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.)

wallet

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.

IMAG0977_1-picsay

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.

IMAG0979_1

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):

image

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.

I Want to Ride My Bicycle…


Those were some of the many words that the late, great Freddie Mercury sang about whilst prancing about the stage with that distinctive voice that nobody will ever come close to imitating.

At any rate, now that my cold is pretty much a thing of the past I decided that it would be a great time to take the ol’ bike for a spin down the trail and to the beach. And you know what? You’re going along for the ride!

That’s right. I mounted my HTC Re camera to the front of my bike and shot a time-lapse video of a portion of my ride, starting at the trail entrance and ending at the Seal Beach Pier.

Ready? Let’s roll! For best results, watch in HD since YouTube’s default standard definition really sucks.

A few notes about the video:

  • Images were taken every 4 seconds
  • The music is not mine; it’s some stock music I decided to throw in there
  • I used the highest resolution
  • This was about 8 miles of the 22 that I logged today

Also, I had the chance to ride because I was done with work early. They simply had no hours to give anyone and from what my experience has been, things are turning sour when there’s not enough in the payroll budget to pay everyone. I worked a total of 2.5 hours this morning (from 3:30am to 6am), which really wasn’t even worth waking up for. I’ve worked for companies where I had to rush to the bank to cash my check because the funds were always low and we had to ask if there was enough to cash it. Pretty sad, and I think it may happen again.

Oh well. At least I got to burn off some steam during my ride.

One more thing. I shot a video on the way back and captured something funny. About 2 miles from the beach – I made 2 stops today – I suddenly realized I wasn’t wearing my gloves. I stopped the bike, made sure they weren’t in my pouch (which they weren’t), then turned around and headed back to the beach to see if I could find them.

Oh yeah. I did. Here’s a screencap of me walking to pick them up.

stupid ass

They were sitting on the sand where I parked my bike when I took a little break. I sat on the rocks and let the sounds of the ocean soothe my soul for a bit.

And with that, I put them on and went home.

What’s a few extra miles, right?

Only It’s Not Coffee


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That's Good Drinkin'!

That mug you see is not filled with coffee as the quote from The Big Lebowski might imply. In fact I’m not sure it was ever used for coffee since my drink of choice at my last job was green tea with jasmine, one packet of artificial sweetener and a squeeze of honey added to kill any semblance of tea (and dignity) it might have had.

And I really wouldn’t consider any coffee I concoct to still be coffee for the same reason as the tea: the additives, only twice as many.

In either case, the current contents of the mug are not meant to give me pleasure but instead provide relief. It is filled with warm TheraFlu Nighttime Formula as I have been fighting off a cold for the last few days with today being the worst yet. While I was able to completely clean then den and then go to work yesterday, the only thing I did today was go grocery shopping at WinCo in the morning and it wiped me out. After lunch, I donned my pajamas and robe and have been roaming the house in sickly comfort. The family, as a result, has been avoiding me and I can’t really blame them.

Being sick sucks. I want to run, go for a 20-mile bike ride, anything to break a sweat. Instead I sit and do nothing. Blah.

So I just thought I’d post since they are so infrequent. My Facebook Vacation also continues but there’s more to it. It’s just not working for me with any browser and I can’t upload pictures from my devices via WiFi. I don’t know what’s going on but I don’t really miss it either. It’s an incredible time-waster.

I think that TheraFlu is starting to kick in. Goodnight.

Composed on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with the WordPress app