What's In This Blog

I created this blog for my journal. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this blog I keep many of the things I come across as a member of the church. I also share my experiences on the ACE Train and getting to work, my experiences in Manteca where we have lived for three years, and other things I think are noticeable.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Picassa pictures



These sites contain all the pictures I have ever put on this site

Ace Train #11: Construction Diridon and Santa Clara, Seasonal Contrast

For the entire time I have been taking the train, the San Jose and Santa Clara Stations have been under construction.  In fact the train does not stop at the Santa Clara Station as a result.  This past week, there were some new rails laid at the San Jose Station, which I think is pretty cool.  While waiting for the light rail, we saw them preparing the gravel bed.  And then I saw the tie (cement?) after they were laid.  When I went past today the rails were on the tracks. 
At the Santa Clara Station they are making a subway going under the rails to a platform in the middle of the rails.  They are also preparing to lay more track.

The other thing I have found interesting is the contrast of the seasons.  We are now in the driest time of year.  When I first started taking the train it was the greenest season. In fact there are several areas where the weeds burned earlier this year.

This past Friday I took the time to watch the wildlife as I road home.  It had been a long time since I had seen the deer, or the wild turkeys.  But I saw both Friday, so I know they are all right.  I also saw a larger deer just as we were headed into the Altamont Pass.  I also saw numerous Golden Eagles and hawks on a ledge going through the pass. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Manteca, restaurant summary

This is a summary of the restaurants I have visited in Manteca.  This does not include the Tamales purchased from a vendor at Save Mart which were great great and inexpensive.  Also I have eaten some great food at the church, pancake breakfast and chili cook off.  These times are the best.  I am going to update this blog from time to time as we visit new restaurants.  However because of furlough days through the county, these will be less frequent.  However, the big sinners for fast food, A&W for the root beer, Del Taco for the fries and Carls Jr. for the burgers and McDonalds for the toys.  In terms of Mexican the winners are Taquestia La Costa (great price), Las Palmas (great salsa) and El Jardin (great fajitas.)  Best Pizza Mountain Mikes.  The overall winners are Chilis and Kelly Brothers.  Kelly Brothers is a tremendous find, good environment, great food and good time.  It is better than anyplace we ever ate at in the South Bay.

Note from April 2012, Kellys Brothers has closed

McDonalds ****, Tony loves toys with his fries, Union and Yosemite newly remodeled
KFC/A&W;W Lathrop, Tracy ****, Rootbeer, need I say more.
Five Guys, Burger and fries ****, and peanuts (Dublin or Stockton, not in Manteca)
KFC Manteca ***^ no rootbeer
Foster Freeze ***^ I have only tried their ice cream
Carls Jr. ***^, great burger
Del Taco, ***^, great fries
Subway, ***, One visit the pork sandwich fell apart, another very good, ham sandwich is good
In N' Out, **^, shakes with your burger
Dairy Queen, **^, No butterscotch dipped cones
Sonic, (Ripon)  **, I was really disappointed
Jack in the Box *  Did not make the grade

Forum Dynasty ****  Lathrop and Union
Super Buffet  ****Higher priced but worth it (I liked it, Sheri didn't)
Chinese 4 Less **^, lots of food, but lacking vegetables
New China Restaurant, **^, More vegetables than  Chinese 4 Less
Luu's Chicken Bowl ** Japanese oriented, I didn't care for, Tony loves it

Taqueria La Mexicana ****   best food
Gordos Tacos ****
Las Palmas, ***, great salsa, so so environment
Taqueria La Costa, ***, great food, cash only, good price, eat outside
El Jardin ***, great fajitas
Taqueria La Playa, **^, Again the food seemed precooked, and dried out as a result
Taqueria Estrella **^  food too hot
Chipotle **^
Taqueria Manteca, **, All tasted precooked, and under the heat lamp too long.
Taqueria Nayarit, **, Our first Mexican adventure in Manteca, good food, cruddy environment (now closed)
Cabana Del Sol **^ too pricey

Kelly Brothers ****^, this is a great place to eat (closed)
Chili's ****, Still Sheri's favorite restaurant
Chubby's **** pleasant surprise, decor older
Applebees *** Manteca is better than San Jose
Red Robin ***, A great place for burgers, and onion ring trees, but not good for calories
Shooters **^Patty Melt but something in my chili
Mimi's (Modesto but we ate at San Jose) ***, one of Sheri's favorite, She likes the french onion soup, I like the little breads
Johnny's Restaurant  **
Panera Bread **(San Jose but locations Turlock and Stockton)
Big League Dreams snack bar, **, too pricey

