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.

Photo Feb 11, 7 53 50 AM

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.


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…


Fifty Shades of Dave

Photo Jan 29, 3 06 29 PMI don’t know what things are like in your state but in California, a trip to the DMV – Department of Motor Vehicles – is always an adventure.

And after taking my motorcycle exam a few times over the last few years, I thought I was through with my DMV visits. How wrong I was.

Here’s what happened. Ann’s birthday is in March and she got her driver’s license renewal letter in the mail well in advance. With my birthday only weeks away, I had yet to receive anything and time was running out so a call to the DMV was in order. And if you’ve ever tried calling the California DMV you know it’s a real pain to get anywhere. So what did I do?

Got on the Tweeter and asked @CA_DMV my question, naturally. I had an answer and phone number in a matter of hours. Ain’t technology grand?

I called and got through right away – this was their main office in Sacramento, I believe. I told the clerk my situation and she asked for my information so she could see what was going on.

It turns out that there was a hold on my regular Class C license after I failed to convert my motorcycle permit into a full-blown endorsement, meaning I didn’t renew or take the skills exam. And because of that hold, the renewal forms weren’t sent to me.

I told the clerk I wasn’t riding anymore and I wasn’t interested in the endorsement. She then cancelled the hold so that I could go to the DMV and fill out the forms to renew my license.

The problem there: getting an appointment. Ann tried for days to get one at our local office in Long Beach and couldn’t. She’s going to one in Orange County later in the month. She has time still. Me? Not so much.

After the call, I headed back to my work desk and immediately went to the DMV website in the hopes of snagging an appointment before my birthday/expiration date. No chance, I figured.

I ended up getting one a few days later – in Long Beach, no less. I had to text Ann and gloat about it. She replied with nasty Bitmojis.

Monday comes around and I leave work for a bit to take care of this business. I managed to find a parking spot no problem and since I had an appointment, didn’t have to wait with the garlic-eating masses outside who didn’t have an appointment.

When I was called I told the clerk the nature of my business. She gave me the form and I filled it out with only one notable change: my weight. I added a few pounds to it. Hell, I’m honest.

I went back and she double-checked it, then issued me a number to see another clerk. I waited maybe 10 minutes before I was called to another booth.

The clerk who helped me was a younger guy and rather affable, more than most others at the DMV. We chit-chatted as he went over my renewal form. All was going well until he spoke up about one detail.

“Hmm. On the computer, it has your hair listed as gray,” he said, pointing at his monitor with a black Paper Mate pen.

Strange. My current license has my hair as black. Then again when I renewed it I still had black hair. Then it occurred to me that when I went for my motorcycle permit, I must have written in “gray” for my hair color. He continued.

“So which one do you want me to use?” I was writing out a check for the renewal fee at the time. I put the pen down.

“Well, being I plan on letting nature take its course, let’s go with gray. I’m not bald and I’ve no plans to dye it. In fact I just had an inch-and-a-half trimmed off. Shit was past my shoulders.”

He was cool. Casual profanity didn’t phase him.

“Really? No way!”

We then chatted a bit more, mostly about aging, as he continued to process my information. He had to be in his early 30s and I gave him a little advice (as if my being nearly 49 qualifies me to be an expert on growing old).

“Man, just enjoy yourself. Stay young at heart. That alone will keep you going. And when your hair starts turning gray, embrace it and be glad you have it.”

And with that, he thanked me and sent me to the photo booth for my picture. Oh, and I had to take the written exam – again – and then wait about 10 days for my new license.

It arrived a few days ago. And although I’m thinner than I was in my previous license photo, the adjusted weight is definitely closer to reality.

And the hair? Proudly abbreviated as GRY.

Because this head will never see a drop of Just For Men.

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.

Face Your Fears: The Third Chapter

In this seemingly endless series of entries that detail my fear of all things dentistry, I think I finally make peace with it all.

