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 15th 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.

You Make Me Sick

Day 679 since COVID-19 pandemic was known. I generally smirked when I heard folks say, “I’ll be glad when this is over” in May 2020. I knew immediately that the virus [severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)] that causes the #COVID19 disease was a permanent fixture of the human experience.

It wasn’t gonna simply “go away”, therefore there’ll never be a “when it’s over”.

That being said, my thoughts turn toward learning to live in a world with another, new disease.


In the beginning of the global pandemic, the human race had a common enemy, per se. A new disease that was didn’t discriminate.

COVID-19 disease

With no data about it, we as a race had no resources or plans to activate. We literally had to make it up as we go. The Chinese led the way in flattening the curve by locking down their cities with imposed quarantine.

They didn’t know how the virus and subsequent disease was being transmitted, but they knew if infected persons were mingling with healthy persons it would spread. Since it was considered highly contagious … this move made sense to most.

And the rest of the world followed suit.

Epidemiologists knew they would be expected to solve the issues of transmission, vaccination creations, and idea on how to mitigate the collateral damage.

Again, we were still united in the one thought process: fight and/or stop COVID-19.


In the months that followed … all but the essential businesses, and the workers that are attached to them were shut down for quarantine. Restaurants, bar, nightclubs and so many more to lists forced to shut their doors. Some were permanently, others were lucky.

2020 was categorically a SHITSHOW to end all shitshows. I’m not one to complain; online or in-person, but that was an all but forgettable year in human history. If you were sick in any shape or form it was the ‘rona.

ONE FULL YEAR LATER … in December 2020 the FDA was rolling out the first vaccine to combat COVID-19.

This was in addition to the masking of everyone, social distancing (6 feet or 2 meters), and limiting capacity. The majority of 2021 was all of this while keeping the other methods in play.


Now that 3 vaccinations methods are available to the human race, you had / have a choice: Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or none.

There are humans out there that are allergic to the vaccination shot, there are humans that elect not to have the shot, and of course, there are those that can receive the shot without repercussions and readily wanted it.

In typical American fashion, there is a debate over the validity of the vaccine medicine. Does it truly work? We know the vaccination shot is no better and no worse at “curing” the disease than the others we’ve used in the past, such as the flu shot.

For the record, I’m fully vaccinated because I can be. I also realized that I can’t get sick with any disease or cough from allergies. I’ll be suspected of having the COVID-19 diseases.

Regardless of my vaccination status, I’ll be judged on my opinion about it. There are those folks that a staunch of their decision to seek out the vaccination shot. By the way, it’s a hell-no for them.

There’s always a segment within the anti-vaxxer crowd that a combative about their choice. And the reciprocal is true, there are those that strongly believe in the vaccination therefore everyone should be mandated.

Each crowd shouts to the crowd: YOU MAKE ME SICK. [metaphorically and literally]

I should reiterate that the COVID-19 disease doesn’t discriminate between old or young, healthy or sickly, or by race. It’s the terminator of the invisible sort. In fact, there are those that hold the opinion the COVID-19 disease is a government hoax.

I don’t agree with that, but I also don’t shit on them for holding that thought.

What makes me sick is our inability to maintain that global compassion, the united resources to fight a common foe, and take care of one another. It’s in our nature to destroy one another.

My hope is that if I’m sick in the future (beyond this post) it could be anything from allergies to the common cold, the flu or COVID-19. Perhaps we can gravitate away from the negativity that has infected our thought processes today.

Mic drop. ‘los

What’s That Tat?

I have one tattoo. I only have one tattoo because I vowed that if I ever get ink, that I wanted it to symbolize something that deeply resonated with me. The backstory for my tattoo is rich with detail but it does take some explaining.

So when someone asks me what does, Keep Digging, mean I pause to think about how I want to answer and proceed with my explanation. Most of the time it’s a flippant, elevator speech, condense version. The following is not …


Summer of ’94

Yes, I’m old … YES, I’m THAT old. In my previous post, I mentioned a mountain bike that my parents gifted me as a graduation present versus the vehicle I had requested. NOT only was it a mountain bike, it was purple-people-eater in color. If you’re following closely, that means it’s the second item that’s emasculating to a young man in his teenage years.

