A Filler-buster: The Skinny Palms

by Bob Sparrow

Before: Notice brown husks and dead limbs

This blog is termed something that Suzanne and I have come to refer to as ‘ a filler’.  I haven’t gone anywhere in the last two weeks, except to the bathroom. Nothing interesting has happened to me, in fact nothing interesting has happened to anyone I’ve talked to in the last two weeks.  So if you’ve got something else to do or somewhere else to go, I’d suggest not reading the rest of this drivel and get on with the rest of your day.

The palm trees in the photos?  That probably tells you more about my last two weeks than you’d care to know.  In preparation for our son, Jeff, getting married and the rehearsal dinner at our house, I had all of my palm trees trimmed, more accurately, scalped.  There are 24 palms in my yard, 12 queen palms and 12 pigmy palms.  Some of my pigmy palms are 10 feet high, not sure why they’re called pigmies.  A crew of 5 came in over the weekend and blitzkrieged my yard – saws buzzing, limbs flying (tree limbs, no human limbs that I saw) and people hauling stuff out to the ‘chipper’ in the street.

After: skinny palms, even the sky looks bluer

You’re probably on pins and needles wondering what the trees looked like after the blitzkrieg.  Well, here’s a photo of those same three trees.  Looks like the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos for a weight-loss program, huh?  Actually it was similar to a money-loss program.

They also trimmed up two banana palms I have in my back garden, but I didn’t take a ‘before’ photo, so the ‘after’ photo wouldn’t really tell you the whole, thrill-packed story – you’ll just have to use your imagination . . . or not.  Are you still reading this crap?   I can guarantee you that it’s not going to get any better.

I’m a big college football fan and I could pontificate on the California law being run through the system currently allowing college athletes to profit from the use of their name or likeness.  Apparently a $100,000+ college education isn’t enough profit for a 19-20 year old.  On the surface it looks like it will only benefit the stars of the team, who would probably get a pro contract in another year or two anyway.  I’m sure there’s another side to the story, I just don’t want to hear it.

I understand we have an election year coming up; I’m sure the contests will be fair, civil and boring given the current atmosphere of political malaise in our country.  My sister and I will continue to stay above the fray and remain apolitical as we are both Presbyterians.

I’m guessing you hope I go somewhere, soon!  Me too, but with the approaching nuptials and the holidaze just around the corner (only about 11 more weeks to get that Christmas shopping done – nothing big for me this year, please!) I‘m afraid I’m house-bound for the remainder of the year, which could mean more ‘fillers’.

Hey, Suzanne, maybe we should just take the last quarter of the year off.  What are our readers going to do, ask for their money back?

 

 

Is My Guitar Gently Weeping?

by Bob Sparrow

(Yes, I’m obviously still sitting around the house searching for things to write about, but I’m back on the road next month; hang in there)

      In June I discovered a crack in the face of my six-month old Taylor 12-string guitar. I called the Taylor manufacturer in El Cajon, just east of San Diego, to see what I should do. I was told I could either ship it to them or take it down there in person, which I decided to do, as I wanted to take a tour of their huge guitar-making facility.

It is an interesting tour of the largest guitar maker in the U.S.; between El Cajon and their facility in Tecate, Mexico, they turn out about 700 guitars A DAY – mostly acoustic. The tour allows one to see each step in the process of the making of their various guitars. I found it most interesting to find out that the wood for these guitars comes from all over the world; East Indian Rosewood, Hawaiian Koa, African Ebony, Tasmanian Blackwood, Mexican Cocobolo are just a few of the many types of wood used by Taylor. The wood not only gives guitars different colors, it also gives the sounds they make different colors. I’m not sure where the wood for my guitar came from; I’m guessing Pacoima.

Taylor 150e 12-string guitar

I handed in my guitar at the El Cajon repair facility and asked them to please fix it and handle it with care. But I wondered, with 700 guitars pouring out every day, would mine just get lost in the guitar shuffle? Would it be neglected and weeping in some warehouse corner in El Cajon?  Who knows what really happens in these places? I’ve called Taylor a couple of times to inquire about my guitar’s status, but all I get are voicemails.

