Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Giants, Bonds, and our Weekend in Long Beach

I'm watching the Giants/Dodgers game and Bonds so far has struck out and intentionally walked. In his first at-bat he anti-climactically struck out on three straight Brad Penny pitches, and then was intentionally walked in the third inning. Klesko followed this up by grounding into an inning ending rally killing double play - also validating that the Dodgers did the right thing by walking Bonds. It was funny because the Dodger crowd boo's Bonds for everything he does and periodically breaks out in "Barry Sucks" chants, but ironically also boo their own team when they decide to give Bonds a free pass and rob him of the opportunity to tie Hank Aaron's home run record. One last comment about the game is that it's the FIFTH INNING and cars are still bumper to bumper trying to get into the parking lot! Sounds like Dodger stadium has some infrastructure issues. And for a city that hates Bonds, they sure are showing him respect by selling out the series!

Changing the subject, Darcy and I were in LA, actually Long Beach, this weekend. We were visiting our college friends Mandi and Eric, who married in 2004. They both grew up in Southern California, so gravitated back there after college to work and live in reasonable proximity to their families. Darcy and Eric both studied Architectural Engineering at Cal Poly so met and became friends early on. Through their friendship, Eric's girlfriend Mandi got a room in Darcy's house in the fifth and final year of school. In that final year that they shared a roof, they also became friends. And, since I was dating Darcy, I became friends with them too. I had known Eric through Darcy, but being around him more often because our girlfriends lived together helped us become better friends.

We had a great time hanging out with them again. We hadn't hung out just the four of us since college! They have a very nice house in Long Beach. Props to Eric (and any help Mandi gave) for their backyard, which was perfectly manicured. The inside of the house was very nice too, with great paint colors in all the rooms.

In Bond's third at-bat.... he walks again :-(

Friday night we flew into LAX and instead of fighting traffic on our way down to Long Beach during rush hour, we went to Venice for an Italian meal and walk along Venice Beach. It was neat to see a famous place I had never experienced.

Friday night when we made it back to Long Beach from Venice, we went to Pinkberry. Apparently it's a popular - and very tasty - yogurt chain that is still emerging and yet to make it to the bay area. I'm an ice cream guy so opted not to get one, but I had a couple bites of Darcy's and it was mighty good. Entrepreneur's out there, open up a chain in a good location, and you are sure to make a fortune!

Three happy Pinkberry customers in Long Beach. I played the role of paparazzi.

Saturday we took the morning slow, getting breakfast burritos and playing some Nintendo Wii. Circa noon, we took off southbound along the coast, making it as far south as Huntington Beach. Unfortunately, there was some sort of event going on at the beach, combined with it being a beautiful summer Saturday, making it extremely crowded! We tried to find parking for a while as we crawled our way around the streets of Huntington Beach, but ultimately decided to head for a more low-key scene. No regrets whatsoever though as it was neat to see the Huntington Beach atmosphere. We opted for Seal Beach which is just north where we got some ice cream and walked the pier.

We returned home to Long Beach about 4pm, grabbed all four sets of golf clubs that Mandi and Eric own, and headed for the local public golf course. It was a lot of fun playing golf. I shared a cart with Eric, Darcy with Mandi, and everybody played well. Even though we all had clubs, I ended up using Eric's, and Darcy used Mandi's. They both have nice clubs that we hit well and now Darcy and I are both itching to upgrade our golfing gear, having experienced what good clubs can do to your results. Once again I failed to get any pictures of golf!

Bond's reaches on error and then is pinch ran for. Looks like 755 is going to have to wait at least another day.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Transformers is a good time out

'Transformers' is the kind of movie I would not have missed as a high-schooler. Had this movie came out in 1997, there is no doubt I would have seen in it in the first few weeks it was out. Back then my friends and I saw movies all the time. It was something to do, and we were fairly easily entertained. Weekday or weekend, if there was something we wanted to see, we saw it.

However, my movie-going habits have changed tremendously since then. I rarely make it to the theaters, and tend to say "no thanks" to most previews I see. I don't do Netflix, I barely watch movies on HBO, and almost never rent DVD's. I am clearly not a movie buff, and have accepted this reality.

