Yeninko of the Umlaut

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stella Dog?

How about stella Dlog?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pear Shaped

So Sunday started like many a Sunday in my life, with a terrible hang over. I would like to thank Alyssa and Alex for conspiring to get me that first pint of water. The cause of this celebration? See the previous post

In any case this Sunday was dedicated to one errand. Jackie had ordered 800 popcorn balls for an event on Monday and they had not arrived on Friday as expected and were probably not going to arrive till Tuesday. Jackie’s mission was to come up with eight hundred of something else. The rules were they had to be under $2 each, individually packaged, and had to be festive, as in with xmas trees or something. Eight hundred.

We initially tried Costco but all they seemed to have were gift baskets or bulk cookies (not individually wrapped) so we were screwed there. Jackie had picked up a couple of items from Mollie Stones that looked promising. A sugar cookie with very cool xmas themes in frosting and rice crispy cakes also coated in frosting of the holiday variety.

We stopped by and bought them all. 136. We checked a list they had there and mapped out the seven remaining Mollies Stones’. One more in SF on Portola, Burlingame, San Bruno, Palo Alto, Greenbrae, Sausalito, and San Mateo.

And so we began driving. Portola had none, which set up back a little. Jackie started stressing a little and asked if I’d drive while she peeled the price stickers of the cookies. It seemed to calm her so we were good to go. We were hoping to average 100 per store. But if the rest had ass much as the first stop we’d be okay. Next was San Bruno. 36. Things were looking bad. San Mateo had 3. At this point we were screwed. It was four o’clock and things would be closing soon. We figured we’d head back and hit Burlingame on the way back and try to think of a plan on the way. But luck was with us! Burlingame had over 200. We were back in the game. If we managed to pull off a couple more like that we’d only be a little short.

Obviously we skipped going to San Jose because, come on, were not masochists.

On the way through SF we stopped off at Ghirardelli’s and checked out if they had any filler in case we were short. Red and green Chocolate bars at $1.25 would do the trick but it was getting late and we need to get to the last two Mollie Stones in the North Bay before they close. Greenbrae had over 200. To the employees shock and our glee we filled up three baskets and bought them all. Sausalito had none. We were 250 short. At this point we had been doing this for eight unpaid hours. The car was COMPLETELY packed with backs of cookies. We decided to go to Ghirardelli’s and just pick up 250 bars and be done with it. In retrospect we should have gone there in the first place and just picked up 800 bars because it would have saved us from the second part of our saga.

As we are approaching the bridge on 101 South. We see an accident. At this point the road has four lanes and an emergency lane on the right. In the second lane from the fast lane are two cars stopped. It looks like one has rear-ended the other. Off past the emergency lane in the bushes sitting perpendicular to the road is another car that had spun out of control, the tire tracks were clearly visible.

For reasons I still question today I pulled Jackie’s Mini over and trotted up the emergency lane to try to see if, you know, someone was dying or something. The guy from the spun out car was standing by the road shaking uncontrollably. I asked if he was hurt and checked him for blood. He seemed okay so I put him back in his car at which point he started trying to start it. As I leaned in to tell him to just lean back and relax I smelled alcohol. I took the keys out of the ignition, told him to relax and stay here and I’d be back. I threw the keys in the back seat.

I stepped back out and looked at the two stopped cars now thirty feet away. A man was standing to right of the front car. I had just enough time to take that in when another car plowed full speed into the rear car slamming all three cars forward about 50ft. The guy who had been standing next to the van was now in the middle of traffic. Everything went crazy at that point. Cars started dodging the wreck and one car heading straight for it cut one lane to the right, directly into the path of a motorcycle which went down in a shower of sparks and slammed into the rear of Jackie’s car. The rider piled up against the driver side. The bike bounced off the bumper and slide past the ride and the car.

