Goodbye Grams, and Thanks.

Today we celebrated the life of my Grandmother Verna Mattox who passed away on April 25th.

I know it’s been awhile since I blogged and I am certainly way behind on posts, including one about my incredible wedding.

But today, today is about Grams. The following is the eulogy I delivered and a memorial video I put together for today. It’s a long one, but she was an amazing woman and deserved every bit of it.

Eulogy For My Grandmother, Verna Mattox.

Many, many years ago my grandma made me promise that when the time came that I’d speak about her at her memorial.  It was a promise I easily made, but didn’t realize the challenge that I’d have in front of me until a few weeks ago.

Without writing something as long as War and Peace, how do you summarize 96 years of life, 40 of which I was so blessed to be a part of?

Then I did, what I know what she would have done …I talked to God.

As He has so many times before, and He did throughout my Grandmother’s life He provided guidance, inspiration and support.

So today I’d like to talk about, how this one woman, who words will never be able to properly describe, changed the world through her dedication and love.

Since I was around 8, I was amazed at her work in the political field. I didn’t fully understand what she was doing but I knew that she worked with important people that I had heard about on the news.

As I got older I came to learn and more fully appreciate what she had actually done and who she had worked with

She held titles like
Republican Convention Delegate
National Platform Committee member
State Volunteer Coordinator for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign
GOP Nominee for 52nd Assembly District
Campaign Manager
Electoral College Member, not once…not twice, but three times.

People like Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Bob Dole, Ronald Reagan, and George H Bush knew, and communicated with my grandmother. Her viewpoints. Her ideas. Her friendship was of great value to them.

Add on to this, she served her community through the many local groups she was involved in. Perhaps most important to me, the Torrance Sister City Association where she took high school students to Kashiwa, Japan and eventually held a seat on their board.

It is because of this incredible and unselfish service to her country I am honored to announce that Senator Mimi Walters of District 37 will create a memorial resolution, and adjourn a California Senate session  quote “in memory of Verna as a great American, a patriot and a timeless force in California party politics who served many presidents and governors in her illustrious tenure.” end quote. It will then be documented for history in the Senate Journal and archives.

While she was proud of her service, it was ultimately her love for her family, and wanting to make sure that the world they lived in was a better place that inspired everything she did.

I am incredibly proud of all that my grandmother accomplished, but it is the love, and memories that she gave me that means the most.

Just below God, my Grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life

When my parents divorced she was there to take care of my brother Lee and I.  She was my solid rock in a sea of incredible pain and uncertainty. She was a source of love and understanding that I couldn’t have lived without.

She taught me manners and personal conduct that serves me in every social situation I’m in. As a kid you think it’s all nagging, but in the end it all makes perfect sense.

From a restaurant, to hanging out with friends, to the board room. She taught me so much that now in observing others, I’ve come to the conclusion that many could have used a Grandmother like mine, and the very manners she taught me.

Her involvement in the Sister City Association spurred me to take part as well. That led me to a journey that would change me from a boy who felt incredibly unpopular, to a young man who had a greater amount of confidence in who he was, and where he was going.

She instilled in me the desire to want to be a responsible, ethical and determined man.
As a result I have been blessed with incredible success and achievement that continues to flourish to this day.

She has also left me with some incredible memories that will forever be in my heart…

Memories of…

Calling her up and asking her if she wanted to go “mall crawling”. She’d then keep me out of the toy stores and I’d keep her out of the shoe stores. All the while yelling at me “I’m not your papoose” if I started walking too fast.

Going to Hawaii with her, and my cousin David. A trip where her nickname “Grams” was bestowed upon her and used until the very end.

Sitting on a cruise ship crossing the Pacific, enjoying pizza and beer while talking about the life she lived.

Having her present when I was baptized again, and seeing the happiness in her face that I had fully accepted the Lord, something she had been wanting for me for so long.

Perhaps the favorite memory I have is during her final time on earth where she was fully conscious, aware and chatting up a storm.

