Thursday, February 04, 2016

My First (and last) Airbnb

Our Airbnb stay in the Hollywood Hills

Last year, during my first visit to California, I stayed at my first bed and breakfast.  I was apprehensive about staying at a bed and breakfast, me who works at a hotel and is used to staying at hotels.  A bed and breakfast?  Isn't that someone's home?  Well yes, but from my experience last year at the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast, I found the experience to be totally satisfactory.  In fact, I loved it so much I returned this year.  

Our accommodations at night - first night back we couldn't find the place! Kept ending up on the Santa Monica Freeway after missing our turn. This was the one time we were glad to get back "home". 

However, this year my Travel Buddy (Pat from Toronto) suggested we also stay at an Airbnb.  He saw this modern home nestled in the Hollywood Hills that looked intriguing.  I too thought it would be interesting to stay at one of those homes tucked into the Hollywood Hills.  Plus, I had never stayed at an Airbnb so this would also be a new experience for me.  Well folks, with all due respect to Pat and his good intentions, this move didn't work out too well.  In fact I was very disappointed.

I had a couple problems with our new accommodations.  My biggest problem was that the place just wasn't clean.  Here are few of the cleanliness failures:

Grout needs cleaned in the shower - also black hair on tiles - neither Pat or I have black hair - someone didn't clean the shower before we checked in

More hairs on the floor of the bathroom - not good 

  • Hair on the floor and tile in the shower
  • Dirty grout in the shower
  • Dust on the floor
  • Black sheets that didn't feel clean 
  • Rough towels
The "couch" - very uncomfortable

The "kitchen" - pots and pans but no stove - room above the garage heated by space heater

The bathroom - rough towels - no soft and plushy here

The bathroom sink and shower - I liked the above head shower - bathroom not a total disappointment

Our room was above the garage and plenty big but the furniture worn and very uncomfortable. To say the furniture was "rough" would be generous. And with all the furniture, one of the basic requirements of accommodating guests was there was no luggage rack.  Hey Airbnb proprietors, provide something for your guests to place their suitcases other than the floor or a chair. 

View from the black sheeted bed - my suitcase is on the chair behind the TV

Actually, I felt like the proprietors lost an opportunity to provide a really nice space for their Airbnb guests because they have the space to do it.  But I felt like they just threw in some old furniture and a space heater and figured out that was enough.  It was a shame because this could really be a cute and desirable space.  

A nice, big open space - could be made to really be comfortable

Another problem with this location (and not the fault of the proprietors) was the location.  We thought it would be cool to stay in the Hollywood Hills but be careful what you wish for.  During our stay at our previous accommodations (the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard), we could walk to any location including Hollywood and Vine.  Not so this location.  Oh no.  Oh for sure we were tucked into the Hollywood Hills. We weren't going to be walking anywhere.  In fact, I had a very hard time even maneuvering around and walking up those steep steps to our Airbnb.  Again, not the fault of the aforementioned Airbnb proprietors but not a place that is conducive to my aging, arthritic riddled body.  And one day, Pat was on the receiving end from a blast from one of our Airbnb proprietor's neighbors.  Pat had dropped me off and before he left to visit one of his modern furniture stores, waited to make sure I made it up the steps.  The neighbor came out and started to yell at Pat "You can't park here!  You are so rude!"

Not the actual neighbor, the real one was much nicer looking but still very angry

Pat tried to explain to the irate woman that he wasn't parked in front of her house but she wasn't hearing any of it.  Obviously she has had problems before with her Airbnb neighbors' tenants parking in front of her house.  While Pat was trying to explain to her that he was moving on she continued to yell at him "We have the biggest area in the Hollywood Hills to turn around and you park in front of my house! I can' believe you!"  I paraphrased her words but that she was very angry and not willing to listen to any reason for a car in front of her house, even if it was to monitor an arthritic old man climbing steep stairs, was very apparent. Welcome to the neighborhood Ron and Pat.  Hey lady, don't worry, we won't be back.

Pat at the "desk" behind the refrigerator

Oh, I almost forgot.  During our first morning this is what I saw out on the back patio.  Obviously we didn't partake of the patio.  One of my really big fears is being "skunked" on vacation.  

