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    New Software

    So I finally got around to playing with the website tonight. I realized that what I really wanted was a simple place to put up notes, and to allow other people in the family to do the same. So I have installed some new blogging software, and we'll see how that goes. I have to create accounts by hand right now, so if you want an account and your own blog let me know! I will start copying over my other entries from the old system tomorrow.


    12th Year High School Mini-Reunion

    One of our good friends from high school, Toni, came into Phx this weekend, and managed to get a bunch of us Brophy / Xavier (websites! ha!) people together for drinks! We had: Toni, Jayce, Ian, Dominic, Sarah, Adam, Angela, and Myself. We had an awesome time. We all met up at Dominic's house, which was semi frightening for me considering the last time I was there I managed to break his tooth. Long story. I half expected his parents to greet me saying "Hey we remember you, you knocked our kid's tooth out!" I was safe however, since Dominic's parents now spend the hot Phoenix summers in Ireland!

    We all piled into cars and drove to a local bar where we talked and drank and ate, and drank, and talked, you get the idea. After a few rounds it was back into the cars and back to Dom's house. It was then that someone discovered the yearbooks. Now it was horribly un-fair that only Brophy yearbooks were available, as the guys suffered through many hours of taunting. We survived mostly by making fun of everyone who wasn't there. (Jason, Jim Hart, André, Mike, the list goes on...) I must go find Angela's yearbooks...

    Toni took pictures, and as soon as she gets them posted I will link to them here, so check back!

    Here's to another decade!



    Mark Gets Old(er)

    Well, I can no longer call myself "20-something". Yay for turning 30. Angela threw an awesome party for me though! Most everyone from work came, and friends from out of town too. We had Star Wars theme for the party! We had star wars cake, and star wars lego, and star wars masks, and star wars pinatas, and star wars costumes! I will have to steal some pictures. I managed to sneak in a bit of geekie-ness too and caught a time-lapse of the whole party! (QuickTime) I of course got tons of star wars presents! Most notable are a star wars Mr. Potato Head (Darth Tater) and the Lego Millennium Falcon. I have a time lapse of me putting the Falcon together too, and I'll put that up eventually.

    Jedi Master YodaMark and the Leias
    My Dad, Me, Angela and my Mom
    Our friend Tracy, and Angela's Mom Jan
    Catherine and Gary, Friends from Work

    Well, here's to many more years!


    Rocky Point Vacation

    We went to rocky point this past week and had a blast. We traded in another week of our timeshare and stayed at the Mayan Palace in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. The resort was really nice, but its not finished yet. The wing we stayed in didn't have it's heat until the day before we left. We had a couple space heaters though, and we didn't freeze.

    We spent most of the week sitting in our room doing nothing. It was great! We read books, slept, ordered room service a lot, and played video games. We brough our Xbox down with us and hooked it up to their TV. A week of doing nothing is a great stress reliever, and I recommend it to everyone!

    We did take some trips into town, where we bought some neat stuff for our new house. [pics to come of that!]. We also took one boat ride out to bird island with the folks at Lobo Del Mar. There are a ton of birds there, and about two thousand sea lions year round. One of the birds is the Blue Footed Boobie, which is endangered, and a big reasion why the islands are a wildlife sanctuary in Mexico.

    The sea lions pups are really friendly. It was a shame the weather was so cold, because you can go snorkeling with them and they'll play with you.

    The whole photo album for this trip is located here!


    Dave's 60th Birhtday Party

    We all went out to Mr. Sushi for Dad's 60th birthday feast. As usual he selected a great assortment of treats for us to dine upon. Check out some photos!


    Tucson Here We Come

    Well it's official, we're out of Flagstaff :-(

    Angela and I got tired of her driving back and forth to Camp Verde all week. So she quit there and the search began for a new job. Near this time my good friend from U of A and I got to talking about coming to work for her there. Things worked out better than I could have imagined, and so we're heading down to Tucson. Angela's been there for three weeks working already, and she really likes her job.

    My last day at NAU was Wednesday which was sad. They threw me a great party on Monday though, and it was a blast. This was my first job where I got a going away party, so I must have done some good work for them.

    I've spent the last few days working on the house. We need to sell the house, and that's sort of the last thing we need to do with Flagstaff. Both my family and Angela's have been up over the past few weeks to help get the house in order. The inside of the house is almost finished being painted, the cracks are patched, the stains are painted, and darnit if the house doesn't look pretty good!