I take consolation in the fact that while my 12-string is in either intensive or insensitive care, I have not been guitarless, as I have my six-string, a Martin D-35 that Linda gave me in 1980.  It’s done its share of weeping as well, but has gotten better with age . . . and practice. But if I’m thinking of a weeping guitar, it’s my very first one that comes to mind and it wasn’t weeping it was literally crying out loud!

It was a mail order SilverTone f-hole guitar, purchased in 1959 from Sears & Roebuck. That guitar did lots of weeping, as did my family members, who were within earshot of me trying to learn to play the darn thing. Nary a silver tone came out of it until my friend, Don showed me how to tune and play it.  I kept it all the way through college, but as I think back now, I don’t remember what ever happened to it, as after graduation I joined the service and was sent to Japan. Perhaps my parents used it for firewood on a cold winter night – sweet revenge for all those sleepless nights they endured.

1959 SilverTone f-hole – firewood?

 

I finally did hear from the folks at Taylor, telling me that my guitar would be coming to me sometime this week. As of this writing, I’m still waiting and hoping my guitar is not weeping due to the fact that it’s coming back to me, but I have tissues ready.

 

Ducks!

by Bob Sparrow

(Unfortunately these are the kind of stories you get when one is recovering from back surgery.  I’ll be back in action shortly!)

Shoulda ducked!

I most often hear the word “Duck!” when it’s yelled by the rest of my foresome after I hit a golf ball. But when I heard it from my neighbor it was even more scary. He called me when I was in Death Valley this past spring to tell me that a mother duck had just hatched eight little ducklings in my backyard. What?!!! How did they get there? How did you find them? Who can I call? Once I settled down, he said that since he had a mother duck give birth in his backyard a couple of years ago, that he’d be happy to take them off my hands since he was up to speed on the care and feeding of ducklings. Hell yes! I’m thinking, but I said something like, are you sure you want to do that? He said he had experience and was happy to do it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I gleefully accepted his offer.  So, in a effort that he described as akin to ‘herding cats’, he got eight baby ducklings as well as the mother to walk around the fence that separates our yards and created a home for them in his yard and pool instead of mine.

Stay close kiddies!

Once home and thankful that the ducks were no longer on my property, I found that my second-story home office window, which overlooks my neighbors yard and pool, offered me a bird’s eye view of the daily development of ‘our’ ducklings. First, I must say the mother duck was most attentive to her brood, keeping a constant eye on them and protecting them from birds of prey (mostly hawks) who were looking for a duck dinner. The ducklings obviously showed that they could immediately walk (something we humans take up to a year or so to do) and very quickly they were in the neighbor’s pool and the mother was teaching them how to swim. I think one of the lessons she taught them was to make sure that they looked like they were expending no energy at all, but beneath the water’s surface, they’re moving their little webbed feet as fast as they could. “Don’t look like you’re working hard kids”, I could hear her saying. . . or quacking. Swimming came very naturally to these guys – actually I couldn’t tell the guys from the girls, as at this age they all looked the same. It’s only later that the males start looking a little more colorful – in an effort to attract females.

“Kids, make sure you look like you’re not expending any energy”

Day by day, week by week the ducklings grew and the neighbor’s pool grew also, from blue to brownish green. Duck poop will do that! Our neighbor had Googled how long it would take before the ducks would leave – about 51 days. Under the mother’s tutelage, the ducklings would parade around the pool, jump in and swim a few laps, eat something then take a nap. The ducks were strutting proudly as if to say, “Hey, I can now walk pretty good, ok it’s a waddle, but I can swim really good, but how are we going to get out of this place?” Be patient by little duckling, I could hear the mother preaching.  Apparently a mother duck and her brood have some attraction to the opposite sex as both my neighbor and I spent much of our time scaring male suitors out of our pools.

