Monday, March 29, 2021

Chen’s Red Shoes & other Asians I’ve known

For as long as I’ve lived at my address, I’ve known an Asian man (more specifically, Chinese) who lives here too, but I’m unsure which floor he’s on.  He’s younger than me by 10-15 years, but we’re the same height & build (5’8” and chubby) and I share that because I wonder if that’s the reason he’s so friendly with me.  He always greets me the same way—“Haha, hey!  Hi!” like we’re old acquaintances who haven’t seen each other for awhile. 

Let me think… should I know him from somewhere?  Nope, I don’t think so!

Friday I was coming home from a dental appointment, feeling pretty… relaxed from the Valium my doc gave me, when I saw my Chinese man outside.  He was holding an iphone in one hand and a cigarette (yuk) in the other, and was wearing the reddest pair of Adidas shoes I’ve ever seen.  He saw me and waved, and I thought of the recent ugly headlines of attacks on Asian Americans, so instead of just waving back I approached him and said “Hey there!  I like your shoes!” 

He smiled and nodded at me, but I could see the confusion in his eyes.  Maybe he didn’t speak a lot of English?   I pointed down at his feet and said “Very cool!” and gave him a thumbs up, and I think this time he got it, because he said “Hank you!!”  I said “I’m Doug!”  and he said “Chen!” and we just stood there nodding and smiling.  I said “Well… bye!” and came inside.  He followed me in, and as I checked my mail he said “Doug!” and held up his phone.  On it’s screen was a pair of his red shoes, on a website called Zappos. 

I thanked him, but yikes—they were priced at $94.00!

I read recently that Asians make up 60% of the people on our planet; how is it that I can count on two hands the number of them I’ve known in my life personally?  Growing up in my hometown of Waynesburg PA, there wasn’t an Asian in my school to be found.  Come to think of it, we didn’t even have a Chinese restaurant until I’d moved away!  The only Asian I knew back then was Mrs. Livingston, a Japanese woman who helped raise a widower’s son on The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

“Mister Eddie Father not come home for dinner again?  Little Eddie need more than nourishment to grow up and be a man.  He need… his father!” 

Not including the Asians I know online (bloggers Kay of Musings and Gigi-Hawaii), I’ve gotten to know probably 10 Asians total in my years in the city.

A few of them instantly come to mind like Gao Y., a Chinese woman I worked with in 1989 at my first IT job in Pittsburgh.  Her husband was a professor at nearby Pitt University, and she only moved here from Beijing a few years earlier (yet spoke English fluently).  She gave me ‘lunch lectures’ on everything from where to buy soup downtown to what type of girl I should marry.  And then there was Ping C., a VERY petite Japanese coworker in her fifties who sat “over the wall” from me.  She ate things like raw eel or octopus wrapped in seaweed everyday for lunch, and one time when I called out “Ping, can’t you eat something that doesn’t smell like mildew?” she cackled and said “Just wait!  I’m going to live to be 200 and show you all!” 

I very much believed it. 

But I’d have to say my favorite was Andy H., a Vietnamese man I met my first day on the job at UPMC Health Plan in November 2000.  He was considerably younger than myself, and his business attire was the same as his sense of humor—VERY sharp.  He loved to taunt you, but it was all in good fun; Andy didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

He called me Doug-Luss or White-Boy (when we were alone), and he’d come to my desk on Fridays and say things like “What are you doing this weekend white boy, sitting in front of your tv for 2 days and eating cereal?  I’m taking my wife to best steakhouse in town—then picking up our NEW MERCEDES SUV on way home!”

A couple years ago when I saw Crazy Rich Asians, all I could think of was Andy  Smile

One time in early 2001, when “political correctness” was all the rage in the corporate sector, UPMC was offering torturous 3 hour training classes throughout the week on being PC.  You weren’t required to attend unless your manager asked you to, but Andy chose to go one morning to score points with our boss. 

