Home Sweet Home

After the recent series of rain and windstorms that ravaged the Pacific Northwest from Canada down to Oregon, I was reminded of the raw power of Mother Nature.

The following is the 16th time I’ve posted this journal entry. It’s my first-hand experience surviving a sudden ice storm that paralyzed the Seattle area for one night in 2006 …

This is my almost 20 hour (19hrs 56mins) odyssey from Costco Travel (Issaquah) to my Home, Sweet, Home (Bothell) and the 26 miles that separate it…

“Home, Sweet, Home”
November 27th 2006

[The car radio clock: 430p]
Left work to start my commute home. Since it had rained/snowed earlier, I knew that traffic would be delayed. I just didn’t realize what the Gods of Lunacy had in store for me…

Home, Sweet, Home – the Sapphire Sled

[The car radio clock: 630p]
Two hours into my usual 1.5 hour commute, and I was only near 160th St SW on I-405 North. I sat there for 15 minutes with no movement. I made the fateful call to bail off the freeway and brave the surface streets to home.

Now to fully appreciate the situation, you must know that accessing Bothell from the Woodinville is like connecting via Hong Kong on a Seattle-Los Angeles flight. It was dark, cold and starting to freeze the water on the roadway. I started to make my way east up the 160th hill. With tires spinning, the rear end of the SS at a 45 degree angle and 20,000 miles less on my tires, I summited.

I turned left to go down the hilly street. The nose of the car came over the crest and started sliding because it’s nothing but a sheet o’ ice.

I tried to stop.

I manage to plow into a small snow bank on the right with the tires.

Whew, I breathe out a sigh of relief. I think, Screw this. I manage to turn this tank around on a inclined skating rink. Don’t ask me how I did it!

New plan. Go back to the damn freeway. 

[734p]
As I’m 6th car in line, I might just make it… hold da door. DOT & WSP closed the ramp – They are yelling it’s too dangerous. Now they are turning around the cars to get them off the ramp.

LOVELY. Never mind. New route. I can travel west along 160th to 100th street to Lake City Way to Highway 527 to home! I arrived to Lake City Way easy enough.

[The car radio clock: 805p]
My wife, Charlene, calls on my mobile phone and asks where am I? I answer with mere car lengths to joining the pile of cars turning left onto Highway 527.

She presses, “Do you see the Highway 523 sign to head into Woodinville?”

“Yep,” I answer. I’m almost 4 hours into this situation, so I’m damn near delirious.

“Go there,” she directs me. “Circumvent this mess and hop on 405. You should be north enough.”

I motor along the prescribed route. WSP closed off both directions of the 405 ramps at the interchange.

WTF?! NO choice. I’ll travel into Woodinville. I’ll cut over to Highway 527 on the Beardslee Blvd entrance. YES!

[The car radio clock: 933p]
Charlene calls again to inform me while I’m waiting at the nearest entrance that Interstate 405 North has been closed at Highway 527.

OMG! *insert a Denis Leary tirade here* 

Luckily, I’m literally adjacent to the driveway of a Residence Inn. I think, they should have rooms. I park and exit. By the time I open the entrance door, the counter person, bellows, “NO vacancy! Don’t try Springhill Suites either, full.”

I mutter under my breathe, you’re full of

I return to my car. I’ll heroically navigate the narrow, dark, icy roads to 228th and get to Highway 527 and finally home. Since I’m 5 hours into this worst case scenario, now this is a personal damn vendetta as I’m getting home tonight!

[The car radio clock: 945p]
My dear friend, Sidney, who’s contacted me several times and my wife, Charlene, are genuinely concerned about my safety.

It should have been my sanity in hindsight. I’m on the threshold of Hell. I’m beyond tired, hungry and frustrated. The reports of closed highways is longer than the ones open. I get out of my car to survey the situation.

Charlene calls my mobile while I’m outside my vehicle to inform me that she reserved that last room at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville for tonight.

She almost pleads with me to return to the car. I think, I can walk this. I can abandoned the car like several others have done. However, cooler heads prevail as she coaxes me back into the Sapphire Sled.

[The car radio clock: 1015p]
I claw my way BACK the way I came from Woodinville (haven’t I seen this hill before?)

By the grace of God, my Mom’s heavenly help, Charlene’s sweet voice on the end of my mobile (thank Christ I bought a car charger as the battery expired) guiding me in, and some mad skills behind the wheel I get to the open Highway 202.

[The car radio clock: 1045p]
I arrive at Willows Lodge. The front desk employees, Colton and Antoinette, have my room keys ready. 

They ask, “Are you hungry, sir?”

“Yes, I am,” I acknowledge. “Is there somewhere I can eat?”

“No, but we have these Chicken Margarita sandwiches that you can have since we’ll donate them in the morning,” Colton offers. Antoinette adds, “Here’s a free bottle of 2004 Cab-Sauvignon, and a bottle opener.”

With my arms full, I drag myself to the room. I call Charlene to inform her that I’m safe, but far from sound.

Quick note: at the end of Die Hard and Die Hard 2, “Let It Snow” plays during the credits. As I place my dinner items on the room desk, and finish my phone call, I hear in that Isn’t-It-Ironic type of way… “Oh, the weather outside is frightful…” Of course it is!

[The room alarm clock: 1010a]
Now I’m on the verge of heading out, and getting HOME!! H-O-M-E, should be me. I blaze outta there with a wing and a prayer. I’m hungry, again. The roads are great: bare and wet.