Regardless, I wanted to do a shakedown tour of my mountain bike. It was a hot day in Mountlake Terrace, Washington State.


Fairly certain this was the bike

My attire was appropriate black spandex, with a white tank top – stylish, I know! I won’t talk about the mullet I was rocking at the time. So here I was bombing down the streets of MLT like it was the not-yet-invented X Games in the summer heat. I would jump my new bike off of curbs, and generally anything I thought was acceptable.

Then it happened.

I encountered the perfect downhill curb to jump. I pedaled faster, drew back on the handlebars, stood on the plastic pedals and soared through the air. Then I landed. Not only did I LAND … it was immediately into the hurt locker.

The pedals succumbed to the jarring motion, and snapped off. I struck the ground with my tennis shoes but not time for me to avoid pulverizing my nut sack on the extra large support tube!

I couldn’t react quick enough before slamming into the back of, ironically, a Pinto. My forehead and body slid up the hatchback side before my world suddenly went black.


To this day, I have no idea how long I was unconscious. No one witnessed the incident, no one drove by, nothing! I sprawled out, spread-eagle half on the sidewalk, half underneath the mustard yellow Pinto.

I sat up and surveyed my bike: bent wheel rim, and busted plastic pedals. This’ll be expensive to repair. And it’ll be difficult to explain that I didn’t do this deliberately. I am miles from home in the sweltering heat.

An expletive or five escape my lips.

My left shoe is squishy. Like a pool of liquid, kinda squishy. I dared to look down. Blood is trickling down the puncture wound. An arrowhead shaped piece of shrapnel was embedded into my calf.

My immediate reaction wasn’t to pull out the piece. I knew it was acting like a plug to the closed-pump-system otherwise known as my bloodstream. I took my tank top off, and thought, if I’m gonna lose a limb to blood loss then I’d rather it be below my knee instead of above it.

I tourniquet just below my left knee. I pick up what’s left of my bicycle to soldier home. If memory serves me well, I got about 1/4 mile before a faded mint-green Ford F150 pickup truck rolls up real slow. The tailgate is off, the back bumper is solid metal with rust, and driven by a guy with a longer mullet than me!

He asked, “Hey man, wanna ride?”

YEESH

I thought, Great! I’ve crashed and damaged my bike miles from home only to be abducted by the guy from Deliverance! What I replied with was, “Yeah. I mean yes, please. Thank you for your compassion.

For the next 8-minutes we said nothing to each other. I merely pointed the directions to my house. Once we arrived, I hopped out, the unidentified driver exited the truck and deposited my busted-ass bike on the lawn.

I shut the passenger side door, and look at him. With this Southern, Elvis like snap of the fingers to point at me, he said, “Now you keep digging, ya hear?”

“Got it, keep digging,” I grumbled. I limped inside to address my battle wounds.


Time To Keep Digging

In 2008 I was struggling with life amid a divorce to a marriage that shouldn’t have happened. Thoughts of harming myself became a daily occurrence. By July 6, 2008 my ex-wife and I were barely speaking to each other while we lived in the same house.

July 6th is her birthday so I usually budgeted $100 for her birthday gift. This year she flew off to be with her boyfriend. I thought, I should get a tattoo with this money!

I sat down at my computer, opened Photoshop, and stared at a white canvas for what seemed to be hours. What should I get? For 100 bones, it won’t be much, and it won’t be color, I continued to talk to myself.

My mind landed on a memory of Dale Earnhardt, my all-time favorite sports hero. It was 1994, Darlington Raceway. He was trying to catch Bill Elliott at the time. The race was quickly coming to the end, he had pitted about 5 laps ago, and the tires were already chewed up badly.

He keyed the microphone, “The tires are worn, I won’t be able to catch him. The car’s too tight as well.”

His crew chief at the time was Larry McReynolds. He clapped back, “Well, you ain’t pitting again so that’s whatcha got. You’ll just haveta keep digging, Dale.” [Dale placed 2nd that race]

There it was. An instant epiphany. Keep Digging it was.