After Andy was through, he came over to my desk and told me if I knew what was good for me, I’d attend the next session.  I joked back “I’m already the most pc worker in this office, go sit your commie ass down.”  Not TWO seconds later, our manager came around the corner and Andy said “Len—did you hear what this white boy just said to me!” 

Len said to Andy “What did you just say?”  Andy said “I SAID, did you hear what this—I mean Doug-Luss” and Len stopped him.  He asked “When’s the next PC training?”  and Sarah (who sat one row over) told him that afternoon.  Len said “Andy you’re going.”  Andy said “But I just GOT BACK from one!” and Len said “Then maybe this time you’ll listen!” 

After Len walked away, we all had a good laugh—even Andy, who swore he’d get his revenge. 

Hmm, I want to look money like Andy--maybe I’ll buy Chen’s pricey red shoes after all!



Thursday, March 18, 2021

Once upon a time, a seven year old princess turned into this amazing young woman

Recently, my sister Shawn sent this pic of my 16 year old niece Sophia (holding her cat Flynn) and I asked “So Sophia is still wearing fake glasses as a fashion accessory?”

For as long as I can remember, my niece here who has perfect vision, perfect weight, perfect grades, perfect EVERYTHING has enjoyed wearing glasses to look… I dunno, a little more ordinary. 

Anyway, my sister told me I’d be happy to know her glasses were real, they were made to filter out blue light from various electronic devices Sophia spends so much time in front of; her smartphone, tablet, her laptop for school.  Ah, ok.  

I feel like such an old-timer sometimes, how in the world did we grow up without all the contraptions we take for granted today?  Last night I watched a video on Youtube “The Dial Comes to Town”, a 1940 instructional video from Bell Telephone on how to dial the new telephones.  “Instead of hearing an operator say ‘Number please’ you will hear what we like to call… a dial tone!”   One local teen is excited:  “It’s about time, our candlestick phone is positively prehistoric!”   (She got that right!)

Meanwhile, Gramps insists there’s too many gadgets to fuss with as it is.  (Not to worry, he comes around at the end.)  And the irony of all this is… today’s kids don’t know how to use a dial phone either.  They don’t need to, they’re busy constructing various devices for NASA missions to Mars! 

Wait, where the heck was I even going with this?  Oh yeah, my niece Sophia here!  Seeing this picture of Sophia, and the twinge of guilt I got recently for posting a Randy Rainbow music video on my blog (it’s his creation, not mine) made me think of a music video I once made for Sophia, when she was 7 years old and enjoyed dressing up as a princess… and her Uncle Doug was a litle more familar with technology.

I shared it on my blog then, 9 years ago…  I thought I’d share it again.  If you watch it, just a warning:  this is from 2012, I had no smartphone or movie apps then, just a Kodak digital camera and Windows Editor on my prehistoric computer!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Now that my oven is perfect… I DON’T WANT TO USE IT EVER AGAIN

How often do you clean your oven?  If you’re one of those privileged people who have a self cleaning stove where you simply press a button, wait and scoop out some cinders…. brag away!  (I’ll just sit here and scowl…)

I think I keep a pretty clean apartment.  Sometimes I’ll wash all the mugs & glasses in my cupboard, all my silverware & utensils in my utensil canister just to be super-squeaky.  My one mess up though is my stove.  I keep the top part sparkling, but if you opened the oven door… my reputation would be sunk. 

I knew it was time to clean it this past Sunday morning, when I put a pan of Pillsbury cinammon rolls in there for 15 minutes and the apartment smelled like chicken grease for the rest of the day.  Okay it’s been doing that for a couple of years now.

I went on Amazon Monday morning to look at my ordering history, I wanted to see when I bought a couple of those silicone baking sheets to put in the bottom of my stove when it was clean.  Then I’d know when I last cleaned it. 

Ah—April 10, 2017.  That wasn’t the last time I cleaned it—that was the day I moved into this apartment.  I’ve been here close to 4 years and never cleaned that dang oven.

