreck, they can't sleep well, they are all coughing, and the twins are finding new ways to hurt themselves every second.  Its like there is an injury manual and they are just going through pages... "let's try this one".  The kids start school next week, so things will start settling back into some normal patterns.  And maybe we can start getting out and exploring the city and our surroundings.

- Eric

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Move and 2014

Greetings dear friends.  Here is my first of many posts from the left coast.  I guess the most pressing thing on your minds is how the move went, the 2500 mile cross-country journey.

Well... it went surprisingly well.  There were no catastrophes, no blood, and only a few minor problems.  Here is a stop by stop run down of the trip.

Day 1: NKY to St. Louis

The drive was rather uneventful and rather boring.  I was in a panic about the trailer for the first 50 miles.  Every time we hit a bump or a dip in the road I was certain that thing was going over and my Superman underwear would be splashed across the interstate.  But... I never tipped.  Once I got over that initial fear the trailer really only became a problem when trying to park and coming in and out of stops where the hitch scraped the ground.  Sorry road crews!

When we got to St. Louis, being New Years Eve, the hotel was filled with people dressed up in the trampiest and douchbaggiest outfits (I am soooo old).  However, we didn't hear noise all night and because they were being loud it was kind of liberating to not worry about the kids screaming their heads off.

Day 2: St. Louis to OKC

Here begins the long slow slog across the country.  Let me tell you this is an EMPTY place.  This country is not over crowded or over populated it is EMPTY.  Again the drive was nice, but several of the family took a turn in OKC and we picked up some kind of stomach bug.  Obviously a long drive across the country is conducive for the flaming doodies.  As you can expect there were some issues, but after a few years of counseling I am sure I will be able to get over what I saw and felt.

The weather took a bit of a turn in OKC and the temp just dropped out the bottom of the thermometer.  It was cold a windy (again an awesome thing when driving a box with another box hitched to it).  We stopped in the really cool little part of town but it was so cold and we had no where to park so we ended up eating at Ihop.  Then again, the kids actually ate their food and it didn't cost a zillion dollars so all in all the Ihop probably wasn't a bad idea.

Day 3: OKC to Albuquerque

Holly mother of desolation.  There is nothing here, when the zombie apocalypse starts just jump in your car and head out west because there is so much space between towns the zombies would never actually get to you where you are.  You better not run out of gas or get a flat, because you are F'd.  The pattern with the drive continued.  The kids were great in the morning session.  They watched their shows (note to other parents: listening to Bubble Guppies on a loop for 4 hours can have mental and emotional side effects), and they took naps.  We would hit up a late lunch which was a complete travesty.  No one would eat (the kids weren't hungry from power eating donuts and cheeze-its and Mom and Dad were not quite over the devil but), and the twins would go bananas and run around every restaurant like a convict on a work release program.

I will say one thing for New Mexico, it is easy on the eyes.  The landscape is amazing and so different from anywhere else I have been.

Day 4: Albuq to Las Vegas

I had such high hopes for this leg of the trip.  I wanted to see the Grand Canyon (strike), I wanted to stroll the Las Vegas strip and show the kids the awesomeness (strike two), and I wanted to do a little gambling (strike three).  The drive across Arizona was the most vacant yet, let me tell you once you get below a half-tank of gas you had better find the next gas station.  You will go 50-60 miles at times between exits with services (food/gas).  Say what you want about Kentucky, you will never go that far on a major highway without a McDonald's or a Shell station.

The stomach bug reached its pinnacle for most of us on day 4.  So there were some moments where we had to contemplate pulling over and searching for cactus leaves, but we made it.  By this point however, the twins and the boys had started to pick up a nasty little cough.  There are apparently plenty of germs in the emptiness of this vast country.

Day 5: Vegas to SF

Ahhh... the victory lap.  Again, the trip is full of wide open spaces.  The views are amazing as you pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but again, you better stop when you need to stop.  At least by this point the weather was really nice and when we did stop temps were in the 60s.

We got into our temporary housing late that evening and we have still yet to settle in.  Our stuff is everywhere and the kids have taken over the space.  We are working on creating some normalcy in our day to day while we explore the bay area and find out where all the stuff is.  I have already been completely lost multiple times, but then again I got lost in a place where I lived for 34 years.

The next week:

So we are going to try to get settled over the next few days, get unpacked, find our clothes, get the kids in school, and find what the good channels are on TV (I keep finding good shows in the guide only to turn there and find they are in Spanish).  We will keep everyone posted and I will update this blog and Cyndi will kill facebook.  Give us a few more days to settle in and the goodness will just start to flow out.

Hope to see everyone soon (at least sooner than later) and here is to hoping I don't get lost again tonight.


- Eric