The Simpsons Quotes in Daily Life, Vol. 2


In keeping things current with my blog, I’m continuing my series of entries that I started in…uh, November 2017. Maybe I should really stick with that, huh?

Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, this series of posts covers quotes from The Simpsons that have made their way into the daily lives of  La Familia Moreno. Pretty simple.

So here we go with Volume 2!

1. The Royal Sampler

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Situation: When Homer’s birthmark leads The Stonecutters to believe he is “the chosen one,” they do anything to appease him including rigging their poker game by telling him he as a Royal Sampler. In reality, it’s a hand of cards that wouldn’t win anything.

Family Usage: Quite a different connotation. We use it to describe a mish-mash of anything from groceries to food ordered at a restaurant.

Me (looking at groceries on the conveyor belt): Man. Cat litter, muffins, and ant spray. That’s quite the Royal Sampler.

2. That dog has a puffy tail! Here puff!

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Situation: Homer’s attention quickly shifts from his doppelganger, Guy Incognito, who was just thrown out of Moe’s because Moe thought it was Homer in disguise.

Family Usage: We all use this one because we’re all guilty of being distracted during conversation and will blurt it immediately whenever any of us drifts off-course when explaining something. Works especially well with teenagers.

3. You just keep right on driving.

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Situation: When Homer sees an ad for a free tramampoline trampopoline trampoline, he picks it up and decides to open Homerland. Too many kids get hurt and he tries to return it to its original owner, Krusty, who pulls out a shotgun and says, “You just keep right on driving.”

Family Usage: Admittedly, I like second-hand stuff and I find a lot of it around the neighborhood. Some of it has turned out to be a really nice like my Craftsman-style lounge chair which we still have. But if something looks like total crap and I point it out to the family, they will throw this one right in my face.

Me: Wow, look at that old TV!

Ann (pointing at the road ahead): You just keep right on driving.

4. Mmmmmm, nah.

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Situation: In “Lisa the Skeptic,” when all of Springfield is waiting for sunset and the impending Judgment Day, Ned Flanders asks Reverend Lovejoy if they should sing some hymns while they wait for The Second Coming. His response: “Mmmmmm, nah.”

Family Usage: It’s a favorite and used whenever someone really wants to emphasize that we shouldn’t do something.

Ann: So should we clean up the backyard a little bit more today?

Me: Mmmmmm, nah.

Side note: Writers are known for basing characters on people they knew in real life. I would love to know if that’s the case with Reverend Lovejoy since some of his behaviors, like the one listed above, are so un-Christian to say the least.

“I never thought I’d have to do this again,” as he pours gasoline down the aisles of his church (key word: again).

“Damn Flanders!” after a call from Ned forces him to wreck his toy trains.

Giving Ned advice: “Ned, have you considered any of the other major religions? They’re all pretty much the same.”

On the Bible: “Have you ever read this thing? Technically, we’re not allowed to use the bathroom.”

“Oh mercy, he’s the real deal!” when speaking of The Leader of The Movementarians. He also throws his collar on the ground and stomps it.

I love Reverend Timothy Lovejoy.

5. Says you, woman.

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Situation: Bart’s reply to Marge when she says his back-talking sets a bad example.

Family Usage: My not-so-serious reply to Ann when she tells me something I’m hesitant about.

Ann: You know, that backyard really could use some cleaning up.

Me: Says you, woman!

(We’ll have been married 25 years in June. Don’t judge.)

That’s a wrap on this volume. Come back in, oh, six months for the next batch!

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Break Time


As I do occasionally, I’ve been on a self-mandated Facebook break for about a month. And while I’ve posted a total of maybe seven pictures during that time, that’s all I’ve really done.

Quite frankly, if I didn’t have my account linked to so many external apps or services, I would just close the damn thing and not look back. But since that’s not the case I’m doing the next best thing for my purpose which is simply avoiding it. The app is hidden in a folder on my phone’s Home page (still installed for the aforementioned external services) so that I don’t see or use it.

What prompted this move was the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. It was simply awful and being a parent, I can’t even imagine having to deal with something so incredibly tragic yet seemingly avoidable. And of course, after any event like this, the arguments and conspiracy theories begin and they were out in full force on Facebook.

But this one seemed to really have people divided more than ever.

In the end, I deleted and blocked two people, one of whom is a real gun nut and tried to justify owning a cache of killing machines because it’s in the Constitution. Sorry, *poof* you’re gone. Another was an on-again, off-again friend who thought arming teachers was the solution. We’re now permanently in “off-again” status and I really don’t care to speak to them ever again (we’ve grown apart over the years). I’m a little shocked I only deleted two people after all this.

