Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Case For Tray Tables

Tray tables or overbed tables are those rolling things used in hospitals for patients to eat on while confined in bed. We mental health workers on the other hand have different uses for them which I’m going to enumerate here shortly. Why am I talking about this in the first place? Well, our Nurse Manager, out of the blue, sent out an email last week that we should not be using those tables anymore other than on the geriatric psych unit. The reason given was that they shouldn’t be used for passing medications, for staff to eat on, or to lay our clipboards on (these are clipboards with a sheet for each patient where we mark their location and behaviors). Okay, I can understand the reason regarding medications, and eating, but there are a lot of other legitimate uses for the table:
*When the staff takes patient vital signs in the hallway, they need something to lay the clipboard to write on.
*On the night shift, we often cannot find another staff member to monitor the hallway when we are doing admissions, thus, we have to cover the hallway at the same time we are asking the new patient to sign papers and inspect their belongings. We use the tray table to lay the papers which the new patient has to sign. Without the table, we have to pull one staff member off the floor and go inside a consult room. God forbid if we get two admissions at the same time which does happen!
*For the same multitasking reason, we monitor the hallway at the same time we are charting on the work supplied laptop. And where do you think we put the laptop on? Yep, you are right – the tray table.
*Frequent items asked for by patients are paper and pencil. The tray table has a small drawer where we can keep those, thus preventing the patients from having to go to the nurse’s station every time they need those items.
*When I make new admission chart packs, I lay paper clips and assemble the necessary sheets on the table. I mean, really, I cannot make those packs without a table!
I implore the powers that be to return the tray tables because they make us more productive with our job. Working without them is like losing a limb. By the way, this was the same Nurse Manager who approved the purchase of four of these tables when we asked for them several years ago. I don’t know what changed between then and now.
Our nurse manager is never going to see this blog so what’s the point of writing it? Just airing my frustration over the seemingly unjustified removal of a very important equipment. That’s all.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spinning With A Netbook

I arrived home late from work last Monday morning (I work nights) at about 9:00 a.m. By the time I went to the front gate to pick up the newspaper, it was gone and most likely stolen. I requested a replacement but it never arrived. Since I also get the online version of the paper (the pages are arranged exactly like the hardcopy), I had no choice but to read the news on my computer.
                If you have read this blog before, you know I like reading the newspaper while riding the stationary bike, using the elliptical machine, or walking on the treadmill. Well, I’ve never tried doing that with a computer so this was going to be a first. Monday was a spinning bike day, so I fired up my netbook, logged on to the Press Telegram website, mounted the wide open netbook on the book rack of the bike, then started pedaling. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. For sure I wouldn’t be able to do stand ups or the computer might fall over. That was fine with me because I like to do high cadence spinning anyway which simulates breathing like running. Reading the print wasn’t a problem even with darkening skies outside because of the computer backlight. If I was reading the paper version, I might have had to turn on the lights in my living room.
                So anyway, reading was not a problem. The difficult part was using the touchpad to turn the pages because of the movement of my body and the pedals. It took several tries to smoothen the movements of my fingers before I could turn a page. I never liked touchpads in the first place and I always use a mouse. That wouldn’t have worked on a book rack mounted netbook. You know what? I think coordinating the page turning with pedaling actually made the workout a wee bit more challenging. I was able to do 40 minutes on the spinning bike and did 10 minutes on the recumbent bike just to see if it was easier to turn the page while semi-reclined. It wasn’t. This is probably better done with a  table PC which I don’t have. It would have been easier turning pages with a swipe of a finger.
                If I don’t receive the newspaper next time, I may have to try this netbook technique again on the treadmill. Not only will I wish that the computer doesn’t fall off, but that I wouldn’t either. Oh, boy, what I have to do just to satisfy my endorphin cravings!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

A Displeased and Unappreciative Worker

When I showed up for work last Saturday evening, I already knew that one of my regular coworkers was taking the weekend off. This was a very reliable guy whom I work with very well because we knew each other’s work habits. Despite him being off, I knew I could rely on my other coworker who even though a little lacking in initiative, can pull his weight when asked to. To my disappointment, he had called in sick (or cancelled himself – how does one do that?!). I didn’t even know whom I was going to work with on the floor. A licensed vocational nurse (LVN) showed up shortly and she was assigned to work with me. Well, she didn’t like that idea because she was expecting to work in the medication room. Not even concealing her displeasure, she asked the charge nurse right away if she could go home instead. That wasn’t really an option so she made it plain that she didn’t really want to work in the position assigned to her that night. You would think that what she was going to ask next was what she had to do, but noooo. She asked when she can take a break. Oh my goodness! All she had to do was check on her assigned patients to make sure they were present, alive, and not having sex with each other. On the other hand, I had to do that same job plus the rest of the night shift paperwork, making new charts, doing vital signs, and charting, because she didn’t know the routine and how to do them. I was quite content on doing all of them, which I eventually finished in a slightly longer time than usual. I was just very surprised and disappointed at the way she reacted when asked to work on the floor as a mental health worker. She was still getting her LVN salary after all. She also said she didn’t like that there were cameras all over the place watching our every move (oh well, welcome to my world).  We had to be very nice to her despite that because we needed her. If not, she would have been reported to the supervisor already for such terrible attitude. Some people just don’t appreciate having a job and if she didn’t need it, why even bother to apply?
We were lucky somehow because we didn’t have difficult-to-deal-with patients that night. I couldn’t say the same for a certain LVN.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Surprise Social Media Exposure

What a strange day Thursday was. First I was contacted by a Senior Social Media Specialist from Charter Communications who found my blog about her company. She commented on my post about the Christmas gift from Charter regarding the increase in upload and download speeds ( Here is what she said in brief: “I came across your blog and am happy to see you enjoying the free boost in your download and upload speeds! Also, if you ever need some help with service, our Social Media team is always happy to help.”

Next, the hailstorm happened and a couple of hours after I posted my videos of it on You Tube (, an associate producer from WeatherNationTV sent me a You Tube email saying: “My name is (name removed for privacy reasons) and I'm a producer at WeatherNationTV, a new all weather cable company broadcast in several cities around the United States. Just watched your Long Beach hail video. Nice footage that you captured! We would love to share your video with our audience. Please let us know if you would like to be credited and if so by what name. Thank you again for your consideration. We look forward to showcasing your work in our broadcasts.” I gave him my permission and will be checking WeatherNationTV later to see if they posted the videos.

On a slightly related note, I went back to the store to return something defective that I bought before the hailstorm and a woman in a car parked next to mine asked me if that was ice on the windshield of my car. Almost three hours after I was caught in the storm, the ice had not fully melted. The woman said on her part of the city, they only had rain. This was face to face socialization for a change.

Don’t you just love social media? For someone private and reserved, it’s my only way to gain some exposure. Thanks folks!