Mountain Mikes ***, best pizza we have tried in town, also in the Bay area
Round Table Pizza **^, bread sticks are great
Caesar's Pizza, *^, a  bit more expensive than South Bay and not quite as good

ice cream  *** Paletalandia Mexican icecream shop and smoothies
Foster Freeze ***^ The have a special on Tuesday for dipped cones
Dairy Queen **^ I was hoping for butterscotch dipped but not in Manteca

Movie Night: ***^Bandolero; ****Cowboys and Aliens, **^True Grit 2010

Bandolero is an old Jimmy Stewart and Dean Martin Movie.  I love the role Jimmy Stewart takes of pretending to the the hangman, while all the time plotting the escape of his brother.  He covers it so well he earns a punch from one of the outlaws, which he returns later.  I had forgotten that this story was a true tragedy.  dean Martin had just earned the love of Raquel Welch, no small feet considering they had murdered her husband and then kidnapped her.  However it ended in a true tragedy after an encounter with the bandoleros.  Both of the brothers end up dead, and Raquel cries over their graves.  Only a few of those who headed into the mountains are able to return, including the Sheriff who has a crush on Raquel.  I highly recommend this movie.

We caught Cowboys and Aliens at the AMC.  I hate to think about paying $10 for a movie, but that is what we did.  Daniel Kreig and Harrison Ford are worth it.  The lopsided abilities of the Aliens compared to the Cowboys (cowboys, outlaws and Native Americans) is such that this could truly have been a slaughter.  However the cowboys have some alien technology, and an alien from a different world helping them, and in the end, by teaming together they are able to persevere.  This was a enjoyable ride.

The last movie, True Grit, also came from Netflix.  I was wondering why they made this film, because the dialogue was often the same as the original.  The actors were good, but I must admit I prefer John Wayne and Glen Campbell.  The girl was as spunky as in the original.  However the ending scene, with the girl now as an adult, and left with her arm having been amputated, was a little disturbing to me.  However they did leave is as she didn't know what came of LeBeuf, the Texas Ranger, whether or not he had survived his wounds.  If I had to tke my pick, I would watch the original with John Wayne earning an Oscsr for his portrayal.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What I heard in Priesthood Meeting With Regards ro Repentance


The priesthood lesson was on the law of chastity, and we wondered around the importance of teaching our children, at a young age, as they will probably be taught by the world if not any way.   However the part of the lesson I wanted to focus on, was the forgiveness that can come through repentance.  The chapter ends with the following section.

Those Who Break the Law of Chastity Can Be Forgiven

Peace can come to those who have broken the law of chastity. The Lord tells us, “If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, … all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him” (Ezekiel 18:21–22). Peace comes only through forgiveness.

President Kimball said: “To every forgiveness there is a condition. … The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin. There must be a broken heart and a contrite spirit. … There must be tears and genuine change of heart. There must be conviction of the sin, abandonment of the evil, confession of the error to properly constituted authorities of the Lord” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 353).

For many people, confession is the most difficult part of repentance. We must confess not only to the Lord but also to the person we have offended, such as a husband or wife, and to the proper priesthood authority. The priesthood leader (bishop or stake president) will judge our standing in the Church. The Lord told Alma, “Whosoever transgresseth against me … if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also” (Mosiah 26:29).

But President Kimball warned: “Even though forgiveness is so abundantly promised there is no promise nor indication of forgiveness to any soul who does not totally repent. … We can hardly be too forceful in reminding people that they cannot sin and be forgiven and then sin again and again and expect repeated forgiveness” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 353, 360).

This says that repentance is not easy, but it is possible.  I also like the scripture from Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.I think snow and wool are pretty graphic descriptions of purity, wholeness and joy.  That is joy that comes through repentance, and faith in Jesus.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Caleb's trip to High Sierra, Lake Crittendon

ACE Train 10, anyone recognize this crop

Does anyone recognize this plant?  You can see it from the train.  The field is in Lathrop.  If you recognize this plant please comment because it has gotten my curiosity up.  I actually took it from the road, the road that goes behind Big League Dreams from Yosemite to Woodward.
The most impressive natural feature along the route of the train is the San Joaquin river.  It is hard to take a picture while the train is moving, but I was able to get this one.  I like to see the river in the morning, and then I like to sleep the rest of the way.  I usually am able to get to sleep someplace over the Altamont Pass.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life in Manteca 24:Tony; park review and home acrobatics

We found another park close to our house.  It is between us and main street. I have driven a block from it many times but never noticed it.  But now Tony and I, (Miranda took Tony another day) have checked it out.  It is very nice, and not very crowded.  The slides are very tall.  Tony said the one on the camera's left scared him, but that is the one he went on the most.  There was also a nice swing, and plenty of climbing toys.  Tony liked this park, and it seems to not be crowded as many of the lots in the neighborhood are still vacant.