I pop through Woodinville (again) to travel along my regular route home. I drive through McDonald’s to buy brunch for Charlene and I.

[The car radio clock: 1100a]
Chains! I’m buying some damn chains. Les Schwab should have oodles of them! I step inside to discover only 1 set left for my tire size: P205 / 55R16. 

[1150a]
I struggle mightily to test fit my chains. Are you kidding me? Ron, the tech, politely and compassionately demonstrates me how to put them on. Apparently the last step wasn’t necessary and I could have easily been home by now.

[The car radio clock: 1226p]
I park in my driveway with the chains on still. I am triumphant! Alive, not injured, with the car (no damage) after 20 hours but home at last. 

Home, sweet, home. As I enter the house, I look up from the foyer, Charlene smiles from the top of the stairs. “You’re home!”

I smile, and thought: YES. Yes, indeed.

Muddin’ In Jamaica

Every once in awhile, as I scroll through social media posts on various platforms, I encounter a pick up truck stuck in mud or a buddy mobbing through mud having some fun.

Several of my outdoorsy friends like to play in the mud with their All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) Before, during and after, there’s drinking beer, perhaps shooting rifles, and at the very least merrymaking. A catch-phrase I’ve been overusing recently is “FULL SEND” ( a la Larry the Enticer, YouTube famous for jumping, but mostly crashing his snow mobile)

The activity is simply summarized as muddin’.

FAM To Jamaica

November 2008 – I was cordially invited to another business inspection trip to Jamaica while working for Costco Travel. Otherwise it was known as a Familiarization Trip, or FAM for short. Needless to say, I was amped. I had no illusions about this trip as a “free vacation” or “working vacation”.

It was work, and nothing less. Costco Travel paid good money for me to work for them in Jamaica. That said, all work and no play will make Los a dull boy. Each day was the same: woke up, group breakfast (sometimes on your own), loaded up in the van with my co-workers, inspected various resorts / hotels until lunch time. After a hosted group lunch it was more hotel inspections until dinner. After a hosted group dinner, you were cut loose until the next morning.

In essence, you’re programmed the entire time to ensure that Costco Travel got their money’s worth. IF the Buyer of that destination was progressive thinking, they also program in some of activities members would buy while on vacation. The Caribbean Buyer was a progressive thinker.

The adage is still: You sell what you know.

One of the activities we participated in was driving a buggy on a dirt track. Prior to the trip, we were advised to bring clothes we were willing to get muddy on the last day.

Here’s Mud In Your Eye

It was the last day. The tour operator greeted us. After waivers were signed, and brain buckets selected (helmets) we were further divided into team of 4. Kathy, Cat, Mary, and I were partnered up. They nominated me to drive, so that was reassuring.

This was a controlled environment as possible for an outdoor setting.

A lead buggy, nose-to-tail tourist buggies and finally a chase vehicle (ATV) Thankfully, there was no rain at the beginning of the tour, but I definitely committed to memory the route, plotting all the dips and pot holes.

[halfway]

Our group leader pulled over to warn us about the hill that was treacherous with or without rain. Then it started to rain so the dirt quickly turned into mud. The lead vehicle successfully made it to the top. Then one by one the dune buggies slid down the hill backwards in defeat, eventually resting cock-eyed off the trail.

The girl hyped me up with the chants: “You’ve got this, Los!” and “C’mon Los, kick some ass!”

I closed my eyes for clarity. I breathed in deep, exhaled and eased into the throttle. I felt the tires take a bit into the somewhat dry dirt underneath the mud kicked up. As I drove us up the hill, I kept thinking, “C’mon, just a grip gas. That’s it!” I was 75% in the throttle and the buggy stepped out on me.

Fine, I breathed.

Silently, I counter-steered while accelerating up the hill. The girls were hollering for me; cheering me on. As we approached the final stretch of the hill, I buried the throttle into the floor board – a FULL SEND before the term would even born.

The engine surged, the steering wheel dancing lightly in my hands, yet we were still ascending the hill. The engine was in full song, the mud was rooster-tailing off the tires, and I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

WE MADE IT TO THE TOP!

[end scene]

By the end of the tour, the rain was torrential. My helmet visor was constantly fogging up, but it didn’t matter because visibility was 3 meters. I locked my eyes on the brake lights of the buggy in front of me like a train car. I could up ahead there was a small berm in front of a ginormous mud puddle on the trail.

Or as I viewed it: an invitation to jump it!

I slowed to stop on the trail – citing I couldn’t see out my visor. Honestly, I was creating space for a landing zone. After a few beats, I smashed the gas suddenly sending all of us back into our seats.

The engine wailed with the girls, “DAMNIT CAAAAARRRRRLOS!!”

I started laughing manically as I launched the buggy off the make-shift ramp, Dukes of Hazzard style into the air. This wasn’t the General Lee, though. The nose lurched forward and slammed into the Earth creating a wave of muddy water that engulfed us. It filled the crew area with an inch of water at least.

The girls were as pissed as they were drenched from the rain and muddy water … all the while I was cackling with laughter from the chaos I created. They were still complaining by the time we rolled back to the finish. Speaking of finishes, that’s how you end a muddin’ session.

‘los; out

These Edibles Ain’t Shit

FAMOUS. LAST. WORDS. “These edibles ain’t shit,” I bemoaned many years ago when I had my first taste. IF you ever consumed a [marijuana edible] you know this a false statement. If you have NEVER tried an edible, but are contemplating it, please do not utter that phrase.