So Friday when I went to see the 11:45am showing of 'Transformers' I didn't have huge hopes. I expected to see great CGI, obnoxious action scenes, and a stupid plot. I did not expect to laugh, and I was hoping the 143 minute-long movie would not seem long. Nothing is worse that being in a movie and looking forward to it ending so you can leave.

When watching 'Transformers', time was not on my mind, and I left the theater pleasantly surprised by how entertained I was. Not only was the storyline engaging and the CGI incredible, but there were plenty of laughs as well. Shia LaBeouf was very funny as the teen-age boy who found himself in the middle of everything, and Megan Fox is stunning on the big screen as his love interest/sidekick.

If you're in the mood to laugh, be impressed with incredible special effects, and watch a fun yet extremely fictional story unfold, be sure to give 'Transformers' a shot.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, Giants down 4-0

Last night the game was basically over. It was the bottom of the 9th, there were two outs, and Rich Aurilia had just swung at an ugly change-up for a foul tip strike one. Aurilia was following Bonds, who in his fifth at bat of the game, disappointedly failed to homer yet again.

"Hey guys, want to start walking?" I said to Darcy and her two colleagues from work.

Everyone got up without saying a word, and off we went from our upper deck seats at AT&T Park. As we got to the second deck we were surprised to see on the Plasma TV's inside the stadium that Aurilia eventually blooped a single into the outfield, scoring Omar Visquel. We didn't even think anything of it and continued to our car, upset that the Giants had failed to give us any reason to high-five all night long.

About 10-15 minutes later we had walked to our car and drove a mile or two, when Darcy had the brilliant idea to turn on KNBR to listen to John Miller and David Fleming's post-game wrap-up. Much to our surprise, it was the 10th inning and they were still playing!

Evidently, while we were walking to our car, the Giants were busy scoring 3 more runs. Pedro-can't-lay-off-the-outside-curveball Feliz doubled following Aurilia, and then two-out-Benji Molina came up in the clutch with a single between short and third to score the tying run.

At that point there was no turning back, and it turned into a blessing in disguise. They ended up losing the game in 13 innings, and we were able to finish watching it on TV and then plop right to sleep.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bored, or just lazy and uncreative?

Today I woke up early and played golf for the second straight morning. It was my 3rd and 4th rounds with Dan, the guy who did our tile a couple months ago. It turns out we make good golf partners, and I'm lucky to have made my way into his golfing inner circle.

Yesterday we played Coyote Creek, which is the golf course right off the 101 freeway between San Jose and Morgan Hill. Today Dan and I played Cinnabar, which is in the hills south of the Almaden Expressway. It's a fantastic course. I shot an 81 today, and it was one of the best rounds I've ever played. I've had better scores, but not on a course as difficult.

This post isn't about golf though, it is about the rest of my day after golf. The problem is I am in such a state of happiness when I'm golfing, it's often a downer to get home and have little to do. I would try to do something with Darcy, but this weekend the new Harry Potter book took over her life and I was lucky to get her to answer a yes or no question.

As a result, I found myself thinking I was bored. I eventually found my way out of this funk, but not before some analysis of what boredom really is.

Boredom is laziness combined with lack of creativity. If you're bored, you need to become un-bored, but how? To achieve this you need to be creative enough to come up with stuff to do that would remove this boredom, and then once you think of something, you need to be motivated enough to actually do it.

Go for a run, read, get online and do some work, clean out your closet, go shoot hoops, take the dog to the park, go shopping (clothes and/or groceries), learn how to cook something new, download guitar pro software and teach yourself a new song, dust, finish caulking the baseboards upstairs from two months ago, watch a movie, etc...

Figuring this out today, I got some stuff accomplished and removed boredom from my mindset. I ended up having a pretty good day, not because I was having all kinds of post-golf fun, but because I was productive. From now on whenever I think I may be bored, I'm going to do something about it, realizing that I am really just being lazy and uncreative.

Life is too short to be bored!

Friday, July 20, 2007


When we started this blog, we really didn't know what we were going to do with it. I thought we'd update it once a week or less, but it has ended up being a lot of fun so we've been updating more frequently. Instead of sticking with the free .blogspot address, we have purchased the domain www.narduzzination.com for our blog. Plus, Narduzzi is such a common name; we didn't want anyone getting to it first!!

