Category Archives: Homes4Families

Ides Of March

It’s been a very long, weird weekend. Dealing with empty shelves, way too much work on way too many fronts with way too much exhaustion, and then watching the “Extreme Makeover” episode from when the two Palmdale homes were built last August while I was still with Homes For Families. It was a bit surreal.

Even through my PTSD and stress, I noticed that the fruit trees in the back yard aren’t caring a whit about COVID-19, or the old job, or the new job, or anything else. There might be a lesson there.

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New Job

Those of you who follow me on FaceBook and/or LinkedIn might have seen something posted late last Friday night, a status update of sorts, but I’ll make a note of it here for the rest of you, since it is something that I post about at times – after almost four years with Homes for Families, I’ve left to take a new position. Beginning today, I’m the Director of Finance and Administration for the ALS Association Golden West Chapter.

This was not a move that I made lightly or without a great deal of soul searching. I loved the work that H4F has done and continues to do. Just look back at some of the posts that I’ve done here, for the Builder’s Ball, the WE Build, going Over The Edge, and the recent “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” build, among others. I have many friends there and I truly wish nothing but the best for all of them and for the company.

But when I was contacted by a recruiter I thought it a prudent move to at least be aware of what other options might be available. When I found another organization with a fantastic mission helping people, and organization that truly went out of its way to not just see whether or not I was right for them but if they were right for me, it was an opportunity that I couldn’t in good conscience pass on.

The move explains a great deal of whatever discombobulation you might have seen on this site in the past five or six weeks. This was not an easy decision, and I’ve been putting in a lot of time to tie up as many loose ends at H4F as possible before my departure. There’s been some lost sleep…

Now I’m diving in at the Golden West Chapter and after one day I’m spinning, but in a good way. As expected, there are a gazillion new things to learn, people to meet, names to remember, and last but not least, the lock code to the men’s room to remember!

So far, so good.

It’s adventure time!


Filed under ALSA Golden West, Homes4Families


A picture from a month ago at the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” build in Palmdale. The name on the equipment caught my eye.

Indeed, that’s a dingo that’s quite capable of “aighting your baaaybeee!”

It was hilarious at the time, but then again, I don’t think I had slept more than a dozen hours in the previous five or six days combined…

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There was a work event today up in Palmdale, but rather than being on a ten-acre, dirt-covered construction site, we were at a lakeside location. I was working most of the day, but did take five minutes to go down to the lake and take in the view.

When I first got there and took the first two pictures, all of these ducks were just off the end of the dock, most of them with their duck butts in the air as they were feeding. When I started to walk out onto the dock, they all took off to about 100 feet away and proceeded to squawk and bitch at me.

These must not be normal “park ducks.” The park ducks do the opposite, coming onshore and near anyone that comes near because they’re used to people having bread and seed and crap to feed them. (I did not have anything to feed them.)

Maybe they’re just smart ducks and knew that.

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EMHE Build – Day Seven

Today was the final day, the last push, “ending” with the “Move That Bus!” moment.

I wasn’t there.

I was again back at the office, dealing with the banking and insurance and payroll and all of those mundane and boring and critical things that keep the company running. Which is fine by me – I think I’m allergic to those in “The Business.” I’ll pass on the crowds, the multiple takes, the interminable adjustments of minutia for reasons that only God, the director, and the cinematographer understand.

While busy as all get out (and still sore and exhausted from my five days on site and the frantic, crazed couple of weeks leading up to the EMHE Build) at the office, I felt a little bit like Michael Collins. Everyone remembers Armstrong and Aldrin because they walked on the moon, but Collins was “the other guy,” the guy who stayed in orbit around the moon while the moon landing was going on. His job was critical to the mission’s success and getting everyone back home safely – but the other guys got the marquee gig.


I just hope that everything got wrapped up and it’s over. I’m sure there will be a ton of loose ends to deal with next week and probably all through September, on both the site and back at the office. (A LOT of things got shoved onto the back burner to make this thing happen.) But for now, I need a few days off, and I’m sure the rest of my co-workers do as well.

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EMHE Build – Day Six

Today was not a day of heat, spiders, dirt, mortar, or total exhaustion for me on The Build. With literally every single person in our company working up in Palmdale on this event all week long, we finally got to the point where there was stuff that had to be done back at the office.

Forms to be filled out and sent ASAP to this government agency. Pictures and documents to be sent to that government agency. Payroll!! Deposits to be made to the bank. Insurance documents for the construction to get submitted. And so on.

Being the Director of Finance, that meant me. I had actually planned on going up for the 4PM-11PM shift after about six hours in the office, but it turned out to not be necessary and I was waved off and told to stay back at the fort.

Instead, I took some time to take care of the blisters on my feet.

