The New Reality

Every night at 9:30, I would hear the distant rumble of Disneyland fireworks. They have been silenced indefinitely.

When I worked in a grocery store years ago, the job was for all intents and purposes unskilled grunt work that few people respected. It’s now considered “essential” and the workers “on the front lines.”

I used to ride the bus to the office. I’m now working from home until further notice as is my wife.

The kid is out of school indefinitely and his 16th birthday will be “celebrated” with only us.

Things have changed. This is the new reality.

As COVID-19 or coronavirus continues to weave its way into every aspect of our lives and until it is contained or a vaccine is discovered, this is how things will be.

Currently for us in California, pretty much everything but what the governor has deemed “essential” is closed. Beaches, their paths, parks, just about anyplace where people would normally congregate. Salons and barbers as well, meaning lots of bad dye jobs and haircuts.

Exercise is still permitted provided you comply with the mandated social distancing norms: 6 feet of space, no contact with others, etc. I’ve been mindful of these on my walks and bike rides and practically decontaminate myself afterward. With two asthmatics in the house, I must be cautious.

Other than that, and the occasional trip to the store, that’s all I do. The family even less.

Being on lockdown, quarantine, whatever you want to call it is indeed boring but a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus. And oh yeah, washing your damn hands.

So how are we holding up?

Eh, it’s rolling with the punches just like everything else with the notable exception of calling our parents more frequently to check on them, even if they are a bike ride away. It’s also given us more time to do things we’ve been putting off like cleaning the backyard or even just being together — even blogging. Kinda makes you appreciate what you have even more.

And I think that’s evident with the number of individuals and families we see every day either walking, running, riding their bikes. People are getting cabin fever and need to get out, and it’s nice to see them smiling despite the gloom being reported daily.

To that end, I think the media should mention recoveries, severity of conditions, and underlying health problems rather than overall case numbers and deaths, which will unfortunately rise. This site puts all of those into perspective. If you didn’t have time to click the link and read it (but I think you do and did), you’ll see that the total number of cases includes active and closed cases. Of the active cases, 95% are considered mild while the closed cases had an 82% recovery rate (numbers accurate as of this post).

I’m by no means saying to ignore the deaths because that would be an awful thing to say, and my heart goes out to all families and friends who have been personally affected by this. But what I am saying is that the media has the power to influence, as was the case with people panic-buying toilet paper for whatever reason when the news of this virus broke.

That’s why I believe it’s just as important to mention recoveries as part of their daily reports as it would offer a glimmer of hope in what’s become an otherwise somber moment in history.

But hey, that’s just me.

Look, we’ve personally been down strange and scary roads before. We’ve looked death in the face with my wife’s kidney cancer diagnosis and handled it the only way we knew how: by not letting it get the best of any of us and strengthening our family ties. Positivity goes a long way when the odds are against you or even when the future is uncertain.

This virus, however, can be avoided for the most part by simply washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and someone who was the disease. That’s it. In fact here’s a video of a conference call that should put your mind at ease.

It will take some time for us to get back to the way things used to be. But until then, we have to be vigilant and keep practicing the things discussed in the video.

So be smart, be vigilant, be well.

And stay home.

Romantic Comedies

Holy mother of effs, I’m getting old(er).

The family — I refuse to use the currently popular and obnoxious term “fam” — was out decorating for Christmas Saturday night, mostly concentrating on the positioning of our new laser light display.

We’ve been looking at them for some time now and found them on sale at OSH so we caved. And for $20 I have to admit they are pretty spectacular.

The colors, man! The colors! Plus we’re feeling exceptionally lazy this year so we’re only putting this up with a few strings of lights. Humbug!

While all of this was going on, our beloved neighbor* was in his frontyard listening to some music through his Bluetooth speaker. I didn’t really notice it until Ann said something.

Ann: The jackass** is listening to that Sam Smith chick-flick crap that you’d hear in those romcoms.

A beat. I heard what she said loud and clear, but I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by the last word.

Me: What?

Ann: He’s listening to crap you’d hear in a romcom.

There it was again.

Me: (looking bewildered) Uh, say that again?

Ann: What, romcom?

At this point, if this were a phone conversation using a wired GTE Phone Mart landline, I would have tapped it several times on the nearest hard object to make sure I was hearing things correctly then continued.

Me: Yes.

Ann: A romcom? Romantic comedy?

Me: Is that what it means?

Ann: Yeah, I heard it on the radio the morning.

Keep in mind I don’t listen to morning radio — I’m a Spotify guy and hate blithering morning jocks trying to elicit a laugh at any cost. I’m not entirely surprised they’d use such a stupid term.

Me: Oh okay. Well, don’t ever say that around me again.

Ann: What, romcom?

Me: (shuddering) Yes.

Deal.

Here we are taking a break from the decorating in Season 24 of our own little romc…uh, romantic comedy. Hats off to the kid, now taller than Ann and almost eye level with me, for taking this picture.