However, all was not a loss. We always wondered what it would be like to actually stay at one of those houses in the Hollywood Hills. Now I (we) know.  Curiosity satisfied. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

"You're Going to Go to Work"

Me at work now this past Monday evening

When I was ten years old my Mom told me "You're going to get a job."  I was ten years old and about as dumb as a bag of doorknobs. "A job? What job?"

She told me that "No child of mine is going to do NOTHING.  You're getting a job." Then she told me that Mrs. Lindermann, the Paper Lady would be by our 2nd floor apartment on Washington Avenue that night.  The job my Mother secured for me was as a paper boy.  

Mrs. Lindermann making her weekly collection of my nickles, dimes and quarters in our 50's kitchen - my Mother is to the left and my brother Isaac is to the right of Mrs. Lindermann - my leftover papers are on the kitchen chair - this is the only picture I have from my Paper Boy Days - selfies were not taken in the Fifties - I took this picture with my Kodak Brownie

Mrs. Linderman brought her little black three ring notebook with the names of about fifty paper route customers. I would be delivering the (afternoon) Philadelphia Bulletin to those customers seven days a week.  Five days a week after school, on Saturday and the Sunday morning (the worst) paper.  I would earn about $5.00 a week which I almost always squandered on candy and comic books.  I was a paper boy until I entered ninth grade, four years (I think, my friend Larry will correct me if I'm wrong because he took over my paper boy job).  Unfortunately I don't have any "paperboy" photos of myself, which is a shame.  There are so many photos I've missed over the years.  I wish I could have a do over on those lost opportunities.

Me in my Paperboy days with my bicycle with the basket for my newspapers - the only known photo I have of myself during those days - note the festive (gay) steamers on my handler bars - gay early

Fast forward from that date sixty-four years ago and I'm still working.  Here are just some of the job I've had over the years:

  • Office cleaner (took over the job from my Mother)
  • Mowed lawns
  • Ran errands to the local grocery store (actually my very first job when I was five years old - relatives used to give me a nickel to run to the local corner grocer and pick up milk, bread, etc.
  • Dishwasher
  • Meat market clerk (get you mind out of the gutter)
  • U.S. Army (after I graduated from high school, three years in Army Security Agency - NSA)
  • Hotel night auditor (where this blog is going)
  • Accounts payable clerk at junk steel yard
  • Banking trust operations career (37 years until job eliminated)
  • Estate gardner (a swift fall from grace)
  • Hotel night auditor (again, what goes round come round)
  • Hotel front desk agent (where I work today)
For the past seventeen years I've been working (again) as a hotel front desk clerk.  

Me taking a reservation - wish I had a series of photos like this during my paper boy days

I will probably work as long as I can walk and my health holds up.  I love my job.  I work at a wonderful hotel with great folks.  I'm not paid a lot (you'll never get rich working at a hotel) but I earn enough to enable me to indulge myself (occasionally) in trips to California, Canada and Philadelphia.  The extra income from my job enables me to buy just about every Apple product that comes on the market. The extra income allows me to keep up with the ever increasing prices of our household (electric, heating, taxes) and insurance bills.  

I'm pretty sure I was the first in my class to get a job (or have one dropped on me). And I think now I am the last one of my school classmates who is still working.  My friend Stuart still works but he certainly didn't have a job thrust on him by his well off pharmacist doctor father when he was ten years old.  Oh no, many of my school classmates had that college fund waiting for them when they graduated from high school.  And I have a confession to make here folks, I've always resented those folks who had their Life Path cleared for them.  Maybe I shouldn't feel that way but I've never had much sympathy for folks who wanted more tax breaks so they could "send the kids to college."  I managed to live my life quite successfully in spite of not having a path cleared for me.  Would I have liked to go to college?  Oh sure?  That was one of the most painful things I've ever had to endure.  But I did get to go to college eventually, on the G.I. Bill.