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

A White California Christmas?

As I was driving home from the store Thursday afternoon, the ominous clouds in the horizon towards the north didn’t take long to unleash something totally unexpected. The initial drops of rain were quickly followed by thick torrents of ice. A hailstorm in Long Beach!? It has happened before though rarely, but not in my part of town. While at a stop light, I feared that the heavy drops would crack my windshield. Already the driver of the car beside me was taking a video with his cell phone. Turning into my block, I had to stop to car to take out my cell phone to take my own video. The street was blanketed with ice by this time and with the thickness of the ice droplets, it was difficult to drive because you can barely see anything ahead of you in addition to the slipping and sliding. A truck ahead of me had to stop completely so I had to drive around him to get to the alley where my garage was. I took a second video showing the ice on my car and on the street, including thunder and lightning. When I tried driving the car into the garage, all it did was spin it’s wheels on the icy pavement and I had to back up a couple of times before I was finally able to get in the garage. As I walked the few short steps back home, I had to tread very, very slowly to keep myself from slipping (me with the bad ankles, bad balance, and poor proprioception). In the meantime I saw my neighbor going towards the parking lot to take his own video of the spectacle. Now, I’ve been caught in a hailstorm while running years ago, but nothing of the magnitude that happened in the late afternoon of December 15th. The sky had fallen and heavily. It wouldn’t surprise me if the snowflakes come soon.

Here's an update to last night's hail storm. The morning after, the ice on the ground still hasn't melted.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Catching Up With Runner’s World, etc.

Oh boy, am I delayed in my magazine reading! The January issue of Runner’s World magazine had already arrived even before I could finish the December issue. I decided that if it was a quiet night at work, I would try to catch up. Having finished my routine work early last Monday night, (doing rounds, taking vital signs, charting, and making new chart packs) instead of grabbing my netbook, I took out the two issues of RW and started reading. I was already at the last article of December about why you don’t see too many African American runners, so I was able to finish that issue rather quickly. Then I started on the January issue. Ever noticed how much thinner this magazine is now? It’s becoming more like my local newspaper – filled with advertisements. The magazine was so thin that I was able read it halfway before stopping to save some for the next day. I have a three year subscription and  am only being charged less than a dollar each issue so I have no complaints about the thinness and the ads. They have to make a living after all.
I don’t know why I’m still subscribed though, because training hasn’t changed much through the years and they are practically saying the same things over and over. However there are human interest stories that are nice to read. It’s just disappointing that I am no longer able to try some of the workouts that the magazine suggests. One of the best ones I’ve tried before all my ankle problems started was the 3/2/1 intervals which I’ve mentioned in previous posts. After a 10 minute warm up, run 3 minutes at about a 10k pace, recover by jogging for 1 minute, then for 2 minutes pick up to a 5k pace, then 1 minute recovery, then 1 minute at a 400 meter pace, then 2 minutes of recovery jogging. One set of that gives you 10 minutes and do 3 to 4 sets of that plus a 10 minute cool down at the end. It’s a tough road interval workout that can take the place of a track workout. Better to do if you have a variable interval timer watch. You’d be very thankful when you reach that 2 minute recovery jog at the end of each interval because by then you would have gone anaerobic.
Speaking of recent running, my ankles were hurting for several days after last Tuesday morning’s (not yesterday, but last week) treadmill run because I wore thinner soled shoes. They were still motion control shoes but the soles were slightly thinner than the one’s I usually wear. Not only that, but I tried increasing the pace slightly and that increased my pounding against the surface. Say what you may about the advantages of barefoot running but that just doesn’t work for collapsed ankles like mine. I need the thickest ,most supportive motion control shoes plus orthotics to minimize the side to side movement. Enough said about running for today. I probably spent more time reading Runner’s World than actually running this past week. At least I’m caught up with that part of life.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Surprise Gift From Charter Internet

Here's a short and sweet post: I’ve been getting calls from Charter Communications (my internet provider) in the past week and since I’ve been at work when they called I couldn’t answer. They finally got hold of me Tuesday night and I told the agent on the other line that I’ve missed a few of their calls. Anticipating an offer for bundled services and before he could start his spiel however, I told him that first, I don’t need cable TV or telephone service over the internet, but to go ahead and tell me what special offers they have so I can say no thanks to him afterwards. We had a quick laugh at that. Well, he bypassed the specials that I told him I didn’t need but let me know that they are upgrading my internet speed from 12 megabits per second to 15 megabits per second at no extra charge. Who could refuse such an offer or did I even have that option? I thanked him and his company. What he didn’t mention is the upload speed was increased also to almost double the 1.7 mbps I originally had. I only found this out when I tested the speed the next day. Once again, thanks, Charter Communications! I forgive you for charging me a couple of week’s worth of extra fees for renting your modem <> when I didn’t have to. Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas Charter Communications!

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Virgin Immobile Follow Up

After having used the LG Optimus V for several months on a prepaid plan this is what I can say about it. Even though it’s an Android phone, I hardly use the apps. There are a lot of preloaded apps that don’t apply to me and I’m pretty sure other people with smart phones hardly use a lot of the preloads and downloads with regularity. You know, download a free app, try it once or twice, then forget about it. By the way, for some reason some of the preloaded apps cannot be deleted.
When I bought this phone, the manual said I had to subscribe to a monthly plan. At that time their lowest tier plan was $25.00 a month for unlimited internet and 300 minutes of talk time. They have since then increased it to $35.00. I found that subscribing was not necessary if I wanted to stay with the prepaid service. After all, I only occasionally check email or browse the web via wi-fi. One problem I have now is that I can’t top-up my minutes online anymore because Virgin Mobile blocked all my credit cards. So I have to buy top-up cards or load up the minutes at a store like Radio Shack – a minor inconvenience when you’re used to topping up online. I don’t know if this is because of the supposed monthly subscription requirement or my previous dispute with Virgin Mobile ( Nowadays, I only top-up every 90 days as required by the company to keep their service. I stopped using my cell phone for international calls and use MagicJack instead because it’s way cheaper. So what do I do now with all those accumulated minutes? Maybe I’ll sign up for Facebook text message updates.
Another problem I’m having has something to do with MMS (multi media messaging service). I couldn’t send or receive them. I mistakenly thought that the person I was sending a picture to did not receive it because the file was too big and she didn’t have a smart phone. Don’t worry, I wasn’t sexting and never have. I also tried to send a picture to my Facebook wall to no avail. Then I asked one of my coworkers to try to send me a picture from her phone. Still no dice. I finally emailed Virgin Mobile and they said they will forward the issue to their technicians. They just sent me a text message telling me to try using MMS again. As of this writing, it’s still not working. I’ve checked message boards and read that this is a common problem with the Virgin Mobile network. Darn! If only the price wasn’t right for my budget, I would have left this company a long time ago. The closest alternative is the AT&T Go Phone but that costs slightly more every three months and their international long distance rates are sky high. So, I can’t use my smart phone to its full capabilities. Smart phone, but dumb system.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Replacing My Old PDA

Did you ever use a PDA (no, not public displays of affection but personal digital assistant) before smart phones came out? I’ve never used the device. What I consider my PDA is more old fashioned, something  descended from papyrus, if you get my drift. We’re not even talking about a Filofax here. Remember those?

