I’m on Bing Maps


About two months ago, I saw a Bing Maps surveyor and decided to follow it for a bit because I thought it would be funny to eventually see myself on the street maps.

Well, tonight I checked the maps to see if they had updated them. They did.

But first, take a gander at the video I shot and posted on Instagram. I always have my camera going when I’m on my scooter because you never know.

Now here I am behind the Toyota RAV4, sitting at the stop sign.

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I guess I should have waved at it for maximum effect but I didn’t even think about it. Oh well.

To see the precise location, click here. Note that you will probably need to view it in IE since Bing is Microsoft, Silverlight, blah blah blah.

Run the Runway


Okay folks, first things first. My wrist is feeling a whole lot better which means I can use a computer keyboard to write again. Granted, I would prefer to be in my corner of the den with my laptop but ah, it shuffled off this mortal coil months ago.

Secondly, my new glasses arrived today and I can see much better. Call that a two-fer. They will come in especially handy when…well, I’ll talk about that when (and if) it happens. So with all of that out of the way, let’s go.

I was at a loss as to what I should write about but in reality dang it, I had plenty going on but just got lazy. I let my social media sharing tell the brief story instead of giving a full report here. Case in point: the Run the Runway event on March 31, 2015.

The event was just as its name implied: you ran on a runway. It may not sound exciting if you aren’t a runner but you didn’t have to be one. Participants could walk or even skip if they so desired.

The whole point of this event was to celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of Runway R25 at Long Beach Airport which had gone thought a major renovation. And let’s face it: should you ever find yourself running the length of a runway, there’s a good chance you’ll either be pursued by authorities or be run over by an incoming plane.

But not at this event, which is why I thought it would be fun to attend. When else would I get this chance? Without being shot at or splattered?

The run itself was not very long. From the Start/Finish line to where the airport fire truck was parked only measured a half-mile and once you reached that point, you had to run back to the Start/Finish line. A solid mile for fun on a totally flat course – for free. Not bad. But even at free, there was still a line where participants – limited to 1,200 invitees – had to turn in their waivers and get their free t-shirt.

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There were also a few cool planes on display, including this one that flies to beautiful Catalina Island (a mere 26 miles away).

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And yes, there was even a sheriff helicopter that I soon discovered didn’t have a lot interior room. (This, by the way, will probably be the only time I’m ever in ANY helicopter. I’m not good at heights or small, enclosed areas.)

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Then there’s the runway itself, all shiny and pretty. Just imagine how it looks now only a few weeks later.

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It’s also not every day that you can get some interesting camera angles on a runway.

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Waiting for the event to start. This is when you get in some stretching and your preferred exercise tracking app ready.

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Once everything was cleared and the horn blasted, we all took off and being it was only a mile, it was almost over as soon as it began. I finished at my usual mile pace of 10 minutes which is by no means fast but definitely steady. There were no medals, only a commemorative shirt to take home and the bragging rights that come along with running across a tarmac with 1,200 other people.

All in all it was definitely a memorable event and one that we won’t likely see again in the near future. Thanks to all involved for making it spectacular!

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I’m smiling here, but I had to work the midnight shift later that night. Ugh.

Now What?


Whenever I’m absent from blogging for an extended period of time, I always feel the need to explain myself. Here’s my excuse this time. Okay, several excuses.

First, my only pair of glasses broke. Not only are they my backup pair but they are also an old prescription that no longer really help my eyes to see much better. They broke on the hinge and while I sort of temporarily fixed them (and wearing them now), they are nowhere near as good as my previous pair which suffered a similar fate. Both of them are old so I’m not really shocked that either broke but still, viewing any device or looking at a monitor for an extended period of time with my backup pair causes eye strain and not wearing them only makes it worse.

Second, I’m suffering from a case of tendinitis in my right hand which makes using a full-size keyboard somewhat painful. The pain starts in my thumb and goes past my wrist and hurts like a mother when bent in certain directions, most of which I try and avoid. I’m also wearing a compression sleeve around my wrist per my doctor’s directions. There’s very little I can do about it to make it better and all I know is that having it in my dominant hand really stinks. I can’t even throw a baseball. I’m trying to do most of my work using my left hand to carry and lift but favoring that side causes fatigue by the end of the day. To make matters worse, my hand is in unbearable pain when I wake up in the morning. I can’t seem to win this battle.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m writing this post on my iPad using the WordPress app and SwiftKey keyboard which utilities Swype. I just swipe across the keyboard and it (fairly accurately) predicts the words for me. And despite its ease of use, my hand still hurts.

