Health, Life, Vacation

Face Your Fears


6425b286c9f1ca14ba538f0e8d20ff45Next week is the start of our vacation in fabulous Las Vegas. It’s something that we had planned for months and saved up for, and we have a list of things to accomplish while we are there, some free and some not.

Either way it’s happening and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying some time away from home and office, and just be a family. Our list is long. It will be [mostly] conquered. You will see pictures on Instagram.

But the one thing I’m not looking forward to when we return is something that I really should have done sooner: visit the dentist. You see, I’ve got a few teeth – well, one is a partial tooth – that need some TLC or perhaps even an extraction. The last time I put off a dentist visit was years ago when I had a tooth literally rotting away and at one point, cold air entering my mouth (when I would inhale while speaking) would produce excruciating pain. I can’t even describe it but I know I couldn’t speak much. My coworkers secretly loved it I’m sure.

While one of the teeth in question has yet to reach that point, I don’t want it to. The other tooth is chipped and will need some care as well but nothing like the other.

Now you’re probably wondering why I just don’t go right-effing-now to get it done. There really isn’t a reason why I shouldn’t – I have dental insurance and plenty of sick days at work. But the answer is simple: I am afraid.

I fear dentist offices. Everything about them. The sound, the smell, the feeling. I will go to the doctor and have every exam possible done to me without hesitation. I will give blood without a second thought. But the dentist? I have to be forced.

In fact when I had to get that rotting tooth extracted, I paid the extra $300 to be put to sleep during the procedure. It was money well spent considering I didn’t have to expose myself to all that freaks me out. I remember counting to three and then waking up, asking the dentist if they had done anything at all. It was nice.

But the fear is still there, and with good reason.

Today, there are several kinds of people who work strictly on teeth. The dentist is for check-ups and cleanings. Your oral surgeon specializes in pulling teeth. Orthodontists straighten them out.

And when I was growing up, orthodontia was starting to take off. I mean, every freaking kid had braces and yours truly was no exception, in addition to wearing neck gear and a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth (later removed by Ann’s boss, an orthodontist).

Before I could have my braces put into place, I had to go to the dentist to get four teeth extracted. Yes, four. Two top, two bottom. And they were not in any condition to be extracted, meaning they had pretty much taken up residence and had no fear of ever being removed.

That all changed.

Remember, this was the time before oral surgeons and other kinds of specialists so my dentist was the one who had to do it. And when I think of that day, it’s pretty traumatic. There was blood all over gloved hands. Grinding and crunching sounds. Tools banded around the teeth to be extracted. Feeling the pressure of the teeth being pulled from my jaw (and I don’t handle physical pressure well). The dentist sitting what seemed to be literally on top of my while be tried with all his might to remove these four teeth. And of course, seeing the tooth in all its glory being held by a pair of pliers and seemingly six inches long. It all seemed cartoonish, but gone horribly awry.

I’ll be honest about this. That experience traumatized me for life. If not for this, I would have no problems happily skipping myself to a dentist for any kind of routine work. But as it stands now, that experience really messed me up and I won’t go until I’m at a point where things can’t wait any longer.

It’s stupid. It’s most likely not good for me. But then again, neither is drinking soda but I’ve already stopped doing that. (Seriously, stop drinking that garbage. It’s got no nutritional value and is a shit-storm of chemicals in a can. STOP. IT. NOW.)

So I’ve decided that upon our return from vacation, I need to face my fears and get this shit taken care of before it gets to the point my last extraction reached. I’m not sure how many people I will have to see or what, but I know that sucking it up and being a man about it is the only thing I can do.

Here’s hoping that nothing happens while on vacation or at the very least, I win $300 on the slots to pay for the twilight anesthesia.

Because I’m gonna need it.

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Family, Fatherhood, Life

Dem Bones, or Das Boot


Ann and I decided early on in our parenthood journey that we would be supportive of Anthony with everything he did. Whatever he wanted to try, we would let him have at least one stab at it and be behind him all the way.