Pierce College, Philadelphia, PA

I earned that one folks. I never had the parents who encouraged me, told me I could do well, and who supported me financially.  In retrospect I think that was a good thing because I've never taken anything for granted in my life.  Anything I have I have earned.  Nothing was given to me.  And again, that's why I also have a deep resentment of all those telemarketing calls I now receive in my senior years, that whole industry out there who is devoted to parting me from my hard earned (small) nest egg and depriving me of a comfortable and dignified exit from this world.

Since I have returned from California

Me and Travel Buddy Pat in California last month

(and that free and easy lifestyle) thoughts have gone through my head how my life could have been so much different if I had chosen to take a different path.  But where I am is the path I have chosen and I am quite happy as I coast out of this life.  

This time last year two of my friends departed this life.  Ed Cage died January 27th and Wayne Juneau died February 16th.  Hard to believe it's been almost a year since both of these fellows, who were so much a part of my life, have died.  

Ed me and Wayne a few years ago when we were all alive

One day I too will no longer be here.  This blog and this posting will live on long past my demise.  To all who read this blog now and in the future, know this.  I have lived a good life.  Do I have regrets?  Oh sure, plenty but they were all learning experiences.  Would I live a do-over on some of those regrets?  Oh sure.  Maybe in my next life.  See you then!

Monday, February 01, 2016

This One Hurt

I got my wait number - ready to be stabbed. 

This morning I stepped back on the Medical Treadmill for a bit.  I had a run of about a month without any doctor's appointments.  It was nice.

I had to go in for a blood test (Lipid Panel test, whatever that is) for my upcoming appointment with my cardiologist.  Fun times.  

Remember, I have that extra heart beat.  I'm all heart.  

Usually when I get my blood drawn it's only a prick.  A prick. Not drawn by a prick but a prick.  Oh never mind.

Anyway, this morning, as nice as the guy was, he stabbed me.  I was bleeding.  It hurt.  Nice way to start the day off.  Oh well, could be worse.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nighttime Selfies in Hollywood

When the Pat and Ron Show goes on the road, you all know I take a lot of selfies.  Occasionally a stranger will take pity on my struggling with my iPhone to take a selfie and offer to take a picture of me and Pat but most time I take selfies.  

My friend Lar noted that Pat is always behind me in the selfies.  Uh, Lar . . . . just how am I going to get Pat in front of me when I take a selfie?  Just saying. And of course there are those to bemoan that we are a selfie society. Oh please, give me a break.  I just wish I had an iPhone camera when I was young.  Just think of the fabulous pictorial history I would have.  

Me and Pat loitering on Hollywood Boulevard

When Pat and I make our annual visit to Hollywood, California, we have no set agenda.  Other than eating most of our meals at the Veggie Grill at 8000 Sunset Blvd. and visiting modern furniture stores (Pat's passion), we go with the flow (California style) when we visit California.

Selfie in the Veggie Grill - I love the lighting (and the food) - always brings a smile to my face

The video at the top is of me an Pat at the Coffee Bean, a Starbucks style coffee stop.  By the way, Pat's given up coffee now and is currently going through withdrawal.  I've never been a coffee drinker, the one vice I have avoided (not so lucky in other vices but we won't go into that now). 

The banner photo at the top of this blog is the lobby (living room) of the bed and breakfast (The Hollywood Bed and Breakfast) where we stayed.  Oh how I love this bed and breakfast.  Pat left a gift of a small bear for our delightful hostess Nina.  We'll check next year to see if this little bear is still on the mantle. 

Pat leaves a "gift" on the piano in the living room of the bed and breakfast where we were staying - we'll check next year to see if that little bear is still there

The Hollywood Bed and Breakfast is located right on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard.  We can walk to the Veggie Grill, Rite Aid and even Hollywood and Vine (which we did last year).  However, the traffic is rather challenging.  Check out the "raceway."

Me and Pat waiting for the light to change so we can cross the street

We push a button on the light post to get the "WALK".  Power, making all that traffic stop.  I wonder if we ever slowed down a star.  By the way, we have yet to see any celebrities in person.  Two years running and no celebrity sightings.  Oh except for Drew Carey when we attended "The Price is Right!"  