So tonight, let’s look at what the 100% fashion-clueless CFO wears on the job site while trying to not actually have a heart attack and completely screw up the construction schedule.

There are strict rules about wearing hard hats on site, with really good reasons. I like my melon intact and uncracked, so I wore one every day, no exceptions.


The back of my neck and ears and face got sunburned far more than I liked on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, no matter how much sunscreen I put on and kept putting on. Hard hats might keep your cabeza in one piece, but they do a lousy job of providing shade.

I have a very nice “adventure hat” that I love for hiking and kayaking and being out in the sun, but it’s not hard. I finally noticed a couple of the seasoned professionals on site wearing floppy, wide-brimmed hats under their hard hats, so what the heck, I thought I would give it a try.

And it worked great! I was worried about the hard hat falling off, but I used the adjustable headband to open up wide, go over the top of the adventure had, and then get snugged down. It felt comfortable, it wasn’t off balance or threatening to fall off, it did a great job of shading my ears, face, and neck, and I still had the necessary protection.

I just had no idea that it made me look so freakin’ stupid!

I would also note that not a single one of my co-workers said a thing about how it looked. So either I’m being too judgmental after the fact, or they just thought that we needed the comic relief in what has been a high stress situation.

I’m good either way.

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EMHE Build – Day Five

Trigger warning – spiders.














I’ve put a LOT of work into this block wall recently. It’s one of a gazillion dozen little things that we’ve been juggling in dealing with the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” build experience, but it’s a really big one.

Part of what that involves is lugging a LOT of blocks around. They arrive on pallets, but there are a few different types, they get mixed and scattered, people pull them to use for their own purposes here and there. They need to get picked back up, they need to get moved to where they’re being put onto the wall, and so on.

My experience today, when I moved and lugged a LOT of blocks, was that about every 1 in 20 had an occupant.

I probably squished fifteen to twenty of them today. No mercy – I hate the little fuckers. But I was surprised how little anxiety or outright terror there was when I started running across them.

First of all, I had seen their distinctive webs, so I was pretty sure they were around. There wasn’t any surprise factor to deal with.

Secondly, I was wearing work gloves, so the chances of actually being bitten were negligible.

Still, it made a long, hot day a bit more interesting.

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EMHE Build – Day Four

Today I’ve shifted over to the night shift. The good news is that it meant I at least finally got eight hours of sleep. (It had been a while…) The bad news is that I’ll be here until well after midnight tonight.

So let’s have a desert sunset picture, to go along with all of the desert sunrise pictures from the last few days.

Posting from the H4F/EMHE site, building block wall in 40 knot winds gusting to 55 in the middle of the night (but at least it’s 80° and not 112°!!)…

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EMHE Build – Day Three

The desert may be hotter than a freaking griddle during the day and freezing cold at night and be filled with dust & tumbleweeds & rattlesnakes & fire ants & lots of other things that suck. But it’s tough to beat their sunrises and sunsets.

I’ve been seeing way, WAY too many of the former recently

But this doesn’t suck.

It was tough finding a spot that didn’t have construction equipment or light towers or a crane in it.

As it got lighter the incredibly vivid colors finally faded. But not before another favorite dusk/dawn visitor swung by:

Click on the image to expand it to full size – I’m giving you the full resolution version. Right in the middle, right about in the middle of one of those small, thin, clouds, is a bright dot. That would be the ISS, traveling around at 25,000 mph and captured on a freakin’ iPhone! (For the moment I’ll ignore the “meh” responses by co-workers.)

Tomorrow we switch sleep cycles. I’ve been working the 05:00 to 13:00 shifts (which mean getting up at 03:00 and actually working until 15:00, 16:00, or later) but tomorrow I’m on the 18:00 to midnight shift. That means I’m desperately trying to stay up tonight until at least 23:00 so that my poor, beaten up body doesn’t revolt and wake me up in the middle of the night tonight and leave me completely high and dry tomorrow afternoon.

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EMHE Build – Day Two

Let’s start with the tiny little nugget of good to be found today:

It was quite lovely to see dawn approaching with a 3/4 moon up there. Not lovely enough to justify getting out of bed at 03:00, but that goes without saying.

It was already in the mid 80’s at that time of the morning, which was a foreshadowing of this:

(Image from WeatherUnderground)

One thing here is a lie – there is now way that was a 0|2 wind situation. Try 25 gusting to 40+.

So, after way, WAY more than eight hours of that for the second day in a row (five more to go!) my 60 minute ride home turned into a 95 minute ride home due to:

(Image from Google Maps)

The southern (left) side of that red section was where two of the three lanes were blocked with several dozen fire trucks fighting a brush fire.

Let’s do it again tomorrow!


Filed under Homes4Families, Paul, Photography