So there you have it. My absence was caused by things I can can’t really control. More posts will come when my wrist starts to feel better and I get new glasses but until then, don’t count on any regular posts.

For some, that’s actually a good thing…

Finders Keepers, Part IV


Whether I’m running or riding, I tend to find personal items that the owners would probably want returned to them. I find so many of these things that I’ve decided to create a subject that will be dedicated to the topic of my findings, herein titled Finders Keepers. This is the third installment in what will probably be an ongoing series of blog posts.

But before I go into the few details about yesterday’s find, let me refresh your memory on the three previous incidents:

  • First incident, date unknown (not blogged): I found a small pouch containing a phone and money. I was able to get in touch with the owner who then picked it up and rewarded me with a gift card a week later.
  • March 2012: I found a Blackberry and returned it to its owner.
  • January 2014: I found a wallet that a local branch of law enforcement refused to accept.

And now, yesterday’s find.

I was scooting along on my way to work when I happened to see something lying in the middle of a residential street. If it were a busy street I wouldn’t have risked trying to retrieve it since, well, California drivers. The good thing about being on two wheels is maneuverability: you’re small enough to lane-split (which I love more than I can express) and you can pretty much turn on a dime. That was the case here when I saw the wallet.

Once I spotted it, I turned around quickly and picked it up. It was all documented by my trusty HTC Re Camera which I attach to my helmet in case something bad happens and I need evidence. (As of now, nothing has and I delete all the videos later.)

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Granted, there was a chance that the wallet would be empty because hey, people throw stuff out and who knows where it will end up. But after I picked it up I looked inside in the hopes of coming across something that would indicate ownership. In this case, there was about $60 and two movie vouchers but no form of identification.

Bordering on being late to work, I picked a house that was adjacent to where the wallet was found and knocked on the door. No answer.

At that point I figured I’d hold onto it and figure out things later like posting signs around the neighborhood.

I threw the wallet in the storage compartment under my seat and shut it. Just as I started up the scooter, I noticed a girl – she may have been around 11 or 12 – frantically looking around her property while her dad was crawling down the street in his car.

If this was her wallet, it would have explained the absence of an ID inside. I opened my “trunk” and grabbed the wallet. As she darted across the street to her dad’s car, I looked over at him and held up the wallet. Their faces of concern turned to relief when they realized I had found it.

Dad opened up a dialog with me, thanking me for finding it and returning it. The girl ran over, thanked me, grabbed her wallet and got in the car, smirking and hanging her head in embarrassment. She would have had one bummer of a weekend without her sixty bucks and movie tickets so I was happy she got them back. I told them it was my pleasure; no thanks needed.

An aside: remember when $60 and movie tickets were all it took to make you happy?

Anyway, I once again did the right thing because it’s in me to do this type of thing. If I ever lose my wallet or anything else of personal value, I would hope that the finder would do the same for me. That’s just how it should be because the universe sort of has a way of paying you back for making it a better place. Yeah, it’s that karma thing again. But I’ve learned my lesson with finding money: just keep it.

So I was feeling very satisfied with myself knowing I helped brighten someone’s day. No doubt they will have a story to tell at school tomorrow when they explain that some scooter-riding dork wearing a helmet with the Flying Tiger livery found their wallet.

Still feeling high, I arrived at work where that buzz was shot down quicker than (I can’t think of anything so use your imagination). Not cool, universe. Not cool at all. As for what happened at work, let’s just say it’s been an ongoing issue and I’m making a call to my union representative in the morning to go over it.

In the meantime, it’s off to scour the usual job sites after I finish up this week’s Coursera lesson which I’m happy to say I’m sticking with.

I Wanna Go Back


Ann and I decided to go out for a breakfast date this morning after we dropped off the kid at school, so we went to the newest 85 Café Bakery location which isn’t too far from us. We’re not the full-on, greasy-meal-complete-with-all-the-fixin’s kind of couple. We just can’t start the day off with a heavy meal. In fact I find it extremely unhealthy and, more to the point, gross.