Soon the ducklings started flapping their wings while they skimmed over the pool’s surface, never quite getting out of the water. Then one day, about 51 days into their life on earth, as I was looking out of my office window, I saw one of the ducklings, who was now as big as his mother, frantically flapping its wings, skimming across the pool and like a prop airplane rumbling down the runway gaining speed as the propellers spun frantically and then suddenly he become airborne. I could almost hear the duck say, “Damn, I can walk, I can swim and now I can frickin’ fly!”

“Look Ma, I can almost frickin’ fly!”

Soon all the ducklings and mother, had flown off and with a whole lot of chlorine, the neighbor’s pool returned to normal. While I was most happy that the neighbor took on the task of providing a first home for this brood, I must say I was impressed mostly with the mom, who never left the ducklings alone (our neighbor provided duck food and water for the entire family during their stay – more than the bed and breakfast they would have received at my place) and found it rather interesting to watch the progress of walking, swimming, diving and then flying. Unfortunately, next spring will undoubtedly bring some of the brood back to their old nesting place and will go through the same process with their own family. Ducks Unlimited!

I just hope my neighbor is still willing to take my ducks if they decide to nest here again. I’ll be happy to watch them develop in his yard from my office window.

 

 

An Evening of Fun with the Monday Knights

by Bob Sparrow

Monday Knights doing a ‘sound check’ before their big concert, errr recital

It was about a year ago when three of us guys (Ron Vallandingham, Michael Amoroso and me) decided we’d get together and ‘jam’ – we all played guitar, sort of. Prior to last Saturday’s ‘recital’ we had added a base player (Randy Davis), a drummer (Larry Eiffert), lost one guitar player (Amoroso) and got a better understanding of why bands break up. I call it a recital, rather than a concert because it was more like a child’s first public piano or dance exhibition . . . mostly something only a parent would appreciate. Concerts are done by professionals, and we are technically the opposite of ‘professional’ as we not only didn’t get paid, we bought our audience’s dinner and drinks as a incentive to come and listen to us. But, we’ve maintained our amateur standing, so we have that going for us.   The ‘recital’ was in Randy’s backyard and attended by 70 some-odd people – yes, some were very odd, but all seemed very appreciative.

What kind of band are we? We’re still trying to figure that out ourselves: Part rock – prehistoric rock; part pop – Ma & Pop Kettle; part folk – old folk; mostly a random cacophony of noise with flashes of melodic chords with windows of harmony. While it was no Woodstock, it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves and feeling the love, but again these were our family and friends and weren’t disposed to criticizing our playing and singing, especially while drinking our wine.

Throughout the evening we pretended to be a real band, telling our audience that this was the last stop on a 13-city tour from Fontana to Stanton (It was the one and only stop); telling them they could buy a ‘Monday Knights’ tee shirt in the gift shop – there was no gift shop, however we were willing to sell the shirts we were wearing, but no offers. And just like a real band, we learned to play over the hum of a chatty audience.

The evening ended with an open mic with drummer, Larry playing disc jockey to karaoke – some really good voices, including son, Jeff, who also designed the band’s logo and shirts.  – you can order one online (No you can’t). Where did you get your name and what’s next for the Monday Knights?  The name came from several places, 1) we all belong to Yorba Linda Country Club’s Monday Night Fantasy Football League, 2) after football season was over we started practicing together on Monday nights, and 3) If we ever get a real gig, it will probably be on a Monday night . . . late. Whenever that next gig is, we’ll have to wait until our bank accounts get replenished, so we can again afford to buy dinner and drinks.  We’ll keep you posted.

The Quarantine Has Ended – Come Back!

by Bob Sparrow

It’s not often I ask for your help, but I need it now. I understood your lack of interest in my King Tut blog – he was a whinny, spoiled millennial (just from a different millennium), but when the ‘hits’ for Suzanne’s adventure in Ireland dropped off like a prom dress, I knew something was amiss. I then heard from a friend who said that when he tried to open our blog he was told that if he opened it he would contract the Zeus virus. “Oh no!” I said, not having the foggiest idea of what a Zeus virus was. All I knew was that Suzanne was in Ireland and has left me in charge of our blog website, and I’ve somehow let them post a sign on our blog’s front door that read: VIRUS, KEEP AWAY – ‘QUARANTINED’.