When I moved out of my old apt, I was told half of my security deposit would be kept to have the carpet and oven cleaned.  Wha??

I sent them pics of the steam cleaner I rented and the inside of this 1972 General Electric stove I cleaned myself, and warned them I’d better get the full amount back.  I got it!

So Wednesday night, I took out the oven racks and let them soak in the bathrub overnight, in a scalding Spic n’ Span bubble bath.  I got up yesterday (Thursday) morning and pulled back the shower curtain—and saw a tub of the grimiest water I’ve ever seen.  I guess I’d be spending the day scrubbing my stove –AND- bathtub! 

But those racks were GLEAMING silver and gave me a real glimmer of hope.  Maybe my oven would be a piece of cake too!  I’d sprayed it with 1 1/2 cans of HEAVY DUTY EASY OFF OVEN CLEANER the night before and had the lye burns on both arms to prove it.

TWO HOURS and three sponges and a pair of torn Playtex rubber gloves and a bucket of demonic black gunk later, my stove (the one at the top) is a thing of beauty.  After a good nights sleep, I keep going into my kitchen this morning just to open the oven door and take a look inside.  If my arms weren’t so sore I’d pinch myself to see if I was dreaming.  Sure would love to keep it this way!

So I wonder if my neighbors would let me rent theirs on occasion?  Sarcastic smile


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Hit me with your best shot (of vaccine, I mean): Fire away!

At the risk of people wondering when I’ll be coming out of that proverbial closet, I just saw this latest video from my favorite Youtuber Randy Rainbow and wanted to share.  I feel his pain, just wondering when is it going to be our turn!

Take it away, Randy  Nerd smile

Friday, March 5, 2021

Rinsing with the Enemy (they can’t ALL be bad… right?)

I can’t believe it was 6 weeks ago, but do you remember me writing (more like lamenting) the loss of my last molar on my bottom left teeth? 

I wrote about it here, on January 19.  It didn’t have a happy ending—my crown had broken off, I had to find a new dentist as my guy of 25 years had retired, and I lucked onto someone new in my neighborhood—who gave me the bad news she couldn’t replace the crown as the tooth was fractured in several places and would have to come out.

Well… it happened again a few days ago and here it is.  This time the crown broke off on the right-hand side, and when I called my new dentist, not only had her office just closed at noon, it remained closed for the next 4 days.

They finally responded to my 4-5 day old message Tuesday morning—only to tell me they couldn’t see me until WEDNESDAY morning.  I was fit to be tied, a 5-6 day wait-time for a broken tooth seemed a bit long to me.  But I kept my trap shut, and went in yesterday, and was once again charmed by Dr.Shannon in about 60 seconds.  She is smart, polite and HUGELY respectful. 

She gave me some good news this time—unlike the one that broke in January, THIS tooth could be saved.  The tooth beneath this 20 year old crown was in need of a root canal and a new crown, all happening March 25 & 31 and in the ball park of $1500, but worth it. 

She’s genuinely awesome.  She asked me a lot of questions about my TMJ disorder, I told her that I knew it wasn’t a dental issue and she said she still wanted to help.  She told me to bring in my custom guards next week, and she’d modify them with ‘ramps’ to stretch my jaw muscles into a more relaxed position while I sleep.  Talk about nice.

I asked if she was from the South, I detected an Alabama accent and she seemed so delighted and asked how in the world did I get that.  (I’m not even sure.)  She told me she grew up there, very poor off a dirt road and is thankful everyday for her life now. 

Her honesty touched me so deeply, I was afraid she was going to make me cry.

Her assistant Amy came in then with my x-rays, and said she noticed where I lived.  (She’s very nice too.)  Amy said “Doug there’s another dental practice right near you.  I’m just curious if you checked them out first before you came here?”  I said yes, a couple years ago.  I just got a very bad vibe at the time.  I knew that wasn’t a good reason.

Dr. Shannon said “Douglas, as a patient you don’t want to dislike your doctor and it can be for the smallest reasons.  It can be as little as one liking cookies & cream ice cream and the other doesn’t.  I’ve had patients get up from my chair and walk out the door because I’m a conservative.”