I stood there with my wife, my son and my step-daughter and we had the best conversation we had had in a couple of years. I was able to tell her about my new job, an upcoming trip to Australia and everything going on with the kids. Most importantly she was able to see her grandson happy and excited with a brand new future in front of him. I was able to give her the peace that I was alright and was going to be just fine until the day we meet again.

Grams,

I will never be able to properly express my love, gratitude and deep admiration for every little thing you did for me, the family, and the country. I know you are in an incredible place up there with so many amazing people.

I hope that you’ll check in every once in awhile on me and the family. Jenny, Josh, Kaylin and I love you, miss you, and hope you’re having an incredible time up there, we all know you fully earned it.

As a final tribute to Grams, I have put together a memorial video.
When I first starting creating this I struggled with what music to use.

Again, I did what Grams would have done and I prayed to God for help.

I eventually decided on a beautiful piece of music by Michael Giachinno, appropriately titled “Moving On”. While I am sure Grams up above is so happy with everything we do here this morning, ultimately her final wish would be that we happily remember her life, the memories we made with her, and that we move on with the lives that she’s helped support, guide, and inspire.  

So with that I invite all of you to remember, celebrate and rejoice in the life of God’s gift to us, my grandmother Verna Mattox.

More Geek Posts…Now at the New Official C.A.R. Blog Site

Love my blog posts? Love the information I share? Looking for more?

Look no further than the official blog site of the California Association of REALTORS®!

No, it won’t be duplications of the blog posts here. It’ll be fresh, new content.
It will be content that’s “EXCLUSIVE” to the C.A.R. Blog!

It won’t be as often as here, but when one is posted it’ll be worth it.

The cool thing is, there’s lots of other great content that’s getting posted to the C.A.R. blog from my various colleagues.

You’ve got the master of words, Josh Sharfman who is bringing all kinds of great tech stuff.

Then you’ve got the queen of numbers, Sara Sutachan keeping you up to date with the latest market data.

Of course there’s going to also be posts from our C.A.R. social media organizer/maven/princess, the always charming Lindsey Moss.

In addition to these three fine folks, there’s also great posts from our communications, legal and legislative departments.

So what are you waiting for?

Go and check it out, and check out my first post on speeding up your iPad and iPhone!

A Sweet Auto Appointment Feature In iOS4?

Right now the iPhone 4 is getting a ton of attention because of the supposed antenna issue. What I don’t see enough of is people focusing on the cool new features of the updated iOS.

Sure you’ve got folders which rock organizing apps. You’ve also got the multitasking which I’m so used to I feel cheated when I can’t do it on my iPad.

But I believe I’ve found a sweet new feature in iOS4 that is going to make our lives even easier.

The other day I got an e-mail that had some dates and times in it. When I looked at it the dates and times, they looked like hyperlinks.

So like any good geek I touched the hyperlinks, it then prompted me to create an event.
When I selected to create the event, it created a new appointment with the date and time listed in the e-mail.

SWEET!!!!

Of course the geek in me had to test it again to make sure I wasn’t in some magical tech fantasy land, so I created a test e-mail:

Then I touched one of the hyperlinks and got the following:

When I tapped on Create Event, voila!

Check that out! It even included the subject line of the e-mail as the appointment name.

So you say, C’mon Chris. No one really writes e-mails that have the dates and times perfectly spelled out.

You’re right.

Cool thing is it still works. See!

Granted it can’t create the appointment as accurately, but it does.

I remember over ten years ago Microsoft showing off a potential new future feature for e-mails where it would intelligently take the information out of the e-mail and create appointments. It never appeared, but it looks like Apple has done it. Go Apple!

So that’s it! Sweet new feature on iOS4 for you to play around with over the holiday weekend.

Enjoy and HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

iPad Thoughts Thus Far

As I type up this post I’m on a Metrolink train that’s headed to Los Angeles from Orange County. I’m typing with my iPad propped up on my lap. Aside from the rocking of the train it’s incredibly easy to type on it in landscape mode. Even in portrait mode it’s not so bad, just a little slower.

Before getting to work on this post I was able to quickly and easily check on the latest tech news on Mashable, TUAW, and Digg. I also quickly scanned through e-mail to see what may await me in the office this morning. My internet connection is being provided via my Verizon mi-fi device that’s in my laptop bag.