Kids nowadays probably don’t know what I’m talking about. What I have is not something I need to turn on, boot up, or recharge, and I use my own moistened digits to turn the pages. Well my old 1980’s era PDA was falling apart – tattered, dog eared, cover torn off, held together by rubber bands, etc. After using it to look up addresses for this year’s Christmas card list, I decided it had taken too much abuse, served me past it’s lifetime, and time to get a replacement.
First, I went to the 99 Cent store but didn’t find one. Then I visited the websites of Walmart, Target, Staples, OfficeMax and Office Depot. There were all sorts but the simplest one I found with the right price was at Target. It was made from recycled paper so there, I’m being environmentally friendly, okay?
I copied the names and addresses from the old PDA to the new one, left out the ones I haven’t been in touch with for several years (old gf’s, distant relatives, etc.), then shredded the pages that have been written on before throwing away the blank ones in the trash. Parting with the broken down PDA was such sweet sorrow and I wish the new one will last just as long. If it does, this world will have gone paperless by then. On a second thought, what would we use for toilet paper?!
 My Old Address Book and the Replacement

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Multi City Run

It was time to send off my mom’s Christmas card via the LBC courier service in Norwalk. Like last year, it gave me an opportunity to run elsewhere other than from home. This reminded me of a 20 miler a lot of years ago when I tried to set foot on as many cities that I could on the way and ended up at a family picnic at the end. This long run started from home in Long Beach and went through Lakewood, Cerritos, Norwalk, Bellflower, Downey, then back to the Lakewood/Long Beach border for the picnic. This is what I call my 6 city run which was never repeated. I don’t even remember anymore what marathon I was training for that year but I’m sure it’s in one of my three decades long logbooks.
 Last Friday’s run was on a much lesser scale which consisted of only 2 cities. Starting off from Norwalk, I headed to Cerritos about a mile away and ran on the streets surrounding Cerritos Town Center, then proceeded  to my Uncle’s house. Seeing that everything was quiet from outside, I didn’t bother to ring their doorbell because I didn’t want to be an unexpected guest. I meandered through their housing tract then turned around at the 25 minute point. This part of Los Angeles county is pancake flat other than freeway bridges, two of which I happened to cross. Both were over the 91/Riverside Freeway. That was the extent of my hillwork that day.
 The only significant thing about this short run was that it was non-stop. Instead of doing the one minute walk between four minute runs, I kept on skipping the walk breaks until I reached 50 minutes. Last year when I ran in that area, I went out and back from L.A. County to Orange County and that was a three city run: Norwalk, Cerritos, and Cypress. As my ankle tendons have deteriorated, so have the number of cities I could connect together during the times that I could run. Nevertheless, I appreciate those times that I am able to. Fifty freaking good minutes of slow and steady non-stop running! Short but sweet.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

So Why Didn't I Get a Raise?!?

I started writing this last week upon finding out that all my coworkers had gotten a salary increase in their last paycheck while I did not. Three years ago, our employer gave us a raise and a month later when the recession struck, they not only laid people off, they also took away three percent from the remaining employees’ hourly pay. At the time, most employees got a three percent raise but when the employer took three percent off the new hourly rate, the workers actually got lesser money than before the raise took effect.
 So back to my problem. What I wrote below was in preparation for me to plead my case to my supervisor and human resources, because my annual review was quite good. Well, practically everyone gets good reviews anyway based on past evaluations and if so, why did my coworkers get a raise and I did not. Here is what I wrote last week:

Reasons Why I Deserve a Raise:
*Mentored coworkers when Electronic Medical Records system started.
*Keeps unit stocked with admission chart packs by streamlining the way they are assembled.
*I’m the only one who makes chart packs in our unit on South Campus.
*Does the most frequent rounds of any night shift Mental Health Worker.
*Does not fall asleep while monitoring the hallways at night.
*Developed a list of Mental Health Worker duties and responsibilities and revised them as the job evolved.
**Has been  proactive with having the Registered Nurse sign the back part of the rounds sheet because often times they forget that it needs to be done.
*Does most of the heavy lifting during the works shift (I usually do more work than my coworkers).
*I often go the extra mile by doing work I’m not required to do like filing the rounds sheets before I clock out in the morning.
*When admitting a patient, I’m the only one who automatically gives them gowns, pajama bottoms, and towels (extra blanket too if the room they are going to is cold).
*Cut down a patient from the ceiling who trying to hang herself in the shower.
*I’m very organized and work is done in the most efficient way possible.
These may appear like inconsequential things and they go unnoticed and probably taken for granted because it’s work that I do on a consistent basis. I have never wavered in this work ethic since I started working here, unlike others who become too comfortable and show apathy after just the first few weeks of being on the job.
I’m not the type to toot my own horn but I felt slighted when my paycheck didn’t reflect a raise a couple of weeks ago. I haven't gotten complacent either. That’s why I wrote those reasons above. I started to think that all that hard work doesn’t pay off since the slackers got a raise while I did not. Holding out hope that there must have been a mistake, I decided to wait for the next paycheck to see if there were any changes before calling my supervisor and presenting my reasons. Hallelujah! When I checked my paystub online last Thursday night (we don’t get paper stubs any more, money is directly deposited in the bank and stubs are in pdf), I saw that I was getting two paychecks: one for the a correction of the previous paycheck and the regular check showing that I had indeed received a fair increase for all the hard work I have been doing. Will that raise enable me to retire in a couple of years? Well, it was only a few cents per hour. I don't know how many percent my coworkers got, but I'm happy with mine. Let’s just hope they don’t take that away again in the near future.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Post Thanksgiving Day Happenings