So this blog is like the old "Seinfeld Show."  Basically about nothing but I think interesting because you know I post the videos and photos to give you, the reader a feel for our experience in California.  Even though we have no set plans for our activities we do have a fabulous time.  I guess a lot of that depends upon the company you keep.  

Thanks Pat!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Pasadena, California Visit

Every year, during our annual January visit to sunny California, we make the short drive to Pasadena to visit one of our favorite vegan restaurants, The Green Earth.

Pasadena is a beautiful small city not far from Los Angeles.  In fact, all the cities of southern California seem to run together, being one big city. We're always amazed at how little distance (less than ten miles) separates such well known cities such as Santa Monica, Burbank, Pasadena from the city of Los Angeles.

As regular readers of this blog know (and you know who you are), I go vegan when Pat and I partake in one of our travel adventures.  One of Pat's favorite vegan restaurants in Toronto is The Green Earth restaurant.  That restaurant just happens to have a sister restaurant (run by the same Vietnamese family) in Pasadena.  Pat and I visited the Pasadena restaurant the first time last year.  We had a great vegan meal followed by a fabulous dessert.  

Our delicious vegan lunch at The Green Earth restaurant in Pasadena, CA

This year we returned to our host, "Tranh" (I think that was his name) at The Green Earth restaurant in Pasadena.  We had another fabulous vegan meal followed by yet another spectacular dessert. 

Pat had vegan chocolate cake (delicious) and I had vegan cheesecake (also delicious!)

The only difference this time with our meal was a crazy man stopped in from the street and interrupted our meal.  He seemed sane enough at first when he saw me and Pat and said "Now there are to men who look like they're enjoying life" (we do).  But then the more he talked, the crazier he got.  Then he asked to see the menu from Tranh.  While looking at the items he kept saying "Too much! Too much!"  Then he asked Tranh "Where do you get your vegetables?"  He didn't like Tranh's answer.  All the while Tranh was trying to stay pleasant, which a forced smile.  Later we found out that he thought The Crazy Man was our friend.  WHAT? Tranh said when he returned to our table he saw the man talking to us and that's why he assumed he was our friend.  Thank goodness The Crazy Man finally exited the restaurant.  Just another adventure for the Ron and Pat Road Show.

Selfie of Pat, Tranh and me at the Green Earth Restaurant in Pasadena, California

After lunch we stopped in a modern furniture store in Pasadena. 

Pat considering this couch (you already have a modern couch Pat, from CB2) 

Pat loves these modern furniture stores.  Actually I do too. At one time in my past life I had considered going "modern" but you know how life is.  Over time Bill and I have accumulated different types of furniture here and there and before we knew it we had the typical American Household, which is just a conglomeration of all styles of furniture that (hopefully) is comfortable. Works for us.

Maybe in the future if I should reach a very old age and find my current home too much, I may opt for smaller quarters and decide to get all new furniture.  If I do I will go modern.  

We had a fine visit to Pasadena and we will return next year.  I love setting new traditions.  I just hope we don't run into any more Crazy Old Men.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

I'm On TV! (Finally)

Ron the Ham in all his glory (and Spo Shirt) high fiving our friend Lloyd (hand in orange pullover) who go the cal to "Come on down!" (he didn't win but did get up on stage with Drew Carey)

Hey folks, I was on TV yesterday!  Yep, your old blogger buddy here had his fifteen minutes of fame and was on national TV yesterday.  

Actually I didn't even have fifteen minutes, more like fifteen SECONDS, but there I was.  In my custom made Spo shirt of very colorful parrots.

That is our friend Lloyd (in the orange) who was called to "come on down!" I'm in the back to the left of Lloyd looking like the fool that I am.  Is this any kind of activity for a 74 year old retired bank operations manager? By the way, I thought for sure my Spo shirt would guarantee me being called.  As it turned out all I was good for that day was audience eye candy.

My venue for fame was the longest running TV game show "The Price is Right!"  I had written for tickets at the end of last year and received two Priority Tickets (for me and my Travel Buddy Pat).  We attended the taping at the CBS Television Studio City on January 18th.  

Can you feel the excitement?  That's me and Pat (gray pullover with hands above his head) in the second row behind the Ladies in Yellow cheering the guy in back behind us who was making his way down to the stage after getting the call to "Come on down!" - why didn't they call us?  Damn!

