the first official affiliate

It's true ... I'm the first official affiliate partner with Blue Haven Pools & Spas Supplies Direct. We're rolling a test affiliate program and since my blog gets swamped by pool enthusiasts from across the globe, I decided to sign up!

Don't worry -- you can sign up, too. Just click here to be on your way.


julian fire

After picking the aforementioned apples, we set off for the town of Julian, intent on spending an afternoon strolling the streets. For those who aren't San Diego locals, Julian is a historic mining town set in the hills above San Diego. It dates back to the 1800s and is a local treasure.

We were greeted on the road into town by passing fire engines and helicopters flying over head. Yes, we arrived at the same time a fire broke out just over the hill from Julian. From our parking lot we snapped the following pictures:

picking apples

I can remember going with my parents to an orchard just outside of Peoria. I believe it was called Tanner's Orchard, though I'm not one hundred percent certain. We could pick our own apples and drink apple cider made right at the orchard.

So we decided to take the family up to Julian to a local orchard. We found one through the Julian Chamber of Commerce website and had a blast filling up a bag with apples. The girls went from tree to tree and got to pick their own apples, including a few "baby" apples. Here are a few pictures from the grand event ...


christian threads

Like many companies, our’s has a company shirt that it gives out to employees. It’s a simple blue polo shirt with the Blue Haven logo embroidered on the left side. I was flattered when they handed me a medium-sized shirt during my new employee welcoming party. Flattery quickly gave way to reality and I swapped it out for a large.

Since one of my determining factors for picking clothes to wear involves choosing the least-wrinkled option, I chose to wear my new shirt to work last week. And so did three of my co-workers and the president of our parent company. We joked about posing for a group picture -- and at least one of the ladies considered leaving early.

As a man, I was thinking ... "If I’m careful and hang this up when I get home, I might get another day of wear out of it."

Companies give out shirts to build camaraderie and team spirit. It’s fairly inexpensive and it helps foster a good feeling among employees.

As Christ-followers, we’ve been issued a set of clothing as well. In fact, it was more like an exchange -- we gave up our old wardrobe in exchange for a new one filled with God’s idea of fashion. Obviously, I’m not talking threads but values and principles and priorities.

The Bible describes the redemptive process in this way: "You are all sons and daughters through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27).

It should be no surprise that when Christians gather for worship or meet over coffee, that they show up wearing the same "clothes." If you’ll pardon my pun in advance, the one common thread we all share is Jesus. As the old hymns says, "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love."

So the next time you bump into a fellow Christ-follower, greet her by saying, "I just love what you’re wearing." You and I will know what you mean :-)

toy recalls

I'm very interested in all these toy recalls, especially the ones involving Mattel. Back in August when the issue first started heating up and before Mattel was forced to recall not one but multiple items, this quote appeared in the August 3, 2007, copy of the Wall Street Journal:

Mattel won't publicly name the manufacturer until the El Segundo, Calif.,
company completes an investigation of how the toys were tainted. But Jim Walter,
the company's senior vice president of world-wide quality assurance, said, "It's
my understanding that they are producing toys for other companies." He said if
products from the factory were sold to other companies, it would be the
responsibility of the factory owner, not Mattel, to alert them

"We have no right to go in there to ask, 'Who else are you
producing for, and what else are you making?' "
Mr. Walter
said. He added that he had personally received no calls from toy companies
seeking the name of the factory. The Toy Industry Association, which has close
ties to Mattel, said it hadn't asked for information on the toys' source.

That Mr. Walter is the senior vice president of "world-wide quality assurance" is not reassuring to me as a parent. His quote strikes me as "we have no moral or ethical responsibility to our consumers if it doesn't wear a Mattel label."

First of all, a company as large as Mattel surely knows who else is using their vendors and manufacturers. Do they have an a moral or ethical responsibility to their consumers? I think so. Where is the "greater good" concept that people used to believe in?

Personally, I believe most of the toy industry is in the same bed as Mattel and knowingly so. It's hard to believe that these many products could come from the same country and the senior vice president of world-wide quality assurance didn't know they had lead in them.

Second of all, how did this guy get to be a senior vice president of world-wide quality assurance and still allow himself to be quoted like this in the WSJ?

It's obviously a much wider issue than just toys and Mattel. The larger issue is our dependence on cheap stuff and, therefore, our addiction to Chinese resources.

Now, of course, the company is taking a totally different posture and the CEO is putting out warm fuzzy videos that seek to "empathize" with parents and consumers. Maybe it's conscience; it's probably a simple matter of economics spelled C-L-A-S-S- A-C-T-I-O-N- L-A-W-S-U-I-T-S.

hello again

Hello again to all my blogging fans scattered across two states and a few odd-shaped counties. We'll play a little catch up together. The girls started school this past Thursday at Southwestern Christian School in Chula Vista. Hannah is now in the fifth grade and Hope is second. So far, so good. We're pleased with their teachers and Tonya is looking forward to another great year in the third grade.

On a related note: I redesigned the school website and "Joomla-fied" it. Joomla is the open source content management system I've been using since it was called Mambo. I'm not sure who gets to name these things but I think both of them sound pretty cool :-)