Tony turned a let's take a family picture on the stairs into a person acrobatic time.  Tony has incredible upper arm strength, and that is why he loves climbing.  He also loves his Momma.

Pricks (Goads)

Several thing have been pricking me this week (as in Paul kicking against the pricks) and I have been puzzling about them. A goad or a prick was used in old times with animals.  It was a sharp stick which was used to guide an animal the way you wanted it to go.  You would hold it against them, and if they kicked against it, or went the wrong way the stick would stab into the animal.  It was worse if the animal kicked against it.

The biggest goad I have been focused on, is financial.  This past week the union accepted a contract, with 10 furlough days and also paying over two percent more towards retirement.  What this means in the end, is $500 less coming home a month.  I am mad at myself that I have let things get to the point where $500 is a big deal.  Similar to what John Horner went through when he was advised by the prophet to set money aside, but didn't, and finances went belly-up and he lost his farm.  I have been the same way, ignoring the signs, until it is now an uncomfortable situation.

Add to that I read a book by Robert E. Wells, which challenged my lackadaisical attitude with regards to controlling my thoughts.   He reminded me of Boyd K. Packer's advice to hum or sing a favorite hymn.  That our thoughts do not have to be wandering every which way if we choose not to let them.  I am grateful for the reminder, but I still feel the chastisement in his words on the printed page.

Another prick, I no longer want to ignore includes the relationship I have with my children at home.  It seems I turn on the negative much too fast.  I guess that is another thing I can also control, and force myself not to do.  I wonder if singing hymns will help that as well.

Not all is bad.  We had an enjoyable family home evening with a flannel board story for Tony.  Miranda played for singing.  We sang a song from sacrament meeting this week, "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good."  Miranda had never heard it before Sunday, and wanted to sing it again. 

I guess God's advise to Paul, "It is hard to kick against the pricks" applies to all of us.  It is time for me to quit worrying about the faults of others, and focus on my own.  I can control those.

Movie Night: ***^Gimme Shelter; ***Les Miserables 1952

I watched this movie on You Tube.  Gimme Shelter is a very disturbing look at the 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway.  It starts with the showing the summer tour of the Rolling Stones throughout the United States, and ends with the tragic free concert at the Altamont Speedway.  300,000 people crowded the speedway and the surrounding area.  There was not enough parking, not were not enough restrooms, and there was too much drugging and boozing.  Part of the problem was crowd control.  There was not enough security.  And Hells Angels ended up providing most of the security.  It didn't work.  There were other performers throughout the day.  Jefferson Airplane's lead singer was hit.   Mick Jagger was hit arriving at the concert.  Needless to say it was a mess.

The problems started with the venue had to be changed at the last minute.  As a result fans were allowed to get too close to the stage, and into equipment and on scaffolding.  The concert saw four births and four tragic deaths.  There was a hit-and-run acident in which a vehicle drove over two people who passed away, another person drowned in the canal which was close by.  The fourth was a tragic murder, ruled in self defense, when a young black man, high on meth, pulled a gun and was stabbed by a Hell's Angel.

The concert is from the perspective of the Rolling Stones and shows their reaction to the events.  At the moment of the murder at the concert, they knew their had been a scuffle, but not that any one had died, and went ahead and finished their concert.

A warning about the movie.  It seems some people wore less and less clothing as the concert went on, including topless men and women.

This version of Les Miserables is on instant Netflix.  I like all the versions of this story, including the musical presentations.  The story as presented in this version is very uplifting, even with the suicide of Javert at the end of the movie.  The actor playing Javert, Boris Andreiev, is familiar from portraying Long John Silver in Treasure Island.  This version shows the changing of Valjean, who very easily could have gone the way of a criminal lifestyle, but over came, after the admonition of a priest.  The love story between Marius and Cozette is very well done.  It does not present the innkeepers in this version.  I does show how Valjean becomes mayor of the town.  Valjean does have a dear friend in the movie who stands by him, even though he knew he was a convict from first meeting him.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life in Manteca 23: Restaurant Reviews: *Subway, ***El Jardin, **Goddees again

This review is from last week.  Two of them I visited in San Jose, and the third was  pleasant surprise in Manteca. 