There was some confusion as to when the show would be shown on TV.  When we entered the studio we passed a placard that said the show would be shown January 27th.  However, when I returned home from our California holiday and checked the website it said the show would be aired this coming February 29th.  So that's the date I advised everybody to look for.  So wouldn't you know it they did air the show yesterday.

I found out by my friend Larry, who faithfully watches the show everyday. He saw me high giving our friend Lloyd Mullcom who was the last contestant to get the call to "Come on down!" by George Gray, the announcer (who we were seated near).  

You can see Pat (in gray pullover with hands in air) and me (my hands are covering my face, what was I thinking?) seated near George Gray as he made the calls to "Come on down!" I got to talk to George right before I left.  A very nice man indeed.  Genuine like Drew Carey, who unfortunately I didn't get a chance to talk too. Maybe next year when I do get the call to "Come on down Ronald Tipton!" 

I took these pictures from my TV after freeze framing the scenes that Pat and I were in.  

This is a good picture of how close Pat and I were next to the announcer George Gray - we're in the second row - Pat in the gray pullover and me (with my hands in front of my face again) in my parrot Dr. Spo shirt with the Guy in Red standing next to me

After looking at these pictures and the video, I have decided I will write for tickets again next year and give the show another try.  Even if we don't get the call to "Come on down!" it was great fun to be part of the very happy experience that day, even if we did have to wait in line over four hours.  You know what folks?  With all the bad news in the world today, those five hours I spent that morning of January 19th will be among the happiest I have spent in my lifetime.  And you know, we can never have too many of those moments in our life.  Below, it's quick but you can see me to the left high fiving our friend Lloyd (in the orange pullover) who was called to "Come on down!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Hollywood Bed and Breakfast

One of my absolute indulgences is that we stay at The Hollywood Bed and Breakfast on Hollywood Boulevard.  This is the first bed and breakfast I've ever stayed in and I have to tell you I hit a home run by choosing this delightful bed and breakfast.

Pat checking his e-mail by the pool

Last year was the first time we stayed here and again, I was very pleased.  The location is ideal, right in the heart of West Hollywood.  Within walking distance of 8000 Sunset Boulevard,

Pat at 8000 Sunset Blvd, taking a picture of the Chateau Marmot on the hill across the street

were we often eat at the Veggie Grill.  We can also walk to Hollywood and Vine as well as our laundry, conveniently named The Hollywood Laundry.  Hey folks, a lot of the businesses in Hollywood are named "Hollywood."  What are the odds?

Me soaking up the ambiance by the pool

Well, we LOVE The Hollywood Bed and Breakfast. Last year we stayed there the whole of our ten days.  This year we split our stay between The Hollywood Bed and Breakfast and an Air B & B in the Hollywood Hills, that Pat choose.  That stay wasn't a good experience, which I'll write about in a future blog posting.

"Let's take a dip!" (Pat suggests)  HA! I don't reveal my pudgy bod in public anymore

Pat, being the minimalist that he is, was at first put off by all the "busyness" (color, nick nacks, etc) of the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast but soon became accustomed to our host Nina's eclectic taste in decor.  Of course you know I love all the color and tchotchkes.   

Pat and our host William in the breakfast area - spotless!

When I'm at the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast I feel like I'm at home.  Our hosts William and Nina are gracious, available but not intrusive.  And the place is SO CLEAN, which you know I love.  

And the breakfast is perfect.  Anything you could want in a relaxed and cozy atmosphere.  This year we didn't get to meet any fellow travelers but last year we did and they were most pleasant to share a breakfast with.  

Folks, I have to admit I feel like calling the airline right now and arranging for another two weeks in sunny California to stay at this wonder home away from home.  At least to get through the month of February. There is nothing like getting off the plane in California in January, walking out the door the LAX to catch the Enterprise Car Rental Shuttle buss and to see the swaying palm trees and the warm caress of California sunshine on your cheek.

Real palm trees folks and that's California sun warming our faces . . in January!

What was the name of that Mama's and Papa's song?  Oh yes, "California Dreaming."