Boracay Island: Heaven On Earth

My mind sometimes drifts off to a time and place that I truly was in paradise, that I recognized the fact I was in paradise, and lastly, indulged as much as I could before dragging myself away.


My mother passed away from gastric cancer in December 1997. She was born and raised on the Filipino island called Leyte in the township of Villa Jacinta. As you can imagine communication to Villa Jacinta from the United States was either a post, aka snail mail, or in-person.

Sending the news of her death to her family and extended family by way of letter wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

After all the things that were said and done, I had built into the itinerary a stop for my birthday treat to myself: Boracay Island.

I had heard of it, and researched it as best as I could in 1997. They usually say, “The brochure looks nice!” And I was able to convince my family and traveling friends to join me.

BORACAY ISLAND: Heaven On Earth

Boracay Island: Heaven On Earth

February 8, 1998 – Happy belated birthday to me! I booked Lorenzo South Resort for a few nights. The allure of crystal blue water, white sand beaches, and an awesome exchange rate was too much to pass on.

First order of priorities: rum and Coke.

There was a lone tiki hut on the beach that most likely would have my beverage of choice. I had budgeted quite bit of money for myself for this trip. I worked many hours of overtime at AAA Express Travel Center, and saved every penny. I still had burn to money, per se. The exchange rate in 1998 was 50 Filipino pesos per 1 US dollar.

It was about to get hectic, y’all.

Bartender: Mabuhay, sir. Welcome to paradise. What beverage would you like?

Me: Rum and coke, please.

Bartender: *pours drink, hands it over* That is 20 pesos.

Me: *fishing out a $20* Ah, yes, here’s 20 USD.

Bartender: I’ll excuse myself one moment to retrieve the change.

Me: Or perhaps we agree on a financial plan instead.

Bartender: Oh? What’s the plan?

Me: Well, if you’re agreeable to it … any time you see me, please bring a rum and Coke. I’ll be here only through the weekend, and I don’t believe I can consume 40 rum and Cokes.

Bartender: I shall keep a tally.

Me: Perfect. Any money left over after my departure is your gratuity. (little did he realize I am planning on tipping him another $20 if he does this crazy plan)


My travel mates, mostly my Dad and sister, were immediately confused by this bartender always bringing me a rum and Coke regardless of the time of day, if I had already OR where I was at!

I would reply with thank you (salamut), and he would answer back with my pleasure. As you can imagine I was always at least buzzed while on Boracay. Now mind you, I was functional but definitely day drinking.

One Night In Boracay … Makes A Hard Guy Humble

On my last night I wanted to treat myself to a nice dinner. My Dad was with his friend, Gordy, Charrina was with Kelly, and I was flying solo. I wandered down the path towards the restaurants along the beach.

A sleepy one beckoned me inside. Imagine a barkeep behind the bar clean the same damn glass, one other patron in the corner, and a ceiling fan that’s really only shoving around the hot, tropical, humid air.

An obligatory karaoke machine was in the corner, which was powered up but no singers. I was kinda half-expecting my bartender to roll up, but he didn’t … or at least as far as I knew.

I sat down at a table, perused the menu, and landed on steak and lobster: 250 pesos! Oh, goodnight. I’m eating good. Then I started with beer. Next shots. Finally, I’m buying beer AND shots for patrons visiting.

The barkeep questioned whether I had the bankroll for this activity, I smiled, I have it.

Needed to flex the Golden Pipes.

I asked how much the karaoke machine was per song. I surveyed the crowd I gathered up, which was at least 2 dozen in my mind’s eye. I slurred my next question, “How much to rent the karaoke machine the rest of the night?”

The barkeep shrugged, “200 pesos, please.”

I fished out 300 pesos, “Got yourself a deal.” I walked up, plugged in Copacabana, and as I finished, I shouted “FREE karaoke all night long! Who’s singing? Who needs another round?”

The Morning After …

I woke up in my own bed at Lorenzo South Resort with my clothes on, my wallet on the night stand, and everything intact. However, I don’t remember how I got here. And I’m definitely hungover.

I dragged myself outta bed to my tiki hut, and my bartender. He was smiling, but didn’t present a rum and Coke. “Hey there. I was at the restaurant but don’t remember how I got back.”

“You were ‘hubog’, sir,” he replied.

“I was what?” I fired back in confusion.

“Drunk, sir,” he almost laughed.

I paused, “How did I get back?”

“Me, sir. I assisted you,” he said through an impish smile.

“Why did you do that?” I’m in a fog.

“To be honest, as you stumbled out of the restaurant I was about to present a rum and Coke but you had too much. You were happy, you had paid the restaurant what was owed, which is owned by my friend. So we escorted you to the room, got you inside, and there you slept,” he explained in full.

“Right. Right,” I acknowledge. “Do you have family?”

“I do, sir,” he replied.

“I’m sorry I’ve kept you from them. How many drinks are tallied?” I inquired.

“Twenty two, sir,” he paused, “do you want your change now? It is your last day, and your boat is on the way.”

I waved the thought away like a mosquito. “No, no, keep the change. In fact, for your troubles, and kindness … *I slapped down another 20 dollar bill*

He refused at first, “No, sir, that’s too much.”