Then there’s the daily clusterfuck of a soap opera called The Trump Presidency that is saturated in lies and eaten up by his minions. And even though I follow some of his so-called “fake news” outlets, my Feed became a Trump ticker-tape parade and I don’t need to give that idiot any more of my time. I try to avoid the news these days but still visit websites or watch broadcasts at my leisure and not Facebook’s timeline.

But mark my words: Trump will burn out real soon and it’s going to be the most spectacular meltdown in the history of humankind. It’s been my theory that he wanted the power and position of President, but not the responsibility. And so far I seem to be right with that assessment.

There’s other random things that drove me away from Facebook, not to mention their recent privacy issues. Not to get into details but uh, yeah. Not everything needs to be posted on social media, whether it’s your lunch or checking in at the doctor’s office for your [insert procedure/examination of your choice]. Oh, don’t look surprised. People really do post this stuff and I’m not sure why. I have done it in the past but I’ve grown older and wiser.

So I’m content to keep this streak alive. But you may be wondering what I’ve been doing in lieu of wasting time on Facebook.

First, I’ve been a little more active posting photos on Instagram. Photography is one of my passions and I’d rather dedicate my time to sharing my vision – dare I say, talent – with the world (or at least my sub-500 followers) than read about someone’s dinner. In fact, I was recently contacted by Apple (yes, that Apple!) about the possibility of them using one of my shots for their Instagram account (see comments).

I’ve submitted my shot and waiting to hear back. Either way, praise from Caesar is praise, indeed.

Second, I’ve been doing some thinking about my weight lately and decided to once again take charge of it and set a lofty goal for myself by my 50th birthday next February. If you recall, my weight loss blog is called 200by40, implying that I’d reach my goal of 200 pounds by my 40th birthday in 2009 which I did. With 50 around the corner, I’m sure you can use your imagination and figure out the goal I’ve set for myself. Either way, there will be no Facebook posts about it except maybe when I reach my goal. Maybe.

And I’m not saying it’s serious but I’ve given up having cereal for breakfast and replaced it with an egg and almond milk. No more Lucky Charms; I’m eating like a real adult in the morning!

To that end, I’ve been sleeping more because old people need their sleep. Actually, it’s known to help with weight loss.

And with the free time Facebook has given me, I suppose I should blog more as well. I’ll try to be better at that.

Anyway, that’s my story. Hope everybody stuck in Zuckerbergland is doing well.

Gone


Our office has a bikeshare program that allows us to check out a bike whenever we desire. When the program started, I was the first one to submit my name for approval and, quite possibly, the first to take advantage of it.

The problem is the bikes aren’t the best. They serve their purpose but are marginal for riding longer distances, something I rather like doing. I had considered buying a bike and leaving it at the office so I could use that during lunch but Ann suggested I take her old 2008 Trek 7100 hybrid bike since she wasn’t using it at home.

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Not only a beautiful bike, it’s a solid bike – and cost $350 new. In fact the only difference between this and my bike, which as served me well since 2006, is that it’s a women’s model. I don’t care; it makes it that much easier to mount and dismount without that high bar in the middle.

And somewhere between the time I left the office on Monday 2/26/18 and my lunch on Tuesday 2/27/18, it was stolen. From inside the office.

I discovered it was missing right after I finished eating, when I walked to the bike rack on the second floor stairway where I park it along with a few others. And apparently I forgot to lock it up after my ride on Monday because this is what greeted me on Tuesday.

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I wedge it between that green bike and the black one to the right of it. When I saw this, I panicked and – talk about timing – ran into one of the porters as I exited the stairway.

The building is currently going through a remodel and things are in a state of flux. In fact this is not where the bike rack is normally located, a place with public access. The rack is normally inside the office where the bikes are clearly visible.

With this in mind, I asked the porter if he knew about any of the bikes being moved since, well, mine was missing. He said he didn’t and that’s when my panic turned into disbelief and anger.

I had to take a moment to process things. Then when I realized that it was truly gone, that’s when I got really pissed. I would have really loved to know what my blood pressure was at that point.

My bike was stolen. My fucking bike was stolen. It’s easy to dismiss it as “just a bike” but when you ride it daily and rely on it, finding out someone took it for no other reason but to take it is like a kick in the gut, especially when its sentimental value is far beyond any money they will get for it. It’s like my 5th-generation iPod: not worth much on the market but absolute gold to me as a still-functioning music player.