And so we did: tae kwon do, t-ball, violin, trumpet, and even the drums which I use more than him even though I suck. He gave all of these a chance but never really went anywhere with any of them but does indeed spent a lot of time at my drawing table producing abstracts that I can’t even being to comprehend. He’s got an artist’s mind for sure. I have no idea where he got it.

We’ve even so gone far as to not brand him with any one religion and only act as a moral compass along the way. If he decides later in his life that one has the answers for him then that’s great. Adults can’t make sense of that stuff most of the time so why confuse a child?

There was, however, one exception to all of this: playing football, and this goes back to long before we were parents. The sport seems to lend itself to inflicting serious injury onto the other players and for kids, I think it’s over the top and way too much for them. They have enough trouble trying to understand and execute plays and I couldn’t stand to see him or any other kid get flat-blasted on the field and not get up.

Then there’s the whole sports parents thing. I guarantee I would have been in my fair share arguments. Football was definitely out.

We never played it as kids but did toss the old pigskin around during those long, warm summer evenings while listening to the AM transistor radio. None of us would he harmed by that. But as for some of the other things we did as kids, well, that’s up for debate.

I’m not willing to divulge any of the stupid, stupid things we did as kids but let me tell you that it was by some miracle that none of us ever got seriously hurt or maimed. The most painful injury I had as a kid was a sprained pinky finger that I got while catching a kickball at school during a play at home plate. I never hurt myself playing any sports with the guys on the block.

And despite all of that, I’ve made it to the ripe ol’ age of 48 without breaking a single bone, even after my scooter accident. I’m a tough old bird.

So what does my childhood devil-may-care attitude and Knievel-esque propensity for adventure have to do with my son?

First, I haven’t told him half of the things I did when I was his age or younger. He doesn’t need any inspiration for stupid things to do and post on YouTube. In fact, it’s safe to say that me and my friends were the original version of Jackass but without cameras rolling. We were that bad.

Second, he recently started expressing an interest in football. We watched the Super Bowl and for not being a football fan, Ann was amazed at just how much I knew about the game. (The rules are pretty basic; I just get bored sitting for hours on end seeing guys yelling into headsets and watching six-second plays unfold.)

He told me that they were playing flag football at school recently and that he really enjoyed playing. That’s fine because hey, rip the flag off the dude and the play stops. No contact, no injuries.

Then one day after playing at school, he came limping up to me and told me he hurt himself playing football – tackle football, something they weren’t supposed to be doing. So we RICEd it – rest, ice, compression and elevation – for a few days in the hopes it would get better.

A week later and it was still the same so we had to take him to the doctor. The diagnosis was a sprained ankle but they took x-rays anyhow to be sure. They gave us the same RICE recommendation, scheduled a follow-up visit and prescribed some crutches.

Later that day, Ann gets a call: they found something on the x-ray.

Yep. His ankle was fractured. And $300 later, the kid is now sporting a huge boot that he has to wear all the time except to bed for the next 4-6 weeks, a time that includes our vacation in Las Vegas.

The good thing is that he doesn’t have a cast and he can move along pretty well, even better than I expected.

Hopefully this experience was a wake-up call for him.

Then again, if he’s anything like I was as a kid, it probably wasn’t.

Life, Shopping

Things I Learned Today: March 24, 2017


In an effort to keep this here blog of mine going I’ve decided to try something a little different.

They say that we learn something new every day, and today I found that to be exceptionally true. In fact, I started compiling a list in my head while on my drive to work and only found myself adding more things to it, so that didn’t really go as planned.

I’m not very good at mental note-taking so I tried my best to remember what it was I had thought of and haphazardly typed it into Word while on my break at the office. And now I present today’s list.

Things I Learned Today for March 24, 2017

1. People still use CDs in their cars. Shocking, I know. But I was reminded of this when I drove past a guy who had a Case Logic visor CD organizer that was filled with purchased CDs and burned-at-home CD-Rs. It all seemed rather ‘90s since my last two cars have had USB ports and my music has either been on a thumb drive or smartphone ever since. I’m not a big terrestrial radio fan and am a proud Spotify Premium subscriber so my music collection had been downloaded from there and is all on my iPhone. Also, Ann’s car doesn’t even have a CD slot – all music is played via Bluetooth or USB port.

