A 44 Year-Old Man and His Love for Disneyland


The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!


Disclaimer: If you’ve been following anything about Disneyland of late, you know that there has been some controversy over worker salaries and benefits with a Disney family member even speaking up on behalf of the park employees. I 100% believe that the workers should be paid a fair wage, and even above. The job they do of making that park function in a spotless and seamless manner is world class.


I know I’m not alone when I say that I have a fascination with Disneyland. It’s obviously a mildly popular destination for families and Disney fans alike.

I will also say that I don’t believe in magic, at least in the traditional sense, but Disneyland is the closest thing I’ve found on the planet to a truly magical experience. It’s pretty gutsy to put it in your tagline, “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” but damn if they haven’t done everything humanly possible to deliver on the promise.

My first trip to Disneyland as a child was also my last trip to Disneyland as a child. For parents I had the one-two punch of a mom who hated animated films almost as much as she hated airplanes, and a dad who hated vacationing anywhere that didn’t have slot machines, black jack tables, and relatively few people. So each year he and my mom would go on their retreat to Reno and then as a family we’d go to places within driving distance like the Oregon Coast or Yellowstone. Great places to vacation no doubt, but they weren’t Disneyland.

So when the time finally came (meaning us kids wouldn’t shut up about Disneyland and finally wore mom and dad down), we drove from my house in central Washington State some 1,100 miles to the front gates of Disneyland. It was a true Wallyworld experience to say the least, complete with breaking down on a massive stretch of freeway in Central California, and being forced to spend the night in a cockroach infested hotel while we waited for our Chevy Blazer to be repaired.

The trip is relatively blurry now some 30 years later, but aside from remembering that we spent time at Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Universal Studios, I also remember one fact crystal clear:

We never fought or bickered once while we were in Disneyland.Read More »

Potato Guns, Whiskey, and Regret – Camping In My Hometown


The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!


I love to go camping. When I was young my parents used to take us to a 2 week long family reunion up in the mountain forest a couple of hours from my house. We’d spend the week playing in rivers and lakes, rafting, and cooking amazing food over an open fire pit.

Other times my Dad would just get a wild hair up his backside and decide that it seemed like a good weekend to take the camp trailer up into the woods and explore for a while. He’d call up several other families, and in a matter of minutes we’d be in our Chevy Blazer on the way to the market for ice, beer and hot dogs — an entire caravan of jacked up vehicles towing camp trailers behind us.

As an adult, I don’t get to camp as often as I do. We don’t have a camp trailer, and my wife isn’t fond of tent camping, so we just haven’t found a way to make it all click.

However on rare occasions, I travel back to my hometown and camp with old high school buddies. It’s usually two or three nights packed with games of horseshoe, music, and FAR TOO MUCH drinking.

One such trip resulted in a story that I will never forget…Read More »

Thursday Think Tank: That Time I Went to an Animation Festival in France


The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!


I’m a big animation fan. I love all animated films, whether 2D or 3D, and there was a time when being an Animator was all I wanted to do.

For me it started young. I loved traditionally animated Disney films, and while I can draw a decent comic strip or two, I didn’t have the chops to be a Disney Animator by any stretch. So I collected memorabilia, went to Disneyland as often as I could, and drew little comic strips on the side to get me by. Here is an example:


I actually got pretty good at in, and wound up getting a low-tier syndication contract offered to me, but that’s a story for another time…

Back to animation!

When “Toy Story” came out, I knew I had found the solution to my problem. I didn’t have to draw perfectly, as long as I could understand animation principals as they applied to things like timing and movement, I could do this awesome thing that was sweeping the world by storm called, “Computer Animation!”

So I enrolled in night classes at an art school, and 3ish years later I was hired into my first gig as a professional Animator in games at Microsoft.

One of the perks of working for Microsoft back then was that I got to choose one festival a year to attend. For animation there are several, but I figured I’d shoot for the stars and ask if they’d pay for me to attend the Annecy Film Festival in Annecy, France. This yearly festival takes place in a sleepy little French town that snuggles up to the Alps. It’s a stunning location, and one that isn’t cheap to get to or attend.

To my utter shock and surprise, they agreed!

I didn’t have any other animators in my group, and so I didn’t really have anyone to go with. I also didn’t have much experience traveling abroad, other than a short trip or two to the UK. Both of these bits of information came into play almost immediately.Read More »

Thursday Think Tank: Bad Bar Bands and Cowboy Brawls


At a certain point her table decided they needed some air, and stepped outside. The Buckboard had these massive windows on the front of the bar that allowed you to see outside to the front parking lot. As I stood playing “Brown Eyed Girl,” I saw my wife and her friends standing on the front porch of the bar, chatting and smiling.

Enter the villain of our story…


It’s 4th of July, and I don’t have any great 4th of July stories. I mean I could tell about the time that my Mom and her best friend took 4 of us children to a Native American reservation to purchase illegal fireworks for their husbands, but aside from the ludicrous premise, it was a relatively uneventful trip.

So instead I thought I might focus on one of my redneckiest of experiences growing up in Small Town, USA. When I throw a term like “redneck” around, understand that I do not imply any negative connotations. While I may have traded in my blue collar roots for what is now a very white collar, climate controlled, callus-free life, it doesn’t mean I don’t hold tremendous admiration for folks who live that life. I think most of them are proud of the “redneck” moniker in terms of the positive aspects of the label, and I hold those aspects near and dear to my heart.

Now about that time I almost got my ass kicked by a bar full of cowboy rednecks…


Tangent: Before I go any further, I just wanted to let you know that my stories are real. I may embellish a detail or two for the sake of telling a good story, and I may get a fact or two wrong due to the passing of time, but overall the stories mostly happened the way I detail them. In almost every case I have witnesses, and in the case of this story I’ve easily got 150.


I used to play in a bar band. Two of my absolute best friends in the world and I started “jamming” in my Dad’s shop when I was 12 or 13, and we eventually formed a cover band that played the local circuit of dive bars and honky-tonks. We got pretty good, and the owners of the various establishments would book us every weekend to play classic rock and country tunes for folks to dance to.

We were kind of a big deal.Read More »

Thursday Think Tank: I’m Kind of Best Friends with Terry Crews


The Thursday Think Tanks are semi-random thoughts that may not necessarily fall directly into the category of finances, but I still feel are worth sharing. Read at your own risk!

Starting Credit Card Debt (01.01.19): $126,310.77
Current Credit Card Debt: $109,570.87
Total Paid Off: $16,739.90
Income Going to Savings: 2%

I don’t really talk about it too much on this site, but I work in videogames. I’ll go into much greater detail on a future Think Tank about my journey through the business, but I started as a Software Test Engineer, moved to Animator and then Art Director, and I am now a Producer.

Working in this industry has afforded me many great opportunities, but the one that sits at or very near the top is the time I got to speak to a capacity room at San Diego Comicon with Mr. Terry Crews.

A while back, I worked on a game called “Crackdown 3,” which is a game about super cops called “Agents” who fight crime in the not-too-distant future. Our amazing Marketing person had the brilliant idea to try to cast a celebrity in the lead role for the game, and she focused almost from day one on Terry. To our shock and surprise, she actually pulled it off, and he agreed to take part in our videogame.

I co-wrote and co-directed many of the cutscenes in the game, as well as all of our trailers for various tradeshows and events. I also drew the very first concepts of what would become our Agents’ signature armor in the game, and a modified version of that design was eventually physically built for Terry to wear in many live-action spots.

My first interaction with him was one I’ll never forget…Read More »