That means Black Friday sales of course! I hadn’t planned on any major purchases for Black Friday other than some DVD disks at Radio Shack and perhaps a wireless printer. But first, let me tell you about how I was rear ended by a truck. As I was driving to the store and while stopped at a red light, I suddenly felt something hit my car from behind. It was a huge moving truck whose driver probably underestimated the braking distance. I pulled over at the next turn to check the damage thinking the truck driver would do the same. He kinda did but continued to drive away slowly. I checked my rear bumper and only saw a few light scratches. The bumper itself was intact so I gave the truck driver a thumb up sign that everything was A-ok. I hope he didn’t perceive it to be the middle finger. That truck was so high that the bottom of its front bumper hit the top of my rear bumper, thus the scratches.
 So I got rear ended on the way to a Black Friday special at 8 a.m. To make matter slightly worse, the Radio Shack half a mile away from home was out of the DVD disks that were on sale. Off I go to the one two miles away and in the store I saw a guy picking up the last two packs of the disks, or so I thought. When he saw that I was envious of him getting the remaining disks, he kindly gave me a pack. Turns out he was a Filipino and he told me he had just driven from Fry’s Electronics but the lines were too long. As he paid for his DVD disks, I asked a salesperson if there were any more. He went back to the shelf and showed me that there were a few packs left that were covered by some other products. Well, the ones that the Filipino guy gave me were DVD-R while the salesperson gave me DVD+R. They made no difference to me since both work with my computer and DVD player. The Filipino guy said DVD-R’s work better in all machines. As I approached the cashier, some HP printers on half price sale was blocking my way. I read the features and decided to get one of those too. $76 for 2 packs of 75 DVD disks and a wireless/internet printer. Not a bad deal. That was the extent of my Black Friday purchase, and done at a store that was not crowded.
On Saturday morning, I had goal oriented run/walk. It consisted of running to Winco Grocery store, checking out any green tag deals that I would find appealing, then running back home. I managed all of those other than finding anything I might want to buy later. Too bad they haven’t had a repeat of the pre Halloween special of hard candy for 99 cents a pound. On my way out, one of the cashiers and the security guard were eyeing my suspiciously. They were probably thinking “what is this sweaty man doing in the store without buying anything? Was he obtaining a five finger discount?” Well, at least I got a 50 minute run in (4 minutes of running and 1 minute walking then repeat). For a cool down, I walked half a mile back home.
When Cyber Monday arrived, I checked out the website and saw that there was a special on laptop memory: $14.99 for 4 gigabytes (with a $10 rebate). I wanted to buy two of those but kept putting it off until the sale expired. Thank goodness! I felt I already spent too much on Black Friday. After all, my laptop was already fast enough and didn’t need the extra memory. On Cyber Monday, I didn’t fall into the category of buying a product just because it was such a good deal to pass up. I skipped the small business Saturday sales. Oh, I didn't get pepper sprayed either.

What about you? Did you do any Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday shopping? Actually there was some other thing I bought online last Saturday but I’ll have to tell you about it some other time.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 Happenings

So I bought this precooked 10 pound turkey a week before Thanksgiving and I had to thaw it in the fridge for a few days. Last year I blogged about roasting my first turkey using a countertop roaster I just bought <>. I didn’t want to go through the hassle of brining, buttering, seasoning, cooking, and washing this year so I took the easy way out. Well it turned out the turkey I cooked last year tasted better than the store bought one probably because of the brining. I’ve been eating turkey for the last few days now and will be doing so for a few more days.
When I arrived at the family Thanksgiving party last Thursday afternoon, the first person I saw was my cousin and her 2 year old daughter. I brought a gift for my niece because we were also celebrating her birthday. My cousin brought to my attention the shirt my niece was wearing. It said “big sis”. I didn’t get it right away until I noticed my cousin’s slightly rounded belly. Perfect! My birthday present happened to be a doll which laughed, cried, and said mama. My niece can practice on it while waiting for her new brother or sister. I’m happily looking forward to having a new niece or nephew come May of next year.

The hostess, another cousin, is a cooking show fan and she frequently applies what she learns, and dinner was wonderfully tasty as usual. That’s why I always go to her parties when I’m not working. While the Thanksgiving and birthday celebration was going on, singing broke out in the form of karaoke. I even managed to record a video of my uncle singing a duet with his brother in law. You can always tell it’s a Filipino party because inevitably, karaoke breaks out. You can watch the video here: . Just prepare your ears for semi sweet sounds of the duo.
A lot more pictures than usual were taken due to the proliferation of digital cameras from young and old folks alike. A celebrity was even present – the girlfriend of my nephew was a finalist in this year’s edition of So You Think You Can Dance TV show. She just came back from their post competition tour of the country.
The best part of dinner aside from the company? Dessert, of course. I couldn’t get enough of the pumpkin cobbler and pecan pie bites. So scrumptious that I just had to take some home. Thanks cuz, for a wonderful Thanksgiving Day party. As you can imagine, it wasn’t only the turkey that was stuffed.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Random Thoughts From Summer to Early Winter 2011

From this turkey of a blogger to you: Happy Thanksgiving! Here are some random thoughts and observations over the last three months.
After retitling this blog a few month ago, it took a while before it started getting hits again. Under the previous title the most hits were on the topic of Virgin Mobile phones. Nowadays, most visited topics are about free laundry, wired on Starbucks, and tricks of the cable internet trade.
One night at work, an ambulance brought in a patient from another hospital but they forgot to bring the legal and medical papers with them. We could not legally admit the patient under those circumstances so the ambulance had to take the patient back to the previous hospital to pick up what they missed. They were back a couple of hours later with the patient and all the necessary papers but they forgot to bring the patients’ belongings. So now we have to wait till the morning before the belongings could be forwarded to us by the other hospital. I’m surprised those ambulance drivers didn’t forget to bring the patient himself! In the meantime, the insurance company is being billed for the three back and forth trips. I don’t know whose fault it is: the ambulance EMT’s or the staff at the other hospital.
During the summer, a car alarm kept blaring every few minutes in the parking lot where I live. It took me awhile to find it and when I did, I left a note on the windshield to please decrease the sensitivity of the alarm because even  just a minimum of shaking or a mild gust of wind set it off. Heck, it would even go off when  plane flies overhead! It took a couple of notes before the alarms sensitivity was adjusted to the desired level.
I don’t know if this applies to you, but I find it easier and faster to type in English than other languages.
It appears that I’ve developed a mild lisp due to the partial dentures that I acquired a few months ago.
I was rummaging through my cabinets awhile ago and finally got rid of mid thigh shorts that were still fashionable for running not more than five years go before long shorts became more the accepted norm for men.
Cats have been spraying on my door again. If only they could read, I’d put a sign on the door saying “stop spraying, I don’t have a cat any more”. I could never catch them in the act.
I had to renew my CPR training last month and there are some changes in technique.  Faster compressions is the key and you can do without the mouth to mouth breathing. However using the AED (automated external defibrillator) with chest compressions seems like a very frantic exercise. What happens when you forget how many sequences you’ve done? The idea is to keep going  non-stop until the paramedics with advanced life support takes over.
Life’s little inconvenience – my 30 year old microwave oven gave up the ghost just in time for Halloween. Not even CPR or and AED could have brought it back to life. I previously wrote about that oven here:
 Here is an extra exercise I do once in awhile -  dancing to the end of a song while watching a singing or dancing competition on TV in the privacy of my living room. Well, some semblance of dancing anyway. Closer to what Elaine used to do on Seinfeld.
When I strain my muscles or joints lifting free weights (which happens so frequently now), I turn to body weight exercises like pushups and pull ups or use rubber tubing which is gentler to my connective tissues.
Do your Facebook friends post a lot of religious stuff? Friends from the Philippines certainly do regardless of whether they are Catholic, Muslim, or Mormon. In the U.S., hardly any other than the Flips who live here. That just shows that the Filipino people are religious regardless of where they live on this earth.
Really?! Queso de Bola is edam cheese? Queso de Bola is often given as a family Christmas gift in the Philippines. I just recently discovered that it is a type of stinky edam cheese. I thought my only encounter with edam cheese was through crossword puzzles. Well if durian isn’t stinky to me, then neither is queso de bola.
Do you Facebook with your next door neighbor?

