Cellular Phone Monogamy

Note:  My good friend and fellow Blogger Kristabel has flung herself back into writing on her blog I said that I was going to continue to sit on the sidelines for the time being.  However, I have quickly changed my mind, and have flung myself back into it as well.  I even have a new mantra I have stolen outright from my favorite show from across the Atlantic:  Ambitious but Rubbish!

htc-desire-orange-black

The Phone:  First off, this is not a post for those people who have had the same cell phone for EVER!  You know the old school flip phones that have ringtones that sound like old audio sounds from an ancient Mac or PC with Windows 3.1.  However, the ringtone used by Tony Soprano in the hit HBO show The Sopranos was pretty cool; but that may only be due to the fact he was a mob boss.  This post is also not for the people who are scared of the Smart Phone revolution.  These people are afraid to upgrade because they worry that the phone will out smart the user.  This type of fear makes me think this is what it was like for the explorers who set sail to prove the Earth was not flat.  These adventure minded folks had to endure their version of people afraid of smart phones who promised them that they would sail of the edge of the planet.  Smart phones are the future you people with old flips phones that can’t receive Wi-Fi; and your outdated communications device is one step away from joining the laser disc and pager.  However, people still have pagers, right?

Enough!  This post is dedicated to those people who love the new fangled technology at the tips of our fingers.  The gazillion pixel camera with the ability to surf the net and talk at the same time is most bodacious.  The only thing better than that is to ditch that phone for the even newer, and more fangled one.

A phone also has to endure the user’s penchant for testing its durability.  It gets dropped, washed, placed in a toilet, ran over by a car, and sometimes a small child mistakes it for a hammer toy.  I am amazed at the endless fates a smart phone (or any wireless phone) can meet in its often brief life.

Which brings me to my friends, and I mean the friends who love a good smart phone.  I have a sneaky feeling that my friends with smart phones have had at least two or more “Smarties” since I have been with my one and only.  Heck, I know one friend who has had half a baker’s dozen in the time I have had mine.

This week will mark the two year anniversary of when I bought my first smart phone.  I held out for a few months, and even promised I would never upgrade.  Somewhere along the way I forgot what cause I was supporting in my defiance of smart phones, and purchased an HTC Desire (model pictured above).  I have owned four phones prior to the Desire.  Two of those phones would have to be replaced due to damage, and I used the insurance to get the same phone.  However, of the previous four phones I used prior to my smart phone, I did not keep any model longer than two years.  I typically upgraded when I was eligible.  That trend has ended with this phone I have now.

This phone has never been damaged.  I have dropped it on a few occasions, but it has been pretty durable.  It has never had to be replaced in an insurance claim.  This is the same phone I walked out of my cell phone provider’s shop with.  I must admit I am not impressed by any of the newer phones on the market at this time, and that has influenced my decision to stand pat with this phone.  At the same time, I am impressed with the long term aspect of my relationship with my cell phone.  In the age of love it and leave it technology, I am proud I have stood by my phone when younger and hotter models parade themselves in front or me.  My loyalty, it seems, extends into the realm of wireless communications.

Of course I am not a dreamer.  I will not walk forever with my HTC Desire.  There will come a day when I will have to take it out back and put it down.  Another way to look at it is that the time will come when a cell phone doctor, err technician, will explain to me that I will have to let it go.  Truth be told I most likely will not be sad on that day; hell I am genuinely surprised it has made it this far.  For now me and Desire have a good thing going, and who knows what our future will hold.

I say Thank You with a Tapperass Desert Top Ten! (re-released)

Special Note:  I wrote this blog story on my last full day in Arizona.  I had said goodbye to my new friends the day before, and the great memories were swirling through my mind.  I re-post now because it is the very best Cliff Notes version of my trip to the desert.

desert

This is my last full day in the greater Phoenix, AZ area.  I have to say that my sisters have been beyond wonderful.  I am feeling so many emotions today.  I regret not putting the effort into making this trip sooner than this weekend(2012).  I am happy they allowed me to stay an extra couple of days.  I am well fed, and pampered.  I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be the baby brother!  Fredo and Esteban could not even dream of this treatment.