Circle of Life

I chose several font faces, printed them out and drove to the nearest tattoo place (no longer in existence, by the way) I explained what I wanted, showed the artist my piece of paper, and all that was needed was placement. I knew the perfect place!

Left calf, just above the scar of the injury that could’ve ended my life. And since I’m choosing life over death – ha, ha pun intended – this tat placement would be apropos.

Keep Digging

So anytime those dark thoughts of self-harm crept into my reptilian brain of mine, I would stare down at the words “Keep Digging“. I knew I had to find the inner strength to continue with life. Summon that mental fortitude needed to get the task at hand done.

Now that I’ve answered the What’s That Tat question in a long-winded explanation, you might have a slight appreciation for those particular words.

At least, I do.

los; out

Always Be Proud

Ever heard of the expression, “be loud and proud“? Well this applies to every aspect of the phrase including your heredity. There was a moment I wasn’t

Ever since then, I’ve learned to always be proud of who you are, no matter.


In the summer of 1994, I was enjoying being a high school graduate, yet preparing to be a collegiate freshman at Western Washington University. I wanted a vehicle instead I received a mountain bike from my parents (which led to my crash and tattoo inspiration for another time)

I also requested from them a microwave and/or a hot plate for my dorm room when cafeteria wasn’t open since I would be working at the Payless Drug Store in Bellingham.

I received a Tiger Rice Cooker, model JNP-0720, in the classic color of pink. You know, as in the choice color of popped collar wearing douchebags of the world. Wearing an actual dick costume makes you look like less of a dick than this. Still, the preppy set of the 90s never met a collar they didn’t want to pop. Some men even dared to sport popped collars in layers, like the world’s most unappealing onions – and of all the colors it was pink.

I digress

No other present was more emasculating than this pink rice cooker, at least to me. My mother can sense this, feel this, so she quipped, <insert Filipino accent here> “If you have rice, you have food. If you have food, you have everything.”

So that’s a “no” on returning this abomination for a microwave?


Be proud

Laramie was my roommate at the Omega Ridge Dormitory at WWU. He could’ve care less about judging me, I was still not proud of this gift. At work one night, I brought home a cardboard box big enough to place on top of it and use black color duct tape to disguise it further.

As always, your proud parents will visit their son’s dorm room after awhile … my mother quickly scanned the room but didn’t find my rice cooker. She casually walked over to the desk, lifted up the black duct taped box and yelped, “Why are you hiding your rice cooker like this?”

SHIT.

Like the gaudy looking picture frame a mother-in-law gave you as a wedding gift that you crammed into a junk drawer … I had done the same, much to my mother’s dismay.

She put it back, pursed her lips, and mumbled, “You should be proud to have a rice cooker, and that you’re Filipino.” Then strolled out of the room, leaving the emptiness of the words and disappointment drench you every second you remained in there.

I apologized profusely and immediately. I walked over, removed the cover and used it as a carrying bin for my mountain bike until it eventually was destroyed. There it sat on my college desk in all it’s pink colored glory for the remaining time at Western.

I am proud I am a Filipino American. Over the years, I’ve learned to love the rice cooker, especially ever since Mom died. Now the obvious question is: So, Los, do you still have it? I mean it’s 27 years old.

Damn right! I used it the other day to make delicious rice.

‘los; out

Which Papa Again?

Recently, my friend asked me to order Papa Murphy’s pizza to be prepared for pick up with the words: Don’t confuse it with Papa John’s!


July 14, 2016 – I blame the Sounders for this fine mess. In the end, I’ll accept responsibility, but hear me out first! It’s no secret that the Sounders season thus far has been sub-par. So last night’s thrashing of FC Dallas was a welcomed event.

Sidebar: The FC Dallas Head Coach is an arrogant bastard for not loading up his 5 best players to ‘rest’ them. He figured he could win in our house with his 2nd rate assclowns. Glad to send them packing with an embarrassing 5-nil loss.

I digress

Several corporate sponsors offer fans great promotions when the Sounders win. If the Sounders score three goals, Great Clips offers a free haircut. If the Sounders shut out an opponent at a home match, Papa Murphy’s will offer a free a large, one-topping pizza.

