Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Green Earth Restaurant Pasadena, California 2019

Every year when Pat and I visit California for our annual winter holiday, we make sure to visit the Green Earth restaurant in Pasadena, California.

The Green Earth restaurant, as the title would indicate, is a vegetarian restaurant. Pat wanted to visit this restaurant because it is the sister restaurant (run by the same Vietnamese family) of the Green Earth restaurant in Tornonto, Canada, Pat's former home (Pat now lives in Hamilton, Ontario).

Thuoung U - The Green Earth Restaurant

Our host at the Green Earth restaurant in Pasadena is Thuoung U, a Vietnamese immigrant.  I remember the first time I asked him his last name and he said "U".  I said "How do you spell your last name?"  He said "U".  Pen ready, I said "What is the rest of it?"  He said, "That's it, just 'U'".  Pretty cool eh?

Pasadena is a short drive mileage wise from our stay in West Hollywood but long traffic wise. It is worth the trip though. Pasadena is a beautiful town.  Neat and clean.  

Pat and I always sit at the same booth, which has always been available when we drop in unannounced. We're always receive a friendly welcome by Thuoung.  

Pat and me at our booth at the Green Earth Restaurant - I don't know what Pat was doing - by the way we don't sit next to each other, I sit across from pat at the table, we just posed this way for the picture which probably discombulated Pat

The menu changes every year.  We look forward to trying new vegetarian entrees. This year was no exception.  

Our vegan dishes at the Green Earth Restaurant - the one with tofu chunks are Pat's - I don't like tofu, that's how I knew the difference

I don't remember the names of these entrees but they were delicious. And we always top off our meal with a slice of vegan cheesecake which we share.  

Vegan cheesecake, which I like better than regular cheesecake - I don't have that heavy feeling in my stomach after I eat it, very tasty!

This blog post just another little slice of our annual California adventure. Sad to say we probably won't be visiting Thuoung next year.  We have decided to spend our whole two weeks in Palm Springs next year.  Maybe in 2021 we will return, hopefully.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Memory Foam Mattress

Pat approving of the memory foam mattress at our Palm Springs rental

My whole life I've slept on uncomfortable mattresses.  From the time when I was growing up and I had to sleep with my two younger brothers in the same bed (which I hated, I eventually got my own bed, a fold up, when I was sixteen years old) until my latest mattress, which I got from the hotel where I work. 

Me at 12 years old ready to go to bed with my two brothers in one very uncomfortable bed

In my seventy-seven years I've slept on all types of mattress, even a water bed which made me sea sick. Maybe the worst were the thin mattresses I slept on during my three year Army enlistment. 

Me with Army bed at Ft. Meade, MD. 1962

I've gotten used to waking up with an aching back. I just assumed that was my lot in life.

Thus it was a very pleasant surprise to discover a different kind of mattress during our stay in Palm Springs. 

Our uncomfortable bed inWest Hollywood, sunk in the middle.  So uncomfortable I slept in the other bedroom

Both Pat and I immediately noticed how comfortable the mattress was at our VRBO rental unit in Palm Springs. We had to find out what kind of mattress that was.  We took off the sheets and turned over the mattress to discover the mattress we were sleeping on was a memory foam mattress.  I called the owner of the unit and asked her where she got the mattress.  She said  We did a it more research and found this:

Pat and I went in downtown Palm Springs and found a mattress store to see if they were selling any.  We found one that had a memory foam mattress, it was a Posturepedic mattress.  We tested it but at $2,999 it was a bit over my budget (you think)?  You all know the prices for mattresses vary greatly. Mattress pricing is right there with hearing aids and glasses, prices are high. You have to shop around.  Even though the salesman at the Palm Springs offered free delivery of his mattress, I passed. He wasn't happy. I'm immune these days to pushy salespeople. 

Shortly after I got home I received an e-mail with this offer from BJ's, a store where I regularly shop.

Memory foam mattress from BJ's
I saw this ad and decided "Why not?"  I ordered it.

The compressed mattress arrived in a box. Now to get rid of my old mattress.  I called Alfredo, the son of my Mexican landscaper to see if his parents wanted my old mattress. They did.  They came by and picked it up.  