This is just great.   Fortunately for me, Suzanne had discovered Guinness beer while in Ireland and after explaining to her that we had a virus that’s shutting down our website, blocking our blog and ending our writing career, such as it is, she texted me back with, and I quote, “I’m in the Killarney Park Hotel bar and don’t give a shit about the blog.” That wasn’t Suzanne talking, that was the Guinness talking.

Nevertheless, I immediately leaped into action – OK, ‘leaping into action’ may be a bit of an overstatement; I actually just sat there dumbfounded and wondered ‘what the hell is a virus and how did we get it?’ I try to wash my hands every time after I go to the bathroom.   I felt certain that Google would have an answer for me, so I took a deep dive into polymorphic, multipartite and F.A.T. viruses – I was almost certain I had that FAT thing, but I digress. I was more confused than ever after my journey through Google’s virus explanation and asked myself, ‘what if I find out that we have the dreadful ‘Storm Worm’ virus, that Windows Trojan horse that forms the Storm Botnet?!!! I could be on a ten-foot ladder and that stuff would still go over my head. I needed professional help; OK that’s another story, but I mean I needed some tech help. Who do you call? Do I contact Facebook, where our blog appears? Or do I contact WordPress, who is the publishing platform? Or do I contact GoDaddy, where we got our domain name and is the website host? Or do I just look for some ‘cookies’ and forget about the whole thing?

GoDaddy was the only one I could ‘call’, the rest wanted me to send an email and wait for a reply. I had a virus and I needed some immediate attention! As it turns out GoDaddy had a solution, for a small fee, they would scan for malware, adware, spyware and underwear, I think. OK, perhaps I don’t completely understand all that went on and how we got the virus and how it was fixed, but we are now virus-free and encouraging you all to tune into Part II of Suzanne’s Ireland trip next week. I will let her know that everything here ran like clockwork in her absence.

Also, just as a precaution, don’t forget to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.

Bushwhacked at The Ranch Saloon

by Bob Sparrow

Left door restaurant, rt. door saloon/dance hall

A couple of Fridays ago, I felt like I was part of an O. Henry short story, known for their surprise endings. This story actually begins before Christmas of last year when we usually enjoy a great evening of dining and entertainment at Bistangos, one of Orange County’s top restaurants, where Linda’s company, Blue Violet Networks, has their annual Christmas party. It’s a great affair, delicious food, great wine and a gift exchange. Last year, for reasons unknown to me, there was no party. When I learned of this I jokingly told Linda to tell John Paul, the company owner, who has a good sense of humor, that he owes us a dinner. Linda delivered the message and John Paul agreed and a date was set to meet at The Ranch, one of the very best restaurants in Southern California.

The Ranch is an interesting place; the location of this restaurant/saloon/dance hall is on the ground floor of a six-story office building in an industrial area of Anaheim. The building is the headquarters of Extron, an electronics company started and owned by business tycoon Edward Andrews. He loves dancing (He says that the guy that can dance has the best chance to succeed with the girl of his choice) and he loves country music, so the first floor of his office building is divided in half, one side houses a high-end restaurant (Oh yeah, he loves eating good food too) and the other side is home to the biggest and best country western saloon and dance floor in Orange County.

The restaurant is elegantly rustic, in keeping with the country western theme; the food is outstanding (all the produce comes from their own local ranch in Orange Park Acres) and the service is top notch, as are the prices. John Paul, a wine connoisseur, brought a couple of bottles of excellent wine and he and his partner, Linda, and Linda and I enjoyed lively conversations on a myriad of topics and delicious meats – steak, pork chop, lamb chop and braised short ribs – you won’t find bean sprouts and tofu on this menu!