The other night over dinner at the Flying Pig Bar, my conversation with my girlfriend organically landed on our first time experiences of consuming edibles.

The following was my story … and no, it’s not a cautionary tale to be heeded. More like entertainment for the masses.

Act I – Here. Try This.

October 2006 – My friend, Sidney, was celebrating her birthday at a local bar called the Giant’s Causeway in Renton (closed many years ago) Amongst the usual fanfare of gifts, cake on the table, the flow of drinks and shots was a pan of homemade brownies. The power of observation is not lost on me so I asked, “Why have the brownies not been touched? Are we waiting for the birthday girl to take the first customary piece?”

Sidney and her room mate / best friend, Lupe, exchanged quick glances. Sidney answers coyly, “Um, Los those are special brownies. You’re welcome to them if you’re curious. I know you like brownies.”

Her words piqued my interest. “Why are they special? Is the alcohol baked into them? Or is it something else that we can’t mention?”

Lupe answered deadpan, “Something else, Los.”

I thought, aiight, chronic brownies. I’ve always wondered what they tasted like.

They cut a small piece, handed it over on a napkin with the words, “Here. Try this.”

I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed the brownie, and plopped it into my mouth. My wife, Charlene, waltzes up from seemingly nowhere, “So? What’s it taste like?”

I replied through chocolate ladened teeth like braces, “Like a brownie.” Please keep in mind my marriage with her was on the decline at this time.

Act II – Happy Birthday, Sidney!

Our server was a mutual friend and co-worker at our place of employment. The drinks arrived like the Fast & Furious but unlike the effects of edibles.

I grumbled to my bro, Scott, “These edibles ain’t shit,” as I popped my 3rd brownie into my mouth. We continued to celebrate with Sidney’s birthday with rum and Cokes (me) gin and tonics (Scott, Charlene) and whatever Sidney wanted.

At one point in the night, I questioned Lupe, “How much chronic did you bake into it? Just a grip to take it easy on us?” I literally didn’t know how these worked.

She laughed softly with her words, “I can assure you these brownies are loaded.”

I was already shit-hammered [shitfaced + hammered = the highest level of conscious intoxication] on beer, rum and Cokes, shots, etc. I didn’t realize just HOW loaded I was at the time or about to be …

ACT III – The Hangover

Thankfully, Charlene drove us home. I managed to exit the vehicle, and stumble up two flights on concrete steps to the front door of our split level house. She scampered up the stairs to wait for me. I stood like a statue on the tiled foyer. Then? It hit me.

IT REALLY HIT ME.

A tsunami of euphoria flooded my brain, so I burst out laughing. No, actually cackling. I kept getting louder and louder until my body was in full animation of my laughing until my world went suddenly dark.

[The hangover]

I woke up inside the scene of the movie, The Hangover. My mouth had the dryness of the Mojave Desert, my head wanted to implode crushing my eyeballs into my gray matter. UGH. I raised my head up from the floor to survey the room.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The couch cushions were removed from the couch, but laid down on the ground as a bed because that’s where I woke up. The coffee table was flip over with a saucepan hanging on one of the legs. I am only wearing boxers, and one sock.

Uncooked Top Ramen noodles were strewn as a trail from the kitchen to me.

I crawled to the kitchen as I was unable to walk. The pantry door and several cabinets were open. Another package of uncooked Top Ramen was scattered over the oven and counter space.

I cleaned up the mess I created before Charlene woke up, thankfully. That would be one of the last times I underestimated a foe! To answer the question: I never did find the rest of my clothes.

It’ll just haveta be one of the mysteries of life. Maybe they joined mismatched dryer socks, and 10mm sockets?

‘los; out

Tagbilaran To Manila Sponsored by Jollibee

The following is an excerpt from my journal entries. I traveled to the Philippines with my Uncle Dave to be the best men for my Dad’s wedding. The last few days were spent traveling by vehicle from Tagbilaran City to Manila to complete two tasks 1) Dave and I were flying out, 2) Dad and Luz were selling said-vehicle to a buyer.

This is what happened …


September 15th 2008
“Happy Birthday”

Inday’s 19th birthday is today. Dave and I came to the house to drop off the Avanza for Dad and Mom to clean up the wedding. Inday, Dave, and I literally got fat on the couch while watching TV and movies all day long.

Dad treated the family to dinner at Bohol Plaza Resort and Restaurant. For our dinner purchase we could swim in the pool. I thought, YAS! Glad we brought the swim gear.

In the end, the boys discovered only Jea can swim. The rest of the girls can’t swim and were regulated to staying in the shallow end of the pool. Lemme get this straight, I mentally say, They live on an island, that’s surrounded by water, and yet they don’t know how to swim? Apparently, they never learned or taught, but I digress.

Since it was a birthday celebration and farewell dinner for Dave and I, we continued the fun elsewhere. We dropped in on the local karaoke bar called Myx. It was fun! I actually did karaoke for someone other than my family to hear. Yep, yep. Stayed with Ice, Ice Baby and We Like To Party. I didn’t “sing” per se, but I had the mic.

September 16th 2008
“Manila Bound and Down”

We tried to figure out flights from Tagbilaran to Baguio but that just wasn’t happening. Instead of just flying from Tagbilaran to Manila for us to catch up to our flight home we decided to road trip to Manila!! So Dave and I woke up and kinda puttering around thinking it was before 9a (we didn’t have a reliable time keeping device) We went downstairs for breakfast to find Dad and Mom were there already!? It’s 910a and we’re late. We tried to rush through breakfast and that didn’t work either.