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bathroom Mirror, Flat Tire, Surrogates

This is a short follow up to my previous post ( I forgot to tell you about the bathroom (or as they say in the Philippines - CR) in my friend’s hotel room where I visited her last week . It is similar to the picture above. This may not make too much difference for women, but for men it might feel strange. I’ve used bathrooms with a newspaper, cartoon, or painting on the wall behind the urinal or toilet bowl is but in this hotel room the vanity mirror extends from the sink to the area of the toilet bowl. So, as a man pees, he could see himself in all of his glory with liquid coming out of his nether regions. I found that very, very strange indeed. I’ve seen myself undressed in front of the mirror of course, but never while whizzing.
There was an unfortunate incident after the visit. I discovered the next day when I was about to leave for work that I had gotten a flat tire. There were a lot of potholes on Century Boulevard but I think I got the flat about a mile away from home on Del Amo Boulevard, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it back home if it was farther. A piece of metal had sliced through the tire and inner tube. Unfortunately the GPS doesn’t detect dangerous road debris. I ended up being late for work but only by 22 minutes because AAA was quick to the rescue.
After getting a chance to babysit the two year old boy with my visiting friend, our other friends from the Philippines chided me that it was about time that I had my own children. I asked them if they wanted to volunteer their wombs. I guess they would have to ask their husbands about that first.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

A Very Mini Reunion With an Assist From GPS

A friend from New York is visiting the L.A. area this week to see her daughter, grandson, ex hubby, and some friends. She comes from the same small town in the Philippines as I do and I hung out briefly with her close friend while we were in high school. We haven’t seen each other since 1973 when we were seniors in high school, and with the troubles that were going on in our town (my brother's account of what happened then: and, a lot of us never returned after moving on to other cities for college. We just reconnected in the past year in, what else – Facebook, as I have with a bunch of others from Jolo. My friend messaged me last week saying she will be in the neighborhood and invited me to meet with her. When she arrived in L.A. she called me and we arranged to meet at her hotel. I tried looking for interesting places to take her in the vicinity and the nearest one I could find was Playa Del Rey. I was thinking we would have lunch there then take a walk near the beach. When I was looking this up on the internet, the sun was shining brightly. The next day when I was supposed to meet my friend, the weather had suddenly turned gloomy. No matter, as long as it didn’t rain, we could still do what I planned.
 First I checked out Google maps to find a route from my home to her hotel. Eighteen miles away, not bad. Then I remembered that I had a rarely used GPS device in my car (I’ve used it a couple of times and in one of them I was given a circuitous route to my destination). Before I left home, I entered the hotel’s address on the device then set off for my destination. Listening to the prompts from the GPS, it was giving me a different route from the one Google maps gave me. I decided to follow Google and see the difference between the two. I had to take a couple of detours due to a fire and some kind of police activity and this is when the GPS device became useful because of its recalculations. I eventually made it safely to my destination.
So I went up to my friend’s room and knocked on the door. When she opened it, we gave each other a hug, then I saw a little boy with her. It was her 2 year old grandson. The first thing I noticed about him was his hair – short on the top and sides and about an 8 inch tail on the back! Funny parents! Anyway, my friend and I were excited to see each other after so long and couldn’t wait to catch up. There was a hitch to my plan of going to Playa Del Rey. We couldn’t drive anywhere because we didn’t have a child safety restraint seat for the boy to use in the car, so we had to improvise. I asked the boy if I could hide him in the trunk while we were driving. Just kidding! Ok, slight change of plans. I looked out the window and saw a strip mall with a couple of small eateries - a burger joint with outside seating and a Mexican restaurant. So we went downstairs and walked across a couple of intersections to get to the Mexican place. It was small but it looked clean and decent so we decided to have lunch there. My friend ordered a burrito and I ordered the chicken plate. The kid? Well, all he wanted were some balls from the vending machine, a Spongebob Squarepants sticker, and a small pack of M&M’s, most of which he spilled on the floor. What do you expect? He’s 2!
Lacking alternatives, with nothing to see or do in the immediate area after lunch, we headed back to the hotel for more catching up on what has been happening in our lives for the past 30 some years. It turns out we went to college in different cities, then she moved to the U.S. to be with her husband in 1987 (I came earlier in 1980 to run a marathon). There were more stories about other friends, relationships, chismis, and what the future may hold. I shall not go into details because most were personal topics and not for public consumption. In any case it was a catch up conversation which lasted about 6 hours before we parted company. Her daughter picked her up with the grandson to meet another town mate for dinner in another city. But first we had a requisite picture taken which we couldn’t do earlier because we lacked a photographer. Do you think the two year old would have been able to do it? Nah… On my way home, I decided to follow the GPS instructions instead of reversing course with the Google maps route. It turns out the GPS gave me a more direct route to and from my destination.
Hard for me to believe that I had a very enjoyable long conversation with my friend. I hadn’t had that kind of tete-a-tete with anybody in a long time, me being so private and isolative. Thanks, Leonie, for a wonderful talk and thanks to GPS for making it possible for me to meet with you again after so many decades. Apologies that I couldn’t take you to a classier establishment to have lunch. Perhaps next time. Oh, it was interesting to become a substitute daddy for a few hours too! For some reason the kid gravitated towards me and even fell asleep in my arms. Will this daddy thing rub off on me? Heck NO!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Desktop Remote Control + Lost Computer Tracker