Bushwhacker on the rt., bushwhakee on the left

After dinner we were escorted next door to the saloon and dance floor, where the cover charge was waived and we had a reserved table waiting for us. The dance floor was packed with 20 and 30-somethings dancing to a live band. Edward was right, there were about 40 people on the dance floor and only four of them were men and each had a lovely lady on his arm. I told John Paul that since he bought dinner, I would like to buy the after dinner drinks.  He agreed.

As we were settling into our seats, a server presented us with a drink menu, as we perused it, we were amused by some of the lofty prices. I’m thinking this is a high-end saloon as I pointed out to John Paul the Glenmorangie 1974 single malt Scotch$1,000 for a 1.5 oz glass! The server appeared and Linda and I order a beer and John Paul and Linda each order a glass of whiskey. The second round shortly followed with another glass of whiskey for John Paul and two more beers for us. Linda and I could no longer sit and watch the dancers having all the fun, so we got up and did the ‘Electric Slide’ – we were by far the oldest couple on the dance floor, but we hung in there with those young whippersnappers.

I still hyperventilate when I look at it

It was time to call it an evening and so I asked for the bill. When I first looked at it, I couldn’t see it that well, I thought it read $300, but it was dark and I didn’t have my glasses on. Once I put my glasses on and got some light, I could see that it was not $300, it was $3,000! $3,058.00 to be exact. Eyes wide and heart beating rapidly, I showed it to Linda and looked over to John Paul and said, “You ordered the $1,000 Scotch?” He smiled and nodded, “Yes . . . two of them and Linda had one”. Now my mind was racing, was this some kind of joke or was this John Paul’s way of getting back at me for saying that he owed us a dinner for not having the Christmas party? He kept his word about buying us dinner, but apparently he was going to have the last laugh.  I looked at the bill again and swallowed hard; yes it was $3,058.00 and I did offer to buy the after dinner drinks, so I surreptitiously switched the debit card I had in my hand with a credit card. As I continued to hyperventilate, I kept staring at John Paul . . . really?!! After way too long a pause he cracked a big smile and said, ‘Got ya!’ While Linda and I were out dancing, he got the bartender to print up the bogus bill and our server to present it to me.  I was never so happy to pay the real bill for $94!

In summary it was a very fun evening interrupted only by a few moments of stark terror.  This was a great spoof and fortunately I am able to laugh at myself . . . let’s hope John Paul can too, revenge is going to sweet.

 

 

 

Disneyland or Mayberry?

by Bob Sparrow

One claims to be “The Happiest Place on Earth” while the other just may have actually been.

Only read if you have nothing else to do.

(Cue the whistling of the Mayberry theme song)

Yes, I’m writing about Mayberry this week, or rather something I heard about Mayberry while eating in some international airport during my recent travels. I apologize if you may have heard what I’m about to write, as this kind of thing travels very fast, especially when it’s using international airports.

Let’s first examine the bios of the main characters from that nostalgic television program, The Andy Griffith Show, which took place in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina.

Andrew Jackson “Andy” Taylor: A pragmatic and genial sheriff and justice of the peace, who never wore a gun or a tie and didn’t have too much trouble keeping peace in this bucolic southern town. He was a widower, who had a son, Opie and a paternal aunt named Aunt Bea.  He had a polite charm and  generally keeps the peace with common sense.

Beatrice “Aunt Bea” Taylor: Aunt Bea was a spinster who raised Andy. She was living alone in West Virginia when Andy asked her to come and live with Opie and him when their current housekeeper, Rose, married and moved out of Mayberry.

Bernard (? middle name) “Barney” Fife: This wiry, high-strung deputy was a comic genius, who played the bumbling sidekick to perfection. He was single, but was seriously dating Thelma Lou. He did wear a gun and a tie, but the gun was never loaded. However he kept a bullet in his shirt pocket for emergencies. Most of the time when he pulled it out he ended up nearly shooting himself in the foot. Although Mayberry had little crime, Barney refers to the town as ‘The Gateway to Danger’.  Not as part of any plot line, there was some controversy over Barney’s middle name. In Season 2 he says his middle name is ‘Oliver’. In Season 4, his high school yearbook shows his middle name as ‘Milton’. In Season 5 he states his full name as Barney P. Fife. Sadly this is the stuff that keeps me awake at night.