You can also subscribe to our blog via email or google reader if you'd like so that when we write a new post you will be the first to know (see the links on the right side of the screen).

So, from now on, point your browser to www.narduzzination.com to see our blog, it's a little easier to remember. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

TV Rant

During prime TV months it can sometimes be stressful keeping up with all the different shows on TV. Every day I get home from work and my DVR has new shows for me to watch. It's an endless cycle of watching what is has just recorded so I can delete it and make room for what is about to record.

I have to be sure to watch 24, Heroes, War at Home, 'Til Death, The Office, American Idol, Entourage, Nip/Tuck, Lost, (more that I can't think of), plus any new show that I may want to give a chance and put on season pass - and of course - sports. This is somewhat stressful combined with work at 6am, getting to the gym a few days a week, and making sure to give proper attention to Bosco.

It is such a relief after sweeps in late May when all of a sudden I get home to an empty DVR. All of a sudden I have nothing watch, so I flip the channels, watch sportcenter or the news, play the guitar, jump on youtube, or take Bosco for a much appreciated walk. There is a sense of freedom to have the burden of keeping up with these shows out from under my belt.

As the summer progresses, however, I look forward to a new season of TV. Watching my favorite shows continue on, and seeing new shows either emerge or quickly fail will be a fun experience once again.

However, this year I have decided that I don't need to watch all these shows anymore, and will be paying close attention to how much I am really enjoying each one of them. If I become bored with even my favorite show from previous years, I won't hesitate to unsubscribe.

24 gets stupider and more repetitive every year. This year Darcy and I didn't even finish the season, only making it to the 18th hour. American Idol I am officially done with, and Heroes I have my doubts about whether it can sustain the momentum it built in its rookie year. Darcy still watches Big Love, Studio 60 (before it got cancelled), Rescue Me, and Grey's Anatomy - all shows I have long since left behind.

In conclusion, it is my goal with the upcoming fall TV season to be picky with what I decide to watch. I will continue to watch what truly entertains me, and will give those new shows that initially intrigue me a chance, but I am not going to watch just to watch. This time can be better spent reading, doing tricks with the dog, practicing the guitar, exercising, sleeping, cleaning, or staying caught up with my daily online research.

I encourage you to take the same approach. Dedicate yourself and promote those shows that you enjoy, but refuse to sit through those shows that you don't. And if a show you once loved turns sour, don't be too stubborn to face the reality of it and cut ties.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ok Jeff, I accept your challenge...

Here are 8 things you may not know about me, I'll try to make these interesting...

1. When I was a toddler, the doctor said I would be lucky to reach 5'-0" in height as a full-grown adult. When I started high school I was only 4'-10" but am now a whopping 5'-5".

2. I was valedictorian of my high school with a 4.11 GPA at Ceres High School.

3. Unlike our friend Louis who started this "8 things you may not know about me..." blog chain, I didn't get into UC Berkeley, even with my GPA and 1330 SAT score and tons of extracurricular activities. They said I was not culturally diverse enough.

4. I have ridiculously long femurs (bone in the upper leg).

5. I had a stylin' bowl cut from third grade all the way up to seventh grade and old men used to always call me "son" because of it.

6. I am a grammar nerd and like to correct people when they make mistakes.

7. I was fifth and sixth grade spelling bee champ at my elementary school and participated in the Ceres Unified School District and Stanislaus County spelling bees. One year I got second place at the district level for spelling "colonel" wrong. I still hate that word, why the heck is it pronounced "kernel" when it has no "r"????

8. I love Harry Potter and have read all the books at least once and seen all the movies to date. Book 7 is pre-ordered and should arrive this Saturday, yeah!!!

Friends and family, feel free to comment with 8 things we don't know about you!

8 Things You May Not Know About Me

Louis Gray challenged me to post this in his last post. Never one to back down from a challenge, I am going to try to come up with 8 creative tid-bits related to me that most people aren't aware of.

Here I go!

1 - My grandparent's on my dad's side had the same last name before they got married: Narduzzi

2 - I have a teeth clenching problem, and because of this, wear a protective night guard when I sleep.