I sprinted over to the rider, an older guy in leather gear and he looked fucker. In the impact his helmet had come off. I don’t know if he had the strap on or not but looking at the helmet which had come to a rest next to him it looked like it had slammed the ground once with enough force to lathe of a portion the size of a plate for the helmet. The guy wasn’t moving and I kneed, held his hand and just started talking. I knew I couldn’t move him but I couldn’t tell if he was breathing or even had a pulse. There wasn’t any blood which was amazing consider his helmet was two feet from his head. Suddenly he started taking these irregular death breaths. I called to Jackie who was now on the phone to ask for an ambulance and to come over and watch this guy. I said if he stopped breathing, call me back over. Ultimately she never got through on 911.

I ran back to the crash that was now three cars and about 50 ft closer to where I we had stopped the car. At this point traffic and slowed dramatically, fortunately. All the gawkers guaranteed no one else would plow into the stopped cars. I ran over to each car and methodically looked for anyone inside. Everyone seemed to be out of their cars and no one was bleeding. The last car that I check, the one that had rear ended the first accident contained a woman who was crying and in pain. She had injured here back and was complaining of chest pains. I just held her had and kept her talking. When the cops arrived I told them about the motorcyclist and the woman’s pains. With the cops there I ran back to Jackie and the motorcyclist. He was now very semi conscious. He would try to move every now and then. There was a woman holding his head and I handed her my sweater to put under his head. I walked back to the cop who was with the lady to see about getting help the rider and she was interrogating this woman who is balling about what happened. “what lane were you in, what color was the car you hit, do you have someone who can pick you up” BS like that, I reminded the cop (Highway Patrol) of the unconscious guy and she seemed totally unconcerned, and told me help was on the way. I had thought help was there. WTF is the point of teaching cops and CPR or First Aid if they aren’t even going to bother looking at someone who is injured.

About ten minutes after the cops arrived, fire trucks and ambulances arrived. The firemen seemed almost excited about the whole thing. They took over for Jackie and the other woman and me and Jackie basically just started bawling. I mean I sort of lost my shit there for a second. The firemen just took a pair of scissors and starting at the guy’s neck cut every piece of clothing from his body right down to his boots. There was a little blood around his mouth and as they put him on the board he became a little combative, which as far as I’m concerned was a great sign.

A fireman came over and asked up if we were okay and we sort of told him what had happened, and his reply was, “Yeah, but you two are okay right?’ Which sank in pretty well. I asked how the rider was, and the fireman replied that he had serious injuries. I asked if he was going to make past that. And he said almost certainly, he’d be fine. Just then he noticed the guys helmet and grabbed it, “Hey his helmet, he’s going to want this”, and ran over to the ambulance. So true, so true.

All of this was pretty freaking weird but now comes the oddest part for me. A highway patrol motorcycle officer comes over and asks me what happened and I spear for the life of me I can’t recall crap. I was standing no more than 50 ft from where the second crash occurred and was starring right at it as it happened but I couldn’t recall what the color of any of the cars were. I couldn’t recall if the car had clipped the motorcycle or just cut him off. Nothing. I was basically useless. I had seen two cares in the road and one spun out then one, or maybe more cars slammed into the stopped cars. I don’t have any idea what happened to the car that had caused the motorcycle to go down, if he had stopped and was one of the cars pulled off to the side or if he had continued on. And it stunned me. It’s like trying to tell you arm to move and it just wouldn’t. I knew I had seen everything but the record button had just be left off. I can see the car and the sparks of motorcycle on the pavement but no color.

In any case shortly after that they let us go. Jackie’s bumper took a wallop and has a crack in it. Our hands and my hoodie had someone random guys blood on them.

And the best part? We still had to go get 250 Ghirardelli bars. When we got there we asked for a bathroom (“Outside”) which we couldn’t find so we washed off our hands in a heavily chlorinated fountain. We bought the bars, drove down to the caps, finished taking all the stickers off and went home to our beds.

So I’ve learned some lessons that day and some lessons I’d already know were illuminated more clearly.

1) If you need 800 of some item, get them all at one place.

2) If you get in an accident stay in the car, with your seat belt on. That guy standing next to the van is lucky to be alive. Keep you hazards on.