So far I’m incredibly impressed with this device and I do think its going to be a game changer. From being able to very nicely present video to being able to doing complex documents on the fly – all without having to wait for it to boot up. I also don’t have to wait for it to shut down as I get closer to wherever I’m going which gives me another couple of minutes to finish things up.

I’m loving my iPad to be sure and I can’t wait to write more on it as well as the apps for it. Looks like we’re just about at Union Station….HAVE A GREAT MONDAY!

Posted from my Apple iPad

Happy 13th Birthday Josh!

Son,

It’s hard to believe that you’re a teenager today. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 13 years since the day you were born.

Sometimes it still seems like it was just yesterday that your mom and I got our first look at you on a black and white screen.

You were smaller than someone’s hand and we could still distinctly make out your head, your arms and your legs.

As you grew in your mom we prepped everything for your arrival from Pooh Bear themed bedding to all the accessories and diapers that we’d need to take care of you when you were born.

To this day I can still remember every single detail, sound and feeling from the day of your birth. When the doctor took you out of your mom it seemed like it took forever for you to make your first cry. You let out a nice little cry though to let us know you were breathing just fine and as soon as you were tightly wrapped up you calmed right down. Little did we know that was just a sign of who you’d turn out to be, a very relaxed and calm kid.

As you’ve grown up you have filled our lives with a lot of wonderful and funny moments.

You’ve proven to be the world’s greatest sleeper. As a baby you slept one day for 12 hours straight. That’s a blessing for many parents, but it scared your mom and I. Turns out you were just fine, you were just tired. You’d eventually fall asleep in just about any place, from the bottom of the stairs in our first home to the doorway to your room, to the dining room table. When you’re tired you knock out and nothing can wake you.

One day you decided to change your own diaper which was great, except for all of the baby powder and diaper cream everywhere. It wasn’t fun to clean up but your mom and I had a good laugh and were impressed at your initiative.Of course we took photos to embarrass you with later.

There was also one day where you walked upstairs carrying a huge block of sliced cheese. You took a huge bite out of it and were making a meal out of it. You thought it was totally normal and okay to do.

As you’ve gotten older you’ve continued to impress your mom and I as you went to school. There seemed to be nothing that you couldn’t learn (as long as you were interested in it). You’ve excelled at math so much, so you’re doing far better at it than your Dad ever did.

You’ve developed an incredibly creative mind that comes up with the most interesting of scenarios and stories, as well as the most impressive of Lego creations.

From recognizing when people are sad, to coming up and giving hugs or back-rubs for no reason.You’ve become this incredibly sweet and loving kid whose empathy and caring seems to know no bounds.

Despite the challenges you’ve faced and continue to face in your life you keep growing, and becoming an incredible person. From tackling your autism, to having to deal with your mom and I divorcing. You’ve come out on the other end even better and stronger than you went into it.

You have grown into the strong, wonderful and incredible young man that your mom and I both knew you would become.

We both know it doesn’t stop there, and we see you continue to grow as you become the unbelievable man we know you will be.

Just remember son that you are capable of many great things. Push the limits, break the boundaries, and continue to prove that anything can be done with the right drive, heart and determination.

No matter what the outcome I will always love you. I’ll continue to help you learn from your mistakes, and give you twice the amount of love when you make them. My love for you is never-ending and unconditional.

When all is said and done remember that you are not defined by the things you do, or have. What matters is the love that you share with the world, and the wonderful impact you’ve had, and continue to have on everyone who’s lucky enough to know you.

You have many years ahead of you son, but today

Today, I celebrate….

I celebrate the day you were born.

I celebrate the day that God blessed the world with you.

I celebrate the day I was bestowed
the greatest title I will ever carry in my life – DAD.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOSH!

I love you and always will,

Dad

Need to Play A Concert? There’s An App For That!

Nuff’ said. Or in this case…shown.

Google E-Mail Outage – A Great Example Of Good Customer Service

Around 12:30PM PST yesterday Google had a pretty significant e-mail outage that lasted a little over an hour and a half.