There was 5 stages, 1,500 kilometers between the beginning and end. GAWD, help us all!

Here We Go …

Stage 1: Ubay and the Roll On, Roll Off
To the north end corner of Bohol and port city of Ubay that I’m damn near sick of. It’s hella faraway and the drive there is dreadful. We boarded the Roll On, Roll Off (RORO) bound for Tacloban. Essentially it’s a passenger-car ferry… the first 2.5 hours of driving have been logged to Ubay, and another 2 hours on the RORO.

Stage 2: Tacloban, Leyte
We landed in Guadalupe, Leyte ready to rally to Tacloban!! Dave, Dad and I traded off driving duties (Mom doesn’t know how) We’d stop periodically for Kodak moments, gas, or food.

We’d joke that our sponsors are Caltex (gas) and Jollibee (fast food) and we could only use them.

After 2 more hours on the road, we arrived on the outskirts of Tacloban. We posted up in the “Budget Hotel”. Certainly was that – 2 beds, TV, shower, and toilet. Clinically white walls, floors, and linens. YIKES! NO karaoke tonight.

We finished Dad’s Johnny Walker outside on the balcony.

September 17th 2008
“On The Road Again”

Stage 3: Allen, Samar
We blazed outta there early since we gained an hour getting to this point. What we didn’t know was the road conditions on this island.

The dirt roads were muddy, and it was rainy on this island. The topography changed every island we drove through. At one point during my driving stint, several oxen passed me as if I were a stop sign.

We were attempting all-terrain roads with a passenger van. That doubled our travel time. GGGGRRR, still… Caltex and Jollibee kept us moving! That was a long-ass day, for sure.

Stage 4: RORO to Luzon
Once we arrived in San Juan, Luzon we kept digging another 65km to the city of Sorsogon. Now we’re dependent on ourselves; no more ROROs!

We posted up at the Arica Hotel for the night. Mom was hungry and no Jollibees in sight! The Mango Grill was nearby, and frankly, our only choice. Dad didn’t want to retire for the night so we stumbled over to the hole-in-the-wall, no signed bar. We got tore up on San Miguel beer, and sang more karaoke.

I tried my turns on rap songs like Vanilla Ice and Eminem which in my mind’s eye, didn’t work out. I decided to attempt to sing. YES… actually sing, with notes and a beat like a tried-and-true, dyed-in-wool Filipino. Admittedly, I’m only half-Filipino, or informally called tisoy (which is a shortened version of Filipino Mestizo)

I decided on Over You by Daughtry. At first I was weak, but several seconds in all the frustration, anger, hurt, and sadness just came flowing out in the form of this song. I felt great and thought I did a solid job. I scored 90 out of 100, the highest at that time in the evening. Then we continued to keep the place open 2 hours after close.

September 18th 2008
“Manila Or Bust”

About 2 hours after we returned from the bar, I heard a knock on the hotel door at 2 a.m. Mom is standing there in her nightgown. She woke up and can’t find Dad. Ah, shit.

When he’s crunk like tonight, he sleepwalks. I calm her down by going back into the room and surveying the situation.

His smokes, lighter, car keys, cell and dentures were on the dresser. He obviously didn’t get far nor intend to.

Maybe he locked himself in the car below or out of his room? We checked all the open rooms on the floor. No Dad! I grab the car keys and roll to the car. I accidentally set off the car alarm which ironically made Dad show up on a 2nd floor balcony in his boxers from his hiding place. FINALLY! He’s in trouble, and everyone else can go to sleep …

L to R: Yours truly, My Dad, and My Uncle Dave

(Dad told us later that after using the washroom, he slept walked to an open room, and fell back asleep there)

[a few short hours later]

Stage 5: Manila
We piled into the clown car for the final time! AFTER 14 hours of driving we were still 129 km south of Manila and we stopped for dinner because it was 8 o’clock.

We ate at (WAIT FOR IT) Chow King, sister company of Jollibee. We rolled into Manila around 1030p. I took control of navigation after Dad barked at Mom for not knowing the cityscape after being absent for 20+ years. We finally decided on the Pinoy Club for the night so we could rest our heads.

“Excuse Me?”

The room Dave and I had was interesting to say the least … a one-poster bed. Yep, not 4 or 3 or 2. Just one. Oh and mirrors on the ceiling too. Then Mom and Dad had a bed shaped like a Spanish galleon. No lie!! Mirrors on the wall, and strategically place on the ship bed. Complete with a mast and ropes, etc.

We ordered room service beers and bullshitted each other until late.

September 19th 2008
“My Bags Are Packed…”

Time to go home! Our grand Filipino adventure is at its’ end. Mom and Dad dropped us at the airport to begin our long, long journey home to Seattle. We have a short flight to Taipei but an 8-hour wait for our Taipei to Seattle flight. Good luck to us…

[much later]
So I must admit, my ever silent friend, that once I purchased my ticket for this trip I was hell bent to make this trip about me with the wedding being a background task. Selfish, I know.

Two hours upon my arrival at the house in Tagbilaran I tossed that game plan out the window.

And now?

Two weeks later I realize that this trip was about family and unconditional love. Certainly nothing to do with selfishness. I opened myself to the entire experience. I’m grateful I was able to. I caught up with an uncle that unless he was visiting Dad I didn’t speak to him. And of course, used the two weeks to get to know my step-sisters, and step-mother. All are very sweet, caring ladies in their own way.