Subway was the biggest disappointment.  I tried their new pork sandwich, and it was mushy, which made the bread tear, and although the flavor was acceptable, the texture was not.  I was majorly disappointed.

Goddee's we have visited before, and took Charity as we were there following a training.  Sheri was in town visiting Karen (Wardle.)  I went by and visited as well, and now have a book about the history of South Jordan.  Any rate i had the meat loaf, and it wasn't what I was expecting, and wasn't very good.  Too many tomatoes and gravy thrown on top. 

The pleasant surprise was El Jardin, which is by the Walmart in Manteca.  We went there for anniversary dinner.  Their salsa was very hot for the chips, but Sheri says their fajitas were the best she has tasted.  I liked them as well.  The juice was especially good with the combination of meat, onion and pepper.  This restaurant would have gotten the 5 star treatment had the service been a bit better.  They brought our fajitas first, and we stared at them sizzling and cooling and waiting for the tortilla shells and other toppings.  Sheri says we waited ten minutes, an I guessed five.  At any rate it was a bit disturbing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Review: ***Trust by Robert E. Wells

This book was published in 1983 by Bookcraft.  I found it on my shelf.  Robert E. Wells is  seventy.  I met him in Argentina as he was the area general authority, and lived in the ward where I served for a time.  Of course he is also known as the father of Miss America, Charlene Wells Hawke.

The idea behind this book as to compare trust in the Lord, to the trust in the banking industry.  Robert E. Wells comes from this background.  He pointed out that the bank looks at three criteria in establishing a loan.  These criteria are character, capacity and collateral.  he points out that character is mostly establish by honesty.  By following through when we say we are going to do something.  Capacity in a spiritual sense id developing the ability to serve in the kingdom.  This is done through testimony, and learning to follow the spirit. We also develop capacity by praying and studying the scriptures.  The last area of collateral is best measured by our ability to follow the prophets.  To be a fried of the Lord, have spiritual collateral, we must be a friend of the prophet.  This implies that we follow the prophet, accept their revelations, and mold our lives around their instruction.  The question is raised whether we would have followed the prophets in old times, or been among those who stoned the prophets.  The answer is in our relation with the present day prophet.  If we accept them and follow the living prophet, we would have done the same in old times.  However if we reject the present-day prophet, so we would have rejected past prophets. 

Trust in the Lord he explains, quoting Reinhold Niebuhr, is to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

This book as enjoyable.  I picked it because it was short, but it did get me thinking as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

discussion on adoption 6: retelling the story, trust

Tony's favorite thing in the world, is to hear his story, and we tell it to him over and over.  He will say, "tell me the mommy story," "tell me the daddy story" or "tell me the baby story."  By all of these he means, tell me the story of how I became part of the family.  If you start telling any other story, he will stop you and get you on the right track.

There was a little boy named Tony who was born in the hospital early, and he had to stay in the hospital for almost two weeks.  He had a birth mommy, but the birth mommy couldn't take him home, and so a mommy and a daddy were found.  The mommy visited him in the hospital, and they were so happy when they could take the boy home to be with their family.  He was a teeny tiny baby, and wore tiny diapers.  But he started to grow,  When he weighed eight pounds, he went to stay with another family for a few months, but the mommy and daddy were so happy when their boy came back to them.  A few more months and the judge said he could stay with them forever.  And then the were able to take him to the temple, where they were all dressed in white, and he was sealed to them forever.  Tony likes the tory from the perspective of all those involved, and to think about how they felt.  He finds comfort in the story.

He also likes to see his picture from when he was a tiny baby.  He insists that a copy of this picture hang on our fridge.  He loves to share it with others.

I have been at a training this week, and this has included looking at loss in children.  Tony went through his share of loss, all before he was 13 months old.  He was taken from his mother and placed in the hospital as he had low birth weight and some kidney problems.  He was brought to our house, from the hospital.  However he was removed from us at two months to lie with  cousin.  The cousin loved him and took good care of him, but for reasons beyond her control he was removed , another loss for Tony, and brought back to us.  For this reason we were so adamant about his not  being moved again.

Tony during this period, according to Erik Erikson, was working on issues of trust.  I would hope he has now dealt with those issues of trust.  Sometimes I see him still testing, making sure someone will be there to love him when he wakes up, expecting his mother to read his mind sometimes to meet his wants, expecting someone to find his toy.