I also made some new friends while I was here.  I laughed, blushed, and misused the English language more in one weekend than I have in a long while.  They made all the driving from Maricopa into “The City” (apologies to Mr. Pat and San Francisco) worth the while.

So, it is to these new friends who I adore ever so much that I offer up a great big North Coast Thank You… Planet Tapperass style!

I say thank you with a List of the Ten Best Things about driving 1050 miles from my comfort zone into the desert.

I must start with the wretched Honorable Mention:

Tapperass packed everything… including the weather!

Cold air, torrential downpours, poor visibility on the highway, and fog.  How I fit the main components of a typical Humboldt County winter storm into my bags is a trade secret.  I was quietly praying that I would be comfortable in this type of climate.  However, I never thought I would feel THIS much at home.  I felt bad seeing people getting all bundled up and looking at me- with my short sleeves and shorts like I was ready to hit the beach- thinking I was insane.  My friend from Michigan packed all sandals, save for one pair of shoes (and not the kind of shoes you want to wear in a winter storm).  Again, I was hoping for comfort, but this was ridiculous!

OK… here’s the list!

1. Family/New Friends

My sisters were so excited when they heard I wanted to come out for a visit.  They have been incredible.  The dog bonded with me (I hear she does that with EVERYBODY), and I had a guest room that makes a four star hotel weep.  I should have never waited this long to do this.  I woke up to French Toast one morning, and Sunday lunch consisted of ribs, ham, scallop potatoes, and brussel sprouts prepared in such a way anyone might eat them.  This might become the Fat Vacation, Part 2!

I also met some incredible new friends.  I was a last minute addition, but I soon proved to be good company (I think).  We had so much fun.  I even learned that we from Calif-o-r-n-ia also have a-c-c-e-nts.  I loved the quick witted banter of Amy, Violet and Donnie.  I met a very cool young  man who has a great collection of old bank/gift cards.  You never fully appreciate the great (and low) levels of art work that go into these cards.  I gave him my gift card from Old Town Coffee and Chocolates for his collection.  A little coffee shop in Eureka, CA.  A city he may only ever visit unintentionally if he gets lost on his way to somewhere civilized.

I wish we had more time!

2. The Concierge/Snack Basket

This hotel party was oh so awesome.  There was the guy in the hot tub trying to ply us all with cans of beer.  However, I liked that the snack food and sodas were complimentary.  I was the self-designated Snack Boy.  I would head down to the lobby and bring back Dorritos, Kit Kats, Twix, etc.  It was a buffet of high fructose corn syrup, and food preservatives.

At one point, somebody from our party was in need of some new clothes.  Not wanting to head to the store herself, somebody thought the hotel concierge could be sent on that errand.  We assumed he would have a scooter (we must have been in the European District of Phoenix), and he would have to strap on his little helmet and hit the freeway up to Walmart.  (think bugs in his teeth).  Later that night we were watching infomercials; the one about the Magic Bullet.  Anyway like any normal educated adults, it became a sex toy joke.  Did we need send the Concierge out on his scooter again?

“Oh, by the way Concierge… you can’t find THIS item at Walmart”

Donnie nearly fell over laughing

3. “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!”

Sitting at the bar in the hotel lobby sipping on El Julios (very decent drink), we turned the conversation to people we were glad were no longer friends, or at least not there.  Somebody brought up was given the nickname Beetlejuice.  Violet started with the whole “Beetlejuice…” three times chant, and I had to stop her because I feared this person might fall in from the sky.

El Julio was an exceptional host that night in the hotel bar.

4. Hurricane Vimy

Named by the Donnie Weather Service, this fast traveling  force of nature was reported as far north as Henderson Center in Eureka, CA last night (Monday).

The names and details of this event are protected for fear of incrimination.  The only information I am allowed to release is a single quote from the morning after.  It is an anonymous quote…

“What happened here?”