For a heavily utilized service like Google, this is HUGE. There’s many businesses small and large that rely on Google e-mail to be functioning in order to get business done.

So now you may be wondering…How is this a great example of good customer service?

Stay with me for a sec on this…

Later in the day Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar for Google added  a post to the Gmail blog. In the post they not only accepted full responsibility for what happenned, but outlined what happenned (in the least techie way possible) and let people know what they were going to do to help keep it from happenning in the future.

It seems like so often tech companies and even non-tech companies skirt around issues and fail to accept responsibility for what they did or didn’t do. Then they fail to learn from their mistakes and repeat incidents, again not accepting responsibility or truly addressing what the core issues are.

Technology is hard to manage and hard to keep up. In my 16+ years in the tech field I experienced some of the same things as Google did yesterday – just on a smaller scale. Routine maintenance or procedures would lead to a major outage, even with lots of careful planning and back-up plans.

So the lesson for all businesses (both tech and non-tech) to learn from Google’s issue and Google’s response…

1. Plan, plan, plan and then plan some more – Try to avoid over analyzing things, but always remember that anything can and often will happen, especially when you’re least prepared for it.

2. Work the problem…not the people – Focus on getting things working and back to normal, don’t start pointing fingers. If it’s up to one group or person to resolve then work with them. Offer them your help, support and encouragement. When I was in I.T. my immediate supervisor Tim Johnson and our OPs group VP Rick Shumacher were great about just letting me work the problem. They stood back and let me do what I needed to do, the whole time letting me know they were there if I needed them.

3. Keep people up-to-date – You don’t need to overwhelm people with status updates, but don’t keep silent. Nothing induces more fear or uncertainty and  lack of confidence than not knowing what’s going on.

4. Let the dust settle – Once the issue has been taken care of, let things settle, let people get some sleep and then debrief on what happenned. Sometimes the situation may not even be totally over and some additional things need to be addressed before a really good debrief can happen.

5. Work the problem…not the people – No, this isn’t a mistype, or a cut and paste mistake. When you debrief focus on what happened and what can be done to prevent future issues – not who did what and how idiotic it may be.

  • Mistake Makers – If you made a mistake then admit your fault and let people know what you learned from it to avoid doing it again. Admitting to mistakes will carry far more weight than trying to hide a mistake you made. Trust me, eventually people will find out.
  • Mistake Maker Managers/Supervisors – Work with your staff to help them avoid making the same mistake. Remember what it feels like to make a mistake and the courage it takes to admit you made one. This is a learning experience for everyone.

6. Final update – Update everyone and assume group responsibility for what happened as well as what steps are being taken in the future to avoid the same issue. DO NOT LAY BLAME ON AN INDIVIDUAL – this is the biggest way to kill someone’s drive and determination to do better.

7. Put it into practice – Take everything you’ve learned and actually put it into place. Nothing looks worse than having the same issue happen again because no one bothered to implement what was learned.

For my REALTOR® readers –
All of this can apply to all of your transactions as well. In fact the one thing that’s most important is keeping your client apprised as to what’s going on. The one thing we keep hearing that is important to buyers and sellers is that they’re kept up to date, even if there is no new news.

When you have issues learn from what happened and apply them to your future transactions. Maybe you’ll need to switch vendors, maybe you’ll need to change how your staff interact with customers, maybe you’ll need to change how you do things.  Don’t let bad transactions fall by the wayside…there’s a lesson to be learned in all of them.

As far as Google goes I have even more confidence in them, their services and their products. I love how they handeled everything and while it was in inconvenience, this stuff happens. What matters is how they handled the situation and what they’re doing to avoid future problems.  GO GOOGLE!!!!

A Post Only A Geek Could Love…Harry Potter & Real Estate

As my blog address implies I am a geek.

So this post on ActiveRain really caught my attention as one of the featured posts for the day.

Anna “Banana” Krutchen in Phoenix, Arizona gives some great examples as to how the curriculum at Hogwarts can be turned aroud and applied to REALTORS®.