A few of you probably have some experience with this but I don’t. I was looking for software that would allow me to control my home computer from a remote location. There have been software in the past which you had to pay for the license after a trial period, but this time I found one called Teamviewer that was free for personal use. I know Skype has a way of sharing the desktop and so does MSN messenger’s remote assistance but I think that requires two people communicating with each other through the connection. After reading the CNET review which said that I could keep running Teamviewer at the home computer and access it via a web browser, I downloaded and installed it. I was still unsure how it was going to penetrate the firewalls of the wi-fi at work. My first attempt was unsuccessful. It turns out the wi-fi was down for a few hours. When it was working again, I was able to access and control my home computer either via the software or by logging in at the Teamviewer website. I was amazed at the ease and responsiveness of being able to control a computer from afar. There was no problem whatsoever with the firewalls. All I needed was my username and password and I could open files, watch movies (no sound though), transfer files, even remotely reboot. The software even detected that my home computer was connected to two monitors and allowed me to switch between the two. Facebook blocked at work? No problem since I can open that webpage in my home browser and do whatever I need to do as if I was sitting in front of the computer at home. Any computer with an internet connection would work and there is even a Teamviewer light for smart phones (I didn’t download it).
Another software I checked out was one I heard about on the TV news. It is called Prey Project at You sign up and register your laptop, tablet, or cell phone and when you mark it as missing, the program starts looking for it over wireless networks and gives you reports of the whereabouts of your device. It also takes a picture of the person (unbeknownst to him) using your stolen computer/tablet/cell phone and gives you the GPS location of the missing device. I tried it out and it accurately indicated where my “missing” computer was and took a picture of the wall facing the camera. Reports are generated every few minutes depending on how long an interval you indicate when you first set it up. When I saw it in the news, a university student lost her laptop then she activated the tracking. It took a picture of the thief and his location. The student reported it to the police and she was able to recover her laptop. Amazing stuff! I registered my two laptops and my cell phone.
You can check out both programs at and

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Slow(er) and Short(er)

A little bit more running, or jogging, or shuffling, well anything a bit faster than a brisk walk anyway. A couple more attempts at this addictive exercise were made in the past week or so. First was a round trip to Walmart to buy some small things that I could stuff in my jacket pockets thus freeing my hands. I even considered carrying a small backpack but I figured the pockets would suffice. Off I go jogging for 4 minutes and walking for 1 minute, and because of how slow I have become, it took almost half an hour to get to the store when it used to take me about 22 minutes. No matter, after all, the goal was to try to run again regardless of my ankle ailments. I was going to stop at 45 minutes but managed another 5, then walked about a half mile back home. Nowadays, I would consider that a successful run because it freed me from the stationary machines at home.
Several days later, it was back to the treadmill. I’ve never liked running on the treadmill as much as on the road but I’m beginning to change how I feel about that. The cushioning really helps lessen the impact of my very heavy stride and thus enables me to run continuously without the walk breaks. In this case 45 minutes of non-stop jogging/shuffling. Another major accomplishment for someone who is not supposed to do this type of exercise any more.
After I wrote the draft of this post, I managed a three more runs. The first was last Thursday and lasted a whole hour of the 4 minute:1 minute run/walk. The next run last Saturday also lasted an hour but in a different way. I planned to skip the first walk break but ended up skipping the next and the next and the next until I reached 30 minutes. I did the run/walk the rest of the hour. Surprising that I was able to do that but even more surprising was that the pace for the 30 minute run/walk was about 15 seconds per mile faster than the non-stop jogging. Perhaps I was trying to protect the ankles too much or maybe the second half hour was faster because I was already warmed up. Oh, I also got caught in a 5 minute shower on that cloudy day. Last but not least on Tuesday afternoon, I shuffled for an hour and eight minutes non-stop on the treadmill. Whoa! Easy boy! Remember: shorter! No wonder my ankles were burning afterwards.
 When I run/shuffle/jog nowadays, I have to be very mindful of my stride, i.e. constant awareness of how I plant my feet upon landing so my inner ankle pain is minimal. That means no more pushing the pace even if my breathing feels good, be satisfied no matter how slow I run, and keep the distances a lot shorter than what I’m used to. If that’s what it takes, then so be it. So much for citius, altius, fortius. Hmm, I wonder what the Latin version of slower and shorter are. Anyone???

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Usernames and Passwords Dilemma

Every year when it is time to re-enroll for annual benefits, i.e. renew health, dental, eye care, life, disability insurance, flexible spending accounts, legal aid and whatever benefits are available to my coworkers, those who are not computer savvy never fail to ask me for help, and one of the first things they tell me is they are unsure of their usernames and don’t remember their passwords despite having to do these renewals year after year. Even when I’ve helped them in previous years, I make it a point not to look at their usernames and passwords and constantly remind them to remember the information. Some even forget passwords to their own personal email and look at me as if I know what it is. I’ve blogged in the past about my uncle, who when I see his caller ID on my phone, I answer by saying “technical support”, because more likely than not, it’s a computer question he is going to ask. He hasn’t called me lately so maybe he found another source of technical support.
I don’t blame my coworkers entirely because in my workplace there are different websites to visit to check your timecard, paycheck information, benefits enrollment, email, and to enroll for required classes like CPR or assaultive behavior management. That’s computer overload for people who don’t like using computers in the first place. Heck, I myself have to save all that information in a file so I can look at the hints to remind me of my passwords!
Oh by the way, if they are able to remember, retrieve, or reset their passwords, they also ask for help in navigating those websites because they don’t know what to do next. All they really need to do is read and follow the instructions. If they can only take the time to see the whole picture of the webpage, they should be able to do what needs to be done without any help from anyone. But it’s easier to be spoon-fed rather than find the answer themselves, I guess.
Speaking of dislike for computers, one night I caught one of my coworkers writing out checks to pay her bills and jokingly asked her what were those things she was writing? Despite having internet at home, she still hasn’t attempted online bill payments. Later that night she asked me if I can recommend a printer/scanner/fax machine. I asked if anyone even uses fax machines anymore. Most printers nowadays don’t carry that capability anymore and even if they do, my coworkers’ home phone service is through VOIP, which from what I’ve read, unless you know how to tweak your fax machine, doesn’t work too well or at all. I mean it would be too technical for my coworker to consider (me too). We did find her a nicely priced wireless all-in-one Canon printer on closeout for $49.99 at Walmart. This, for a woman whose only wireless experience comes in the form of a bra. Ok, ok, don’t shoot me, I only jest!
Come this time next year, I won’t be surprised if the same username/password dilemma comes up again. Maybe I should include my coworkers’ info in my files and charge them for safekeeping.
Oh my, here is another instance on some people’s dependence on me after I helped them in previous years. I was out running on my day off yesterday and I got a phone call from a coworker asking me if I can help him re-enroll in our work’s benefits program. It never ends, doesn’t it?! Not only was that call a surprise, the bigger one was that I was out running. But that would have to be addressed in another post.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recent Shopping Experiences – Del Amo Swap Meet, Fresh and Easy, Winco Foods