2. The local daily newspaper now costs $1. There was a time when I had to scrape together four quarters to buy the Sunday paper in order to get all of the retail ads and coupons. The daily cost a fourth of that. But as with everything, technology has just about killed this format. Coupons and ads can now be seen online and with Amazon, you don’t really need ads anymore because chances are they have what you need for less and will ship it to you for free. Then why did I even bother buy a newspaper today? The Long Beach Grand Prix is approaching and there was a voucher for a free Friday ticket in today’s edition. That’s the day that the office sort of takes a rather long lunch since the event is literally across the street from us. So spending the $1 was well worth it. Any other day? Not so much.

3. Water refill stations still exist. Whether they are against the wall of the local Walgreens or fancy stand-alone jobs that look like a windmill, they are still around and people still use them. I found this out while researching them since we are in the market to have water delivered to us. I am still not drinking [diet] soda regularly, although there have been a few occasions while dining out when I did get one as a treat. Water is still my mainstay and I have an app to remind me to reach my daily goal of 100 oz., so I figured that having it delivered might be cheaper than buying a case of bottled water at the store. At $1.50 for five gallons from said refill stations, it probably will be. And while I don’t buy soda anymore, I have found a tasty substitute should I crave something bubbly. Highly recommended if you can find it in your area.

4. Domino’s pasta bowls are carb overload. This one may seem a bit obvious but I learned the hard way. Ann ordered three of them last night for dinner and being as hungry as I was when I got home from work, I devoured mine in no time. The bad part: I wasn’t running a marathon today. If I had been, the combination of pasta and pizza crust would have been an excellent source of fuel to burn off. Instead, they sat in my stomach all day and magically turned into sugar as they tend to do if you don’t use them. It was total carb overload, and I felt it all day long. Pretty stupid move.

5. Vans never go out of style. Last week we took Anthony birthday shopping at the local outlets. He loves Vans and has a pretty decent collection of them. In fact, his love ignited mine and I started to build my own collection which includes a pair inspired by The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (that I will never wear). I wore Off The Walls all the time as a kid – when we could afford them – so wearing them again on a regular basis is fun, and it doesn’t hurt that I can wear them to the office. I have an assortment of colors to choose from but I made a purchase at the outlets last weekend that I won’t soon regret.

Photo Mar 24, 9 15 00 PM

Depending on your monitor calibration, the brightness of your smartphone screen or any other number of factors, these Old Skool style Vans are bright pink with the signature Vans stipe running the sides in cyan. For $20 and 50% off a second pair, I couldn’t pass them up. They are a hit, inside the office and out. I actually had a guy stop me while I was on my bike ride to tell me how much he liked them and today while returning from a Starbucks run with a coworker, someone else walked past and complimented me on my choice of footwear – only I was wearing these instead.

IMG_5229

These are all purple with gold eyes. I also have pairs in dark green and blue, and I dig them all. All this admiration just goes to show that Vans are timeless and at least in their birthplace of southern California, they are more of a lifestyle than anything.

What will I learn tomorrow? Who knows. But I hope you enjoyed the list of things I learned today.

Life

The Naked Truth 


The good thing about this iPhone 7 Plus is that it’s ridiculously huge, which makes blogging much easier than using one of those puny phones. Or, in this case, not having to get my lazy rear out of my La-Z-Boy lounge chair and sit at the computer desk.

Anyway, there were some strange things afoot around the office today and believe me when I say I’ve seen some strange things going on around there.

Like the guy in the rat costume picketing outside Starbucks, or the couple lighting up something that wasn’t a cigarette or vape. No, nothing like that, but definitely weird.

I sit next to a window on the second floor of our building and as I do on occasion (in order to give my eyes a break), I’ll look away from the monitor and out that window. Most of the time I just see the usual pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk which is no big deal. But sometimes, something will catch my eye when I didn’t intend to take a little break and I can’t help but stare.