Today was the day of perhaps the biggest procedure of all the ones I’ve got waiting for me: the dreaded root canal. Just the mere mention of it to some will make them cringe; for dental chickens like me, it’s more like someone setting my hair on fire (and as of now, there’s lots to burn since I’m letting it grow).

To be perfectly honest, the procedure itself wasn’t all that bad but what happened during the whole thing was definitely a bit discouraging. Let’s just say I got there at 7 am and didn’t leave until 11:30 am. I’ll get to that later.

At 7 am sharp, I was taken to the chair and prepped for the procedure. That, of course, meant having my cheek injected with Novocain. While I discovered that many things in the industry have changed, the one thing that hasn’t is the size of the syringe and the pressure of the needle as its inserted into your cheek. Still slightly painful, still freaky and nightmarish to witness.

Thankfully, that would be about the only discomfort I would feel.

The doctor told me to rub my cheek in order to get the Novocain working and boy, it did. As he saw other patients, I slowly felt the right side of my face going numb. It’s always a weird sensation, especially when you have an itch in the region that is numb. How is that even possible? And how do you satisfy that? I tried to no avail.

Then the fun began. Once he gave me the sign that he was going to begin, I donned my Bluetooth headphones — better sound and no wires to complicate matters — and picked some music to listen to.

First he had to remove some decay from the tooth which was already chipped. Scrape, scrape, scrape and a little drilling. Afterward, he started to dig into the tooth in order to reach the nerve which, if it were still healthy and alive, would have bled when he finally reached it.

That’s when I realized I hated the smell of my teeth being obliterated by water-jet drilling instruments but also remembered how it used to be with actual drills. The sound is now much less frightening and the music drowned it out so it was a wash.

His assistant kept adding dilator to the area in order to open things up but it yielded no results with all the excavating. That’s where we hit a snag. The nerve was dead and there was no clear indication of when they would reach it. As a result, he had to keep taking x-rays in order to determine how much closer he was.

In between delays, he took time to juggle his other patients while I sat and waited for him to return: checking social media, texting Ann, taking pictures killed time.

Photo Jul 10, 10 35 33 AM

Yes, even in the dentist’s chair, I’m being all artsy-fartsy.

There would several of these delays until the x-rays showed that the nerve was finally reached. By now, the pressure or potential pain of the procedure wasn’t on my mind. What was driving me crazy was having my mouth open for so long while he worked on the tooth. Granted I shut it as he worked on other patients but my jaw was becoming incredibly sore after a few hours, and I would be in the chair until about 11:30 am or about 4.5 hours total.

Now if you’ve never had a root canal done I won’t bore you (see what I did there?) with the details. I’ll just let this picture sum it up.

Photo Jul 10, 11 00 49 AM

See all those miniature drills and pointy things? Once the hole was made in my tooth, every single one of them found its way down said hole and I swear it seemed like he used a thousand of them.

Photo Jul 10, 9 47 57 AM

Success! And digital x-rays freaking rock. If you’re old enough to remember when x-rays had to be developed in a darkroom, you know what I mean.

Once this goal was achieved, more scraping and drilling followed and after that, filling the hole with silicone and other thin, long, red needle-like things. And again, it seemed like there were thousands of them being dropped in there.

Finally, the home stretch. Bonding was added to make the tooth feel like a normal tooth again and after all of that, we were done. I was beginning to wonder if just pulling the tooth would have been easier but that’s why he’s a dentist and I’m not.

When I got home, the family expected me to be a drooling, disheveled mess but much to their dismay, I wasn’t and immediately made lunch because I was so freaking hungry after all that. It was hard to enjoy a hot dog with a sore jaw and the Novocain still not entirely worn off but I needed something in my stomach.

And while I didn’t do much but sit there and listen to music, I was exhausted when it was all over and thankful I took one of my paid Summer Days to stay home and take a nap afterward. Sure I could have gone to work but a nap felt so much better.