I walked down the stairway and sent Ann a text about it. She wasn’t nearly as upset as I was but you know, Venus and Mars. Then I stepped outside the building a little lost, but then like George Kennedy swinging his baton on foot beat in The Blue Knight, decided to take a look around the complex.

Long Beach is known for lots of things but one thing it is notorious for is bike theft. There are chop shops all over the town and it’s not uncommon to see a bike locked to a bike rack one day and have it stripped of everything from its frame by the next. The buzzards will pick at it until there’s only a skeleton and then eventually, the skeleton is taken.

It’s also not uncommon to see people riding bikes and carrying other bikes or parts, sometimes at breakneck speed and against red lights. And chances are those parts will get sold to buy drugs – like the crack I saw people smoking outside the building today. I may show you the beautiful parts of town on Instagram but oh, it can be so so ugly, too.

So I walked around in a haze but kept my eyes out for any person riding a bike. No dice, like I expected they’d come running back anyway.

When I came back to my desk I sent an email to the office manager and HR letting them know what had happened. I also sent Ann a message asking her to look for the paperwork for the bike since I thought we had it in our computer desk. She looked and only found one for my bike, purchased in 2007. I needed it for the serial number, not a requirement when filing a report but a big plus because if it’s sold and the number scanned, it will immediately show up as stolen and the ball will get rolling.

But I thought I had taken a picture of it for this purpose. The problem now was looking for it in all of those “Phone Pix” folders on my external drive, filed by month and year. I thought the easier way to find the number would be to call the shop where I purchased the bike so when I got home, I gave them a call.

It turns out they upgraded their POS system in 2013 and have no records of sales before that. My receipt is in triplicate so that gives you an idea of when I bought the bike.

Not giving up hope just yet, I turned on the computer and started looking for that one picture – and I found it in the first “Phone Pix” folder I looked in.

Now that I had it, I filed a police report and also reported it as stolen on 529 Garage/National Bike Registry as well as BikeIndex.org. Aside from checking online classifieds and apps like OfferUp and LetGo, this is pretty much all I can do for the moment.

But I wasn’t done.

On Wednesday, with the theft of my bike still oh-so-fresh in my mind, I checked out one of the company bikeshare bikes and hit the town. Normally, I follow a pretty organized route and end up riding between 3-5 miles in an hour but on this day, I managed to cover over 8 miles in that same time on a cheap bike. Adrenaline is an amazing thing.

I rode to some areas I knew were a hotbed for illegal activity, including chop shops and outside public restrooms along the beach. I kept an eye out for anyone riding a bike and gave them a good look as they passed. I even followed one of those shady characters riding a bike with parts for about a mile before I had to make my way back to the office.

And I’ve decided that should I see someone riding my bike, they are getting chased if I’m riding (remember our friend adrenaline?) or standing in their way if I’m on foot. I’m taking it back, no questions asked.

But there’s a very good chance that I’ll never see it around the office. As I had mentioned, the stairway is public access and anyone from any of the businesses can use it. But considering that most of the businesses there close up at 6 pm and there are construction and after-hours cleaning crews roaming around, there’s a possibility that someone outside of the company took it and doesn’t live locally. Think about it: the one time I don’t lock my bike it gets stolen, which leads me to believe that someone had their eye on it for a long time and they saw the opportunity to take it.

With that in mind, I posted this sign on the wall near the bike rack. Hopefully dangling the carrot of a reward will get them thinking.

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And that’s all I can do for now. While I’m better, I’m still pissed that someone thought it was hunky dory to steal my bike. I’ve been checking the bike rack since the company email blast went out and I posted this hoping just maybe the cocksu…thief had a change of heart.

I recall back in the day when I had a Schwinn beach cruiser stolen from me outside a liquor store where I was playing Asteroids. Luckily, it had a bike license and was somehow recovered and returned to me.

Today, with the world so connected, I’m hopeful that this bike will be recovered in a timely manner.

But until then…I wait.

As for the thief, fuck you. To the moon and back.

Hiking to the Hollywood Sign


It’s become a thing with me to not make a big deal about my birthday – I just don’t. In fact up until a few years ago, I worked on my birthday because I felt like it.

But with this job giving me Personal Days and whatnot, I decided last year to take the day off and hit all the local eateries that were offering free birthday foods (I started signing up in November 2016 for every one I could find). It was fun but still just…meh.