On one of my days off a couple of weeks ago I finally went to the Del Amo indoor swap meet which was only a couple of miles from where I live. I haven’t been to a swap meet in decades and the ones I’ve been to were outdoors and were only open once a week. I don’t know if those still exist though. I didn’t know what to expect when I went in the building. I noticed that there was a tattoo parlor, piercing booths, car accessories store, tiny eateries, smoke shops where bongs were being sold. Most of the stores sold clothing, women’s undies, and jewelry. After browsing along every aisle and finding nothing interesting to buy, I left with mild disappointment. I found that he prices were not any lesser than regular stores.
A few days later, I visited a newly opened Fresh and Easy store in Long Beach. I usually go to the one in Lakewood which has been open a couple of years. After picking up the items I needed, I scanned them at the check stand (it’s self service). When it was time to pay, I tried to insert money where it was supposed to be inserted but it wouldn’t go in. It’s not my first time using a self service check stand so I thought the machine was malfunctioning. There was a message on the screen but I failed to read it completely only making note of what it said about EBT which I wasn’t using. One of the employees finally saw my plight and assisted me by pressing the number zero on the keypad. I sheepishly thanked him. It turns out that because of the new law which requires shoppers in Long Beach to bring reusable bags, the screen was actually telling me if I wanted to purchase one and how many I wanted. Well, I didn’t read the whole thing so I missed it. Thus my sheepish reaction. At the Lakewood store, the check stand machine never gave that message because Lakewood doesn’t have a reusable bag law. Lesson for me: read the whole message first, duh! BTW, I always bring reusable bags.
Last weekend I went to the newly opened Winco Foods grocery store in Lakewood to check out what they had to offer. It’s similar to a Sam’s Club or Costco but without the membership fee. When I first saw the prices in the first few aisles, I was underwhelmed because they were not much different from other grocery stores. That is, until I reached the part of the store with the bulk bins! After seeing a lot of the candy being sold at 99 cents a pound, I was literally like kid in a candy store. Toffees, caramels, salt water taffy, fruit flavored hard candy, and gummies were among the ones I remember. Other aisles featured cereals, grains that I only used to see in health food stores, beans, and pet food. I always wondered what black rice was like and I found something similar which was black colored wild rice. I don’t know if those two are one and the same. Finding it in that store really surprised me, but what surprised me further was how much it costs: $7.45 a pound! I think I’ll stick to brown rice. My intent was to just look around and scout the store but the temptation of all those goodies was too hard to resist so I ended up buying about a pound and a half each of the caramel and fruit flavored candies. Gladly, I didn’t find any other irresistible products so I finally found myself at the check stand. The cashier rang me up and asked me if the candy was for Halloween. I said no, just for myself. Well, what I said must have been a distraction because the total came up to almost $300.00. Oops, the cashier had to summon a supervisor to override and correct the register. It turns out that when the cashier tried to punch in a 6 cent rebate for bringing my own grocery bags, she pressed the wrong button. No harm, no foul. Things got corrected in a jiffy and I was soon on my way home with 3 pounds of candy. Too bad, they didn’t sell any frozen durian at that store.
A week later, I went back to Winco to buy more candy but what I bought the previous week wasn't on sale any more. I incorrectly thought that it was the every day low price. It appears that they switch products perhaps once a week. On this trip I kept looking for green tagged products which were sale priced items. I didn't find any that I needed but I bought 4 pounds of  pearl barley which is a grain that is high in protein. If there is a downside for me regarding Winco, it's that it is not male-shopper friendly because they don't have weekly sale circulars that come in the mail, so you have to go from aisle to aisle looking for green tagged products. You know how most guys shop: go to the store, find what you need (preferably if it's on sale), pay for it, then leave. 
          Well, that's all I have to say about these shopping expeditions. I hope it was interesting enough for you to read, if not, so sorry.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

What Is Your First Thought When You Wake Up In The Morning?



A lot of our patients wake up in the morning, or for that matter, in the middle of the night, and the first thing on their minds is getting one kind of medication or other. More likely than not it’s an anxiety pill or a painkiller that they ask for. That got me thinking. What do you feel you need to have or do  when you wake up? A co-worker said coffee, which is a normal response. I used to feel the same way but nowadays when I wake up, the first thing on my mind is working out. That’s probably an abnormal response to the general public but to me working out is a daily habit that I have to tackle before anything else. Because of my night shift schedule, on my nights off, I have to luxury of not having to wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. to get a workout in before going to work. I usually start working out between 8 and 9 a.m. and the duration can last up to two hours depending on whether I lift weights after some sort of aerobic exercise. I just feel that working out gives me relief and release. Wouldn’t be an Ativan or a Xanax work faster? Hmm, seems like my patients have the right idea there. After all it takes me longer to have my fix while those meds I mentioned take effect within half an hour.
At least I look forward to working out after I wake up. Those patients need those meds because they are already dreading the day ahead of them. If those of you who are not regular exercisers happen to read this, can you tell me what it is you need to do when you wake up in the morning? Please exclude bathroom use because that’s too obvious.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

The Press Telegram’s New Delivery System

I’m not a fan of the new Press Telegram delivery system which they started a couple of weeks ago. Previously, the morning paper was delivered to the subscriber’s front door in our condo complex. With the new system, the delivery person stopped tossing the newspaper at the front door and all of them are dumped at the front gate instead, which is an invitation for anyone to pick them up. The first couple of days, some of the papers disappeared. I emailed customer service some feedback about this. Then they started handwriting apartment numbers on the newspapers which helped. The Sunday paper even included a label which said: hands off, this paper belongs to so and so customer at whatever apartment number they resided. That was even more helpful and even though we had to walk to the front gate, at least the paper did not disappear. Then it got worse towards the end of last week because they didn’t even write the apartment numbers any more. I sent another feedback and even included the code number the delivery person can enter at the front gate dial pad in hopes that the paper would again land at our front doors. No such luck, but at least they started sticking the preprinted labels on again. The only positive thing I can say about this new system is that the paper is dumped at the gate much earlier than before. It was supposed to be an improved delivery system but in my opinion it just got worse. Based on what has happened in the last couple of weeks when this new system began, you have to race to the front gate upon waking up to pick up the paper before someone else gets it. When I come home from work, I may not be able to pick it up until 8 a.m. and by that time it’s a crapshoot. The paper may or may not be there. I’m just hoping that at the very least they continue to attach the preprinted labels. In the meantime, I’ll just have to live with the new system. If not for my difficulty walking upon waking up due to my damaged ankles, I don’t really mind walking downstairs to the gate because I’m not that lazy. Come winter, bundling up before stepping out for the paper will become a necessity, or like today's early morning rain, an umbrella.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recent Attempts At Running