5. The Narcissism Booth at the Cheesecake Factory

If you love you some you, and I mean love you some YOU, then the Cheesecake Factory on East Camelback Road in Phoenix has a booth for you. Now for my long time readers, I did not snap a pic because I did not want to scare my new friends by confessing that I have a (now seldom used) blog.  But when you sit in this round booth, there are mirrors behind the back of the bench that are just at the right height to catch glimpses of your pretty face (or ugly grill like me).  I can just imagine some poor woman on a date with a guy who can’t stop admiring himself in the booth.

The next time I am in town, I will ask for that booth when I go there for lunch. Wait, I am a vampire!

6. Mason Storm* teaches KARATE at Grimaldis.

Grimaldis is a must stop for pizza lovers in this area.  We were all settled at our table waiting for pizza when a large group was winding their way through the joint.  Among this rather vertically challenged group was the seemingly towering Mason Storm, AKA Steven Seagal.  I hear he resides in this state.  Some of the locals are not too fond of him.  Mason was carrying what looked like a sword on his back, though later somebody said it was a cane.   Anyway, he and his crew were shown to a private room.  Star gawkers kept getting up to fake like they had to go to the bathroom just to catch a glimpse of Storm in his room.

Meanwhile I kept going about his KARATE (the way Seagal says it is with a funny accent), and that we should go in the room to get a lesson.  I started to wonder if we would be treated to one of those public celebrity melt downs, and hear plates and silverware crashing against the walls.  He and his peeps left before we did, and his departure was EPIC!  He and his crew numbered close to ten, and their SUV pulled up by the joint where we could observe through the window.  Violet got the best laughs when she referred his SUV as the “Clown Car”, because they were all piling in.

*I offer Exhibit A:  This is the video where Seagal says KARATE really funny, and as a bonus, why I call him Mason Storm instead of Steven Seagal.

7.  Introducing Ray to my new friends.

I got to meet Jim.  He is a cool guy, and he dates Amy.  He is a geek (he admits it), and he is also very funny and witty as well.  For some reason, he forgot my name.  He started to refer to me as Ray.  So instead of changing names, I simply adopted Ray as my other personality.  I had to go to the desert to get diagnosed with multiple personality issues?  It was nice that my new friends were courteous enough to include Ray in our plans.  Ray was on his best behavior.  Though Ray was found to be guilty of packing the weather from Humboldt County in our bags.

The memorable Ray moment was when somebody accidently opened the door on Donnie in the bathroom at Violet’s house.  Donnie shouted out, “Ray was that you?”

To which I responded, “No it was not, but Ray wold have liked to have.”

8.  The newest addition to my vocabulary:  Shart- verb

Example:  Amy borrowed a pair of yoga pants from Donnie to wear, but she was laughing so hard she was afraid she might shart in Donnie’s pants.

If you need any further explaining, you should just go on to the next blog.

9.  Bromance…NOT!

Now I am glad I met Jim.  He is a good guy, and he treats Amy well.  I kept telling Amy how cool I thought he was.  Amy was wondering if there might be a bromance happening.  I came to the conclusion that Bromances are the realm of  Metrosexual men (my opinion).  A geek and a sports dweeb are not prone to bromances.

So, bromance aside, I hope to see my friend Jim again next time I am out in his region of the world.

10. How many places can we send Tapperass (and Ray) in the greater Phoenix area?

Welcome to the Amazing Race: Phoenix!

On more than one occasion this weekend I was en route to meet up with everybody, when I would get a text from Donnie with new directions.  Only to get another text a few minutes later with new coordinates.  At one point I responded with a text saying, “OK.  I will wait for my next set of directions”  Despite changing plans, and other unforseen events, we had a great time.  I just wished they would have sent me on more geocaching adventures.  Ray loves to ride in the car!

—–

So there you have it.  I only wish we had more time to spend here.  I will be very heavy hearted leaving the desert tomorrow.  I know I will be seeing the rest of my family and a few friends, and I look forward to that.  However, between seeing my sisters and meeting my friends, I am a bit melancholy about leaving this wonderful place.  A side of me that does not come out much was on full display here (AND I am NOT talking about Ray!)