Baked goods, especially those from 85 Café (a Taiwanese company just starting to branch into the US), are another story. There’s no arguing over this. We must exercise a great amount of self-control when we go there as it is amazing. Half of the café serves bread right out of the oven while the other half sells specialty items like this strawberry tiramisu.

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But since we found ourselves on the short end of the money stick this week*, we opted for baked goods of a lesser monetary amount. And in case you’re dying to know what that looked like, well, here you go.

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The UCC Kona coffee is mine. They don’t sell it there and I enjoy it with my pastries and/or donuts.

And yes, I unapologetically and shamelessly post pictures of food on my social media accounts for everyone to see, even if they think said pictures are the fruit of Satan’s loins. I’m not there to live up to anyone’s standards, approval, or expectations. I like to do it so if pictures of things like freaking food offend you, look away. And lighten up. Yeesh.

Ahem. Anyway.

As we sat across from each other engaged in serious conversation about everything and nothing, music played in the background to fill the void that the hustle and bustle of a café filled with customer’s couldn’t. Most of the music went unnoticed until a familiar tune fell upon my ears.

(An aside: even after almost 22 years of marriage, Ann and I almost never sit next to each other at a table, and didn’t even while we dated. We are always across from each other. Eye contact is key for us.)

I had to think about it a moment. It was an instrumental played on what was probably a Hammond B3, the quintessential instrument of choice in blue-collar homes or concert venues in the 60s and 70s.

The Girl from Ipanema”?  No no no, it wasn’t that. Close maybe, but not exactly what it was. And being it’s impossible (at least for me) to think of one song while listening to another, I had to sort of block it out while I thought a little harder about it.

Hmm. I have it my collection. So familiar. I started to sing along…

Someone to hold me tight, that would be very nice
Someone to love me right, that would be very nice

I had gotten that far.

“Someone to Watch Over Me”? Nope. While a real song, that wasn’t it either.

I had to grab the phone and do some sleuthing, finally ending up on YouTube: it was Astrud Gilberto’s “So Nice.”

Oh man. The organ, that voice and the way it reverbs, the way the instruments are channeled. Put all of those together and songs like this were arguably the sexiest ever recorded. Seriously. Nothing in recent memory comes close. And let’s not forget all of the instrumental sex that one Henry Mancini created.

Reel it in, man. Back on-topic.

As I sat across from Ann chatting about the song, my mind was suddenly teleported back to the time I spent at the mall when I was a teenager. The local malls were our social network at the time; a place where we would hang out and watch things unfold, meet people, discover new music, and just enjoy being with others – in real-life, not on a computer or smartphone screen.

Now unless you grew up during that time, you have no idea how an organ ties in with that memory. But if you did, let this video jog your memory.

This version here is extremely similar to what I heard in the café and what I might have heard while strolling through the mall past Chess King, Spencer Gifts, Red Eye, or Clifton’s Cafeteria all while taking in the smell of burnt caramel corn or fresh-baked pretzels. No phones, no worries. Just good times.

One of the staples of every mall was, in fact, an organ store where the salespeople would be standing at an organ near the front of the entry while demonstrating how easy it was to play songs like this one or “Spanish Eyes.” But even by then, the once mighty Wurlitzer was quickly becoming a thing of the past with youth becoming more focused on things like the brand-new Walkman. Why bother with an organ when I can take my music anywhere?

While I’m on the topic, I came across this article while searching for “mall organ stores” which Google suggested might be “mall oregon stores.” You know your industry has become archaic when even Google tries to forget it ever existed.

Anyway, you can read it here and laugh at how it is suggested that organs are aimed at people who are 45-50 years old, “sedentary” and “don’t go water skiing.”

Wow. Seriously, with all the conveniences we have now that have the potential to make us even more sedentary, today’s people in that age group – myself at age 46 included – are nowhere near as lazy as this article suggests they were back in its published year of 1981. So basically, we were dead once we hit 45? WOW!

Soooo, with all that said, I miss going to the mall and sharing a bag of caramel corn with my friends while we listened to a toupee-wearing salesman tickling the ivories.

Bet you never saw that coming.