    Anyhow, I'm heading down to Tucson Saturday morning. My new job working for the U of A's new Office of Student Computing Resources starts monday. I've already got my first meeting lined up. I'll be helping to manage some of their multimedia labs. It will be a blast I think, I used to work in one of these labs eight years ago as a student worker, so I've got the whole full circle thing going for me.

    New things, new times. I'm sure we'll all do well!


    Fence Repair

    Full Photo Album for this project can be found here.

    Our poor fence started falling down almost as soon as we moved in. Many of the posts had become rotted through at the base, and once the dogs started leaning on the fence, it's days were numbered. I figured early on that the solution was to simply replace the rotted out posts with metal poles. Simple right? Ha!

    The posts were set in concrete. A lot of concrete. This normally wouldn't be so bad, except the soil in our area isn't so much dirt as it is a low grade concrete itself. It's primarily clay, with a ton of large and small rock in it. Concrete. My first attempt to remove one of the old footings resulted in a month and a half of banging on it with a pry bar and pick axe. You have to excavate a large space around the concrete before you can attempt to break up the footing and pull out the pieces. I started this about a year and a half ago, and after getting one out, decided I needed another aproach.

    In the intervening time, Angela graduated from PT school, and got a job. Now she's done with that one and we're pretty much set on moving. So now we MUST fix the fence. Somehow I managed to con.. convince yeah, convince my family into coming up to Flagstaff and helping. So my mom, dad, and one of my brothers came up and we went at it in ernest.

    This time I decided we needed some mechanical help. Enter the jackhammer rental place. for about $100 you get a 75 pound electric jackhammer for 24 hours. This thing was pretty nice. It's heavy as all hell, and schlepping it around was a pain. It just powered through the concrete (both the dirt and the footings). There were two sections of fence that needed replacing. We started in the back, where I had completed the first hole. We had 3 more to go back there, and we pretty much busted out the whole footings. Then we moved over to the side fence, and figured that we didn't really need to remove all of the old concrete, just enough to get the old hole clear so we could set the new poles in them. This turned out to be really nice, and a lot less work.

    Busting out the old concrete was really the hardest part of this whole project. Once that was done, we got some cardboard forms and fit them to the holes. Mixed up some new concrete, and poured it in around new poles.

    After two days, we had excavated all the holes and managed to pour one new pole. My family had to leave, so Angela and I were left with pouring the remaining 6 new poles. We did manage to get 4 of them done in the intervening week, and my family came up again the following weekend to help us finish it all up.

    After getting all the poles in, we began to hang up the old fence pannels. Fortunately, the pannels are in pretty good shape, so we could re-use them. After a bit of running around to Home Depot, we finally get all the various parts we need to attach the fence pannels to the new poles and begin hanging pannels.

    With the pannels all hung, we bid fairwell to my family again. Angela's parents come up the following day, and we manage to get almost all the remaining slats put into the fence.

    At the end of two full weekends, we now have a nice sturdy fence again, with only a few remaining slats to go in. Those require some trimming since somehow the spaces aren't quite the right size for any even number set of slats to fit in... oh well.

    Next in the What We Had To Do To Sell Our House Saga? Will it be power washing the outside of the house? Painting the inside? Replacing the carpet? Tune in next week!


    Happy Birthday to Me

    Well, my countdown to 30 has reached one today. Yesterday we went out to dinner and to see the new Harry Potter movie. Today we need to figure out a way to hang up my new hammock. Woo sounds like a trip to Home Depot to me!

    Update:4:30 pm: It's Hammock Time!

    So yesterday our friend Dana went out to dinner with Angela and I to Oregano's, a great little pizza joint here in Flagstaff. They make some really great pizza, but the true draw for me is their one desert. They make pizzookie. It's a pizza - cookie! Pizzookie! It's a huge cookie backed in this pan, and then topped with ice cream and chocolate chips. The contrast of cold and hot is really great, and it just tastes awesome.

    Then it was off to the theater to stand in line to see the new Harry Potter movie. We got there over an hour before the movie started, and got a good place in line. It's boring standing in line for an hour, but se stood around and talked about moving, jobs, and all that. We managed to get really great seats for the movie, so the wait was worth it. The movie was a blast just like the others. Maybe I'm easy to please, but I really liked this movie despite a lot of people claiming the first two were better. Who cares, this movie rocked without needing to compare it to the others. The only big problem is that with the books getting substantially thicker than #1 and #2, they have to cut out more and more to get it to a decent length that kids can sit through. They hit all the main points, but some of the details get lost. I have no idea how they're going to manage to do the Goblet of Fire.