This is not the end of things by far, but I don’t think any of them will compare to this. My dentist was incredibly patient with me and explained everything in detail. An excellent job and I couldn’t be happier with him. And my wallet is a little shorter now but insurance paid a whopping 80% of the procedure so there’s that, too.

I’ll definitely be ready for the next thing, and it’s safe to say that my fear has finally gone away – even if my jaw is still sore as I write this.

Face Your Fears, Part Deux

About two months ago, I had mentioned in a post that it was time to get over my somewhat rational fear of dentists – or at least they work they do – and get the ball rolling with an exam and whatever else the dentist may recommend.

Today was that day. And the results of my visit were anything but favorable.

I went to a local office that has a sparkling reputation on Yelp! and is also where Anthony and my mother-in-law go for cleanings (she usually takes him so they get it done at the same time).

After filling out what seemed like an endless questionnaire regarding my personal health and dental visits, I was called into the back where I took a seat and had a series of 18 x-rays taken.

Things are definitely different now – they are digital. The last time I had them done, you still had to bite down on a small piece of plastic or cardboard whose corners felt pointy when the nurse stuck them in under your tongue. Then they had to develop them. Now you bite down on a device that transmits the image to a computer. So far, so good.

Then the dentist sat down next to me, introduced himself, went over the x-rays and pointed out everything that was wrong in my mouth (aside from the occasional profane language that slips out of it). Next, he let me know what he thought should be done first based on the severity of each condition.

Yeah. There’s that much. Fuuuuu…

It was during this consultation when I explained my fear and he told me that, of course, it wasn’t uncommon. He also told me how some of his patients were actually worse than me. (For privacy, I won’t go into details.) But the fact that I was sitting there speaking to him and preparing myself for whatever treatment he thought necessary put me way ahead of those he mentioned. I was already on the field ready to play; they hadn’t even shown up to the clubhouse.

His first recommendation was simple: bonding my two front teeth, both of which were a bit jagged at the bottom and could possibly chip at any moment. He also explained that this would be a great way to ease myself back into the patient’s chair and dental care as a whole.

And that’s where we started. I asked if I could listen to music during the procedure and he had no objections. In fact they supply their own if you need them but I’m not sure what kind of music I’d be listening to and I’m pretty picky with my headphones, so I used my own earbuds and thank goodness for Spotify Premium and my iPhone.

He told me to raise my left hand if I felt any discomfort during the procedure and amazingly, I didn’t. As he and his assistant blazed through the process of bonding my teeth, Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil kept my mind off of what was doing on inside my mouth. About the only thing that got to me, despite the volume level being somewhat high, was the scraping of the bonding material from the teeth. I feel myself cringing just typing about it.

(Listen to the album here)

And that was it. I had gotten this far and with only a few beads of sweat on my forehead and maybe a slightly left watery eye. And naturally, a sore jaw that is still sore. He told me that if I can survive this procedure with no anesthetic then the next one – a pretty big one – shouldn’t be an issue. He also referred me to an oral surgeon who will be handling the extraction. I’ve seen him before and he’s good, at least from what I can remember with the twilight sedation I was under.

Even so, I’m still worried about the next thing since I’ve never had it done. And after that I’ve got a laundry list of other things that needs to be checked off. Strangely, the tooth with missing parts wasn’t the worst one. Sure, it will still have to get extracted but the x-rays showed that another one that I knew was slightly chipped had worse damage to it, and that’s the next thing to be taken care of in a few weeks.

We had planned on taking a road trip to San Francisco this year but unfortunately, it looks like the summer will be have to be scheduled around all of my procedures. Additionally, the job gives us three paid Summer Days that we can take for three-day weekends if we wish. Those plus my remaining sick hours and possibly some vacation days will most likely used for days I need to have work done.

Then there’s paying for all of this. Even with insurance, it’s goodbye, Vacation Fund!

But at least I’ve taken the first step toward having better dental hygiene. It will take some time and money to get it all right but I know it will definitely be for the best.