3 - My senior year in high school I got an award for Redwood Empire Athlete of the Season for the fall. For this award I had a photo shoot and was in a commercial that was featured on the local tv station that covers local sports.

4 - I have never been to Mexico

5 - Despite my 4.0 high school GPA and 1220 SAT scores, I wasn't accepted to Cal Poly. The soccer coach got me into the school. The fact that my major was electrical engineering which is very competitive could have been a contributing factor to me not getting in on my own.

6 - I subscribe to The Wall Street Journal

7 - Tube "boxy" TV's are extinct from my house, and I will probably never own one again. My living room features a 42 inch HD Plasma, my bedroom a Visio 32 inch HD CRT, and the guest bedroom a 20 inch HD CRT by Magnavox.

8 - I have ran in 3 10k's in my life. Twice I have done 'Wharf to Wharf', an annual run from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk to the beach at Capitola, and once I have participated in 'Muffy's Run', a 10k in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. My times range from 43 to 46 minutes for this 6.2 mile run.

Now I'm suppose to challenge 5 other bloggers to do the same post. However, since I don't know 5 bloggers and Louis called "no tagbacks", I will simply challenge one part-time blogger I happen to be married to.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Tahoe Weekend

This weekend the Narduzzi family was in Tahoe! We stayed at Northstar, but spent a lot of time in in the north and west shores of Lake Tahoe.

My dad and I played the Donner golf course on Friday morning, and unfortunately I forgot my camera so didn't get any pictures of the beautiful, but difficult, course.

The rest of the weekend was spent at the Northstar pool, Steamers (pizza joint in King's Beach), Sunnyside (deck restaurant overlooking west shore of the lake where we rented the boat), on the lake in the boat we rented and took to Emerald Bay, and in Incline Village where we ate dinner Saturday night before heading to the Hyatt casino. Overall a very fun weekend, beautiful weather, but of course, too short. What I would give to spend a whole week there so it would be easier to relax and not feel the need to maximize every second.

Click this sentence to view pictures from the weekend (two of which are short videos).

Monday, July 9, 2007

Blood Donation

Today I thought I would do a good deed and give blood (there is a huge shortage in CA). I gave blood about 3 months ago, and the Red Cross has been calling me every week or so to come back, so I decided to fit it into my lunch break. Due to some minor complications, my hour long lunch break turned into two.

Usually when I donate blood, I get a little queasy afterwards due to a loss of blood pressure. I have to sit in the chair for about 20 minutes before I get up and they usually have to put ice packs on my forehead and neck, no big deal. Well today I sat there for about 10 minutes and felt fine. I had eaten a good lunch and drank plenty of fluids so I thought I was in the clear.

I walked over to the "break" area where they make you eat and drink something and hang out for a few minutes before leaving. I sat down and was talking to a couple of volunteers who were there for their first day about my experience, etc. I felt my head start to pound, and everything started to go black. "Oh no, I don't feel so good," I told her.

She yells "We need assistance!" at the top of her lungs and about 10 workers come over and tilt my chair back to get me in a horizontal position. "Mam, we need you to lay down." "Where?" "On the floor." Great, so I have to lay down on the break room linoleum floor while all the other donors are looking at me, enjoying their muffins. They put ice packs on my neck and forehead and all hover around me. They bring over a wheelchair but I act "tough" and tell them I'm fine. I lay on the floor for five minutes or so and sit back up (this time in the chair), trying to eat the muffin and lemonade that they are forcing on me.

Once again, I turn white and start to black out. So this time I decide to go lay on their bed rather than on the floor. I am still being tough so I tell them I can walk there on my own. About 3 feet away from the bed I almost completely black out, but I manage to make it. They made me lay there for 20 minutes before they let me go back to finish my muffin.

After that I was okay, but it was definitely embarrassing, especially laying on the floor with everyone hovering over me. Apparently it happens often, and is more common with women. I think this is my fifth or sixth time donating blood, and I will definitely go back after my 56 days are up. But next time I will try to eat a bigger meal and drink even more water before I go, and I will force myself to sit there for at least 20 minutes before getting up.

If you don't donate blood already, I definitely recommend it (I'm sure your experience will be better than mine). You can save someone's life in a measly 1-2 hours, which is pretty cool. Click here to find blood donation locations near you.