As soon as the neon lights of the large screen flashed “Sounders Win!”, I was dead-set on redeeming that pizza. In fact, it was MY DAMN PIZZA. I even told WCP, my seatmates, and a couple of coworkers I was gonna collect it after work today because the offer expires after one day of the match.

In my mind, Papa John’s was the pizza place that could deliver to my new home, Bastion of Bayne. I even looked up the nearest Papa John’s in Lake Stevens. There’s one located a mere mile away.

Perfect, I thought. I’ll bomb home, order the pizza, and I can continue the computer work I need to do. So I bomb home, and take a look at the Sounders app for the promotional details. “Redemption must be done in-person, not online or the phone.” Aiight, I thought, small setback. I’ll just get the pie, and return home.

I drive to the Papa John’s. I practically strut into the open store. A young lady attended to me. She asked if I called in, or ordering…

Me: “Yes, I’d like to redeem a coupon.”
Girl: “Ok, what kinda coupon.”
Me: “The app states that the Papa Murphy’s employee inputs …” I let the words trail off as we both realize I’m at the wrong company. I interrupt myself, “Have a good night, miss!”

Google Maps gets me to the nearest Papa Murphy’s which is less than a mile away. The store closes at 9:00 p.m. My car clock has 8:55 p.m. on it. Fantastic! I zip into there, redeem my coupon, and walk out triumphantly with my pepperoni pizza. I call WCP right away.

Who’s Your Daddy?

WCP answered: “Yo, big bro.”
I grit: “I got my damn pizza. You home? You eat dinner, yet?”
WCP is amused: “I was wondering with G-Money when you were gonna work out that it’s Papa Murphy’s, not Papa Johns, and exactly HOW you were gonna cook up that pizza without a stove in your new house.”
I huff: “Real funny, WCP. Just warm up the damn oven at the Crash Pad [current apartment], and I’ll be there in a few.”

After I smashed on a couple pieces of pizza, WCP asks, “So? How’s your free pizza?”
I swallow another bite, “Fucking fantastic. Free pizza tastes magical!”

Life lesson learned? Read the damn fine print for terms and conditions. Always!

‘los; out.

Carlos Warehouse Chronicles: Oil of Olay

One of my responsibilities of a FE (Front End) Supervisors at Woodinville Costco is to answer radio requests from the Membership Desk. It’s usually one of three types: key flick, approval, or Merchandise Pick-Up aka MPU.

It’s been almost 4 years now since the Oil of Olay Incident of 2017.


Oil of Olay

There was a call from the Membership Desk for a MPU. I looked around and realized I was the closest, and most available FE Supervisor, so I answered the radio request with, “Copy that, Carlos en route.”

It was yet another busy day at Woodinville Costco, so when I arrived at the Membership Desk it was teeming with activity.

I searched around for the MPU in the area I usually find it. I spied a LONE bottle of Oil of Olay.

I furrowed my brow as this is not a typical item that requires to be locked up in the Return To Vendor (RTV) Cage – yes, we use tons of acronyms to save time communicating. So I called out to confirm, while holding up the bottle.

“Is this really the MPU?” I stated loudly but to no one in particular. That was a mistake.
I heard, “Yes, Los. That’s it.”

I shrugged my shoulders, and sauntered off to the RTV Cage. I placed it in there, and logged it’s placement.

About an hour later, the returns auditor, the newly promoted, Tim C, approached me.

Tim: “Los, did you do a MPU?”
Me: “Sure did, it’s in the cage and logged.”
Tim: “By chance, was it a bottle of Oil of Olay that was Unsaleable?”
Me: “Yup.”
Tim: “Is it there now?”
Me: “Yes sir. Why?”
Tim: (practically exploded from frustration) “We’ve been looking for that for the last 45-minutes. We opened every box and searched every square inch.” He walks towards the cage.
Me: (thinking) Oh my. I’ve only ever seen a smile on that guy’s face. And boy, was it twisted about that. MEH. Of course, it didn’t belong in the cage, but mistakes happen. 

Then it happened. RevengeSweet, sweet revenge.

THE NEXT DAY …

The radio chatter started as it usually does.
“Carlos? Copy,” the radio blared.
“Go for Los,” my reply.
“There’s a MPU for you here. It’s a bottle of Oil of Olay,” I can practically hear them busting up laughing in the department.