I opened the box my memory foam mattress and let it expand.  I put it on my bed.  A few hours later I tested it.  Fabulous! 

My old mattress - goodbye!
My new memory foam mattress - hello!

Man oh man.  For the first time in my life I sleep in comfort and wake up without a back ache. Only problem, my afternoon naps now last hours and I mean hours.  First day I slept over three hours!  

I told Bill "This is the bed I die in."  No hospital bed for me, hooked up to IV units and in a fog from pain killers.  I plan to ease out of this life in sweet comfort and not twisting around in my bed trying to get a good position so my back doesn't ache. 

Now I know some of you are questioning "Why didn't you order the memory foam mattress from Amazon?"  Good question.  I goofed. Memory foam mattresses are probably like sugar.  Doesn't matter which brand you order. I goofed but it's all right, for once in my life I sleep in comfort.  I love it!

Where did memory foam mattress come from?  This from the Internet:

Memory foam, also known as temper foam, was developed under a NASA contract in the 1970s that set out to improve seat cushioning and crash protection from airline pilots and passengers. Memory foam has widespread commercial applications, in addition to the popular mattresses and pillows.

Now I understand that memory foam mattresses aren't for everyone.  I hear that for some they are too hot. But they work for me.  

Friday, March 15, 2019

Playing Pool at Hunters Bar in Palm Springs

During our stay in Palm Springs this past February Pat and I had a chance to play pool. 

During my three year Army enlistment I often played pool in our dayroom at the various Army bases where I was stationed.  Over time I obtained some measure of skill at playing a pool.  Not that I'm a good pool player, I'm not but I do find playing pool very relaxing. 

I tried playing golf (Chip and Put) back in the Sixties. That wasn't for me. Maybe miniature golf but I find playing golf very awkward.  Playing pool is more my style. I like the social aspect.

During our visit to Hunters bar (a gay bar in Palm Spings), which we went to for dancing and the pulsating music (videos of that in future blog postings) I noticed pool tables. During the weekends those tables are the platform for the male strippers/dancers but on the night we were there the pool tables were available for play.

This is a short video of that pleasant evening. Oh, Pat won most of the games as he does when we play games. But as I often say, we had fun. It's all about the experience folks. And on this night the music was pretty good too.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Price is Right 2019

This was our fourth trip to "The Price is Right!" TV show. This was our fifth appearance in the audience of "The Price is Right!", one year we were asked to attend the second taping. 

Again, we weren't called to "come on down!" but we still had a great time. 

There are two tapings a day at the CBS Studio on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood. One in the morning and one in the afternoon, we attended the morning taping.

The line forms at about 8 am.  The taping begins at about 12 pm.  Yes, we're in line for four hours. 
Now that sounds very boring but in fact it is not.  For one thing we get to met a lot of fine folks from other parts of the country. Almost every one is in a party mood. And the folks at the Price is Right makes sure we're entertained for the full four hours.

First thing the folks at the Price is Right do is go down the line and collect all the priority tickets.  That's for folks like me who wrote for their tickets on line.  Those of us with priority tickets are assured a seat in the 300 seat audience for the live taping. 

This year it was extra cold in Los Angeles so we were ushered in off the street outside the CBS studio and under the shelter where the portable heaters were placed to keep us warm.

The next step is to they assign us numbers and write our first name on a tag, which we place on our shirt or top.

Me with my number and name - lucky number! The year I graduated from high school!

The following step is we fill out a disclosure form and have our picture taken to accompany the disclosure form.  Yes, there is that much security.

Then we're proceeded to  a green screen backdrop to have our picture taken like we're on the Price is Right.  We reenact scenes like we won a prize.  Those pictures are on sale for $20.  I always buy those pictures.  That's about as close as I'm going to get to The Wheel. 

Me and Pat next to the Price is Right wheel, the closes we will ever get

Then we proceed to another line in groups to await the twenty-second interview. This is done by a representative of the Price is Right staff.  They're looking for "..people who are authentically excited to be there, are naturally gregarious, are interested in having a good time, and who we think will enjoy the prizes that we're giving away. We're looking for people that are being themselves and not pretending to be more excited or more odd or whatever it is."  