Come On Bonds!

I've had so much fun rooting for Barry Bonds the last 15 years. He has provided me with so much entertainment watching him hit. His ability to take advantage of the few hittable pitches he is given - per year, per game, per at-bat - is amazing. He has 2,517 career walks, which is mostly attributed to pitchers purposely steering clear of the strike zone when facing him. His on-base percentage this year as a broken down 43-year-old is still amazingly above .500. I'm not even going to begin to say anything opposing Bonds unprecedented abilities and feats.

As far as his image goes... I forgive him for doing steroids, I forgive him for being unlikeable, I forgive him for hardly ever smiling.

Bonds will not be participating in the home run derby today, and for this I do not forgive him. He claims it's too hard on his body. When asked to comment on letting his home San Francisco fans down by opting not to partake, he said, "I think I have come through enough for the city of San Francisco."

Yes, Bonds has done a lot for us, but....

I don't see any world series rings.
I don't see much the last few years as far as performance goes.
I don't see a full-time player anymore
I don't see a winning team

So Barry, even though it's fun to see you chase this record and still be in a Giants uniform, you are also partly to blame for them being an old tired team with no future past your home run record!

The fans of SF rallied to get you in the all-star game and would love to see you participate in the derby. Would it be so hard to smile, tip your cap, and try to hit a couple balls into the water? We're not asking you to win it, just be involved! Would that really be so hard on your back? You manage to play 9 innings almost every day, playing defense and hitting against big league pitching. In the home run derby the pitchers are throwing up meatballs for you to swing at! And once you hit it, you don't even have to run!

If your body isn't able to participate in a silly home run contest, you should just quit right now! I think I am with most Giants fans who just want you to break this record and retire so we can start thinking about building a winning team rather than you and the circus that follows you!

Be in the home run derby for us, but also be in it for you. It wouldn't hurt to have the country saying you did something that was unselfish for a change!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Home Network Attached Storage (NAS)

For those of you that haven't been to my place, you may not know that I have two computers. I have a fast computer upstairs with a 19 inch flat panel monitor. This computer is hard-wired to my router for more reliable internet, has a 3.4GHz cpu for great performance, a DVD-RW, and a 120GB SATA hard drive that is about half full. The downside to this computer is it is stuck upstairs, in the room that the sun beats in on for a large portion of the day. This causes the fan inside the computer to work extremely hard during the hot months of the year. July and August are the worst months to be in this room.

My second option for getting online is my laptop. It connects to the internet wirelessly, has a 1.7GHz cpu, and only a 40GB hard drive. But, I am able to use my laptop wherever I want, which is usually the couch downstairs in front of the HD tv.

As time has gone by my media is spread between these two computers. If I want performance or it happens to be the cooler months, I tend to use the higher performance computer upstairs. Right now with the heat, or anytime when I'm downstairs watching TV and also want to get online, I opt for the laptop. Whichever I happen to choose on any given online session gets the pictures, music, files, etc. stored on it.

The other day I was doing a blog post on the couch from my laptop and I wanted to include a picture that had been uploaded on the upstairs computer. I inconveniently had to run upstairs, turn on the computer, and email myself the picture so I could include it in my post. The thought occurred to me that it sure would be nice to have a pool of storage that I could access from both of my computers so this would never happen again.

Yesterday I got on frys.com and typed "NAS" into the search feild. This is the product that came up that was just what I was looking for.

I though about ordering it online, but wanted it NOW. Darcy and I went to Fry's and lo and behold it was in stock, so I bought it. It was easy to set up, and I have already copied all my files over to it. The performance is better to the hard-wired computer than to the wireless laptop, but it works nonetheless, and I'm very happy with it.

This device connects via an ethernet cable to our router, and can be accessed by any computer on the network as a storage device. It has 320GB's of capacity, which is more than we need now, and will probably be enough for many years to come. Now, when I save files I will save them to my "home NAS" so that I can access them from whichever computer I happen to be on.