In the end, it was a great trip with my new family so I slept with a clear conscious instead!

Until next time, keep diggin’.
‘los with the most

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Spaceman

Recently, SpaceX founder, #ElonMusk launched a Telsa Roadster into space with the driver named, Spaceman. The words, “Don’t Panic” is displayed on the center console. This is an obvious ode to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Well, I ALSO paid homage to the “trilogy with 5 parts” weeks ago because my 42nd birthday was 2018, so I dressed up as Arthur Dent and I was easily recognized by the knowledgeable fans.

If you’re familiar with the series, read it, or even watched the 2015 feature film of the same name, you’ll know that after millions of years the Deep Thought super-computer concluded that the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is … 42!

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The announcement revitalized my interest in space exploration, which I’m assuming is the same across the globe considering the amount of social media buzz it created.

With the launch, the talk of a “space elevator” has been renewed which would eliminate the costly rocket launches that cost $10,000 per pound.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Spaceman

And then it’s a quick transition to Faster-Than-Light (FTL) engines and/or drives. Humans have determined the distances of other objects in space are further than our current transportation. We’d be dead before reaching the closest star.

So maybe a copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would be the key to success?

Science fiction makes my heart sing because that’s the creativity that scientists are inspired by to make some of those concepts and/or inventions into science fact!

The Hubble Space Telescope, and the International Space Station (ISS) are testimony to citizens of Earth are looking beyond the stars. I recently watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
I discovered that the basis of Alpha is the ISS grew so large that it was sent off into outer space, and had been added on by other beings over 700 hundred years.

So don’t panic, because the future of space, and space travel is still in progress. I can’t wait to see what develops next! Until next time, Spaceship Earth, be good like you should, and if you can’t be good, be good at what you do.

Mic drop *bOoM*
‘los; out

You’re Number One

So I work in a warehouse that has multiple electric forklifts. Nowadays I find myself leading a crew of forklift operators more than wheeling one around. One night my crew and I were strategizing the night’s plan near Lift #1.

In fact, two of the boys were debating who has “number 1” for the night. I let out a brief chuckle as my mind flashed through a memory about my experience with my “number one fan”.

For the past couple months, the crew has enjoy my previous stories of exploits, and harrowing adventure at work and outside of it. They asked to share, and I am one to share …

PART TIME DRIVER

One of my first observations about forklift operators are that they are a rather clique-y group. Of course, this type of behavior isn’t just for forklift drivers, it’s for most humans in a confined space for endless hours.

I digress.

At the time of this story, I was a supervisor that was occasionally called upon to jump into a lift. My scheduled work shift was 8am – 430pm. While I slept, I received multiple text messages and missed calls from work leaders.

I called back, and their question was if I could arrive earlier to work and drive a lift. I complied, and hastily put myself together, and a lunch. If you don’t know anything about Aquarians, we have certain routines. Any interruptions to these routines is cause for a grumpy Aquarian, especially me.

I arrived about 6 am, a long 2 HOURS after all the other forklifts were checked out by the regular drivers. As I said before these drivers are particular about the lift they use for the morning: ride height, control preferences loaded.

The remaining lifts are operators that have the day off, and/or sick. I shrugged my shoulders, and asked the Receiving Team, “Which lifts are available to check out?”

The Receiving Manager quipped, “Number 1, and please drive Hard Lines now.”

Cleared For Take-Off

I was a part-time driver AT BEST because of my classification of a supervisor. I felt self-imposed pressure to drive hard today since I started 2-hours after everyone else.

I positioned a pallet to be wrapped, so I stepped off my lift. In the distance, I heard the other lift’s beep-beep-beep. But one in particular kept approaching.

One of the more prolific drivers was steaming towards me in a forklift. I smiled and quipped, “Morning X, what’s up?”

Without saying a word, he stopped the lift close enough that he could step into the cab of the lift I was currently using. He then tossed my phone off the lift onto the pallet I was wrapping, accompanied by the drop lists for the merchants, and any other personal items I had including my forklift keys!

Finally, he drives off with Lift #1.

The crew that witnessed the event was stunned into silence. One of them mouthed the words, “WHAT. THE. FUCK.”

The merchants were slacked jaw while waiting for my reaction. I thought, I don’t have time for this childish drama. After finishing the wrap job, and like a bullied student in a hallway, I gathered up my items, and placed them in the “new” forklift.

Without a word said, I turned on the lift. A few merchants approached me, “We saw that! We’ll back you up. What are you gonna do?”

“What am I going to do? I’m gonna get back to work,” I grumbled. “But there’s definitely gonna be a conversation about that Beyonce moment afterwards.”

You’re Number One

As you can imagine, neither of us were the number one fans of each other ever since.

You’re Number One

My audience of two boys couldn’t believe what they were hearing from me. Lastly, I became my father in an instant.

“If I hear that y’all are bickering over Lift #1, I’ll park the son-of-a-bitch myself and NEITHER of you will drive it for the night! Am I clear on this point?”

They nodded as they mumbled the words, “Yes, sir. Crystal clear.”

I had a besmirched smile on my face, “Perfect. Let’s keep digging then.”

‘los; out

Nisqually Earthquake | 20 Years Ago

Monday’s, September 19, 2022 earthquake of 7.6 magnitude in Mexico City reminded me of the Nisqually Earthquake.