“It’s for your family, it’s my form of saying thank you. Please take it, because whether you do or do not, I’m not walking away from this hut with that.”

He palmed the bill quickly.

I mused, “Boracay Island really is heaven on earth.”

“It is?” the bartender questioned.

“Well, yeah. It’s staffed with at least one angel,” I winked.

‘los; out

I Know Better: Then And Now

I will not forget March 26, 2022 any day soon. The following story could’ve been prevent had I acknowledged any of warning signs I encountered way. I should’ve known better. I definitely know better NOW.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Jami had casually mentioned that I hadn’t been geocaching in a hot-minute. So with a relatively “free” day, I decided to geocache. My sister was still resting at the time I wanted to go, so I went alone.

I know better than to hike, let alone geocache, alone in the woods, but I set out to find the geocache titled: “Fresh Cakes” at Boardman Lake. This was my first mistake amongst a litany of them. Without food, water or a plan, I set out towards Granite Falls, Washington. My only companion was in the passenger seat which was my Geocaching backpack.

That, and my standard personal items: keys, wallet, and iPhone named Blu.

Mountain Loop Highway

This particular stretch of highway has not been kind to me because I attempt to visit during the winter time. For example? This past weekend.

I know better to check the road conditions, and trail reports prior to traveling there. This time I did not. If I had, I probably would’ve chosen to do something different.

When I turned off the Mountain Loop Highway onto Northwest Forest Road 4020 [NF-4020] I was immediately greeted by vehicle-eating-sized potholes. Thankfully my Subaru Outback, that I named the Millennium Subaru, was up to the task.

However, I should’ve known better than to continue …

It was then I realized I hadn’t informed a soul about my whereabouts, or my intentions. I knew better than that.

Google Maps stated it was 4.8 miles to the trailhead (TH) yet 20-minutes to drive it. I thought, “Just how bad is this one-lane, pot-holed, dirt road?”

After Saturday, I can say treacherous and eventually impassable. As I crept along, I kept thinking, “This is ok as long as there’s no snow.”

Then I encountered a snow patch and cardboard about 1.5 miles away from the trailhead parking area. Forensically speaking, a vehicle was stuck here, and needed the traction created by the discarded and destroyed cardboard.

I knew better than to continue, but my ambition started to silence my voice of reason, my Jimmy the Cricket. I cautiously entered the snow with the Millennium and it got stuck. I rocked it the vehicle back and forth – I got free and continued up the mountain!

Another half mile up, I encountered two vehicles: one stuck on the road, the other parked off to the side. I decided to park the Millennium, lest I be stuck too! I managed to turn the Millennium around, park it safely off to the side with the nose pointed down the mountain. I strapped on my backpack, grabbed my survival / emergency metal shovel, and hiked towards them.

A Good Turn Daily

This Eagle Scout can’t casually walk by trouble. I did noticed that the vehicle stuck was a Toyota 4Runner which has a higher ride height than my Subaru. The driver, John, and his girlfriend, came up for the day. The green Jeep belonged to four men camping nearby who were already there to assist. They got stuck last night, so they were forced to camp nearby.

After an hour of effort, the 4Runner was freed!


I know better than to hike in snow

I returned my shovel to my vehicle, which I should’ve know better and hop in and drive off. Nope. I announced my intentions to the campers as I hiked the remaining mile in snow, UPHILL, to the trailhead, and parking lot.

I knew better than to keep digging, my voice of reason is now silent. After I performed my obligatory, Boy Scout, do-a-good-turn-daily, I should’ve turned around and went home. See what I did there?

I didn’t.

I foolishly pressed on. I also realized I no longer have mobile phone service from here. I peered at Blu.

I mused, “I’ll be aiight. It’s .8 miles one-way in snow without snowshoes. I’ll be back before too long.”

Famous. Last. Words.

Boardman Lake Trailhead

Yeesh. Snow and my phones have not been kind friends. I downloaded the offline trail map from the Official Geocaching app. Again, I knew better than to continue to geocache.

Yet I did.

After falling in the snow from my legs plunging into it knee deep several times, I “lost” the snow covered trail about a half-mile in. I had no water, or food, and … I didn’t eat breakfast either. So that started to take it’s toll on my body that is conditioned to eat every 2 hours or so. In fact, my decision making skills were malfunctioning too. I wandered precariously close to a cliff. Using tree saplings as hand holds I scaled the cliff like terrain that was definitely OFF TRAIL.

Finally, I arrived at Boardman Lake but not on the trail. I was closing in on the GZ [Ground Zero] The hint for the geocache described two fallen logs to cross. I spotted them and trudged my way towards them with phone in hand like a lantern. I pocketed Blu in my pants.

Then?

The snow “bridge” I stepped on was eroded underneath by water and snow melt. It couldn’t hold my weight, and I fell through like a chute.

My legs splashed into knee-deep, freezing water, as I ricocheted off the rest of the snow. My backpack was hung up and suspending me in the water like a tea bag. I thought, “Oh God, this is my version of 127 Hours!”