3) If you can get your car out of traffic do it. If you see someone whose car is stuck in traffic and it is safe to do so, get behind them and push their car with yours out of the way with you car. Also note if you have a flat or any other car malfunction your first priority is to get off the road. You can run on a flat for miles before it does any permanent damage. If you just threw your clutch you can’t do much more damage getting your car to the side of the road.

4) If you are driving watch the road. The car that slammed into the first accident never slowed, not at all. I’m not sure but I think it was the woman who injured her back. While I was waiting for here she asked for her phone which was at her feet. Her purse was in the back seat. I wonder if she was on, or looking at her phone. Maybe or maybe not but what ever the case she never saw those cars till she hit them, at least form my perspective.

5) Enjoy life while you live.

Monday, December 12, 2005

My "It's A Wonderful Life" Moment

This last Saturday was on of my best birthdays ever, and I was born in October.
This year, hoping to avoid some sort of massive hoopla for my 30th birthday, I flew to my brother Dushan’s place in Wisconsin for a low key event with his wife and kids. And pretty much everyone he knew. He was throwing a Halloween party on my birthday so I just clambered behind the bar and played the part. It was great. Since most people didn’t know me other than Dushan’s little brother, I pretty much got a bunch of, Happy-birthday,-can-I-have-a-Jack-and-Coke’s and little else in the way of birthday attention, which is what I was looking for. Easily one of my best birthdays ever. Very casual, fun and drunky.

I thought I had managed to avoid a birthday party amongst my friends, but I hadn’t accounted for Andrea Polizzi’s tenaciousness. She had arranged for me and her to spend some long missed quality time together. She skillfully directed us to Magnolias on Haight. After a beer (two?) there ‘we’ decided that maybe a bar hopping trip to Durty Nelly's would be a grand idea. Upon my intoxicated arrival at Durty Nelly's I noticed that Adam was there, how coincidental...along with Alex and Amanda? Harsh, they hadn’t even called to let me know they were going out...and Jackie? Dan, Tara and Alyssa filled out the rest of the group. Even the obligatory drunk Irishman at Durty Nelly's knew I was coming and danced a jib I like to think was for me.

The cake Jackie had be baking ‘for a friend’ earlier in the afternoon turned out to be a four layer coconut cake with lime filling and a marshmallow frosting covered in shredded coconut. Personally I’m not a fan of either frosting or marshmallows but this stuff was fabulous. No really. I ate leftovers for dessert and the occasional breakfast for a week.

Despite making a drunk ass out of myself this probably marked the best birthday yet. I’d like to thank all my friends who made it and all the rest who contributed input for the card below. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

When things aren’t looking to bright and life seems a burden it is you who I think of to shine a little light on me. Thank you a million times.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

San Francisco says, "Scoot!"

A some of you know Jackie bought a scooter recently. She found it off Craigslist and when I asked such questions as, “What model? What year? What manufacturer” she responded with, “Red and white and cute all over”.

Ultimately we ended up out in Oakley which if you don’t know, is apparently somewhere in California. Far away is all you really need to know

We get there and it turns out the guys selling it doesn’t actually have it at his place. Sounds shady. It’s at his friends house down the way, we can follow him there. Shadier. Actually he isn’t selling it for his friend he is selling to for his friends wife. Shady Alert, Shady Alert! Cuz his friend died and he is helping her get rid of some of his stuff. Suddenly, not so shady but sort of sad. Also, how do you talk a widow down on a price of, well anything? I don’t know how but apparently Jackie does because she did.

We got there and while the bike seemed fine mechanically (some rust in the gas tank maybe) and in incredibly good condition esthetically it just wouldn’t start. As a result Jackie asked and got about 30% off. We packed it into the back of her uncle’s borrowed truck and, after various misadventures made it back to SF.