Great! I usually don’t make public mistakes like that so this incident simply makes me delicious cannon fodder.

An hour passes without further incident. My co-supervisor, Jorge, calls. “Carlos? Copy?”
“Go for Los.” This outta be good, I mentally groaned.

“Can you please lock up this Oil of Olay in the RTV Cage?” I can hear his impish grin over the radio transmission.

Oh, for the love of … “Copy that. I’m en route now.”

Now I can’t live this down until someone else does something equally silly or worse.

At the end of my work shift, I had to walk by the fully staffed Membership Desk to which they were all cracking up as they were waving in their hands some Olay products.


Finally? Outside in the parking lot from his parked Civic, the maintenance guy, Michael, innocently asked, “Hey Los, what was all that chatter about Oil of Olay?”

I grumbled, “Forget about it – it’s an uber expensive bottle of Olay that removes years from your face. It was bottled by the one and only Ponce de Leon with water from the Fountain of Youth.”

Frenemy of Mine: Icy Hot

Thank you Urban Dictionary for providing the perfect word for me to use. Frenemy is an enemy disguised as a friend. We all have one, if not more, and I’m no exception. The frenemy of mine is Icy Hot Cream.

That’s right, you read that right.


On my 29th birthday, I chucked a spaz because once I compared myself to others in the same and even older age group, I realized I wasn’t psychically fit at all. As I was barreling into my 30’s, I was overweigh, and not active.

So I found a personal trainer (PT), and decided to do the necessary work. Unfortunately, the transition was brutal. My PT, Big Kenny, recommended Icy Hot for my achy muscles. They were so sore I could barely move without grunting but I wasn’t complaining. I applied so much on a daily basis the office co-workers joked it was my new cologne. They knew when I worked out with my PT because the smell was so pungent that as I passed even the plastic office plants would wilt.

One of the days of this routine was “leg day”, a day most people dread. This day’s regime was particularly rough. After my shower, and musking up for the day, I applied Icy Hot all over my legs as usual. Then I donned my Costco Travel uniform: khaki pants, brown shoes, matching belt, and light blue shirt.

I felt the Icy Hot warming up my muscles to my relief. Then?

Suddenly, a thousand razor sharp kitten claws were stabbing my genitals! Sweet Jeezus, there’s molten lava on my boys!! Thankfully I was still in the locker room, so I immediately strip down and raced back into the shower.

Rinse, rinse, repeat. Rinse, rinse, repeat.

SIGH. Crisis contained. I redressed.

What the fuck happened, I thought? I looked at the warning label as most men do after a disaster and unfavorable results (read that as the instructions too)

I reviewed what I did only to realize when it went all wrong. I applied Icy Hot on the inside of my thighs first then slipped on my clothing which meant a grip of the applied Icy Hot got on my boxer briefs therefore were in contact with my family jewels.

It was the scene out of Revenge of the Nerds all over again. Medicine FAIL! UGH, thanks frenemy of mine: Icy Hot Cream. Use with caution!

This has been my C Note.
‘los; out

NOT A Black Horse And A Cherry Tree

Yesterday’s horseback riding tour in Long Beach, Washington reminded me of a horse called: Crazy Gus.

My travel companion requested we rock some horseback riding down at the beach. After some quick Goo-diligence the company that fit best was Long Beach Horse Rides. The first horse I was paired with was named Roxette or Roxy for short. However, there was a change with the number of double-riders therefore they asked for me to be reassigned to another horse named, Amigo. No, seriously … that the was name of the horse!

Without a doubt, horses are majestic creatures with an individual personality. Horse wranglers, or trainers will readily agree with the statement.

Amigo and I had a chill time together yesterday. I was good to him, he was good to me. Not so much with a horse named Crazy Gus.


Turtle Bay Resort

Once upon a time, I was married in 2004. My wife had requested to vacation at North Shore, Oahu, Turtle Bay Resort. (Yes, the filming location for the movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) While on vacation there, she further requested to horseback ride along the beach.