I managed to rip myself free, slogged my way back to the trail near the lake. I immediately felt for my phone which was not there. I fruitlessly looked for it. It’s gone. This is the second time I’ve lost a phone to snowy conditions. It’ll probably be found in the spring thaw, if anyone bothers to look for it.

My priorities quickly changed from finding this particular geocache to just finding a way home. Without my phone, I had no hope of finding it, especially since I was still 130 feet away. I knew better than to press my luck …

I Knew Better

I’m living a worst case scenario that I created myself. IF I survive, I thought, I’m gonna be grateful. My legs were cramping up from no water or food – imagine that.

I looked up to the sky to pray, “Mom. Your son is in some trouble. I could really need some help right about now. Just keep me on the trail that’s covered in snow until I find my footprints.”

Bye, Blu

While I was looking up, I noticed I was losing sunlight as well. I galvanized my resolve to return home safely. I used every survival skills that I ever learned, as well as observations on how trails are created.


Praise Jesus! As I trudged along with very little hope, I was cold, wet, tired, hungry, and frankly embarrassed. I found my own boot prints from where I veered off-course. My survival chances increased ten-fold. My boots seemed a little lighter.

On The Road Again

I hiked past the camper again, so I paused to speak with them. I hollered, “I made it to Boardman Lake. I lost my phone, though. If there’s a missing persons report posted for this area, my name is Carlos again.”

They replied, “Carlos. Seahawks jacket, driving the Subaru. Check!”

Thankfully the Millennium Subaru started, and I was able to navigate my way off the mountain without further incident.

Now I must survive the tongue-lashing from my worried loved ones. I know better than to worry folks that are naturally “big-worriers”. Since I’m writing about this story in past tense, you can conclude that I survived that as well.

‘los; out

The Night I Fought Rocket the Raccoon

Anytime I encounter a raccoon themed meme or social media post, I remember the night I fought Rocket the Raccoon before he was famous in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

That’s RIGHT!

A quick fun fact: In the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Rocket is referred to as 13 different monikers? One of which was … trash panda.

I digress.


Rocket before he became famous

TROOP 300

The leadership of some Boy Scout Troops have: Scout Master, Assistant Scout Master, Senior Patrol Leader, and Assistant Senior Patrol Leader. My Scout Master for Troop 300 was Bill Hecox, and my Dad was the assistant. My Senior Patrol Leader was Tim Hecox, Bill’s son, and I was the assistant.

Generally on Scout hikes the leadership camped in a different site than the rest of the troop, yet nearby. Between the four of us we would share “luxury” items such as instant coffee. By sharing, I meant the weight of those items was even distributed evenly amongst our backpacks.

Bill and Dad’s favorite “luxury” item was coffee such as Folgers. The metal cylinder container (yes, in the old days it was metal) served as a sauce pan / cooking container to boil water.

One particular hike we still had a rather full Folger’s can. My Dad had uncharacteristically left it out on the picnic table before we went to sleep …

THE BEST PART OF WAKIN’ UP

I can tell ya 30 years later the ‘best of part of wakin’ up’ isn’t Folgers in my cup!

I have either a small bladder or an active bladder (still do) Sometime that night, I woke up to use the bathroom – the woods, preferably the closest tree. If you’re tent camping or ever been, you know this is a production.

You mentally prepare yourself to leave your warm cocoon of a sleeping bag, strap on boots, and find your flashlight. All the while, not waking up your sleepmate, which was my Dad and he’s a light sleeper.

I unzipped the tent so I can exit. I heard an unusual noise, not associated with the forest. I shined my flashlight towards the source.

My spotlight falls on a raccoon perched on top of the forgotten coffee can!

He had managed to rip open and pry into the plastic top. He stared at me for a half-of-a-second sizing me up. Coffee grounds he had been munching on were falling away from his maw with each slow crunch.

I had interrupted Rocket from his caffeine fix!

I yelled at him in a vain attempt to shoo him away. He casually drop down on the table, then hop down on the bench seating. I hissed at him in another attempt to clear him from our campsite. Before Rocket became famous as a guardian of the galaxy, he was a harden criminal, which I plain forgot.

He HISSED BACK!

Suddenly, he charged the tent.

SHIT. SHIT. SHIT, as I fumbled to zip up the tent. Like any American horror film, I franticly tried to close the door before the killer attacks me. As I complete the zip, Rocket crashes against the tent.

My flashlight was illuminating an OVER CAFFEINATED, ANGRY RACCOON. His teeth were bare, and snarling at me. With my free hand, I patted around for anything that to fend him off. I grasped our frying pan. Without hesitation, I smashed my side of the nylon tent but square on his nose.

A dull thud was all I heard once I connected.

That only managed to scared Rocket enough to back away from the door. I’ll be damned if I’m held hostage in my tent especially since I had to pee. I cautiously left my tent with the frying pan and not the flashlight.

I didn’t want my night vision to be wrecked by the flashlight. With a frying pan in hand, I relieved myself.

No sign of a caffeinated raccoon.

The Next Morning

My Dad’s first question, “What the hell was all the racket last night?”

“Oh that?” I answered coyly. “I fought Rocket the Raccoon last night.