Today was that day.

As I sat there plugging away at a project, I happened to notice what appeared to be a woman walking down the sidewalk — totally nude. But nah, maybe she was wearing flesh-colored leggings and a top that made her appear like she was naked. It happens. Right, ladies? 

By the time I gave a second glance, she was to a point where I really couldn’t see much anymore because the signage and a tree outside the adjacent building were obscuring her. But I seemed sure of what I saw.

I told a coworker about to look out the window and see if she could confirm my suspicion. But again, the naked lady was gone. But as I was telling her about what I had seen, local city guides were on their radios walking in the same direction of the lady.

Then a few police officers on bikes were behind them. Then a few more. We had to go check this out now.

But before we did, something else caught my eye: a guy walking down that same sidewalk carrying a cross with an American flag draped around the top half of it. I told my coworker to look out the window and this time I had a witness — she saw it, too. I wasn’t totally mad.

So we decided to see what was going on and my eyes were not deceiving me.


I was right. The woman was indeed naked and the police attempted to cover her with a towel. But as you can see by the strategically placed emoji, it didn’t cover everything. While in custody, she struggled with and yelled at the officers meaning she probably wasn’t doing too well mentally or was under the influence of something.

That was that. A naked woman and a guy carrying a cross. Definitely strange.

We went back to our desks and about an hour later, something else caught my eye.

It was a guy on some kind of three-wheeled vehicle that looked like it was being propelled by an electric motor. He was flying down the street and positioned on top of the contraption, legs resting on the frame and wide open. It looked like it was made from really flimsy pipes and kind of reminded me of this:


Now just throw three wheels on this thing, lay it on its side, sit on top and there you go.

I’m going to try not looking out my window too much tomorrow. I might see something even more odd, if that’s possible.

Economy, Money, Work

Lyft Lyfe


CLICK ME IF YOU USE LYFTI had been silent about this since the moment I considered it. Why, I don’t know. Maybe I was being too critical about all of the negative aspects that may come with being a driver for one of the many ridesharing services which, in this case, is Lyft.

But I guess the only way to find out was to get involved. So back in October, shortly after my scooter accident and the purchase of my car, I signed up to be a Lyft driver. And I’m not gonna lie – I also applied for Uber. I figured now that I was driving again I might as well see what this was all about.

I ended up with Lyft for many reasons. Their vetting process, vehicle inspection locations, and customer service (for drivers) were all superior to Uber. I have yet to have my car inspected for Uber because their nearest location isn’t really convenient and frankly, I’m not doing this as a full-time gig. If it were then I wouldn’t have a problem with finding the time to get it done.

(Side note: I was also a vetted driver for the short-lived Sidecar service.)

Anyway, I was approved to hit the road way back in December but never bothered to go out to try to make some money. But that changed today.

Shortly before the start of the Super Bowl, I decided to give it a shot. I ended up parking for a little bit by our local airport – it’s about 5 minutes from home – to see what was going down. I figured having an airport in close proximity would prove to be a goldmine, but it depends on many factors.

Not a single ride request showed up on the app. Besides, this airport currently only allows drop-offs for ridesharing services but I see people waiting all the time across the street. It’s a way to skirt around the rule since you aren’t on airport property to pick up your ride.

After waiting about 15 minutes, I decided to drive down to the gas station then go home since it didn’t seem like a lot was happening. But on my way to the gas station, I got an alert for a pick-up which was only a mile away. I had been so hesitant to try this whole thing out and like new every job, there’s a bit of nervousness when you start.

Long story short for my first rider, it went well. They were on their way to a Super Bowl party and had a bag of goodies they were taking. The destination was 8 miles way so we had a good chat on the way. I dropped them off and thanked them, rated them, and drove away.

Simple, painless, and paid. I could probably get used to this.

Still in Online mode while driving away, I got another alert for a rider that was close by. And here’s the thing: although I was a little bit farther than I had preferred to go, Lyft requires that drivers be at a 90% acceptance rate or they are penalized or something. It’s all new to me. I had completed one ride with another waiting. If I had turned this one down, 50% acceptance. Why mess with things?