After that interview we are at the last step before we enter the studio.  At this time there are about ten TV monitors above us showing previous shows where contestants are called from the audience and who make very excited approaches to the stage and Drew Carey and who win the big prizes. Oh, and I almost forgot, we have to turn in our iPhones or cameras before we get to this stage, that's why I don't have any videos of this part of the procedure.

We're given one last chance to get something to eat from their snack bar (expensive) and to go to the bathroom. No bathroom breaks during the taping of the show.

Then, finally, we're told it's time to go into the studio.  We line up and proceed into the studio which is up on the second floor. We have to climb stairs.  As we're climbing the stairs we hear party music blaring keeping us in the mood. As we enter the very colorful studio, those audience members already there are clapping in beat to the music.  

Upon entering the studio we don't choose our seats, there are young ushers (mostly females) who assign us seats.  This year we got lucky and we were seated right down in front.  We will get a lot of camera time for when this show is on TV April 17th.  In fact, a guy right next to Pat was called to "come on down!".  He almost tripped over me getting out of the aisle.  You'll see me looking confused as I look around me to see who they called.  

After all the audience members are seated, the happy upbeat music continuing to blare, George Grey the announcer welcomes us.  He interacts with the audience a bit until he announces the entrance of the Price is Right host, Drew Carey. 

Drew Carey welcoming the audience - by the way Drew is great! He is in person just the way he is on camera

There is a person right behind the cameras on stage who motions to us how much to clap.  We're all trained seals.  There is a low clap, medium clap and a crazy, wild clap.  It doesn't take too long to train us.  We've been hyped up for four hours.

Drew comes onto stage to thunderous applause and cheers. He says hello to George and to the audience and asks George to call someone to "come on down."  By the way, most of us can't hear George but we do see a big sign that a Price is Right staff member holds up with the person's full name on it.  We also see the sign on the monitors that are throughout the audience.  

There is a lot of cheering and commotion and genuine happiness for those who are called. And then the game begin.

This year is the last year we will attend the show for a while.  We've attended four years in a row now, and five shows.  One time we were asked to attend a second taping because they were short audience members.  

We always enjoy our visits to the Price is Right show.  Drew, George and the whole staff go out of their way to make the experience a very happy one.  It's like a party.  But next year, Pat and I are going to spend our whole two week-winter holiday in Palm Springs.  

We will be back some year to the Price is Right.  As the logo on my shirt this year said: 

"Never Give Up!"

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

College Cheating Scandal

William Rick Singer - mastermind of the college cheating scandal - administrator of a non-profit tax exempt charity

Yesterday the news broke of the biggest college cheating scandal in the history of the United States. Helicopter parents brazenly paid cash to rig the system so their little darlings could jump ahead of the line and be admitted to colleges of their choice.

Admit it, didn't you know in your heart that this cheating was always going on?  Of course.  We all know about the legacy children who get in prestigious colleges of their parent's choice because their parent's went to that college. The rich white parents donate to the college (a building, a scholarship, etc) and viola! Their precious is admitted.

Actresses Felecity Huffman and Lori Loughin- charged in the college cheating scandal 

I was sickened when I heard and saw this news yesterday. This is the rich and privileged giving their kids a fast track for life.  Sickened to my stomach.  This news confirms that those who play by the rules get screwed again by the rich and influential who have enough money to buy their way to get ahead of the line.

This is personal for me.  When I graduated from high school I wanted to go to college. I couldn't go.  My Mother told me when I was in my freshman year in high school and had to make a choice of what course to take in high school (academic or commercial) that "We can afford to send you to college."  Of course I was hurt and disappointed.  Again I felt "lesser than". Not good enough.  I didn't have any hope of a scholarship.  I was a good student (mostly B's, an occasional "A" and one of two "C's"). I wasn't an athlete so I couldn't go on a sports scholarship. And I didn't have enough self confidence or a car to get a job and work my way through college. So what did I do? I joined the Army for three years.  After I got out of the Army I went to college on the GI bill.  I went to night school three nights a week (three house each night) for four years and obtained an Associate's Degree in Business Management. Didn't help me at all on my job at the bank, I was already ensconced in my career. If I had entered the job market after a four year college degree, my life arguably would be a lot different. 