‘los; out

Rudderless In Seattle

I find myself in an unusual state: listless. Actually, it’s more accurate to state I’m rudderless in Seattle. After I completed the rehabilitation loan with the “upgrades” to my house in December 2020, I really haven’t had an all-encompassing task that provides direction to my decisions.

In 2021, I attempted to start a small business in a COVID-19 global climate, hoping that the social distancing, mask wearing, and vaccinations would pave the way for a geocaching based business. Caching With Carlos was so GRAND in my head.

I was wrong; very foolish.

Many of our fellow Americans don’t have the disposable income for such activities. They are in survival-mode, per se. In the end, it wasn’t an appropriate, “fuck around and find out” scenarios.

I didn’t even glance at my job for inspiration to be promoted, etc. I don’t wanna work in the first place, so spending more energy on it is senseless.

My Tabula Rasa Day Declaration(s) are somewhat helpful, but not enough to fulfill my mind. So what do I do? Remain rudderless in the sea of indecision or find a compass and map to navigate my way through murky waters?


The last two weeks of December 2021, I started to review my life. I knew I had a letter-to-myself to be opened in February 2022, which I anticipated to be disappointed in myself.

I was seeking out an overriding task and/or activity that would ultimately provide the direction. I combed over my likes, interests, and hobbies (in no particular order)

  • Geocaching / Hiking / Biking / Kayaking
  • Dancing
  • Photography
  • HAM radio
  • Writing
  • Drawing

I’ve already assigned a yearly focus on Geocaching for a couple of years. What I hadn’t done was a singular focus on dance …


Dance My Way Out

Dance, Dance Revolution

I thought about what this year’s focus should be. I landed on dancing (see what I did there?) I joined the dance team West Coast Country Heat in 2020. As COVID-19 ravaged the land, there was only one parade last year: Carnation, WA.

2021 was much like 2020 in terms of parades, county fairs, events and large gatherings of humans – there were none. The thought was the close proximity of many humans would be “super-spreaders” of the disease.

Officials, leaders, and decision-makers seem to be loosening COVID-19 restrictions as we better understand the disease and the vaccine with it’s booster to combat it.

I digress.

I am focused on elevating my dance skill level so I won’t be rudderless in Seattle. I’ll make every effort to attend all performances (intrastate or interstate) It might end up being an all-encompassing behavior, but at least it’ll provide direction to the compass that I have in my head.

Time will tell.

‘los; out

My One One-Night Stand

Ever hear a song that ignites a memory? Perhaps a social media post that involves the game “Never Have I Ever” has your mind rifling through its database of experiences. Well, if you thought the title to my post was confusing, the post itself will be absolutely befuddling!

The question that’ll hang in your head from now on will be, “what happened to Christine”?

Ashley McBryde’s, One Night Standards, played on the radio the other day. As usual, my mind drifted off to relive yet another It’s-Only-Believable-Because-it’s-A-Los story …


GRAND OPENING!

Ten years ago, one inconspicuous night in 2012, I was kickin’ it with a bro on a Monday. In fact, if memory serves me, it was his idea for me to post up with him at the grand opening of The RAM Restaurant in Federal Way [established July 23, 2012]

Considering it was a Monday with football invariably on the TVs, I rolled south from my Issaquah apartment to him at the new RAM.

As expected, the place was crackin’! Two bar stools remained open at the end of the bar area, so my bro and I posted up. After ordering beers, and grub, we surveyed the landscape and introduced ourselves to the folks seated near us.

Within a few minutes, my gaze fell upon the opposite side of the ginormous bar area. A fella was seated in-between a blonde and a brunette. According to the noise and banter between them and the bartender, he was sponsoring the drinking.

The blonde caught my gaze to which I just ruefully raised my eyebrow. She bellowed, “Buy me a drink!”

I quipped loud enough to carry across the bar, “Seems like that guy is taking care of that for you!”

She fired back with a casual one-fingered salute, and I retorted with a smile and the same salute.

My bro leaned in, and asks, “Do you need a wingman for this?”

I brush it off, “Nah, not right now.”

We continued to watch football, nosh on bar grub and guzzled beer. Once we finish, pay and start to exit, I went rouge and zoomed over to the blonde.

I approach her, “What’s your name?”

She replies, “Christine. Yours?”

I said, “Carlos. Gonna stay here all night?”

“No,” she said flatly. “I’ll be at the Hitching Post around 9:30 pm. See you there.”


One Night Stand

My bro and I scaled back to his crash pad. He and I started to watch a recorded football game on his DVR. When 9:30 pm rolled around, he asked, “Are you gonna post up at that bar?”

I mused, “Not yet. I’m gonna wait a grip longer.” Indeed, I waited until 10pm before bouncing with the words, “Aiight. Here’s the play. If I crash and burn, I’ll circle back to crash on your couch. If I’m good-to-go, then I’ll call or text so you can lock up and crash for the night. I’ll give ya the deets later.”

The Hitchin’ Post Saloon

I pull into the gravel parking lot. A red Chevy Monte Carlo has the passenger door opened with a leg propping it from the seat. As soon as I parked, and shut my door, Christine emerged from that car.

I casually strolled over to her, and she approached me. Once she was about 5-6 feet away, she leapt at me! I caught her as she wrapped her legs around my waist, and her arms around around my neck.