Gomer Pyle: Well Gollll-ly! Gomer is the dim-witted, sleepy-eyed, single, mechanic at Wally’s Filling Station with a toothy grin and a southern accent. He is sometimes deputized when Barney needs a hand at screwing up a case. Gomer leaves the show after Season 4 to start a new series, Gomer Pyle, USMC

Goober Pyle: When Gomer signs up for the Marines, he recruits his long lost single cousin, Goober to replace him as the mechanic at Wally’s Filling Station. Both were very good-natured and always willing to help, sometimes to a fault. The actors who played Gomer and Goober where both from Alabama, so the southern accents were real.

Helen Crump: Helen is single and from Kansas and moves to Mayberry for a teaching assignment. She is Opie’s teacher (he calls her ‘old lady Crump’).  When Opie asks his dad for help on a history assignment, Andy’s advice is misunderstood by Opie which leads to Helen marching down to Andy’s office and giving him a piece of her mind. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know Andy’s walking her home and they become ‘an item’.

Floyd Lawson: The fastidious, slow-paced, often absent-minded local barber who dispensed advice along with his haircuts. Floyd is single and his character is said to be based on Andy’s real barber from his hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, (sounds oddly similar to Mount Pilot the fictional neighboring town to Mayberry) where he owned ‘Floyd’s City Barber Shop’. Howard McNear, who played the character Floyd, had a stroke midway through the third season and could not stand for any length of time or move very well. But he returned to play Floyd as the writers kept his character sitting down most of the time.

Howard Sprague: The milquetoast county clerk with mustache and bow ties had a penchants for philosophy and culture, but was a repressed ‘mama’s boy’ who lived with his overbearing and manipulative mother. Due to is upbringing, he was socially stymied especially when it came to dating. In one episode Howard tries to be a stand-up comic, unfortunately people laughed at him and not with him.

Otis Campbell: The town drunk who was also sometimes deputized so he could let himself in and out of jail. Viewers meet Otis’ wife in an episode where Otis is jailed for assault, the first time he’s jailed for something other than drunkenness, because he threw a leg of lamb at his wife, missed and hit his mother-in-law. Otis stopped appearing toward the end of the series because sponsors raised concerns over the portrayal of excessive drinking. (Perhaps the beginning of political correctness??)

So what we’ve discovered, if you haven’t already realized it, it’s that all the characters, except Otis, who was always drunk, were not married. Perhaps this is why Mayberry was considered by many as The Happiest Place on Earth.

Hey, I didn’t make this up; I just heard it at the airport and am passing it along for your perusal and consideration.

 

Blurred Horizons

by Bob Sparrow

We’ve had our share of rain this year, thank God! On one of those cold, rainy February mornings here in southern California I headed to the coast, thinking it would be a great place to get perspective. It was. So I jotted down a few thoughts . . .