Additionally, this device will serve as a backup. If either my computers happens to fail, I will have all my precious files safe in another location.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Our Real Estate Struggle

When I say 'our' in the title I am directly referring to Darcy and I. However, 'our' is also referring to my entire generation of Californians, of course minus those who happen to have found a way to make mega bucks early on in life, or those with oodles of family money that they have access to.

Darcy and I and those a few years older and of course younger are entering the real estate market after the great boom that has taken place the last 10 years. In this time, property values in many cases more than doubled. Some more, some less, but everyone who owned real estate thought of it as the best investment they ever made, and in many cases, wish they'd have bought more. People made instant cash flipping houses, and people bought and sold in a five year period making hundreds of thousands of dollars in which they could put toward a bigger house in a better neighborhood.

Now in our late twenties and having owned a condo for over two years, we would love to move into a house. Unfortunately, just about every house we would want to buy in our area is out of our price range, and as much as we want to stretch ourselves to buy our dream home, we don't want to be "house poor". Had we bought our condo in 2001 for $250k (what is was worth then) and sold it in 2005 for $450k, it would have been easy for us to buy a home we wanted. But now with the stagnant market, we stand no chance of making that kind of equity over the same amount of time. We missed the wave, and our birth certificates are to blame.

In the bay area, a typical 1500 sq. ft., three bedroom, 2
1/2 bath house in a decent neighborhood is at around $800,000. This means that if you're lucky enough to put $80k down your monthly mortgage payment is roughly 5 grand a month. This is out of the question for anybody making less than $200,000/year if they want to ever think about going out to dinner, going on vacation, or buying nice clothes. Therefore, the only way to afford this house with less than $200k yearly income is to have a large down payment. But, for somebody in their mid-late 20's like us, they haven't worked long enough to have that much cash, and are also too young to have capitalized on the housing boom of the last 10 years! The people who are able to snatch up these $800k+ homes are the 30-somethings or even older who were able to buy their first real estate investment 5 or more years ago, and then sell it and make an instant 200k+ just on the value of their property going up! Without this luxury (since the market has slowed), Darcy and I are wondering how long we'll be stuck living in our condo. Could it be another 2 years? Perhaps longer?

It's frustrating, but it is what it is, and we are happy. We have made vast improvements to our condo, and love the area that we live in. As much as we want a house, we accept the fact that we have to wait, and know that our time will come.

Monday, July 2, 2007

In SR for first time since XMAS

This weekend I went home for the first time in 2007. I only live 100 miles away from Santa Rosa, but still went over six months without making even one trip up there! I have seen my family a few times since then either when they came and visited me, or when we met up in the city with my sister Trisha. And as you faithful Narduzzi Nation readers know, when I met my mom to drop off Bosco in Marin.

The reason for the trip up to Sonoma County was for my Grandfather's 85th birthday. Also, my uncle Mario and his family are home from China for a few weeks after spending their first of three years there. With all this going on, a family gathering made perfect sense.

Saturday morning my Nonno (grandfather in Italian), my dad, Mario, and I played golf at Windsor. Nonno works a few days a week as a marshall there so he was able to get us on for free. I always say, "nothing beats free golf!"

Here's the birthday boy! 85 years young.

Pretty mobile for 85!

Not a bad swing either!

My dad keeping score

After golf I talked Darcy and my 17 year-old sister Beth into seeing Ratatouille. We were all entertained by it but aren't claiming it to be the best 3D animation movie ever either. A colleague at the office who I've mentioned before named Louis Gray did a review of it on his blog, and I pretty much agree with him. If you'd like to read what Louis thought - and what I agree with - click HERE.

Darcy and Beth when I got home from golf, and right before I hurried them to get ready for the 2 o'clock showing of Ratatouille.

On Saturday night, the Narduzzi side of the family got together at my house for dinner and socializing. Missing from the occasion was my uncle Gene and his whole family since they live in Montana, Trisha because she was celebrating a friends bachelorette party in Tahoe, Talia (Mario's daughter) because she was in Stockton visiting her godmother, and Uncle Robert because I don't know why. Besides that everyone was there and it was a lot of fun catching up on everyone's busy lives. My 'Grammie' (mom's mom) was there as well.

Nonni, my dad, cousin Marco, Nonno, aunt Deanne

It was a fun weekend seeing the family again. When all was said and done, nobody was more tired than Bosco.