“Hey there!” she yelled.

“WHOA,” I reacted. “Hey there, yourself,” as I placed down on her own feet.

“I’m gonna finish charging my phone, I’ll meet you inside,” she commanded.


I went inside the saloon’s bathroom. I texted my bro, “It’s on like Donkey Kong! Lock up, I’ll text in the morning.”

Christine and I grabbed a table, drinks and some conversation. There was karaoke that was blaring across the speakers which made it difficult to hear. She had a stream of conscious thinking and dialogue once we sat down.

“I’m a yoga instructor, Carlos,” she told me without me asking. “A 50 year old divorcee after 25 years of marriage and 3 kids. What’s your story?”

“Office job that I don’t enjoy. Divorced as well, no kids, though,” I answered. “I’m gonna sing some karaoke, wanna join me?”

She shook her head ‘no’. If memory serves me still, I performed Rebel Yell by Billy Idol. We finished our round of drinks. I asked, “Should I get more drinks? Or we going back to your place? It must be nearby.”

Her eyebrows furrowed, “How did you know I live nearby?”

I smiled, “C’mon. Monday night, a grand opening of a new joint. You were curious then when that curiosity was satisfied you reverted back to your familiar bar.”

“You’re good,” she acknowledged. “My place, follow me.”


Literally, 5 minutes later we were parked at her house. As she fished her house keys out, she warned me, “My 26 year old sister is sleeping. Don’t leave me for her because she’s younger and more beautiful.”

I thought, “What have I gotten myself into this time?”

She led me through the house to the sliding back door. Once she strolled to the patio of her pool, she started stripping down naked. Without hesitation, she slipped into the pool. Mind you, it’s the dead of night. And if you know anything about sound and water, you know that all sound carries further over water …

“C’mon, Carlos, join me,” she invited.

OH. MY. GOD. I’M ACTING OUT THE SCENE IN NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION!!

I mentally checked out, “Fuck it. You only live once, right?” I get naked, and slipped into the shallow end of the pool. DEAR GOD, IT’S NOT A HEATED POOL! I mentally giggled, This is crazy, this is crazy!

She tried to swim off to the deep end, and I pulled her in. We embraced, we kissed. The entire time, I stood on the tips of my toes to ensure my twig and giggle berries do not touch the cold water.

I guided her to the edge of the pool. I bent her over the edge so we can get this done. For some reason, she grabbed the chaise lounge chair legs near her.

IMAGINE THIS SCENE, or more like hear it … two strangers, hooking up in a pool, around midnight. The rhythmic sound of a pool water splashing against the wall in conjunction of metal screeching against the concrete patio.

EEEEEERRRCH! Thump, thump, thump. I AM DIED LAUGHING INSIDE.

Thankfully this didn’t last long. Or rather … it didn’t take us long to get what we wanted. She got out of the pool, and got dressed. “I’m hungry. Wanna grab some food?”

I casually answered, “Sure. It’s midnight so let’s hit a 24-hour place.”

“No,” she fired back. “I know of a Mexican restaurant that’s open.” I thought, “What restaurant is gonna be open at midnight on a Monday in Fed Way?”

With her car keys in hand, “Follow me. Try to keep up.”

We jumped into our respective rides, and she led us outta the neighborhood. Once we were on arterial roads, she really picked up speed. My speedometer was approaching 50 mph.

Then it happened.

Christine drove through a red light, and I stopped. I watched her take a fast right turn down a residential street thus disappearing into the night from which she came from.

The light turned green. For a several second pause, I idled. I put the Sapphire Sled into 1st gear, turned left for a U-turn as a Cheshire, shit-eating-grin slowly appeared on my face as I point my car homeward.

We didn’t even exchange phone numbers. That’s my one one-nightstand, Spaceship Earth.

los; out.

Hazy Shade of Winter

Every time I’m introduced into a new group (or person) I know it’ll take time for them to get to know me and vice versa. My Dad always told me, “that people will not talk with you if they don’t like you. Time is a precious commodity that people won’t waste it on unwanted activity or people.”

That really resonated with me since I’m a people person, per se. Especially regarding time being wasted as I’ve already posted my thoughts about that.


They especially wouldn’t haze you if you’re not welcomed into the group as there’s a difference between that and bullying. And that difference is based on intent. So when I joined the Costco Woodinville a year ago that reminded me of my hazy shade of winter

Winter 2002

My story of hazing starts in the winter of 2002 at Costco Travel. I cleared the probationary 90 day challenge months ago, which I issued a challenge to the hiring manager. Costco Travel was experiencing a tremendous amount of growth, therefore shuffling of cubicle desks was a monthly, if not weekly, occurrence.

One move placed me near the Vacation Package Agents, and somewhat separated from the Cruise Department which I was a Cruise Reservation Agent. There was no animosity however playful banter between the two departments was palatable.

One particular agent was Chris McClain Simmons who was very enigmatic.

For all tense and purpose he followed none of the rules; written and unwritten. His desk was an absolute mess with stacks of papers, disheveled items and pictures of him posted throughout the cramped space. Completely opposite of me.