The contrast in my mind was stark

On this brisk, rainy February morning at the beach

By summer Frisbees will be flying

Music playing under colorful umbrellas

The smell of Coppertone

Kids splashing in the surf

A seaside calliope

But here and now the beach is empty

Save for an occasional walker and his dog

And a lonely surfer in a wet suit

A light rain drips off my wide brim hat

As I look for a place to take refuge

In the solitude of this chilly ashen day

I walk down a deserted beach

A leaden sky hangs over a steel gray ocean

Making it difficult to tell where the water stops

And the sky begins

A blurred horizon

My nostrils widen as the scent of salt rents the air

I pull my collar up against the morning chill

And affix my hat securely

Against the off-shore breeze

The smell of coffee

Draws me to a beachside café

I find comfort on a sheltered bench

And gaze pensively at the horizon

I am drawn to the mercurial surf

Rushing in with such urgency

Then thunderously breaking on shore

Only to retreat in an easy measured cadence

Natures melody of moving water

Music to my ears

The cup of coffee warms my hands

As I listen to the steady pattern of the surf

Hypnotic in its redundant rhythm

I fix my stare on that blurred horizon

The vastness of the ocean gives me pause

I feel at once tiny and inconsequential

And yet significant enough to be connected

To all of this in some universal way

As the leading player in my own life

In spite of pounding surf and an occasional squawking seagull

There is a quiet serenity pervading the coast

Alone and uninterrupted

It feels good to be here

I solemnly contemplate those resolutions

I made just over a month ago

And affirm that they’ll find purchase in this new year

I turn and walk back to the busy street

Cars rushing by and people hustling to work

Punctuate the pleasure of my time alone

It’s was good to get away even for a little while

To think, to get perspective

To recharge batteries

It’s going to be a good year

If I make it so

 

Hip, Hip Away!

by Bob Sparrow

breath

I thought it was a Hookah Pipe

My research has turned up the fact that the very first successful hip replacement surgery was performed in 1960 and today, just in the United States, over 300,00 of them are done each year and there are over twice as many knee replacement surgeries. So a good number of my friends have had hip or knee replacements in the last few years and they have welcomed me into the ‘replacement club’; brother Jack has had both hips replaced. Others have asked me about my recent experience with my surgery because they see themselves as ‘replacement club’ candidates in the not-too-distant future. So I thought since the only place I’ll be visiting in the next month or two is my own house, on a walker, I don’t have a lot to write about other than my initiation into the ‘replacement club’.

At the pre-surgery meeting with my surgeon, Dr. Patel, I was told to have a restful weekend and be ready for surgery Monday morning. My snappy rejoinder was that I’d probably be sleeping through the whole process and suggested that he was the one who needed to have a restful weekend.  He wasn’t amused. Dr. Jay Patel received his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He then went on to earn both a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and his Medical Doctorate from Stanford University. So I was naturally concerned that my surgeon was a slacker.

drill

Black & Decker

I arrived at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine at 5:30 Monday morning; my pre-op routine included Dr. Patel scribbling his initials on my right hip with a Sharpie to insure they don’t replace the wrong one, which has happened, more than once!   Mine would be the first of 6 hip replacement surgeries that Dr. Patel would perform that day; each surgery taking about 60-90 minutes. I barely remember meeting the anesthesiologist and the next thing I knew I was waking up in post-op.  I did take the opportunity, or make the mistake, of watching a YouTube video on hip replacement. It looked like a construction site, with people wielding crowbars, ball pein hammers, jigsaws and power drills (Black & Decker I believe); I was surprised that everyone wasn’t wearing hard hats. The video is not for the squeamish.

After the surgery Dr. Patel came in to let me know that everything had gone very well and I asked him if I could see the piece of hip that he took out. He said that it had lots of bone spurs on it and he threw it in the ‘bone yard’. My request came from a suggestion from a friend and fellow golfer, Tom Metz, who has a great sense of humor and suggested I ask for a ‘doggie bag’ and bring the bone home for my dog to gnaw on. Yeah, he’s a little sick too.

butt

Margaritaville: “No, Mr. Sparrow you can’t go home that way!”

I must say that the staff at Hoag was unbelievable; not just professional, but I really got the sense that they enjoyed their work and did whatever it took to make my one-night stay there as comfortable as possible. They always had a smile on their face and enjoyed a good laugh. For example, I asked one of the attending nurses, Margarita Avalos (I called her ‘Margaritaville’ for ‘short’) when my catheter would be taken out. She looked at me with a very serious face and said, “Oh, it not so much when it will come out as how.” I asked what she meant, she said, “We take the end of the catheter and tie it to the door, then just slam the door.” Ouch!!!

Unlike the operation itself, I don’t get to sleep through the rehab, which is the not-so-fun part. Managing the pain is important along with doing the exercises prescribed by the physical therapist. The hardest part of rehab may be not drinking while on pain medication – and here I thought drinking was pain medication.