2004 – North Shore of Oahu

As a dutiful husband, I booked the horseback riding tour. On the day of the tour we arrived on time so we can process paperwork (liability waivers, etc) Then we mingled with the other riders as the horse wranglers observed us. It was time to saddle up to our assigned horses.

After a quick discussion between the wranglers in whispered tones, they waved me over. “Hey Oakley (for my sunglasses), you have Gus,” one of the said.

I thought, Gus. Not a bad pull, like Simon and Garfunkel, get on the bus, Gus.

I approached the loading platform as directed. A different wrangler, mumbled to me, “Crazy Gus, huh?”

WAIT! HOLD UP. CRAZY GUS?! “Excuse me? Crazy Gus? I thought it was just Gus. Why, Crazy Gus?”

With a wink, she answered, “You’ll see. Just don’t let him get into the grass.”

I mentally complained, thanks a lot.


NOT a Black Horse and a Cherry Tree later … About halfway through the tour, a lawnmower was started several hundred feet away but STARTLED all the horses, save for Crazy Gus.

It was then he started pushing the threshold of my patience by drifting close to the trail edge where grass grew. He took a swipe or two before I gently guided him away as we were losing touch of the pack.

Thankfully, one of the wranglers was at the end to ensure everyone made it back.

THEN.

THEN IT HAPPENED. Rather, Crazy Gus happened. I think about we were about 75% done when Crazy Gus bolted into a small pasture of knee-high grass. I pulled up on the bridle to stop him, but he wasn’t.

Once he got a couple dozen feet off the trail and into the grass, he stopped. He stopped to eat!

This sonofabitch … I leaned over to his ear to whisper the following.

“Listen here, you ornery sonofabitch. I know you’re bored, but I’m not. If you don’t behave I’m gonna march the both of us to the GLUE FACTORY. Once you’ve been processed, and place on a shelf, I’m gonna buy it. NOW MOVE!”

I raised up my legs, pointed in my heels, slammed them into his ribs, careened the bit with his head attached towards the trail and yelled, “HAW!”

His eyes were as big as pie-pans! Most of all he was quite obedient after that little pep talk. The trail boss approached to ask if we were ok, I replied yes.

LATER ON …

No other incidents happened. As I was stepping off the platform, I patted Crazy Gus gently to assure him I was pleased with his behavior.

“MISTER! Mister! I’ve gotta ask, what did you say to Gus in the grass that got him to behave like that? I must know,” she pleaded with me.

“Oh, that?” I shrugged and thumbed in the direction of the trail. “That’s between Gus and I. It was a private conversation.”

I winked towards her like she did an hour earlier. A Cheshire Cat like grin creeps across my face every time this memory pops up in my mind.

‘los; out.

Accidental Karaoke: Dancing Queen

As I was rocking in the Millennium Subaru this morning, Dancing Queen by ABBA played Mark VII [my named iPod]. Reminded me of my first “karaoke” song I ever sang… totally by accident might I add. The memory flooded into my mind …


The Summer of 1995

Lynnwood, WA – Thrifty Payless Inc. I was the youngest supervisor on staff at the ripe old age of 19. Many of the old-crow cashiers were upset by this promotion by management. They thought I would react by being all award show [letting the title go to my head] One of my first responsibilities was to count inventory in our warehouse in the back of the store. It’s a very stressful time of year.

In order to mitigate that stress I would laugh, and joke, and sing, and dance and work off the clock when possible. The only music available to me was the satellite fed, Muzak music from Wilsonville, Oregon. If memory serves me correctly, only 6 songs were on that damn track.

As you can imagine, working part-time for the past 3 years, with each song averaging 3 minutes in length, I heard each of those more times than I care to admit to! One of those songs was Dancing Queen by ABBA. You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon [I know it’s a mixed metaphor – it’s funny, LAUGH!] to realize you learn the lyrics a song eventually.

One Sunday morning, during “Inventory Season”, I slid in early to do some counting. I was issued an alarm code, a key to the store, and whatnot. I plugged in the lights therefore the Muzak music was turned on as well. The typical, same boring songs were on, Blue Bayou, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and more!