Whenever we engaged in conversation it seemed like he was #throwingshade at me. Even his emailed movie trivia was a sharp-tongued reply to my correct answers. I started to be offended by this man who seemed to be above the law, loud and proud, and simply operated on the only mood he cared for – rogue.

Towards the end of his tenure at Costco Travel, and towards the end of his life, he coaxed me over to his cubicle.

He wryly asked me, “Hey Los, do you like me?”

I grimaced at the question, “Of course. Why would you need to ask?”

He removes an object from underneath a pile of papers, and presents it to me, “Here. Take this.”

I accepted his gift, and examined it. It’s a 2-inch, by 1-inch, by 1/2 inch blue box with the words Austin Powers emblazoned on it with Mike Myer’s face on it. After pausing, I ask, “What’s this? A sound box?”

“As a matter of fact, yes it is. Press the button down,” he commanded.

I did so, and “Yeah, baby, yeah!” emanated out of the box. I chuckled a little. “Classic McClain.”

He smiles as he knows I accepted his gift he bequeathed me. “Anytime you miss me, you press this button, ” he points down to Austin Powers face, “Just like I press your buttons!” He punctuates it with a forced laugh.

Together Forever in a Hazy Shade of Winter

He died shortly after our interaction.

I liked that guy. The younger McClain was pretty damn good looking, too. I dare say he had a likeness of Robert Redford. And the older version that I knew, had a likeness to Austin Powers, the International Man of Mystery.

After his death, I discovered he didn’t talk to many other co-workers, let alone haze them / give them a razing like he did to me. It became explicit that he did like me, which dispelled my hazy shade of winter (the song explains he’s unsure about his life accomplishments)

In an odd way, a McClain way, he showed his appreciation for me, by hazing me in a good natured way, and never malicious.

So any time I feel like I’m getting razzed by someone or a group, I smile and know it’s because they wanna be around me, and that I should allow myself to razz them back. Just remember, if they don’t like you, they won’t haze you, let alone talk with you.

So Seattle, and Spaceship Earth, have you been hazed once you’ve joined a new group? If so, how bad was it? 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

Benson Hedges: Better Currency Than Pesos

After watching wall-to-wall football for the final week of the 2022 NFL Regular Season, and the trash-talking (sh*t talking) on the field, it reminded of an incident that could’ve ended badly but didn’t.

My younger sister is brash at times. Sometimes it’s at inappropriate times when decorum is the more harmonious route. For example, when you accidentally stumble across a basketball pick up game with dockworkers in the Philippines.

Lemme explain how we started a fight, then fled instead and finally, how a pack of Benson Hedges cigarettes held higher currency than Filipino pesos.


This snippet is a part of a story when I traveled to the Philippines in 1998. I was there with my family to inform my grandparents, etc. that my Mom had passed away from gastric cancer in December, the previous year.

I digress

My sister, my sister’s friend and yours truly were instructed to meet our family members at the local ferry terminal and escort them back to the village. A straightforward task but not straightforward execution.

Waterjet was the ferry company with a fleet of high-speed, catamaran passenger ferries for the Philippine Islands. Also the most common way to travel from island to island. At the ferry terminal, a fleet of taxis were also waiting to ferry passengers to their final destination (see what I did there? I slay myself!)

Speaking of taxis in the Philippines, there are two colors; white and yellow.

The official taxis at NAIA (airport) are the yellow ones. Yellow taxis have 70 peso flagfall, vs 40 peso flagfall white taxis. Otherwise time and distance metering is similar.

Remember that yellow taxis only get fares from the airport, they cannot legally take passengers to the airport, so their return trip is unpaid.

White taxis are often crappy cars, dirt poor drivers. A ton of history of white taxi scams at NAIA terminals 1, 2 and 3 and in general.


I had read the notice from the local municipaility that flag drops were required with no fare negotiation allowed. There was a sea of taxi drivers hard-eyeing the only 3 white people at the terminal, obviously we were young travelers of some sort therefore EASY PREY.

My sister, Charrina; her friend, Kelly; and yours truly had been raised lower middle class so we collectively had street savvy, and had situational awareness. We were cognizant of the escalation that could happen.

We anxiously waited for our family member, whom we’ve never met in-person. The ferry disembarked its passengers which ignited the frenzy of folks grabbing white taxis. We escorted our family members to the nearest taxi, instructed the driver on the destination, and the taxi drove away.

By the time we completed our task, we looked around to find only four taxis left. All drivers refused to drop the flag for us, and demanded a 500-750 pesos for the fare which was only 150-200 pesos.

Our situation was the epitome of supply and demand: we needed wheels, and there was a scarcity of them.

I grumbled under my breath a phrase that generally is followed with trouble. “Fuck it, we (insert action here)”


ON this hot and humid morning at the dock, we found ourselves walking back to the village. My sister barked out, “That was bullshit!”

I shrugged, “Actually, that’s commerce for ya. They had something we wanted, and we were not wanting to pay the price for it.”

The distance was not far for us young folk, it was the preference of riding in air-conditioning that had us incensed! Storage containers stacked neatly provided a cityscape feeling along the dock walk. We were following the path of the exiting taxis, and the big damn sign that stated: EXIT THIS WAY.