So thanks again to my incredible sisters, and my Uber -Fabulous new friends for making the desert quite hospitable.  Of course Ray helped out by bringing our weather with us!

So I dated an Ax Murderer (Sort Of…)

The nice thing about traveling to the Bay Area is the ability to shop at stores we do not have on the North Coast.    I needed to upgrade the memory on my Netbook, so I stopped by Frys Electronics.

It was so easy to find just what I wanted.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with Frys, there is a process to procuring your electronic goods.  Once you find what you want, you are given a ticket that you take to the check-out counter.  You then pick up your item there.

The woman at the check-out I drew to help me was one of Charo’s long lost relatives.  There was some mix-up she was trying to figure out, and it was taking a long time to resolve.  Pat eventually came over to the check-out to see what was going on.

So all things were resolved, and we moved onto to paying for my items.  So as I reached for my card to pay, Charo’s niece noticed the scar on my forehead.

“So what happened to your head?”

This question came out of nowhere.  We (Pat and I) had not been chatting her up, or even saying but two words to her during this.  Pat was so floored by this sudden question of a personal nature, he turned his head away and laughed.  As if he was saying “I can’t believe she asked him that!”.

In our usual form, I decided to pretend like I had no idea there was a scar on my head.  I used my smart phone to look at my reflection.  Pat went another direction…

“His ex-girlfriend tried to kill him.”

We left that poor woman so frazzled, she regretted ever asking.  I do not think she heard me tell her the real reason I had my scar.

Boy, we are bad.  However, this vacation is getting funner by the hour!

The FAT vacation (a photo album)

How the hell are you all?  I know it has been a long time since we have done this, but my beloved Pops wants to see a visual record of the damage we did to ourselves while on this latest trip to the Bay Area.  Granted we did see a ball game, but it was the the food that stole the show.

We started in Rhonert Park at In-N-Out burger.

The same day,  before the Giants-Dodgers game we were on our way to see,  we went to Pier 39.  I had a bread bowl of Clam Chowder from Boudin’s, Pops had a small sandwich (not pictured)

Picture taken from the Espetus Website

The next day (Saturday) we went to a Churrascaria, or what is more commonly known as a Brazilian Steakhouse.   All you can eat steak, ribs, chicken, pork, etc.  Happy Birthday Pops!

Later that night we went to Fenton’s in the East Bay, and I ate this HUGE Cookie Connection Sundae.

(Sunday) Before heading to the one of the largest Flea Markets around, we stopped off at Fuddruckers.  This was the “Feast de Resistance”.  After the Steakhouse, where the hell did this food go?

We got heat and sun at the Flea Market (San Jose)

We saw a Mariachi Band

We saw a place to get hair cuts for $7

We also saw a pony ride tent for the kids

After the Flea Market, we made the questionable decision to go to Kryspy Kreme

This is where the name “FAT Vacation” was more or less born

Then we went to a candy shop to rot our teeth, and we saw that movie they play in a constant loop  about that Chocolate Factory and that kid with the dead beat grandfather (inside joke)

Of course on our way home (Monday), we stopped at Cache Creek Casino gorge on their infamous Harvest Buffet.  This is where you tried to shame Bubbles for having two dessert items.  Really Pops!  Hello Kettle, meet the Pot.  We shall see just how hard our arteries have become.

However, we had a blast, and we all needed this weekend!

Compulsive Proofreader: WE MISS YOU!

My dear friend Mr. Pat discovered this gem at a mall in the Bay Area.  After a few trips to mall he had to point out the error to a retail clerk.  Funny they had not noticed it before.

I post this to show my respect for the Compulsive Proofreader.  A one time blogger who shared his compulsion with all of us.  I know he is very busy, but we miss him all the same.

A subtle, yet not so subtle attitude change (or two)

This week I realized that I am going through a change in my everyday mind set.  I really could not put my finger on it right away, but today it all came together for me.  This afternoon I realized that my attitude has changed in two very distinct arenas.  These are sports, and automobiles.  Being a sports fan has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember.  When it comes to automobiles, I know what kind of cars are going to cost a lot, which ones will use less gas, and those designed to roar down the highway.