Midday on February 28, 2001 the Nisqually earthquake shook the area with a 6.8 magnitude for nearly a minute at 10:54 a.m. For anyone that’s experienced and survived an earthquake of any magnitude, 60 seconds seems like eternity.

I can still tell you about my experience some 20 years later …


CRISIS MANAGMENT

Any crisis management course or safety training I’ve participated in, the first step is remain calm. I generally mentally scoff at the notion. Easy to say, difficult to action. The fight or flight mechanism is triggered in each human, then chaos reigns.

At 10:54 a.m. on February 28, 2001, I witnessed how a small group of Americans react to the natural disaster of an earthquake. In fact, this was not my first either! In the late 1990’s I was in the Lynnwood area, closing up the Thrifty Payless Drugs Inc location when I watched a wave / roller of an earthquake towards me! That’s another story for another post.

I digress.

I remembered from elementary school on up to high school that yearly earthquake drill of crawling underneath a table, desk, anything to provide cover from falling ceiling debris. This conditioning was activated that day!

When The Earth Moves

At the time of the earthquake, I was working for Metropolitan Travel in the Meetings and Incentive Department. That company was located in the “Darth Vader” building in downtown Seattle. It’s actually the Fourth and Blanchard Building.

Coincidentally, our department was having our weekly meeting about the workflow we had on our agendas. It was a Wednesday, so we’ve had 2 days to work, and we have 2 more days to get anything done.

There was a conference room on the 13th floor – yes, this is one of the rare buildings I’ve been in that has a 13th floor. The conference table was ginormous, borderline obnoxious length and girth of solid oak.

I was listlessly looking out the floor to ceiling windows over a co-worker’s shoulder. Then?

I heard a loud BAM. My body rose out of it chair, and my knees uniformly slammed into the underside of the conference table. I knew immediately what it was, and my heart briefly stopped: EARTHQUAKE!

I stood up quickly, and with the back of knees sent my rolling chair outta my path like a shotput. I dove under the table for shelter. I saw the knees of my co-workers, so I grabbed their ankles and instinctively dragged them down to the carpeted floor with me.

My manager ran out of the room in the threshold of the stairway, then ran down them. WHAT?! I thought. Another co-worker, Sean, ran over to the floor-to-ceiling window that was actively bowing IN AND OUT, splayed his arms out and yelled, “Is this an earthquake?”

The rest of us pleaded with him to seek cover with us, but he ran out too.

I watched in absolute horror as the window cleaners employees holding on their scaffolding while the apparatus was bouncing off the building! Moments later one side of the safety ropes snapped as they clamored up the other rope to the roof of the building.

After a terrifying 60 seconds, it was done. The building was still swaying from the earthquake and the aftershocks, but the worst was over.

I implored everyone under the table with me to wait a few minutes longer to ensure it really was over. Needless to say, work was done for the day. I used public transportation to commute so I knew this would be a nightmare to get home.

I shrugged, Better than being here!

I realize my experience isn’t a harrowing escape of certain death, but it is my story and I did live it. Thankfully, I survived it so I could tell it. I’m more fortunate than others.

‘los; out

The World Changed | September 11, 2001

To most of Spaceship Earth, 9/11, flutters pass on their calendars as any other day, but 21 years ago …

The world changed on 9/11/01. And it’s a day I’ll #NeverForget either. 

I was startled awake by my wife (yes, I was married once) She said to turn on the TV because a plane accidentally crashed into a building.

“What the $&#%* ?” I thought. “Planes just don’t accidentally hit buildings.” In a fog of sleep, I turn on my TV at the most inopportune moment… The 2nd plane was flown into one of the towers! I couldn’t believe what I just saw. It was a sick joke. A gut-wrenching sorrow overcame me as I fell to my knees. All I wanted at the moment was to be there, wherever it was, to help.

I got up, and decided to get ready for work. That looked like New York City, and commercial planes which meant Metropolitan Travel will need my help assisting from our Seattle office in terms of getting people in and out of the area.

As I strutted back into the bedroom, my wife asked what was going on as she said the radio said this is deliberate and we’re being attacked. 

My sorrow instantly turned into anger. Now I’m pissed. In the shower, I cried. I promised myself and mom I wouldn’t cry after mom’s death but this was too much. The ride on the 311 bus was somber, and quiet. Metropolitan Travel had several TVs plugged in broadcasting the news reports. 

Shortly after my arrival to Metropolitan Travel, a corporate travel only travel agency, all planes were grounded. The direction we were given were to get rental cars, train tickets, and hotel rooms set up for our clients that were aboard. We were to work with them to get them home, while they ran passenger manifests to find out if any of our clients were on the planes; all four of them.

While at work, as I was consoling coworkers and clients alike, the World Trade Centers Towers fell down within minutes of each other. It was a delight for the architects of destruction and evil, but devastating to the rest of us. Those citadels of steel were pillars of strength. However the structural integrity was compromised by the impact damage of a fully fueled jetliner slamming into it, and burning jet fuel. 

Those images burned itself into my memory, as quickly and as hotly, as that jet fuel. In the wreckage and destruction, three firefighters raised an American flag that was captured by two photographers. It was so iconic that it still resonates with people to this day. Or shall I say, at least with me.

Reminded me instantly of the Iwo Jima flag raising. The imagery was so striking. And then, I thought, that it was symbolic as well. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes to be born anew, I knew that “We, the People”, would do the same.

The World Changed

For years to follow, I would honor 9/11 in my own way, and differently each year, while processing my feelings that I had that day. Another opportunity to never forget what happened. Not that I could, if I tried.