Psst, don’t tell anybody but I tried to run again about a week after I wrote about the inspired run I did. Last Saturday was my first attempt but when I woke up, my ankles were hurting and were still half an hour after lacing my running shoes, so I deep sixed that plan. The problem with PTTD is that the tendon hurts even when I don’t run, though not as much. I tried again on Sunday and my plan was to jog for one minute and walk for one minute. I only lasted 12 minutes and had to go back home to change shoes because the initial shoe/orthotic combination didn’t work out too well. It was irritating my right ankle tendon too much. After changing shoes and orthotics, I resumed my attempt. I was actually able to increase the jogging portions to 2 minutes after about half an hour. I managed all of 50 minutes of the exercise, but boy, it felt like I was moving through molasses.
                On Monday, my ankles were still feeling ok. For some reason they usually hurt more two days later. Maybe I could try running again but on the treadmill. This time I tried something different. I strapped on soft ankle braces and tried to run with them. They didn’t work out too well because the footstrike was altered. I had to take them off after 2 ½ minutes because they were too uncomfortable. I resumed the treadmill jog sans braces and my feet felt better. I kept it very slow and the incline very low at only 1%. Well, that was the lowest it would go because there was no zero. Surprisingly, I was able to do 50 minutes without walk breaks and without supporting my weight on the treadmill hand rails.
                Monday night I’m back to work so we’ll have to see how staying on my feet for hours would affect my ankles and my budding return to running. I’ll keep you posted.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stick It In Your Ear – Part Deux

Oh boy, you’d think that what happened a few months ago wouldn’t happen again so soon. What am I talking about? I don’t know if you remember this post: This time though, no flattery was involved. What I’m talking about is another piece of earplug broke off and got stuck in my ear, this time in the left ear! What the heck?! Has the quality of these rubber earplugs gotten worse? Until this year, this has never happened to me and I’ve been using those types of earplugs for more than 10 years. When I woke up last week, I felt some pressure in my left ear but didn’t make the connection right away. Then I had a déjà vu moment, then disbelief. I looked in the mirror to see the location and depth of the rubber piece but it was difficult because of the angle. I took another hand held mirror and positioned it ala a sideways periscope. It was then that I could see how the piece was lodged in my left ear. Like a few months ago, I attempted to pull it out with tweezers but with the used of two mirrors, my depth perception was altered. Before calling the doctor for an appointment, I tried looking for a couple of neighbors to ask them if they could use the tweezers to pull the object out. But all of them were still at work. My next attempt to dislodge it was turning my head sideways and pound it with the palm of my hand, kinda like when you try to remove water from your ear after swimming. It didn’t work the first time but I persisted. The second time, I felt the rubber tip get a little loose. With a little help from the tweezers and two mirrors, I was finally able to take it out! Whew! With a little bit of luck, I was able to save myself a doctor’s visit this time.
So what do I do now about blocking out the noise during my sleep? I just bought a dozen of those rubber earplugs a few months ago but now I’m wary about using them. Maybe I’ll try one of those noise reducing industrial ear muffs. I found one at Harbor Freight Tools for $2.99. There were more expensive ones but I thought I’d try the cheap one first to see how it works when I’m in bed.
 Let me digress for a second. At the check stand of the Harbor Freight Tools store, there was a woman behind me who looked familiar but I wasn’t sure if she was the one  I used to run with the Runner’s High Club in the late 80’s and early 90’s. So I turned around and asked her “Is your name Jade?”. She said yes, and I introduced myself. Fortunately she remembered who I was after hearing my name. I certainly hoped she remembered me. After all, after one of Runner’s High’s track workouts, we drove together to Long Beach Memorial Hospital to visit Cindy, a teammate who was in a coma due to a car accident. I asked Jade if she  was still running. She said yes. Then I told her about the situation with my ankles and that because of it, I couldn’t run any more. She said she would die if she wouldn’t be able to run. I told her that I’ve survived so far without it. I then asked her about her husband and she said he doesn’t run as much as before because he is getting older. I said “aren’t we all?”. After the short conversation I asked her to say hello to Joe, her husband, then bid her goodbye.

 Back to the earmuffs. While all this conversation was going on at the check stand, I happened to have a 20% off coupon and another coupon for a free LED flashlight. So my final cost for the earmuffs was only 2.60 plus tax. I tried wearing the earmuffs that night but I’m not sure if it helped because it didn’t block sound as well as the rubber earplugs, and it was a bit uncomfortable. So far, I’ve used it twice: once for night sleep, and another for day sleep after work. Because of the earmuff’s obtrusiveness, it’s hard to decide whether it really helps of not. Further testing is required.
I wonder if using one of those sound machines or white noise machines would work better instead of inserting something in or covering the ears? Well, here’s an update. I bought one of those machines, tried it twice, but it didn’t help me with my sleep since the noise around my building overpowered the white noise. So I returned it to the store. I may have to go back to the earplugs and replace them every few months before they get too brittle and break off again in my ear.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Searching For Durian Jam

After finding durian fruit and ice cream bars in Asian stores, my search continued for one last durian product: jam or preserves. Let me track back a little bit. I finished all of the frozen durian a few days ago. I tried eating it thawed, partially frozen, and defrosted by microwave. Fully thawed, it felt too mushy, partially frozen, it numbed the taste buds, but then, when I microwaved it, the sugars seemed to have been released and it tasted as heavenly as I remembered it growing up. I have one ice cream bar left and that shall be gone soon too.
To continue with the jam search, so far I haven’t seen any in brick and mortar grocery stores, but doing a Google search, I found an online store from Oklahoma that sells them. However, the reviews from former customers were terrible, saying that products were shipped late, and often expired goods were sent. When some customers requested refunds for undelivered or returned products, the company was not very prompt in following through.
 Some of my former high school classmates saw durian preserves being sold at the airport in Zamboanga City, and based on the present currency exchange rate, the price was about $6.60 for a 16 oz. bottle. If I ordered that, the postage would have cost much more than the price of the jam itself. The one sold in Oklahoma is $5.29 for 12 oz. plus $5.99 (flat rate regardless of how many bottles ordered) for postage. It would of course be more advantageous to order more than one bottle because that makes the shipping fee more reasonable. However, I’ll have to think hard before ordering from that store based on the negative reviews.
 A couple of days later using Bing search, I found another online store based in the city of Hawthorne which is probably 8 to 12 miles away from where I live. I sent them an email over the weekend to find out if it was possible to go to their location to buy their products (which would enable me to check for expiration dates). Each bottle costs $5.39 with shipping within California being $4.99. Since they are closed on weekends, I’m still awaiting a reply from them. Oh, by the way, they also sell srikaya (salikaya) jam, another one of my favorite spreads. It’s been more than a week since I wrote this draft and they still have to respond to my inquiry. That doesn’t portray their customer service very well and thus I’m reluctant to order from them too.
By the way, the durian jam from all these online stores is the Mariza brand from Indonesia. Maybe I can get over my reluctance and order some just to see how it tastes compared to the ones I grew up eating. I’ll let you know.
I wrote most of the above last week but here's a quick update before this is posted. One of my high school classmates who lives in New York ordered from the Hawthorne store I mentioned above and said she was disappointed with the quality of the product, meaning, it didn't taste as good as the one made in my hometown of Jolo. I may have to order it and find out for myself.

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