Friday Five (Late Edition) – Returns


I was on Facebook for a bit today and noticed that one of the humor pages I follow had sold out and was starting to post clickbait and crap stories, the latter with the formulaic, millennial-appealing headlines of  “[noun] [verb] [something potentially outlandish], and [group reacts].”

Gag. That’s the last act of someone who cares more about the revenue those stories might generate as opposed to having a human element tied to their page. For me, it’s easier to unfollow those pages than them getting anything from my clicks. And while I may have ads on here, believe me when I say that I’ve earned zero from them. You’re free to ignore them or not click on them – don’t care either way!

Anyway, I can promise you that as long as I’m around to keep this dog-and-pony show alive that there is indeed a human behind it, one who just lit a fruity scented candle on his desk and is using that and the illumination from the monitor as his only light sources. I like it this way.

Now that that little diatribe is done, I thought I’d use the old Friday Five standby to get myself blogging again. And I thought the topic would be fun so let’s get to it.

Friday Five: Returns

What was the last item you returned or exchanged at a store?

I am a notorious non-gift-returner because I just think it’s rude (even if the giver never finds out). The only time I will return something is when it’s an article of clothing that looked better on the mannequin or just didn’t fit right. Other than that, I don’t care how bad the gift is, I will not part with it and most likely end up giving it away years later. That was until one of our White Elephant gift exchanges at work last Christmas (oh, George!) when I “won” this:

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I have never been more pissed off about a gift in my life – seriously, I was not happy. Yes, I understand the purpose of the White Elephant. Yes, I should be grateful. But fucking hell! A Saved By the Bell fucking board game? I was not “so excited” to play it because I didn’t and since it had a “Target exclusive” label on it, took it right back the next day. I didn’t get full credit since I didn’t have the receipt but it’s a small price to pay for not having the likeness of Screech in my home. I ended up buying an exercise ball with the gift card credit. Lesson learned: always steal at White Elephants. At least you might end up with something good.

When did you last leave the house and then turn right back around and go back inside?

Sadly, I almost do this on a daily basis. It’s like I have OCD about checking to make sure the doors are locked and the toaster unplugged, even if nobody used it that day. Wanna know what’s weird about the toaster thing? I have no problem with Ann leaving the crock pot on all day while we’re at work. Go figure that shit out. I’ll go back inside if I’ve forgotten something (rare occasion) but I do go back to check the doors.

What’s the latest you’ve ever returned a library book?

Li…brar…y? Oh. I’ve got it. I visit them so infrequently that I’ve forgotten how it’s pronounced. But when I have I can assure you that I returned the books on time, all the time, and sometimes sooner than their return date – like a week sooner. I’m such a solid reader [insert strong arm emoji here]. Besides, punctuality is one thing I’m a stickler about.

What location among places you’ve traveled would you most like to see again?

Having flown a grand total of two times in my life, I’m anything but a jet-set traveler. In fact, outside of the the states I’ve driven to (Arizona and Nevada), the only other two states I’ve visited have been Arkansas and Missouri, and Missouri was only hours at St. Louis Airport. But I have taken a cruise to that beautiful shithole country of Mexico and I would love to go back and explore a little deeper than our cruise destination of Ensenada. It’s where my heritage lies and visiting would mean a lot.

What’s an unlikely movie sequel you’d like to see?

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Big Lebowski so regardless of how horrible the trailer for its unlikely sequel might be, I’d more than likely catch it first-run. This Dude would abide.

And that Friday 5 is done.

Oh! I can’t believe it’s here already but February 1st marks my second anniversary at NR (or Not Ralphs as I referred to it in this post). It’s my official hire date although if you count my freelance time, I’ve been there for closer to 2.5 years. Either way, I’m still incredibly happy, fortunate, and thankful to be there.

Alright. Time to hit the exercise ball. Or nap…maybe on the exercise ball…

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Really Quick…


Okay folks, there are a few things I’ve gotta say but I’ll be quick about it so I won’t take up much of your time.