In 2015, I was in New York briefly with my girlfriend at the time. My only request to visit was the 9/11 Memorial, which she was happy to accommodate. The first couple of steps I experienced a deluge of emotion. My mind, body and soul were trying to process all my feelings at once. I’m surprised and kinda proud I was able to make through the entire experience without breaking down.

We Will Never Forget

So Seattle, what was your experience on 9/11/01? There are those on this planet that were unborn therefore didn’t live through this experience, and must read about it in history books or online. Sobering thought, huh?

I hope for those that were alive that day, please never forget those that never saw another day on Spaceship Earth.

‘los

The Bane of Bumbershoot

September 5, 2016 – A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I loved Bumbershoot. I mean I would be so feverish for new music that I would eagerly anticipate the lineup announcement only to know which band(s) / musician(s) to scour the interwebs for! And it was all because of a girl. And like ANY story worth telling it’s about a girl …

It’s my bane of Bumbershoot.

Bumbershoot 2016

Bumbershoot is a synonym for umbrella. So when I deployed my golf umbrella to exit the #SapphireSled the other day, my mind was flooded with memories I’ve suppressed.

If memory serves, it started in 2009. The girl, aka #MusicalMuse asked me about my live music history. I was recently outta a divorce so I quipped my ex-wife literally hates music yet I loved it. Therefore my live music history was tragic to say the least. So she invited me to rock with her at #Bumbershoot – I’ve never been and I gladly accepted!

Not gonna lie, I was crushing on the girl so the acceptance was made more with my heart than mind. I don’t regret it, really, either then or looking back at it now.

The lineup was fantastic that year!
Line-up

  • Katy Perry
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Jason Mraz
  • Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • Modest Mouse
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • The All-American Rejects
  • Wale
  • Kasabian
  • Cold War Kids
  • Metric
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Matt and Kim
  • Janelle Monáe
  • De La Soul
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead

#MusicalMuse took pity on me so that pretty much meant I had carte blanche for the weekend. And I do mean, blank check. The first order of business was deciding which bands and musicians we wanted to see on each day.

Each day would start with breakfast, and packing up for the entire day, and brief discussion on who we wanted to rock. Personally, I was good with any and all bands leading up to the headliner. I just loved being around the girl.

One of the first day highlights was our Michael Franti encounter. I remember I had my Nikon D5000 (I named it “Nik”) in my hand, and I was visually yet mentally framing / composing photos while waiting for #MusicalMuse to return to me. I recognized Michael from the research I did, as he casually strolled through the crowd around the food vendors. I introduced myself to speak with me and subtly hold him up so #MusicalMuse can meet him.

Sure enough, my plan worked as I took a picture with her and him! She didn’t have anything to autograph much less a Sharpie pen, but she was ecstatic about the chance meeting for the rest of the day. I wonder if she ever thinks about it, or if she kept the photo?

I digress.

Rarely do you remember what people say to you, only that you remember how they made you feel. And for that weekend, with her, I felt the most alive than I had in a long time. And for that, I’m grateful. However, all good things must come to an end, including my relationship with her.

She broke my heart in the summer of 2012, just months before #Bumbershoot – so that left me the decision to go on my own or sell my weekend pass, stay home and sulk. It’s not very #keepdigging like to pout / sulk, so … I soldiered on as best as I could. I revisited the plans of years past, only running solo this time with heavy heart.

As you can imagine, I met many new people (one of which I still am connected with on FB!), listened to many new bands, enjoyed the music and fun in the sun yet … all with a heavy case of heartache. My soul couldn’t decide whether I only enjoyed this festival because of the girl or the music. I didn’t take nearly as many photos, create playlists to re-live those tiny moments, or enjoy it as much as I did in years past.

It’ll literally felt as if I was walking through a ghost town, with every corner of Bumbershoot haunted by a memory of happiness. My anxiety level was through the roof despite the smile and liquid medicine. I knew she loved Bumbershoot, so the likelihood of running into her with her new boyfriend and/or her friends was high.

  • If I did see her, would I engage in conversation?
  • Would I turn-tail and leave?
  • What would I say?
  • What would she say?
  • Would I lose my shit over the way it went down?

I laughed because she isn’t confrontational just like EVERY OTHER GIRL in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the passive-aggressive nature inherit in all as I’ll find out later in the dating scene. While I would have the maturity to manage a casual, “small talk” conversation, I knew she couldn’t or wouldn’t, so this imagined encounter would never happen.

If she was there, then I never knew. She would definitely navigate around me, and I’m certainly not shy. Partially to give her that opportunity to steer away from me, and somewhat to prove myself I can enjoy this without her.

Petty, I know.

But it was the only play I had left: the best revenge on exes is to be happy / happier without them.

Nowadays, and every year since I’m a DJ, MC, entertainer, and all-around good guy for Amore Events & Entertainment LLC so I’m on the lookout for new music, newest trend, etc.

This year’s Bumbershoot was no different. I didn’t buy a ticket or even request the time off from the warehouse. That’s my bane of Bumershoot. I won’t go back until I have someone else to rock with and to replace those heartbreak memories with happier ones.
My question(s) to you, Seattle…

  • Have you been to Bumbershoot?
  • If not, why not, what’s preventing you?
  • If so, how many times?
  • Are you rocking next year (2017)?
  • Do you enjoy the music, the movies, or peripheral acts more?