Lesson 1: Always accept new rides when you’re starting out. It’s just smart.

So I accepted the ride and picked them up. The difference here was that they weren’t sure of the physical address; just a general area. I can see why: it was condo complex and having delivered pizzas in the past, they can get confusing. Another easy pick-up and drop-off.

By now, I was out for about 2 hours (1.25 of actual Lyft-ing) and had completed two rides, the second one with my fuel warning light flashing. Remember? Low on gas? Fortunately, my car is an econobox that gets great mileage so it wasn’t a major concern but I stopped and got some nonetheless.

Afterward I figured I had put in enough time for the day and headed home to have dinner with the family. Shortly after I arrived, I got a text from Lyft stating that my first rider may have left something in my car. I checked the back seat and sure enough, they did.

Lesson 2: Make sure your ride has all their personal belongings at drop-off, checking either visually or by asking.

So I called them and verified that their items were in my car and I would drive back to deliver them. But rather than drop them off at their destination, they told me it would be fine to leave them at their house which I thought was a nice thing to do. They could have been mean about it being Super Bowl Sunday and all but they weren’t. I appreciated that.

So let’s get to it. Is driving for one of these rideshare companies worth the effort?

Lesson 3: This will not make you rich.

There are so many variables involved that can make or break you: time of day, time of year, local events, weather, etc. all have an impact on what you are paid. If you rely on this as your sole source of income, you’d best hustle and alternate between Uber and Lyft apps when the other isn’t busy. I don’t plan on doing this full-time but it’s nice to know that should I need it, it’s there.

In the end, before Lyft’s fees, I ended up with about $20 after 1.25 hours of driving. By comparison, I make more at the office but I’m sure others probably don’t. Once Lyft deducted their fees it dropped to about $16. Then, of course, factor in the daily wear-and-tear on your car, gas, and everything else and chances are I made much less.

But I suppose there’s more to it than that.

It’s the freedom to go online when you please to make a few [extra] bucks. It’s meeting new people and helping them get where they need to be, especially on a day when many probably shouldn’t be driving. And while I don’t deal with the public at the office, it was a welcome change to do it again and have conversations about whatever came to mind.

Would I give up my job for this? Perhaps if I was making much less money at, say, a grocery store I probably would. This freedom is so much the opposite of the shackles of retail but if you’re working there part-time to keep your affordable health insurance, this is a great way to earn a few more bucks.

Do I plan on doing it again for extra money? Sure. It’s easy and pretty fun, and Lyft no longer requires that unsightly fuzzy pink mustache on the front of your car.

And I’m sure there’s more I will learn along the way but for now, it’s not all that bad.

 (Note: Already use Lyft? Click the logo at the top!)
Life, weather

It’s Only A Little Rain


Friday as seen from my deskThe family ventured out this morning as we normally do each Saturday and for the most part our Saturdays are uneventful.

But today? Hmm.

Our first stop was PetSmart where we had to pick up some bags of vittles for the cats and one smelly dog. Not a whole lot going on there. We also made a few random stops at the same shopping center and again, nothing of note.

Then we made the mistake of going to Michaels. Ann’s a crafty one and needed some yarn to make us all warm and fuzzy hats to wear on our next snow trip – yes, snow! The weather has been rather wet lately (see photo above) and it’s been dumping feet of fresh snow in the local mountains.

We walked into the place after almost being run over GTA V-style in the parking lot by several impatient drivers. It seemed people were running around as if their hair was on fire and they were in need of finding a place to soak their head.

The line of people checking out was way beyond the capacity of the holding area. I mean, really. This is Michaels. The lines aren’t this long even during Christmas or if they are having a big sale. It was ridiculous so we walked back to the car, dodging even more bad drivers along the way.

Our next stop was Kmart where we ended up finding more than we thought we would: Christmas merchandise was 90% off so we stocked up on rolls of wrapping paper and cards. We then made our way to the cashier.