You all decorated yet?

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Footnotes:

*Sarcasm **Absolute truth

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Composed on an iPhone 7 Plus app using the WordPress app because I’m feeling exceptionally lazy tonight.

Manic Monday

Monday night was crazy.

Earlier in the day, Ann had sent me a picture of my wonderful neighbor — you already know I’m being fatuous — standing in the street next to his car. That is, his damaged car.

Turns out that another resident on our street came flying around the corner at their usual high rate of speed, lost control, and wiped out my neighbor’s car. They flipped their car twice after impact which shows you how ridiculously fast they were going, with a child in the back seat. All are fine and I’m sorry that kid has a mother that doesn’t take his safety into consideration when she gets behind the wheel. They are known for speeding on our street all the time.

Ann told me the sound of the accident was horrible as they usually are but being close to the scene made it sound worse. She was a bit shaken up by it all and I can’t say I blame her. Accidents are truly scary to hear, scarier to see, and even more scary to be in.

That’s when I enter the picture, about 7 miles away.

I was making my way home as usual, taking the same streets as I always do. Just another ho-hum ride home for me.

Then it happened.

Just as I passed an intersection, a car made a right turn into my lane on their red light. Contact was made and the impact threw my scooter out of control. Yes, I was on my scooter.

I went sideways for a moment before finally losing control and falling to the ground, rolling in the street maybe about four times at around 35 MPH. My helmet made contact with the asphalt and got scraped up pretty bad. The impact on the asphalt jammed my scooter’s center stand into the body and it is no longer usable. All of this happened within seconds.

And all I was thinking while I was rolling was “Hang on…hang on…just hang on…don’t let go.” The adrenaline was pumping anyhow and that’s probably what kept me going. The worst thing I could have done was panicked — and I didn’t. Macho man.

Once I stopped rolling and dusted myself off, then having a few choice words with the driver who hit me, I texted Ann the following: “I got hit. I’m fine. Exchanging information.” But with all the chaos happening outside our own house, she left her phone in the kitchen and didn’t get the message until much later.

Daylight was quickly fading into night.

In the midst of all of this, between police questioning and fire trucks and ambulances, I finally got a call from her to make sure I was okay. I assured her I was. Then I got one from Anthony and it was something I never want to hear again. He was absolutely hysterical but again, I was fine and I calmed him down.

My bodily damage? Minimal. I have a few spots of road rash on my left leg (DON’T EVER Google that if you’re not ready for it) and not much else. Thankfully, nothing is broken and I didn’t suffer a concussion with my head hitting the ground. The police made their report, the paramedics checked me out, and I refused to go to the hospital as I felt good enough to ride home, which is exactly what I did.

There are more details but that’s all I’m divulging. I don’t pay my insurance for nothing.

Since I started riding, I’ve always worn a video camera of some kind on my helmet. Not because I was doing stupid tricks to share on YouTube but for the one time I may need it. Plus it keeps my own self honest. And after two years of riding, I thought I was about as safe as they get: lane-splitting only at red lights, avoiding any kind of trouble, etc. I’d never had an accident; just a few close calls that were wiped clean from the memory card of my GoPro. Of course, I keep the clips of interesting things I’ve witnessed on the road.

The camera itself was an investment and a form of insurance provided anything ever happened. And so far I was certain that I’d never need any footage recorded with it.

That was until Monday night. The point of impact, me rolling several times in the street, my feet flying up in the air, my brand new Vans shoes being ruined.  It’s all on there and…well, remember what I said earlier about being in an accident? Try having yours recorded. It really makes you sit back and think.

But perhaps the most gut-wrenching feeling I had was when Anthony called me, crying like never before. There I was with flashing lights all around me trying to reassure him that everything was going to be okay. Easy for me to say.

But I’d heard that cry in the past, and it was from me in 1976 when Mom got the call that Dad had passed away at the hospital. It absolutely tore me up.

And that was it. That ride home on my scooter would be my last.

I took Tuesday off so that I could take care of business. First, I submitted my insurance claim to see if it would cover any damage to my scooter. As of this post, the other guy has yet to contact their insurance or make a claim. I get the feeling they won’t, but that’s when the GoPro footage will come in handy. My company already has a copy of it and all they have to do is send it over to the other insurance company.

Second, I cancelled the insurance on the motorcycle and it’s going to sit in the garage until I can find a buyer. Yes, I’m getting rid of it. I do, however, plan to keep the scooter only because I’m so deep into it with the credit card that was used to pay for it. I won’t get much for it anyhow, and even less now that it’s been in an accident. I don’t know the extent of any damage to the body of my scooter so I’ll have to have it checked.

Third, I went out and got myself a car. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was done riding. It’s a 2015 Nissan Versa Note and I have to admit that since Nissan pays me (although I don’t work for them directly), there’s a sense of pride being behind the wheel of their product. I already know everything about it and I just got it.