Until next week, be good like you should, and if you can’t be good, be good at what you do!
Mic drop *bOoM*

‘los; out

Arrival Unknown

Fun fact about me … I spent 20 years in the travel industry. I’ve discovered that my writing style has evolved over the years, sometimes blending industry jargon into my everyday self-talk.

I would generally write for the reading audience, with a portion of it as self-expression and recognition. Nowadays I simply write, and post.

The following is a throwback to the year 1998. The title is an expansion of an airline ticketing acronym: ARNK. It means “Arrival Unknown”, and it’s created when you fly into one city, yet fly out of a different city. The airline documents that segment as arrival unknown because they don’t how you’re traveling to that different city but somehow you are.

I hope you enjoy some insight into my earlier days of writing.


May 15th 1998

The incessant beeping of my alarm was enough for me to throw it in a dark corner of my room, never to be heard from again. And, no, I don’t believe in the “snooze” button routine. I dragged myself out of bed and went about my morning ritual. You know how it is- shower, coffee, etc. Basically, grasping the concept of consciousness.

Before I knew it I was on my way to work. Becky, my usual carpool person, was unusually chatty today. That was a good thing. My mind so preoccupied so much so that I wouldn’t have made a great conversation. Thankfully she picked this up and continued to talk, accidentally or otherwise.

What was my mind so indulged in? Conquering Mt. St. Helens, among the other mysteries of the universe. All I want to do is stand high on that overgrown dirt pile. But work had to come first. Ironically, one seems to have to suffer before reaching enlightenment. Or as Steve Miller would put it… “you must go through hell before you go to heaven.”

Today work was so horrible

Man, if it wasn’t one thing, it was another. Its times like these I need a beer. As quickly as it began, my workday along with the workweek came to a close sharply at 4 PM on Friday. Yahoo!

I jetted home, gathered my belongings, and took off. With enough food, and tunes I left the Seattle area with a vengeance! I started running down the road in my dad’s Rolling Metal Deathbox – a customized Ford F250. Little does anyone realize why it’s dubbed that name. Not for the occupants mind you. Oh no! Woe to the poor fools that gets in way and is flattened by sheer physics.

As the truck eased into freeway traffic, the roar of its powerful V-8 engine drowns out all of the warnings I received during the week. “Three hours of driving alone is boring!” and “You might fall asleep without company.” And my personal favorite was “Carpooling is always better.” Really? I don’t know about you, but with food, tunes, and with my own thinking the only thing to hear, you can call me Mr. Fat, Dumb, and Happy. I put this rig on cruise control and enjoyed one thing- a little slice of heaven.

Using maps, headlights, and a little common sense, I finally made it to Climber’s Bivouac late at night.

May 16th 1998

My tent was already set up by the graciousness of my unofficial leader, Kevin O’Bryen and his royal attendants. Thank god. Trying to put up a tent in the dark is… well same as trying to dress your significant other in baby clothes. It just doesn’t work and not a lot of fun. Too bad I didn’t sleep. The tent was set up on the snow, which consequently was the same as sleeping on a pile of rocks. Not very forgiving to the human back. No worries, though. Sleep deprivation does wonderful things. But that’s another story for another day.

Thankfully, we had an early start. The sleep-eyed crew assembled before the man, Kevin.

  • George
  • Beth
  • Rich
  • Angela
  • Sandy
  • Kathleen
  • Gail

And, of course, yours truly.

By 8am, our eager but inexperienced group set off to summit Mt. St. Helen’s on its anniversary date of explosion. Coincidence? Or irony? I’ll let you decide. I settled into “hike mode” and we were off. The usual trail chatter filled my ears and the trail grew shorter with every step.

I soon discovered there are two parts to this trail. The forest, and beyond.

I didn’t realize “beyond” included a region hikers call “above tree line”. “Above tree line” is a universal term to describe the area on the mountain in which little to no foliage grew, and of course, the boundary in which trees stop growing. Basically it was you, the mountain, and atmosphere.

Late into the trip, unfortunately, two from our party had to turn back. The rest of us trudged on. At this point my leg muscles were so cramped and knotted up I thought someone stabbed me with a letter opener in my thighs and left it there! I was invited to turn back with the other two. NO WAY!

Let me just say, that quitting, stopping, etc are words that do not occur in my dictionary of life often. I was determined. The rest of the group would have to pull my dead body off the top. Period. So I struggled on through HORIZONTAL snowing and gale force winds. My cement galoshes on my feet barely kept my locomotion going.

We reached a point about five hours into the hike called Monitor Ridge. The elevation at this place was 6500 feet. Not bad. But still not at the top which is 8300 feet. The weather was deteriorating fast, and I felt morale slipping a little. We collectively decided to return. Better safe than sorry. I like to think of it as accepting the better part of valor.

So I learned a new technique of traversing a mountain. Glissading- is the art of sitting on your rump or in my case my brain, and sliding down the mountain on the snow. Too cool.

We returned to base camp in no time. Wow. We were fast hikers as a whole, but up and down the mountain. At any rate, the consensus was to salvage the weekend at the campsite. Then it started to pour down rain. I thought to myself, “Is this an omen? Or just a huge hint to go home?” I left after cleaning up my mess.

To cap off the weekend, we decided to meet at Jack’s restaurant for a farewell-have-a-nice-weekend dinner. We parted our separate ways and I headed back to where at least I knew where I was going. Truly, an incredible trip. And as they say “Getting there is half the fun.”

My guess is the other half is surviving. You decide.

No fear,

Carlos Bayne

Travel Agent Extraordinaire

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