We wheeled the corner to stumble across this scene: a make-shift basketball backboard and hoop were wedged between the storage containers with a faintly chalked key on the ground. There were 5 Filipino dock workers with T-shirts on, 5 without.

Great, I mentally thought, its a basketball pick-up game.

The catcalls IMMEDIATELY started as Charrina and Kelly came into view.

  • “Hey Americana! Why you walking in this heat!”
  • “You’re so beautiful, why are you with this puta bitch of a bodyguard”
  • “We can walk you home!”

We brushed it off as you should until one of them hollered something that my sister refused to let slide: I bet that pussy is as sweet as you look.

She fired back, “You’ll never know, so FUCK OFF!”

SHIT. GOT. REAL.

Their voices fell silent, as they grabbed anything available. I noticed a worker wrapping up his dominate hand with a rusty chain like a bandage. And then they rushed us!

So our shit-talking started the fight, now we must FLEE. At top speed, we bolted towards the security guard tower, flimsy wooden gate to stop vehicles, and more importantly … the exit.

Literally this is a scene out of the Westside story, as three youngsters being pursued by a pack of gang members. Thankfully, we had a head-start and were more fleet footed than them!

As we raced out of the dock area, we were noticing it was leading us to dead end or at best a T-stop. We had to decide quickly on left or right.

In front of us was a 20-foot high concrete wall that was ridiculously long. I looked right, it was a cartoonish, Wile E. Coyote length of the wall and the left was the same.

I raced to the left; Kelly and Charrina on my heels. Our hearts are pounding, as we looked behind us. The pack is fading BUT STILL CHASING US. Along the wall, and spaced out evenly were closed doors.

Jeezus, this is my worst nightmare, I thought. As I finished my thought, I noticed the closest door was off the hinges, and jilted diagonally creating a triangle on the bottom right for an escape.

We leapt down from the concrete wall onto a busy road.

WE ENDED UP ON A FREEWAY!!

If my Mom was alive, we would’ve killed us anyway. So I led us single file along the concrete wall, while looking back to ensure those dock workers gave up the chase. Suddenly a white taxi screeches to a halt beside us.

“What the hell are you kids walking on the freeway!”

I faced the voice through the passenger side door with the window down, “Are you a taxi?”

“I am, get in,” the voice replied.

Kelly clamored into the back, Charrina followed suit with the words, “Is he gonna drop the meter?”

I glared at her, “GET IN THE DAMN TAXI!”, as I jumped into the front. The driver launched back up to speed.

He glanced over to me, as I settled down in the seat, “Where to?”

“The blah-blah hotel, please,” I requested, “We don’t have many pesos, so drop us off wherever our money gets us.”

He let out a laugh. “Well the air-con doesn’t work, and as you can see, this car has seen better days. How much you got?”

I slowly withdrew 171 pesos but my pack of Benson Hedges cigarettes fell on the floorboard.

Taxi Currency

“Tell ya what. Since my air-con is broken, and I picked you up off the freeway,” he offered, “if you throw in that pack of cigarettes and the pesos, I’ll take you to all the way to the hotel. I’ve gotta go to the garage for repairs anyways.”

“Fair enough,” I accepted. “You’ve got a deal. Can I have one more before I surrender the pack? It’s been a morning.”

He looked at me, “Sure, kid.” He looked in the backseat with the rearview mirror, “Why were you three on the freeway anyways?”

Kelly piped up, “It’s a long story, and you don’t want to hear it either!”

“I’m grateful that Benson Hedges is better currency than pesos,” I mumbled.

He ruefully smiles, “Fair enough.”

‘los; out


Snow Day: World’s Largest Snowball Fight!

With the snow melting from the rain, AND no further snow in the forecast in Seattle and the surrounding area, it reminded me of a one particular Snow Day above all.

In 2013, the Boys and Girls Club of Seattle hosted Snow Day: The World’s Largest Snowball Fight, which was an attempt at the Guinness Book of World Records.


Largest Snowball Fight

You see, I was still brokenhearted over a girl that said goodbye the summer of 2012. In order to rid her from my memories, I wanted to create new ones and quickly. One fateful afternoon I was scrolling through my Facebook News Feed and I encountered an advertisement that spoke to me. Not literally, of course, but it is possible.

Party Camp was asking for support for an attempt at a world record.

I thought instantly, “HELL YEAH, I wanna be part of history, and world record!”

I reviewed the date, etc, and bought my ticket. I managed to convince several other friends to join me.

I honestly didn’t think anyone else would join me, but I soon discovered there was more than one person that supported my oddball ideas of fun.

It made me smile, knowing that their presence was testimony to my inner personal skills. Charrina, Danielle, Alicia, Alison, Josie, and Melissa all joined me that day in January 2013.

The week prior I noticed dump trucks filled to the brim of snow were trucking into the Seattle area along I-90 from Snoqualmie Pass. My eyes narrowed as I realized this is gonna happen just the way they envisioned it.

It’s gonna be EPIC!

I helped build excitement for the event by promoting my involvement with it, and the type of impact it was gonna have on my life. I’ve been told that my excitement has a halo effect on whatever and whoever is involved. That, in and of, itself makes me happy.