Like many others, all my life I've played by the rules. And like many others, we all know there is an element of our society who do not play by the rules. Most of them get away with it.  Money and influence.  But it still is sickening and hurts when we see cheating like we saw on the news yesterday. 

You know what is really the discouraging part of this whole scandal?  No one and I mean NO ONE will serve one day in jail because of their cheating.  And why is that?  Because they are rich, influential and white. That's the way our system works in this country.  It's always worked that way and will continue to work that way. Do I sound cynical?  Well, yes.  But it is the truth.  

Reality folks. Not one of these people involved in this scandal will spend a day in jail.  They will express remorse maybe do some community service and life goes on and the cheating and not playing by the rules will continue. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Reflections on LIfe

My new memory foam mattress - the mattress I will die on (or hope too)

Finally, I got some time to sit back and reflect.

Ever since I got back from my annual California holiday, it's been one thing after another. Doctor's appointments, work, household emergencies.

Tomorrow I take Bill to the VA Outpatient clinic again (third visit in the past three weeks) to get the rest of his ear wax cleaned out of his right ear. This care giving business is taking up more and more of my time. I don't mind though, I'll always take care of Bill. But when I do I always wonder what do those older folks do who have no one to care for them?  Who will take care of me if I should be so lucky to reach ninety years old, the same age as Bill is now?  I try not to think about it.  The way I'm grunting and groaning now I doubt if I'll get anywhere near ninety years.  My goal now is to surpass my father's age (80) before he died in 2020 of lung cancer. Next goal will be to surpass my Mother who died in 2016 of diabetes. I'm pretty sure I'm going to die of a heart condition the way I tire easily.  I used to be able to walk all the time but not any more. Last few trips Pat and I were on, I over did my walking and had to stop and rest because my heart was hurting so much.

I would say "I'm getting old folks" but that wouldn't be exactly true.  I AM old.  I talk to my friend Larry (same age as me) about this subject frequently. We are both entering a new phase of our very interesting lives. We both agree we've had a good run and this is just another part of living, for which we are both thankful.

This spring I plan to visit my younger brother at his home in Greenville, South Carolina, who has stage four lymphoma. He and I also had a discussion about life and death. John (my brother) said "We all get our turn."  John is in a good frame of mind which I admire him for.  Larry, who has ALS is also in a good frame of mind for the condition he has. Am I in a good frame of mind?  Sure.  Something is going to get me, that's for sure. Something is going get all of us, you can count on that. Are you in a good frame of mind for what's coming?

But for the time being, I'm glad things have calmed down and I can get back into my regular routine of working two days a week at the hotel, taking Bill for his daily ride, getting ready for spring gardening, making lemon sponge pie and taking afternoon naps on my new memory foam bed, which I will be writing about in a future blog posting.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Two Systems of Justice in the United States

Judge T. S. Ellis, III

Paul Manafort, the traitor to the United States of America, received a sweetheart sentence of forty-seven months for his lifetime of crimes including lying to the Special Prosecutor, thus proving again there are two systems of justice for citizens of the United States.

I try to avoid political blogs because I know they bore many of my readers but regular readers of my blog know that sometimes I just have to vent, political or otherwise. 

Remember all the "Lock her up!" chants from the Deplorables at Trump's rallies because Hillary had a private e-mail server which supposedly was a dangerous security threat to the US?  The Republicans and their Kool-Aid drinking followers all cheered. Yet here we have Paul Manafort, a proven liar, money launderer, bank fraud, and a lifetime of criminality gets a sweetheart sentence from Federal judge Ellis, who is known to give light sentences for white collar crimes. 

Remember this, a black woman in Texas was sentenced to five years in jail for mistakenly voting without being registered. Click here. That folks says it all about how the justice systems sometimes (a lot actually) works in our country.  

 Shame on you Judge Ellis.