Granted the payments aren’t exactly what we negotiated but it’s a small price to pay for my own safety. There’s no doubt I’ll miss riding and all that goes with it, but when I got the scooter it was meant to be a temporary fix until we could find another solution. And it worked, until Monday night.

And I’m willing to hang it up and put all of it behind me.


Because I’m not putting my family through this kind of misery ever again.

Composed with the WordPress iOS app

40

Top: Dad with my brother at Knott’s Berry Farm, 1968. I was still in the oven.

Bottom: me at Knott’s Berry Farm in 2016 with these same ladies.

Today is the 40th anniversary of Dad’s passing. There’s only so many words that can be said, only so many photos that can be posted. But there never seems to be an end to the number of tears I can shed.

I had a hard time dealing with it this year, probably because it was such a monumental anniversary and in two more years, Dad will have been gone exactly the same time he was here: 42 years.

And every year on this date I go through a range of mixed emotions.

It’s not fair. It never was. But that’s okay. No, it really isn’t. I’m being selfish. Time to let it go and move on. So I will. But I won’t.

I hardly spoke a word at the office today and just threw myself into that endless pile of Excel files that need to be edited, cross-referenced for content, etc.  It made the day go faster and kept my mind off of things.

I goofed around with my kid outside for a little bit before the mosquitos started to bite us. Anything to keep my mind going.

And now, aside from blogging, I’m watching the Dodger game. When that’s done I’ll throw myself into something else, maybe play some Xbox one or study one of the languages I’m trying to learn.

Or maybe I’ll just go to bed.

But in any case, I’ll most likely find myself shedding at least one more tear for the man who was loved by all who knew him.

Thank you and goodnight, Dad. I miss you.

Well, This Sucks

I’ve been listening to a lot of Japanese music lately at work courtesy of J1 Radio, in particular their Gold channel which plays some really, really good oldies. No translation needed; the music alone is fantastic.

Although I have to admit that a lot of words are becoming more familiar to me, like “toki doki” (sometimes), “watashi” (I), and “kawaii” (cute). Anyway…

When I hear a song I really like, I’ve gotten into the habit of copying-and-pasting the artist and song title into an email draft and at the end of the day (or couple of days, depending on how well I can manage the list), sending it to my personal address.

From there, I’ll look them up on the YouTube and add them to a playlist. But therein lies the problem.

The issue I was having is that the songs were presented on J1 in Romaji, or the Romanization of the Japanese syllabary.

Example: searching for Mayuzumi Jun “Tenshi no Yuwaku” — my current song obsession — might only yield a few results because most users would have uploaded the video in its traditional Japanese using the combination of Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.

In short, this: 使の誘惑 黛ジュン

Here’s the song and oh, it’s a good one. It’s been stuck in my head for a while and the video is so freaking retro it kills me.

But here, finally, was the problem. Many searches returned absolutely nothing when using Romaji and being I’m not fluent in Japanese nor would have any clue on how to translate the title properly, there was no hope for some of the songs I wanted to find and add to my ever-expanding “Japanese Classics” playlist.

What a bummer.

But today at work I accidentally found the solution to my problem. The site has a page where you can request a song and of course with that, you’d have to know the artist and/or title. What I discovered was that they maintain an A-Z database of artists they play on the station. So if I were to request the song above, I’d look up the singer’s name under the M category. All of her songs J1 plays would be listed under her name.

So I did just that. I found her along with her name and the song title in proper Japanese characters. But being I already had it on my playlist, I opted to search for one that I couldn’t find on the YouTube using Romaji.

I picked one I know I couldn’t find with Romaji, copied the Japanese title, and searched for it on the YouTube.

BINGO. Found. Then I tried another. BOOM. Score.

This was becoming all too easy and I was happy. I added those few I had found to my playlist and couldn’t wait to go home when until I finally had some quiet time in the evening to finish up my search.

With the kid to bed at 9pm, it was time to look at those emails and apply my new-found method of searching so that I could a) finally add them and b) have a good ol’ time doing it.

I had just started to read one of the emails and began seaching, adding whichever version of the song(s) I preferred to my playlist since I was now getting multiple results for each song. I would have been there all night doing it if it were my choice.

And it was all going so well…before the site went down for maintenance and, as of this post, is still down.

(UPDATE 5/7/16: it was back this morning. Yay!)

Grrrrr. So just when things were falling into place, I get shot down. Hopefully it goes back online real soon so I can continue my searching.

At least this little unexpected outage gave me time to write and less time on Facebook which I’m trying to avoid again. Less time on Facebook has also given me time in the evening to workout and study Spanish so it’s definitely working out.

And if I keep up all this working out, I’ll have to expand my Workout Playlist. After all, who wouldn’t want to workout to “Sexual Violet No. 1”?

I know I would!