NO ONE ELSE IS IN THE STORE, mind you. With my focus and eyes staring into the racks of shrink wrapped pallets (think Costco), my arm outstretched with a Papermate pen pointing, and a clipboard as my ‘tambourine’. Well… Dancing Queen played for the first time of the cycle, so I unconsciously started belting out the lyrics.

Accidental Karaoke

Unbeknownst to me, Trisha, the Accountant, had arrived and let some of the mostly male crew into the store. They heard a voice, and knew it was me. They all gathered up behind the thin, metal, swinging doors (think a restaurant kitchen door) to eavesdrop.

By the time of the crescendo, I was in full effect. Effectively, ABBA in the warehouse that had great acoustics! I was still concentrating on my pallet counts, though. One, two, three, “feel the beat from the tambourine, oh yay!”, I’d tap the clipboard against my hip. Four, five, six, “… digging the Dancing Queen!”

The song finishes, the lights go out, and I exclaimed, “What the hell?!” The lights were unplugged which were by the door. Then all I can heard is snickering, and applause, as I rapidly approach, Jeff, the ex-hard core Marine, plugs in the lights and music.

The entire crew is literally falling down on the tile, laughing, and pointing, and hollowing …“Los is a dancing queen!”

Oh, here we go, I mentally groaned. I could already envision it: tomorrow or the coming weeks my desk will be littered with ABBA paraphernalia, the crew will be making a name tag with “ABBA” or “Dancing Queen” as my title, and forever plus one day, I’ll never live this down!

To this day, anytime I hear that song, a smirk creeps onto my face, and I think, where’s my all-white outfit, with white belt and more importantly, where’s my CLIPBOARD?!

‘los; out

A Bad Case of the Yips

The recent rise in the COVID-19 Delta variant reminded me of the time I developed a case of the YIPS. What is that, you ask? We need to go no further than a How I Met Your Mom episode.

How I Met Your Mother

Season 3, Episode 10 – The Yips. Barney has trouble hitting on women at the Victoria’s Secret after party and so has to return to the woman who took his virginity.

At the Victoria Secret’s Party

I followed that TV show from minute one to minute done. This particular episode resonated with me one evening.

You see, I have a gregarious persona, and charming personality. Much like, the character Barney with his wit and charisma. I’m generally not at a loss for words, and very nimble in social situations.

So when my friends and family learn or witness these rare moments of being flustered, or squirming or drowning – they relish it. And of course, later chide me about it. Without further delay, let’s recount the experience.


The Case of the Yips

February 21, 2019 – Woodinville, Washington, Costco Returns Counter.

I got the case of the #yips today in Refunds today… Bernie and I are posted up at Registers 83 and 82 respectively, which are the front line tills. A gorgeous married brunette walks through the door pushing a cart full of items with her son in it as well.

Me: Hello there, c’mon up, don’t be bashful. *I pause for her to approach* I don’t bite, I charge extra for that.

Her: (after looking me up and down like a piece of man-meat) I’d pay extra for that.

I instantly blush. I feel the case of yips coming on quickly. I struggle with my next words. I stammer: May I, um. Er, can I, say can I have your Membership Card?

Bernie is cracking up laughing in my peripheral which is killing what little concentration that I had left. She readily hands over her card. I struggle mightily with a single item, in-store purchased pair of socks with a receipt! The easy task to do.

The only sound you could hear is the beeping-complaining of the computer for not hitting the sequence of keys in the proper order. My face is hot because it’s MORE red than the Refunds Desk. At last, I finish the refund, return her card, money and receipt.

Her: *she smiles, places her card, money and receipt into her purse then pushes her cart away with some swagger in her walk*

She pauses, looks over her shoulder. Oh, and Carlos? Good luck with your next return, Carlos. Hope the cat doesn’t get your tongue. Then she delivers the coup de grâce by WINKING at me!

I crossed my arms as pillow, lean on the desk, and bury my head. Just effing kill me now, I mentally scream!

As she walks off, Bernie quips to me only, Do you wanna put your own jaw back in your skull, or do you want my help?

Needless to say, I overanalyzed the situation and arrived to a conclusion. If you’re gonna battle head-to-head with a witty opponent, be damn sure you have several practiced answers.

For more embarrassing, self-professed incidents, please follow me.

los; out

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