Lisa Duke had mentioned that sometimes a bike that has been sitting just won’t start because of bad gas in the tank. Since the tank was pretty low I filled it up with some Techron loaded gas (I am a firm believe in Chevron gas for finicky fuel systems) and the scooter started right up. Right now it is at the scooter doctor for a general check up (it shifts rough, won’t idle and the blinkers don’t work), though we managed to ride it down there only stalling once.

So in the end Jackie was right, it IS red and white and Cute all over. (Also known as a 1981 limited edition Honda Passport).

H320 in Da'House

So my latest and probably last toy for a while is the not new iRiver H320 mp3 player. It’s iRivers first generation hard drive based mp3 player (they are in their second generation) and holds 20 gigs of music, which even accounting for crap that I don’t really listen to is about 10 gigs more than I need. They also have the H340, which is 40 gigs but again probably more that I’ll need (how many times have we all said that?

Why the iRiver you ask? After trying out the iPod and finding it lacking I did some more research and found something that more suits my needs. Specifically an FM tuner, a record feature with a built in mic and an ability to delete tracks on the fly.

The cost was about the same as I paid for my also used iPod mini but obviously with more size and features. Size-wise it is slightly larger that a standard Ipod, but honestly just eyeballing it, it looks about the same to me.

Additional pluses are the color screen, text and image viewing and, with an upgrade of firmware, video display. All of which ain’t bad of for iRivers first generation player. Battery life runs 16 hours and there is an option external battery back that holds standard AA’s incase you decide to travel, which I think is very smart on their end. I really like the equalizer with its various presets. The sound quality is amazing once you trash the head phones that come with it. Which sort of brings up the question once again, why do producers of portable music players insist upon including crappy earphones with their products. They know the first thing I’m going to do is toss them and replace them with something of quality so why even include them. Save me my $1 and let me buy my own...which leads to another question, if I can get two pairs of earphones (a pair of DJ style head phones with a free pair of earbuds ) for $20 where do they even find the crap that they include with these things.

Anyway I digress.

I’m still getting the hang of it but for the most part it’s pretty simple. Currently the minus side of things is that because they are not making the H320’s anymore they have pretty much ended firmware support with the latest video upgrade. It would have been nice to see them continue to add functions, though at this point I can’t imagine what else I’ll need. Also it takes about 20 second to boot up from the off mode which seems like a lot when you are ready to already be listening. Other than than everything seems copasetic. It even came with a cool travel case.

(Note that this is not my hand)

Monday, December 05, 2005

This is Why People Wait in Line at the Fillmore

If you bought tickets from Ticketmaster I might suggest you check you credit card statements for $9 charges from 'Entertainment Rewards'.I noticed the $9 charge yesterday and when I called America Express they let me know it had been charge for the last four months. I had them remove the charges and then called Entertainment Rewards, alas they are only open during business hours during the week.

When I called Entertainment Rewards the next business day (877-793-6866) to cancel, they claimed I had signed when I purchased a ticket on Ticketmasters web site which is false. Apparently when you buy a ticket, you are automatically signed up (they claim you select a box which is BS).

In any case, you might want to check out you credit card statements if you have been using Ticketmaster and pass this along to anyone else that you know who has done so. If you don't have your statement just call them up and select 'cancel membership' in the phone tree and they'll ask for your ZIP and last name.

The thing that really kills me is that I never received any information on how I was supposed to take advantage of this service. I can't wait for the class action suit.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Rain + Moto = Bad

As it began storming in earnest this week I sadly acknowledged that my motorcycle riding days would mostly be over for a few months. Which seemed like a sad thought until I realized that for the, most part, the only time I ride my motorcycle is to go to motorcycle class. I pretty much live with in walking distance of a supermarket, the girl, work and anything else I might need. Upon reflection, it’s odd that the only reason I have a motorcycle is to make sure I can get to make sure my motorcycle is running correctly. Which by the way it is. It starts right up, idles right at 1000RPMs and runs as smooth as can be. If you are interested (and you probably aren’t which is understandable) I update yen’s bikes with stuff about my motorcycle pretty frequently. Mostly it’s drama on me breaking things and then learning to fix them with a few insights and observations on nothing profound.