A nice, short and entertaining post and one I recommend taking a couple of minutes out of your day to read. So while you’re drinking your 2nd or perhaps 3rd cup of coffee for the day, click HERE to give the post a read.

Google Chrome – The Next Best OS?

Late Tuesday Google announced that they’re working on an open-sourced OS based on the Google Chrome browser that they’ve released for Windows.

While I’m surprised that they announced it late Tuesday (you would think they’d announce it early in the morning in time for the morning news shows) I’m not surprised that they’re working on this.

Since Google has been in existence we’ve seen them create a lot of really great programs which have all been FREE. Google Earth, G-Mail, Google Apps, etc. They’ve also constantly worked to improve and add little enhancements here and there to the programs over the years.

Google Chrome OS is supposed to be a lightweight, open-source operating system that is supposed to just make things work, and work fast. Google Chrome apps will be based on web technologies, so if a software developer writes it for Chrome, it will also work on Windows, MAC, and Linux machines.

Perhaps the best part of the announcement was this…

“We hear a lot from our users and their message is clear — computers need to get better. People want to get to their email instantly, without wasting time waiting for their computers to boot and browsers to start up. They want their computers to always run as fast as when they first bought them. They want their data to be accessible to them wherever they are and not have to worry about losing their computer or forgetting to back up files. Even more importantly, they don’t want to spend hours configuring their computers to work with every new piece of hardware, or have to worry about constant software updates. And any time our users have a better computing experience, Google benefits as well by having happier users who are more likely to spend time on the Internet.”

Wow. A company listening to technology customers, even better they’re putting their money where their mouth is.

Granted Apple has been doing a pretty good job about listening to its customers…just look at the new iPhone 3Gs.

I am looking forward to this new OS and how it will impact technology and how we’re all connected.

To read the full announcement click HERE. You can also read the currently very brief Google Chrome OS FAQ HERE.

…and in related news both G-Mail and Google Apps have FINALLY broken free of their “BETA” status. It only took a couple of years right? 🙂

New iPhone…New Macs With Lower Prices…Safari 4

As we were showing off the new “My C.A.R.” iPhone app for the C.A.R. and REBS staff, Apple was rolling out their new stuff in San Francisco.

I have to admit it was a bit of a blissful geek moment to know that we were doing a demo at the same time as the Apple biggies..especially since they both involved the iPhone.

What would be really cool is to eventually see the “My C.A.R.” app get demoed at Apple’s WWDC as part of a keynote.
Maybe version 2.0?

Oh yeah…the Apple news.

So the big news from San Fran was the roll-out of new laptops with LOWER PRICES, the incredibly cheap Snow Leopard upgrade, Safari 4.0, and of course the much expected new iPhone 3GS.

So I could go on about all the nitty-gritty details but a lot of other blogs/websites have done that , my favorite Apple related sites  are AppleInsider and Mac Rumors.

I’m totally in love with my son’s iTouch and have downloaded app after app for it games for the both of us, and utilities for me.

I’m just waiting for the iPhone to be “officially” supported by the I.T. staff. I can get e-mail on the iTouch but since there’s no “official” support for accessing office e-mail like that I can’t give up my Blackberry. Once it is…it’s bye-bye Blackberry, hello iPhone!

It’s an incredibly brilliant device and the amount of apps available as well as the incredibly low price of them is astounding.

I think it’s great that Apple has brought the prices down on their laptops…it was much needed, especially with the BS Microsoft ads. While there was no “netbook” announced they did bring the price of the MacBook Air down significantly, that was another brilliant move.

Offering the Snow Leopard upgrade for $29…WOW!!!! One of the boldest moves I’ve ever seen a company make and another great shot at Microsoft.

I DARE Microsoft to offer Windows 7 upgrade for the same price!

Now I don’t totally hate Microsoft…it has its place in the world. After all we need a couple of competitors for us to get the best out of the tech market. Microsoft though continues to not listen to its customers and does what it thinks is right…that’s where it fails, and has been failing for the past 5 years.

It will be curious to see how yesterday’s product announcements bode for both companies. It’ll be exciting to watch…that’s for sure!