Wait, what?  I said “Well… when you say conservative a lot of people assume… um… you’re a Trump supporter.”  She said “As well they should.”

Wait, what?   She gave my temporary crown a couple taps and told me to rinse.

After I got home, I gave my hands a good washing (all that covid out there) then put my next two dental appointment stickers on my kitchen calendar and wondered what to do.  Turned on my laptop, saw I had an email from my friend Danielle asking if I was aware the sun was shining.  I said YES, then added I just got home from the dentist and how nice she was.

Danielle said “You should give me her info, we need a new dentist and I might check her out.”   I thought for a minute. 

Should I tell her that Dr. Shannon’s a conservative?  Someone who most likely voted for Trump?  Danielle & I belong to the DNC, Destroy Numerous Conservatives.  Then I thought of Dr. Shannon, telling me of growing up poor off that dirt road.

I decided not to tell her.  Maybe Danielle will never learn the truth and never meet her.  Or maybe they will meet, Danielle will learn the truth and like her anway.  It’s really a chore finding a new dentist, y’know.



Monday, March 1, 2021

10 Reasons why I’m quitting Netflix for awhile… I don’t know, maybe forever


Last night I was sitting here with Netflix open on my TV, scrolling thru the rows of different movie genres, series, etc. looking for something appealing.

Then I did what I usually do; got tired of browsing and put on ‘live tv’ to MSNBC.

While listening to the usual row of talking heads, I opened my laptop and saw an entertainment news item about streaming service CBS Access becoming Paramount Plus on March 4. 

By the time I went to bed last night, it was 3:10 am and I was a CBS Access-Paramount Plus member (with plans to cancel my Netflix subscription before the next billing cycle).  So what happened before bed?

My Top 10 Reasons why I’m switching from Netflix to CBS All-Access

1.  You can’t beat Netflix only costing $10.00 a month, and there’s a large selection on there… so why do I spend more time hunting for something to watch than actual watching?

2.  CBS Access (becoming Paramount Plus on March 4) is only $4.99 a month if you allow limited ads. 

3.  IF YOU SIGN UP FOR 1 YEAR BY MARCH 4, YOU’LL GET 50% OFF.  I did and it cost me one payment of $29.99.  I’m paid up thru March 2022.

4.  Paramount Plus is coming with an additional 2,500 movies. 


6.  IF YOU’RE A STAR TREKKO LIKE ME…  There are three new Star Trek series with a fourth Trek series “Strange New Worlds” coming this year.  Um, this should be my No.1 reason.

7.  The New Twilight Zone.  Stephen King’s The Stand as a series.  The Good Fight, from the makers of The Good Wife.  I’m itching to see these too.

8.  New episodes of Frasier are being produced.  FRASIER.  For this streaming service only.  I think I’m going to cry.

9.  The Smithsonian Channel—an old favorite of mine which was dropped from my ‘Expanded Basic’ cable back in 2013—is included here, with nearly 1,000 documentaries.

10. I enjoyed the first night of service so much I couldn’t bring myself to turn off the tv & go to bed until it was past 3am.  That’s a big difference from hunting & scrolling.

I’m a firm believer in “too much of a good thing” and there’s already too much to watch on cable.  I just figure, 30 bucks gets you an ENTIRE YEAR.  Even if you hardly use it, you can’t beat that.

I should ALSO mention I’m not a sports fan, but apparently Paramount Plus will be very “sports heavy”, with NFL, NBA, The Masters, international stuff.  Hm.

That’s all I have for now—were the commercials too much?  Not really, they were indeed ‘limited interruptions’.  But since I couldn’t fast forward thru them, I used the few breaks to make a cup of coffee, brush my teeth, run to the bathroom. 

Dealing with them reminded me of the old days, before we could record tv shows on our newfangled videocassette recorders and just press FF later.  It looks like we’re right back where we started from!