  • The blog domain has been renewed. Yes, I’ve gone ahead and renewed this stupid domain of mine for the umpteenth year, for whatever reason. I was hoping maybe some dedicated SpongeBob fan would pony up some bucks for it but it hasn’t happened yet. So you’ve got me for another year, which leads to…
  • I’m sort of taking a break. I do this now and then so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody, but the reason this time is simply because my eyes can’t take it. This last week at the office has been pretty brutal on them so I think I need a new prescription and until then, I need less time straining my eyes whether it be on a tablet, phone, monitor, or a book (because y’all know how much I love to read). And considering that I’m staring at a monitor all day proofreading and editing disclaimers that nobody ever reads, you can imagine how my eyes feel. It’s been fun.

If there is anything good about the last few weeks it’s that I’ve avoided catching the flu that has taken down so many people at the office. There are still people coughing and wheezing, plus a few that are still out. It’s been crazy.

That’s the update. I’ll be back around when I think my eyes can do the job without watering or when I get my arse to the oculist for an exam and then new glasses.

All In Vein


American-Red-Cross-Logo-VerticalA few posts ago I had mentioned how humble bragging is a pet peeve of mine. But for the sake of writing a blog post and telling a story, there’s really no other way to talk about it without saying what I’ve been doing so let’s get to it.

Since last year, I’ve been making regular blood donations to my local chapter of the American Red Cross. It started at a time of need and but decided to make it a regular part of my life shortly afterward. Plus, you get unlimited chocolate chip cookies and orange juice – the only time it’s acceptable to consume such a combination – when you’re done.

The process is relatively simple and expedited if you fill out the questionnaire online prior to your visit, otherwise you’ll be sitting at a computer in an exam room doing it. The questions range from recent places traveled to medications taken to sexual activity – mostly revolving around prostitution and homosexual experiences, an immediate disqualification if any answers are “yes.” The latter has been a controversial practice for some time.

In the exam room, you’re verbally asked even more questions – name, address, etc. – to ensure that you’re in the right state of mind. They also check blood pressure, heart rate, and poke your finger for a sample to test for iron content. Once that’s done, you sign the form and off you go to the chair where they ask you one last time your name and address.

And that’s when my problems started.

Before they begin, naturally the nurses have to find a vein. I usually stick with my right arm since it’s my dominant and can squeeze the heck out of that little foam-rubber propane can they make you squeeze every 10 seconds after the needle is in your arm.

But there was a problem last night.

When the nurse started to check for a vein, they couldn’t quite pinpoint its location. Veins will move and it seemed my was dancing like The O’Jays during this exam. It was that difficult to locate. But after a few more tries the vein was found, site marked with a pen, area prepped with iodine, sphygmomanometer tightened, propane can squeezed three times, and needle inserted.

I’ve never looked at the needle. I don’t want to see it.

There’s a little discomfort when it’s inserted but it goes away once it’s in the right place. They’ll know this because the blood will immediately start flowing down the tube and into the bag. But there was no blood last night.

The nurse asked if they could move the needle around a little bit and see what was going on. I agreed since they had a little difficulty finding it last time. After a few minutes of trying, a second nurse noticed and asked the first one if she could help. He agreed and asked if she could try, to which I said yes.

She couldn’t find it either, and my arm was getting a little tender with all the poking and prodding.

Enter the third nurse. She came by and asked if she could try. By now with all the previous insertions and relocating of the needle, things were becoming much more uncomfortable. Then she moved the needle a little too deep there was so much pain.

I winced and said that it hurt – there’s only so many ways I can pretend to hide my discomfort and I had had enough.

“Do you want me to keep trying or pull it,” she asked. I answered without hesitation.

“Pull it.” It was then that, for the first time, I saw the needle and it’s a pretty good size. I’m not sure why I looked, maybe just because I getting a little anxious and wanted this to be over.

And so it was. The needle was pulled and all the nurses who tried to get blood from me apologized for not being able to get the job done. The site was cleaned, bandaged, and I was on my way.

I was truly disappointed. According to Red Cross literature, one donation can help save up to three lives and last night I wasn’t able to do that.

I’ll be back to try again but much like my dental appointments, of which I still have a few left to fulfill, I need a break for the time being.

Hopefully then we will have success and my efforts will not have been in vein.

Yeah. I went there.