The lines here were just about the same as they were at Michaels. What the hell was going on?

We eventually got through that mess after listening to the person in front of us haggle the prices of everything she had – and ended up leaving half of it. Some people.

On the way home we passed by Ralphs or, as I used to call it when I worked there, The Place Where Dreams Go to Die. Guess what? The parking lot was at near capacity.

It took us a moment to figure out exactly why everyplace was so freaking busy today.

hurricane

Remember that I had said it’s been a little rainy here lately. It really has been, so much so that it’s made a huge dent on our drought conditions and turned the local mountains nearly pure white. Absolutely beautiful. And on the day I took the picture shown at the beginning of this post, I sat at my desk and watched a barricade being blown into the street by strong winds and saw palm branches fall from on high. They could knock someone out cold if they hit them.

We’ve been hit by a series of storms with today giving us a break, and that’s exactly why the stores were busy.

See, most Californians don’t handle the rain very well. We get spoiled by our 72-degree average temperature so when things start to dip below that or – Jeebus forbid – a storm is approaching, most of them lose their freaking minds.

And the storm approaching tonight/tomorrow morning is supposed to be one that will last all day Sunday and into Monday. Again, rain. Not snow, not a hurricane, not a tornado. Just rain.

But our weathermen with goofy names like Dallas Raines and Johnny Mountain have made the next one sound like it’s gonna wipe us off the map, and the wiping is scheduled to commence at 2:15 am according to local reports.

That’s the exact reason why people were our in force and acting so nuts today: because it’s going to rain tomorrow. The masses were stocking up on corn nog and wadded beef in preparation for the onslaught of wet stuff falling from the sky, then will be hunkering down in their homes to wait out the storm for the next few days.

It’s no wonder the rest of the country makes fun of us.

Blog Update

Blogging Is Dead 


Me and blogging are in a relationship — and it’s complicated.

In a time when social media and viral videos are still king, it looks as if blogging — personal blogging at least — is all but dead.

I remember a time when I could write a post and get a reasonable number of interactions/hits/visits coupled with an occasional comment or even a discussion. But then again that was when “blogosphere” was a media buzzword and before Twitter and Facebook were on the radar. I’ve been at this in one form or another since 2004, just months after Facebook was founded, and years before Twitter would arrive. These days it’s much easier to post a blurb on Facebook and wait for the usual suspects to start clicking that reaction button to show their approval, disgust, etc. Or type “Amen” to send prayers up because…never mind.

And this has never been a profitable venture for me. If anything, it costs me to run this dog-and-pony show in the form of domain ownership, mapping and, of course, my own time. While I do have ads here, I’ve yet to reach my $100 threshold to cash out the revenue they generate and they’ve been in place for years. I’m still nowhere near that threshold.

Maybe it’s because I’m not smart enough to do something stupid enough that will drive the traffic and revenue up (look up any “YouTube sensation/star/personality”). Or maybe it’s because personal blogs just aren’t a thing anymore.

So with all that said, you might be glad to know that I’ve once again ponied up my annual fees to keep this here blog alive for at least another year.

Why?

I like owning a domain and having an email associated with it (send one to dave_at_holographicmeatloaf_dot_com and I will reply unless shit gets out of control). I’ve owned it for years and don’t want to lose it. And it looks much more legit having your own address rather than  an unsightly [username_dot_host_dot_com] URL. Even if you have readers, nobody will want to remember all that crap.

I also like telling an occasional story, with pictures, that nobody on Facebook would bother reading if I had posted it there. Anybody can write a blurb about something stupid that happened in the Costco parking lot but not everyone can tell a cohesive story,  and my stories sometimes require more than 140 characters.

Plus, this year marks my 10th year using WordPress as my host having moved from Google’s Blogger platform, which is as ugly as a website built and hosted by Geocities or Tripod. Look those up, kids.

So even with the doom and gloom of not being what it used to be, I’m still keeping the faith.

And if you’re reading this, thanks for being a part of it.

Composed on my iPhone with the WordPress app because I was too lazy to clean off the stuff from my desk