Finally, it was the day of reckoning. Every fiber of my body told me, we were gonna post the new world’s record for largest snowball fight. To build energy before the attempt, several teams squared off to build snow forts, and stock pile snowballs. After the designated time frame was up, they were judged on several categories, one of which was look.

A DJ was playing music, that electrified the air. I gathered around my “team” for “before” photos, and to document our story.

SNOW DAY

A horn signified the start of the fight, so we immediately let loose the first volley of packed balls of snow in a display that rivaled artillery attacks in WWII.

Honestly, it was a frenzied attack of snow with no real defined teams. Several minutes into the fight, the unspoken challenge was to barrel through an open area of the fight to coax people into throwing snowballs at you, yet make it to the opposite side.

After my ‘successful’ run through the snowball gauntlet, I leaped over a snowfort wall for safety. Josie followed suit but was tagged very hard in her thigh which temporarily knocked her down.

So like a fallen soldier on the battlefield, I sprung my prone position to ‘rescue’ her. I helped my friend get to the other side, and sat down to assess her medically. She brushed off the attempt with a waving hand, and I’m fine.

The fight was overseen by a Guinness Book of World Records representative for validity. The number of participants were counted, and announced. We DID IT!

5,834 people surpassed the record previously held by South Korea.

I poked my hand into my jacket pocket to post on social media websites on the accomplishment. However, I came to the sudden and horrible realization that both pockets should’ve been zipped shut, especially the one that contained my phone.

I fruitlessly searched for my phone in the areas I was running, leaping, and dodging in. My friends suggested to try lost and found. My friend, Alicia, and WCP, accompanied me. Lost and Found was next to the Medical Tent. All manner of injuries were being attended to, such as bloody / broken noses, bruises, head cuts, sprained ankles, etc. In a futile attempt to recover my phone, I asked if they had my type of phone turned in.

The person managing it was less than enthused. I pursed my lips, and nodded my head, turned on my heel, and departed with my sister and friend. Never mind


The team decided to join the pub crawl to simultaneously celebrate our accomplishment, and mourn the lost of a phone and all injuries sustained. The first stop on the pub crawl was the Rock Wood Fired Pizza & Bar. It would be our only stop.

I’m. The. Reason. The. Rum. Is. GONE.

We managed to pile into a table for all of us. We ordered several of their famous Rum Buckets. After we killed some of them, Josie got curious about the extent of her thigh bruise, so she dropped trou in the corner of the restaurant while I stood guard.

I looked at it too, and mused, “A small price to pay for the glory of being part of world history!”

We continued to celebrate until it was time to return to our homes. I didn’t stop smiling for a week as I read article after article posted by newspapers on how we did it – yet another reason to love Seattle, WA.

PS – the record was broken yet again in Canada in 2016 with 7,681 participants. Congratulations to them! They still currently hold the world record. I’m just happy we held the record for any amount of time.

‘los; out

COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 727

I usually look down on the ground before exiting my car because that first step can be a doozy. And if I’m driving that means it’s somewhere in public, where I’m almost guaranteed to find a few masks that have been dropped or discarded purposely. It’s a poignant reminder that COVID-19 is now a part of our lives.

I don’t enjoy wearing a mask at all, let alone at least 8.5 hours of my work day. Then to continue its use while I’m out and about with the world at large. I yearn for the day when I’m no longer required to wear it.

I realize that day is not today, next year or anytime soon. I just hope it’s one day before I die.


COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 727

Like any living thing on Earth, COVID-19 will fight for its right to party. Did you know that in the 2 years we’ve been coping with it, there have been 10 documented or at least recognized, variants?

  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Gamma
  • Delta
  • Epsilon
  • Mu
  • Omicron (most prevailing type currently)
  • R.1
  • Theta
  • Zeta

Humans and the viruses that live in them have survived by adaptation. We can quickly adapt to changing environmental conditions. Since we’re trying to kill the COVID-19, it’s adapting to survive. I’m paraphrasing an article I read but …

The RNA-synthesizing machinery that most RNA viruses use to copy their genome doesn’t have this error correction mechanism. But coronaviruses have a special enzyme that allows them to do error correction, so they have a lower mutation rate than other RNA viruses. I don’t think it works quite as well as the DNA mechanism, though.

There’s this idea that because most RNA viruses cannot error correct, they make lots and lots of mistakes. That’s not great for us, because it allows them to mutate rapidly and avoid the immune system. But if they make too many mistakes, it’s not good for the virus either, because the viruses will just break down.

Marta Gaglia, an associate professor of molecular biology and microbiology at the School of Medicine

You can read the entire article here.


To the best of my knowledge, I have not contracted COVID-19. If I did, I was asymptomatic and totally unaware. As I understand the information given to me, that receiving the vaccination shot and booster will help lower my chances of “getting it”, or if I do get it, the vaccine will help reduce the length of time of having it before I pass it.

I mentioned this before but worth repeating … COVID-19 will not be gone in my lifetime. My mindset is not when we will be ‘over this’ but how can I adapt to this new layer of disease complexity.

‘los; out

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