 


 

Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t for you. Disaster or not, the American Red Cross is always in need of donors and blood of every type. If you’re a regular donor, thank you. If it’s been a while since your last donation, schedule an appointment online or through their app. And if you’ve never done it before, see if you meet the criteria and if you do, schedule an appointment to get the ball rolling. Thanks.

2017: My Year In Review


Happy New Year, all two of you! Glad you’re still around reading my infrequent posts.

I’ve decided to go ahead and keep my tradition of Year In Review posts going for yet another year with  pictures of the most memorable things that happened. Let’s go!

January 2017

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I rang in the New Year right by going for an early run/walk. Seeing the sunrise on January 1st was pretty metaphoric – highly recommended. Personally, I think sunsets are overrated. Sunrises are where it’s at.

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I bid a fond farewell to my Yamaha Zuma 125 which was damaged beyond repair in my accident of October 2016. Bummer.

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The family went to the Norton Simon Museum. Seeing actual brushstrokes on canvas by the likes of Picasso and Van Gogh is nothing short of mesmerizing.

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Took the kid to another Dodger Fan Fest where organist Dieter Ruehle played the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show since she had passed away a few days earlier. Very nice.

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I reminisced on the inauguration of Barack Obama (seen here at my employer at the time in 2009). Now we have to deal with daily shitstorms of tweets and a strange obsession with Hilary Clinton from our current “leader” as well as ending everything 44 did while in office. I’m not bitter. I’m pissed. And please remember to vote.

February 2017

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I celebrated one official year with my new employer! (The last list of anniversaries has me as being hired in August 2015, though.)

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The family had a group birthday outing to Benihana to celebrate all of our birthdays since they fall so close together. It’s a nice experience but I don’t think the prices justifies it – even with a $30 birthday voucher it was still over $100!

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I saw this couple wandering near the office and held one of the reptiles for a moment. Some people are freaked out by snakes but I find them amazing creatures, and it was cool to hold one this size.

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Speaking of the office, I didn’t realize how close I worked to some of the locations used in the classic movie It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Here are some then-and-now shots, literally walking distance from the job.

March 2017

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Ann’s real birthday!

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Anthony’s real birthday! I’m officially the father of a teenager (and yes, it’s everything you’ve heard it was).

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I took Anthony to a Breakfast Club Cruise-In at the Petersen Automotive Museum. So many great cars.

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We went to the beach in San Clemente after outlet shopping. Note the length of my hair. Ahem.

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In another non-blogged story, I found this little hummingbird outside the office lying on its back with feet in the air and wings spread out. Thinking it had died, I picked it up and looked for a place to put it. Then I noticed its eyes still moving so I stroked its little chest for a bit and it perked up, rolled over and stood in my hand as you see it here. I also removed the feather stuck it its eye. I then placed it in a planter outside the office. Hopefully the little guy (or gal) turned out okay.

April 2017

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Grand Prix time! The office is almost deserted on Free Friday for practice and qualifying.

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I participated in a local Beach Streets event, my first one ever. It was a lot of fun, plus the exercise didn’t hurt.

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In March, a twist of an ankle during a playground football revealed a fracture, but that didn’t stop Anthony from enjoying a Las Vegas vacation! We had a blast and visited quite a few places.

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The flower display at Bellagio was spectacular.

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Nelson Ghost Town is as picturesque as you want a place to be, but load up on gas before you go – there’s none for miles and it’s very remote.

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And because Anthony likes Tanked! we had to visit the place where it is filmed.

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Standing on the bridge overlooking Hoover Dam. Strangely, despite my acrophobia, I didn’t mind being up here. And that hair…

May 2017

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We visited JPL and just nerded out. Also, Anthony spotted Kevin Sussman, aka Stuart from Big Bang Theory, while we were there and took this selfie with him. He’s real good at that it seems.

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While riding my bike on lunch, I came across a nice VW van that looked familiar. Some quick research confirmed it belonged to comedian and Long Beach resident Gabriel Iglesias. So I sat and waited for him to return to it so I could get a picture with him, and hair…uh, here it is.

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I discovered a Friday farmers market near the office. It’s a happening place.

June 2017

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A coworker upgraded to the iPhone 7 Plus and wanted to know how Portrait mode worked so I willingly posed for them.

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The Dew Tour skateboarding event returned and I took tons of action shots. Parking wasn’t an issue – I walked from the office.