*We all learned a valuable lesson when Anthony’s classmate got him “free iTunes credit.” It was actually a $15 gift card purchase that was deducted from our debit card. He then bought an album thinking he had said credit but he hadn’t redeemed the code yet, deducting yet another $16 from our account.  PARENTAL RESTRICTIONS, PEOPLE.

Better Luck Next Time 


Way back in July of last year, I boasted about the fact that I passed my written motorcycle exam which granted me a permit to operate my scooter, albeit with a few quid pro quos. 


That was then. This is now.

I had made an appointment with the DMV a few weeks ago to take my behind-the-handlebars exam and I was ready for it. After all, how hard could it be? It’s just riding in a simple serpentine pattern through some cones, going in a circle, then riding back through the cones. The second part is easier than that. 

Today I found out just how not easy this test can be because, despite my thinking that I would easily pass it, I didn’t. Oh, how I didn’t.

First things first, the exam is done on the property. The lollipop course is painted on the parking lot and tiny cones are put up by the DMV official. You are then given a quick quiz about where things like the horn, ignition switch, brakes, etc. are located on your bike. Easy enough.

Once that’s done and the way is cleared, you’re free to start the exam. 



And there are three simple rules to follow or you’re immediately sunk: your feet/foot can’t touch the ground, you can’t hit a cone, and you must stay within the lines at all times. Any one of those is cause for disqualification.

So I was ready. I eased my way through the cones and started to follow the circle. About a halfway through it, I noticed that I was slowly drifting outside the circle and tried to correct myself. In the process I lost my balance and my foot touched the ground. In most cases that would be the end of the exam.

But the DMV official gave me a second chance which I thought was nice. I made my way to the starting point again, took a deep breath, and hit the throttle gently.

I ran over the third cone and immediately turned around to meet the examiner. It was over this time — no third chances.

She marked up my exam sheet and handed it to me, telling me to schedule another appointment and to avoid the cones next time. I nodded, thanked her,  grabbed my paperwork, and disappointingly left the property.

And you know what sucks about not passing this exam? It takes place in the parking lot where people are waiting for whatever reason and where there is a line of cars with drivers waiting to take their exams. That means that unlike the car license exam, you’re exposed to a bunch of people hanging around watching you. You fail and everyone will know it — especially if you do something stupid like run over a cone. It’s really embarrassing.

So now I have to schedule yet another appointment to take the exam again. This time, however, I will make it a point to practice both serpentine ride and circle, ensuring that the exam will be easier next time.

Because I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to slalom through cones and ride in a circle while out and about in the city. 

Dad and the Japanese Toilets


There is currently a work stoppage at the Port of Los Angeles, one of the busiest ports on the world. There is what seems like an endless line of cargo ships sitting out in the ocean with nothing to do since the union has some kind of bug up their butt about something.

But when don’t they, right?

Anyway, seeing this brought back a pleasant little memory of my dear old Dad. You see, he worked on that very port unloading ships similar to the ones that have dropped anchor due to the work stoppage. One day, I remember him taking my brother and I aboard one of the cargo ships docked on the port, a ship exporting goods from Japan.

I honestly don’t remember much of anything about that tour since I had to be no more than 5 years old. But there is one thing that sticks in my mind.

Thinking back, I can see Dad looking at us and smiling. He knew what he was up to. He led us down the hall and opened a door — to the restroom.

“Look at those! Look!” he said as he laughed.

I peeked in there and witnessed something that left me stupefied for years: the strangest toilets I had ever seen in my then-short time on this planet, a row of about 8 of them with no walls for privacy between them which made things even more awkward. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Now before you think “So what’s the big deal?” I’ll save you the trouble of doing an image search or consulting Wikipedia.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the traditional Japanese toilet, as witnessed by me on board that cargo ship (courtesy this blog):

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And if you think they look strange, just imagine the contortionist flexibility one must possess in order to use them. (If you must know, look up “how to use a Japanese toilet” and be…stupefied like I was for years.)

Thankfully, I hear that the toilets are no longer the norm in Japan where most places have switched to a more modern, sit-down type that would be honored to accept your waste.

This is good because when I vacation in Japan one of these days (or in my case, some lifetime), I want this simple creature comfort from home.

And if I would happen to come across a traditional one, I’m pretty sure I’ll hear Dad laughing hysterically as I stare at it, debating whether to use it or not.