As part of my ‘exit interview’ they asked me when I get released was I going back to an abusive home. I didn’t think this was the time to bring up Linda’s and my heated discussion about who should take out the garbage. I will happily do it . . . now without a limp.

 

 

A Car Dealer’s Worst Nightmare

by Bob Sparrow

negotiating

Negotiation with car dealers is child’s play for Linda

I bought a new car a while back; well I should say my wife bought a new car for me, well, not exactly for me, but instead of me. Let me explain. It was time for me to get a new car and I hate the car-buying process.  Left to my own devices, I would go to the nearest BMW dealer, find the model and color I like and buy it. I’d trade in my old car – no, I’d never try to sell it myself and maximize my profit, I would take it to the dealer and have him tell me all the things that are wrong with it and generally what a piece of crap it is, so I would feel like he’s doing me a favor when he takes it off my hands for about half of its Blue Book value. So I end up paying top dollar for my new car and get bottom dollar for my old car. No muss, no fuss, no haggling. I’m a car dealer’s dream. That’s why I am no longer left to my own devices when it comes to buying a car, but it is right in Linda’s wheelhouse.

While I’m ecstatic about not having to deal with ‘those car dealers’, there is one major drawback: the black 740iL BMW that I wanted turned into a champagne 460 Lexus, but I guess non-negotiators can’t be choosy. She got a good deal on it and got top dollar for my old Lexus.

Reynolds

Reynolds Buick in West Covina

Linda has driven a GMC Yukon for the past seven years and it was still in very good shape, but it was definitely starting to show its age, a feeling I could relate to, so it was actually me who suggested that it was time for her to buy a new car. I don’t know whether she was more excited about, getting a new car or getting another opportunity to chew up and spit out a few car dealers. She is a super shopper when it comes to buying anything, but she is Wonder Woman when it comes to buying a car.

She decided she wanted another Yukon, so went on line and searched the 11 western states for the model and color she wanted, a champagne silver metallic, SLT – I’m wondering if she has a champagne addiction. Just so you know, if you spend more than a nanosecond on any dealers website, they will track you down and make you believe that you have committed to purchasing your new car from them. You will be bombarded with phone calls and emails, so much so that you actually start wondering if something happened to them if a couple of hours go by without hearing from them.

Hardin

Anaheim GM dealer

Linda had found 1 (one!) champagne silver metallic SLT in southern California, it was in possession of a dealer in West Covina, who Linda had previously talked to (of course), but the dealer she was presently grinding into fine powder and was ready to strike a deal with, was in Anaheim. It is customary for dealers to ‘swap’ cars with one another if a dealer feels confident he can sell it. The Anaheim dealer, who now figuratively looked like he’s just gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson, tells Linda that the car she wants is in West Covina and he’s going to get it from them so he can sell it to her. But when he calls them, they tell him that they think it’s sold, so he can’t have it. When the Anaheim dealer tells Linda this, she calls the West Covina dealer and asks if they have ‘her’ car. They say yes, but that another dealer wants it. Linda asks if it’s the Anaheim dealer that wants it and they says yes it is. Linda tells them that the Anaheim dealer wants the car for her and that if they want her to buy it from them, they’ll have to accept the same terms she’s already negotiated. When the West Covina dealer hears the terms, he groans, then is silent (he’s thinking, “A very little commission or no commission?”) and finally says OK. This all may sound confusing to you, but just understand that the bottom line here is that Linda now has the two car dealers trying to screw over each other, while Linda gets the keys to the car.

2014-GMC-Yukon

2015 GMC Yukon SLT Champagne Silver Metallic

As we were heading home in Linda’s new car, I started recounting the savings: a rather large GM Family discount for me being a retired GMAC employee, a rebate from our insurance company, USAA as well as a less-than 2% auto loan and top dollar for her old Yukon. Linda interjects, “Add another $100, I’ve got a full tank of gas here and there’s not enough gas in my old car to drive it off the lot.”

Maybe that black BMW isn’t that far in the future; when I get it, I’ll buy Linda an nice bottle of champagne.