And Ann and I celebrated 24 years of wedded bliss!

July 2017

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I finally took the leap and got my long overdue dental work started. You can read about it here, here, and here.

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A new family member! The Kitten Formerly Known as Prince became Benny, or Bento as I call him. Notice Monte in the background not having any of it, although now they are best buddies.

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You just can’t prepare yourself for some things, and the passing of a friend is one of them. Ray was just 44 when he passed away in his sleep of a pulmonary embolism and it was a shock to all of us. I miss him dearly, especially our discussions about our beloved Dodgers. Vaya con Dios, amigo.

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Pow! Wow! Long Beach returned and I spent my lunch hour visiting the local murals and speaking to a few of the artist, including “Bryan” Blue seen here with his work in progress.

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Promo shot for my new album. Not. Hair level: near the shoulders.

August 2017

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The Great Partial Solar Eclipse! Hair official longer than Ann’s.

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My second biking event, CicLAvia ran from my hometown to San Pedro. Read about it here.

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Dodger game.

September 2017

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Look! Another Dodger game!

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Ray.

October 2017

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I took over Depeche Mode’s Facebook page for a day which included attending a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! You can read about it here.

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Year 8 of the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour and Year 3 of the combo 5k went in the books.

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Local wildfires made for an eerily beautiful backdrop but the air quality meant not going outside for an extended period of time.

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Our annual family picture at the local pumpkin patch! We started in 2004.

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Yeah so…Halloween at the office went a little something like this.

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My Dodgers made it to the World Series!

November 2017

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We went to a local event and saw some planes up close. That’s Anthony and his grandfather who, at age 80, will still run circles around you – even after a quadruple bypass years ago. The plane in the background is the Boeing C-17, one he helped build.

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Anthony wanted to see firsthand what the Black Friday fuss was about so we took him to Target. This was the line to get in.

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He wasn’t impressed.

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My Dodgers lost the World Series but stocking up on merchandise from their amazing season at deep discounts was fun. Wait ‘til this year…

December 2017

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I stood where Jim Morrison stood.

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I took a few vacation days and did a little photo essay of Los Angeles or the Theatre District at least. Going solo, I had all the time in the world to take well over 350 shots and not worry about driving (Go Metro!). Images sans descriptions can be seen here or feel free to scour my Instagram account for them. The highlight was getting kicked out of a theatre I wasn’t supposed to be in but hey, if you give me and open door…

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I bid a fond farewell to Pat DiNizio, singer/songwriter for The Smithereens, who passed away suddenly. While not a household name, this New Jersey band rocked with the best of them and put on one hell of a live show. We’ll miss you, Pat.

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I got to meet legendary DJ Richard Blade at a book signing for his autobiography World In My Eyes. This guy got Depeche Mode their big break in L.A. and has hung out with just about every mover and shaker of the ‘80s New Wave movement. If you love music from that era or interested how he got started then you must pick up this book. I’m the proud owner of a signed First Edition!

And that hair. Mine, not his.

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Last and most recently, I took Anthony with me on another photo excursion to Los Angeles while on Christmas vacation. This is a view from the observation deck of Los Angeles City Hall and it’s one of the coolest things you can do while visiting the city. Bonus: totally free. Just pass through a security checkpoint manned by LAPD’s finest and head up to the 26th floor.

That’s a wrap. What’s on the slate for 2018?

  • Surviving this joke of a presidency if we don’t get nuked first
  • Getting my rear back in shape, although running is getting more difficult (which I attribute to the added weight)
  • Not a lot of traveling, just staying local
  • Trying new things
  • Enjoying the last year of my 40s

Oh, the hair. Did I mention that at all? The reasons for letting it grow are simple:

  • Because I can. Most guys my age are either dyeing what’s left of theirs, bald, or shaved.
  • I don’t work for the Walt Disney Company where grooming standards are ridiculously strict (yeah yeah, it’s all for show). My employer is filled with creatives, most of whom are very much into individual expression via colored hair, tattoos, dress, art, etc. We’re free spirits so being different is part of our culture and perfectly acceptable.
  • I’ve never done this before so I thought I’d give it a shot.

And there you go. Happy 2018!