So about a month before The Big 49, I had decided to do something different and something I had always wanted to do: hike to the Hollywood sign. It used to be pretty easy to access but over the years, the locals got tired of tourists and adventurers parking on the street and the sign was an easy target for vandals as well.

That’s no longer the case. It’s clean, guarded 24/7, and there is no longer parking on Beechwood Drive. Things have definitely changed.

Knowing this, I had to figure out a few things before I made my way up there, like parking and, you know, which trails to take. But once I did I was pretty excited to start my local adventure.

It took about an hour – typical drive time – to get to Canyon Drive, the place where the trails begin. And because it was the middle of the week I had no trouble finding a parking spot. On the weekend? Forget it.

So with my backpack strapped on my back, GoPro* mounted to a stick in hand, I locked up the car and made my way.

Before you venture in, there’s a map of all of the trails you can take in the area. It’s hard to believe this is in Los Angeles, right?

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The fire danger is always high around here

As part of my pre-hike preparation I had already looked up all the trails and marked my intended route on my Endomondo fitness tracking app so I wouldn’t get lost. Naturally, I took the longest route which is a little over 5k (3.22 miles). Because I’m a fool.

Need proof? Look at the picture below. This is near the start of the trail and you can barely see the sign or the radio/TV towers on top of Mt. Lee.

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I would get there eventually but oh, there are hills to climb. This was maybe just under a mile into the hike.

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It was about here when I learned something: hiking is not walking. I normally walk at a brisk pace and I started out that way but it sure didn’t last. I toned it down a bit for the rest of my trek.

The trails are clearly marked and that’s a good thing. A bunch of hills and valleys later, I came across this sign and took a little break for air and water. Just under a mile to go!

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While on the way up, I passed a few groups of tourists riding horseback on the trail. From what I could gather, they only stay on the dirt trails and don’t ride up to the sign – it’s much to steep for them. But wow, they are such majestic creatures, aren’t they?

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Here’s a little something you may not know. From a distance, the Hollywood sign looks all nice and straight but if you look closer at the image below, you’ll see just how misaligned it really it. In fact, the first O looks to be the farthest out of them all.

And hey, I’m getting closer!

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This is the final trail: Mt. Lee Drive. This wraps around and ends at the Hollywood sign.

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If you look to the right, you get a spectacular view of the valley. In the dead center of this image are a few studios including Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Animation, Warner Bros. Studios, etc.

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This plaque is sitting just before you turn the corner and reach the sign. The donor list includes Hugh Hefner and a handful of studios.

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Finally, just over an hour from when I started, I had reached my destination. And was it ever worth it.

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And did you know there was a lake up here? That would be Lake Hollywood (duh) and the Hollywood Reservoir.

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Here’s what all those towers look like up close.

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Life’s little moments are worth celebrating.

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Just after this picture was taken, I decided to have a seat and snack on the banana and protein bar I had packed. That’s when my phone rang. It was Mom calling to wish me a happy birthday.

“Are you at work?”

“Um. No. But you’ll never guess where I am,” I told her.

“Oh no. Where are you,” she asked, slightly concerned.

“I’m on top of Mt. Lee. I just hiked up to the Hollywood sign.” There was a moment of silence.

“Oh my…the Hollywood sign?” Her concern turned into a little bit of excitement once she realized I had made it and everything was fine. We talked for a little bit – definitely a surreal moment – before she let me go so that she could tell my brother to call me.

I finished my conversations and noshing on whatever snacks I had and made my way back down the trail. But if you think that’s it, you’re wrong! There was one more stop: to the Batcave (aka Bronson Canyon)!

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This is it, the one that Batmobile drove out of in the original Batman TV series. You can see a then-and-now on this Instagram post. The cave is manmade and aside from Batman, has been used in a slew of TV shows and movies.

Me, unkempt, in a cave. Because why not.

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But just because it’s manmade doesn’t mean you won’t find anything interesting in there. While I was walking through, a couple was pointing a flashlight into a small hole – there was a baby bat inside.

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The video I shot gives you a better idea of what we were looking at. I maxed out my zoom since I didn’t want to frighten the little guy.

So with that being my final stop, I was done. And in case you’re wondering what all the meandering looks like, here you go:

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The green line is speed; the gray line indicates elevation which started out at 646 ft. and ended at 1,696 ft. for a gain of 1,050 ft.

Here are the stats Apple Health gave me for the entire day:

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94 floors? Holy moly. No wonder I was sore the rest of the week.