It is interesting, that at the training another member told the story of her adopted daughter, playing a scenario over and over of her mother picking up an orphaned monkey.  I think this is similar to what Tony does with his telling of the story.  Looking for safety in the story, and faith that this family is permanent.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Life in Manteca 22: I have found more murals

At the suggestion of a friend, I looked for more murals around the library, and close to Yosemite and Main and found these.  The last two are smaller, in the library park and are entitled "Art in the Park."

C.D. Reviews" **Aida; ***Oscar Hammerstein, the Legacy; ***More Bradway's Greatest Love Songs; ****Carpenters

I  brought these C.D.s hom from the Manteca Library, except Carpenters which Sheri purchased at a gas station for cheap traveling between here and Utah. 

More of Broadway Love Songs is a very nice selection with terrific artists.  My favorite is Donny Osmond and Vanessa Williams singing "Nothings Going to Harm You."  It is a beautiful rendition.  I also enjoyed Mike Ball singing "Love Changes Everything."  This is one of my favorite songs.  There were a couple songs to pass up, which in my mind had nothing to do with Love, "Good old Girls" from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and "Our Last Summer" from Mama Mia.  Another couple songs I liked, but they missed the mark on love.  The songs I love but they aren't love songs.  "High Flying Adored" form Evita and "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables.

I thought Aida was just too much.  Every song was loud and intense and building.  This musical needed more downtown.  Maybe there was in the actual musical with dialogue, but not on the C.D.

Oscar Hammerstein- The Legacy had some very nice music, and it is incredible the repertoire.  It included songs from Oklahoma State Fair, Show Boat, Carnival, South Pacific,  and others.  It wasn't the Broadway versions, but famous singers.  For me Frank Sinatra singing "Ol Man River" an octave higher just did not cut it.  He also sang "Some Enchanted Evening" which just didn't work.  However his "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" was very nice.  The highlight of the C.D. is the last song, Judy Garland singing, "You'll Never Walk Alone."  This is one of my favorite songs, and Judy Garland is a beautiful singer. 

The Carpenter: The Millenium Collection is very nice.  With Karen Carpenter's voice how could it be otherwise.  It introduced me to some Carpenters songs, if I had heard before, I had forgotten.  I also has them getting down and rocking, which is fun, but also pulling back and letting Karen's voice carry the mood.  When the track was getting too serious, it livened things up with"Top of the World."  It has jazzy rendition in "This Masquerade."  One song, to me even sounded country.  This C.D. is a nice mix.  My only issue, is the pictures remind of the Karen Carpenter tragedy.  I look in them and see a gaunt face, wasted by eating issues.  And this is when she was healthy.  We lost a great one that day.

At the Movies: ****^Harry Potter, **Judy Moody

I think everyone has seen Harry Potter.  Miranda and Natalia went at midnight opening night.  Sheri and family went the next day.  I refused to go to the first showings, waiting for the price to come down.  I finally went to see it in 3-D in Logan while we were there.  I had hoped to see another, but the projector was down, so I gave in and enjoyed the Harry Potter movie in 3D.   Sheri had already seen the movie, but said she preferred the extra dimension.

The story was intense, as it was suppose to be, and the battle was entertaining.  I have only a couple minor complaints.  I wish they could have focused more on the battle, and a little less on Harry.  Of course I guess the story was Harry.  My only other complaint, is the epilogue left me hollow somehow.  I think I would have liked to have seen more character like Melville and Luna.  Other than the three, the only character I recognized was Draco.  Harry Potter has been a joy for our family throughout.  I remember bringing home four or five copies at a time when a new book came out.  Nobody wanted to wait.  I also remember Thanksgiving weekends seeing the movie when it came out, one in San Diego with cousins.  It has been a fun ride.

Judy Moody and the not Bummer Summer was a disappointment to me.  I was hoping it would at least be as good as the "Wimpy Kid" movies.  But in this it let me down.  I think the bad driving of the aunt wasn't enough to carry the humor of the show.  Tony and i saw this at Marketplace Theater, and it was good to have only paid $3.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Life in Manteca 21: Community Party.

Somebody in our neighborhood, in an effort for us to know each other better, partially to fight crime, had a neighborhood party at the park.  It included police officers, horses, snow cones, cotton candy, potluck, and jumping house.  Of course Tony also enjoyed the playground.  Here are a few photos.  I think someone said it was Amy who put the party together, so thanks to her.  Tony insisted on riding the big horse instead of the Pony, and I must admit I was worried he might fall off.  Tony had a red snow cone, I ate a ton of pizza, it was very good.