 

So what was it that finally brought this all home for me?

I was walking out of the pet store in Henderson Center when I saw a Kia Rondo parked outside the post office.  Normally I just walk on by and not invest a thought in such an ordinary car.  However, now that I drive a Nissan Versa ( a car very similar to the Rondo), I found myself doing a visual comparison of the Rondo to my Versa.  First I could not help but notice the slightly bigger back seat area for the passengers.  Of course the Rondo is at least a half foot to a foot longer than my Versa, and the designers decided to use that increased length to enhance the comfort of the rear seat passengers.  Well the back of both cars seem to have similar storage space…

 

OK, what the hell am I rambling on about in my mind?  Where does this come from?

 

It is so simple.

I have stumbled upon the car show Top Gear.  Now I only watch the UK version of this show, because when you get down to it, this original English version is so much better than any of the versions created after the fact.  The three hosts of the UK Top Gear Show, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond have developed an on air chemistry that drives the show like a rocket lifting an object into space.  In between their reviews of cars (both Super Cars, and everyday cars for us working stiffs), they dream up elaborate challenges that involve a car in someway.  It could be a race from one point to another, or a contest to see who can buy the best car for a minimal amount of money.  It is an edgy show (Clarkson is often the target of letters from people or groups he has offended), but for people who get it, Top Gear is a bastion for those of us who wish we could never grow up.  These three blokes have one of the best jobs in the world.  They drive very expensive cars on their test track, travel all over the world to conduct challenges, and in the process manage to make us learn a little bit more about cars.

 

What really got me interested in Top Gear was the 60 Minutes story that was done about the show.  I had to check it out.  Since then I have been hooked.  I am nearly through all of the shows that stream on Netflix.  I can’t say that I am now a true “Petrol Head”, but as I shared with you my experience sizing up the Kia Rondo to my Versa, the Top Gear experience has me seeing the automobile like I never have before.

 

Here is the link to the 60 Minutes Story on Top Gear.  Judge for yourself.

 

Top Gear’s Wild Ride

 

Now onto sports…

I have been a sports fan for as long as I can remember.  I grew up loving the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, and the one time Los Angeles Rams.  Growing up on the 80’s I was used to rooting for winning teams, well maybe not the Rams.  As my knowledge of sports grew over the years I felt I was quite knowledgeable about most things sports related.  I guess I was right to an extent, but then I started listening to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio, and something changed.

Colin came to ESPN Radio’s national line up after Tony Kornhierser “retired” from his radio show.  Tony’s  show was wildly popular, and so Colin Cowherd had quite a uphill battle to gain acceptance from an entrenched audience base.  However, Colin persevered, and eventually he found success.  I like Colin, because he makes me think.  If I just want minimal provocation and just laughs, I catch Jim Rome in the morning.  A funny thing happens when the clock strikes noon here on the North Coast; Colin will come on the air and provoke the masses.  He does not say anything outrageous or over the line.  He has done something to upset the natural order of all sports fans.  Colin has taken the emotion out of sports.  Yes, as fans we love our teams, and our attachment to our favorite stars can cause a blindness to some basic truths.

 

Listeners e-mail and call Colin on a daily basis to berate him and tell him he knows nothing.  Colin handles these “meatballs” as he refers to them by asking them to take the emotion out of the equation.  No matter how much we love our players and teams, big time sports are a business, and actions are taken.  Athletes make choices that often leave fans broken hearted, but Colin defends the “greedy” and “disloyal” athletes (as the listeners would refer to them) by reminding the audience that the business of Sports is just that:  A Business.

 

As I thought about the whole car thing, I also thought about my sports thing too.  I am now seeing all of my sports news and notes with less emotion.  I still like the games, and will root for my teams.  However, I do not find myself thumping my chest while bragging about this athlete or that team.  I find myself thinking two steps ahead, about how a player could relocate after the season, or how a team plans to compete for a championship while clearly lacking the pieces it needs to be successful.  Colin Cowherd made me a better sports fan.  Well at least a different kind of one.