If you’re ever in the area, by all means take some time and do this. The trails to the sign aren’t terribly rugged but I wouldn’t recommend wearing flimsy shoes, either. A good pair of running shoes ought to do the trick as would a few bottles of water and some snacks.

Oh, and definitely bring your phone for pictures (and a portable charger). The view from the top is worth every step you take.

All in all, it was a good time and something I would definitely do again. Next time I’d like to take a trail in to Griffith Park or Griffith Observatory, one of my favorite places in L.A.

The question is: what will I do next year for my 50th?

I have no idea, but there’s time to start planning.

—-

*I’m still in the process of editing the video on my phone. Steven Spielberg I ain’t.

The Weekend, Plus A Late Friday Five: Rockit


First off, it seems blogging is becoming more difficult as my computer is taking much too long to respond to just about anything. But the stupid thing is pretty old and considering we didn’t pay a dime for it, I guess I can’t complain.

No. Wrong. I can complain. It sucks. Come on, it’s a Gateway. Remember those big boxes with cow print on them? Yeah, it’s that old.

Second, I went for a run yesterday for the first time on a long time, taking a break from my usual Saturday morning walk. It happened for two reasons: 1) we had things to do that day so I needed to get home sooner and 2) I needed to kick things up a notch. My time wasn’t impressive but overall it was a great run. Oh, and getting a little runner’s high near the end of Mile 4 was pretty awesome. Yes, it was only five miles total but that endorphin release felt good and helped carry me home.

Then today I rode 20 miles to the beach and back. I see weird things sometimes and have to document them, because that’s just how I am.

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And I also played some baseball with the kid in the afternoon. I know one thing: tomorrow at work, my legs are going to be ridiculously sore but it will be ridiculously worth it.

So with my weekend out of the way, let’s jump into the Friday Five: Rockit

What’s your favorite instrumental hit song?

Let’s start with this. Are you old enough to remember when instrumentals were a thing? Songs like Chariots of Fire, Love’s Theme, Music Box Dancer, Rainforest, Nadia’s Theme and Joy? Older folk like me lived in great times when instrumentals were indeed a thing as were “disco versions” of popular movie themes (Star Wars and CE3K) which were, for all intents and purposes, pretty horrible. That’s not to mention all those TV themes by Mike Post that got radio play. Those days are definitely gone.

Anyway, to answer the question, mine is really a tie between two songs:

“Chase” by Giorgio Moroder and Harold Faltermyer (from the movie Midnight Express)

“Crockett’s Theme” by Jan Hammer

Both are quintessential synthesizer songs. Both way too cool for me to handle. And in a secret life, I’m surrounded by keyboards like Tony Banks can play them perfectly.

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What’s a good movie with rockets in in it?

Oh, a movie question. Dang it. I don’t watch many, let alone any featuring rockets. But for the sake of answering the question let’s go with The Rocketeer. The ‘30s setting is fantastic, I like the plot, and you gotta love how the Griffith Observatory looks exactly the same to this day (with the exception of their recent – we’re talking years ago – expansion).

In 1977, Voyager I took off on its very long journey, loaded with two golden records containing sounds meant “to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for future humans, who may find them,” according to Wikipedia.  The contents were chosen by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan, but if Dr. Sagan called you today (you know, from beyond) and said there was room for ten more minutes of music and he was letting you choose it, what would you fill the ten minutes with?

I would ask him for an extra 41 second to accommodate Genesis’ “Duke’s Travels/Duke’s End” from their Duke album, one of my all-time favorites. It’s just brilliant.

What’s something you know about constellations?

I know that if you have never seen Saturn (746 million miles from earth) or Jupiter (356-601 million miles from earth) through a telescope with your own eyes, you are missing out on something special. It’s a very humbling experience. Also, if you sit and stare up at the night sky, letting your eyes adjust to the darkness, you will see a lot of things floating around up there which can be anything from space junk to small meteors.

When did you last spend time in a rocking chair?

Our house has no rocking chairs and for the sake of staying young, it probably never will. But I did sit in one a few weekends ago at the in-laws’ house, which has one in every room if I’m not mistaken.

Well, that’s it. I have a ton of pictures to transfer from my phone but I don’t feel doing it tonight, especially with the way the computer has been acting.

And by the way, no, “Chariots of Fire” is not on any of my Spotify playlists for when I go running. Just had to point that out.

“Eye of the Tiger” on the other hand…