    So Sunday morning, eating left over pizza, and getting ready to head out to Home Depot for bolts. Woot.

    Update: 4:30 pm

    We got the hammock hung up. I was humbled because my complex engineering way of attaching the hammock failed miserably, and Angela's simple way works great.


    Sedona Vacation

    We took a week off and headed down the mountain to Sedona. It's not very far, but we never spend that much time there. We own a timeshare so we swapped in for a week in Sedona. We did some hiking, some shopping, some eating, and a lot of relaxing.

    We got in late saturday night, hit the grocery store for some basic supplies and went to bed. Sunday we drove out of town a short distance to the Devil's Bridge trail. It's a pretty short trail, but the last little bit is up these really steep stairs. The bridge itself is pretty cool, and the views were great.

    Monday we found this little magic/kite shop. So we bought a kite. I've always liked flying kites, and it's been quite a while since i had flown one. We drove up Schnebly Hill road out of Sedona and got to a good spot to fly the kite.

    We got in two good flights, the second one ended with the kite up a tree. So i had to climb up and get it down. Kite retrieved, it was getting dark and we headed back down to town.

    On tuesday, Angela's parents drove up from phx and we took a jeep tour out to the Honanki Indian ruins. The road really sucks, and having a good 4 wheel drive jeep helped. The ruins are pretty amazing. It's hard to believe you can actually get this close to ruins anymore. Most of the good sites are either completely off limits, or you have to be so far away its almost not worth it.

    On thursday we did another short hike. Cathedral Rock is a little south of Sedona. It gets into real rock climbing about half way up. We didnt quite make it to the top since we had to be somewhere too soon.

    Once we were done rock hopping, it was a dash back to the resort for Dream Catcher class!

    It turns out these aren't too hard to make. After one class i saw one of the three dimensional ones, and figured out how to make one of those. I'll have to take a picture of some of our completed ones.

    Later in the day one of our friends came down from Flag and brought our dogs so we could go play in the river with them.

    Friday my parents came up from Phx, and we went out to a really nice (expensive) dinner. Oh so much good food in this place.

    All in all we had a really great laid back time. Too short of course, neither of us is eager to return to work tomorrow. We'll be back I'm sure for more hiking and dining!

    Complete photo albums are available!


    Ren Fair

    We went to the Arizona Renaissance Festival this past weekend. It was a blast. The fair is 17 years old now, and they've really come a long way even since we started going about 6 years ago.

    We met up with some of our friends from Tucson, who we knew from the Arizona Fencing Academy, and toured around. They're pretty much ren fair fanatics, so they're also great shoppers. This was the first year angela and I actually had any money to speak of to spend here. It's a lot more fun when you don't have to count every coin you have left.

    We did most of our wandering in the morning, the place opened at 10am. It's late March, and the weather in PHX is already starting to get up there. Fortunately it was overcast that day, so we weren't too bad. It still got up into the high 90s though. We saw a few shows, the two of special note were a musical act called 'Cast in Bronze', and a comedy swordfight act called 'Don Juan & Miguel'.

    The Cast in Bronze act was really interesting. This guy plays an instrument called a Carillion. I've never even heard of one of these things. It's a bunch of huge bronze bells rigged up to some levers and foot pedals, and you can play it using your hands and feet. Evidently these things are almost exclusively found in cathedrals and the like, since they don't lend themselves well to portability. This guy managed to get his hands on a portable one (relatively speaking), and he tours the country sharing his really interesting musical talent.

    Then right after them were Don Juan & Miguel. They're two 'Spanish Gentlemen' who tell lots of great jokes as they run around with swords and whips. You can see why angela and i like them. These guys are really hard to describe, you really should catch one of their shows.

    Then we did some more shopping. I got a hat, and angela got a parasol. She also got this cool gryphon puppet that sits on her shoulder. The puppet is a riot. The thing looks so real. There's a control wire that runs down its tail and across your back, you can make the puppet's head turn, and look up and down. Unless you are really close, it looks eerily real. She gets lots of stares, and a few people come up and have to ask her what it is.

    Until next year! (angela wants a cape next year)

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