Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's Your Blog Today

I don't really have a lot to update you on that I haven't already done in previous posts this week so on the Update Day I am turning the blog over to the readers and posters. Tell me anything you want about what is going on in your life. I don't even care if is just about a great deal you got on Black Friday, about your relatives in addition to the elderly parent you care for, tell us about a book you just read that you want share with us, a movie that you have seen that you want to tell us about, traveling anywhere fun for Christmas, what your goals are for 2009 if you have any, what your week has been like, if you have a joke you would like to share with us that would be great, if your new to the blog and want to introduce yourself that is great too, or if you just want to ask me someting I promise to answer any non x-rated questions.

The one thing I will tell you is I didn't get any good deals on Black Friday because I just never participate in it. I actually like to shop but I avoid Black Friday at all costs. Parking is never a problem for me because I have amazing parking karma and really every where I go a parking spot appears. The problem I have is with the crowds and waiting in line. No thank you.

The secondary caregiver is off this weekend so Friday and today is my cargiving days. Like the week I did earlier in the month, I am going to make it as fun for mom as I can.

Ok, time for me to hear from you!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving & Top Chef Rock

Thanksgiving was supposed to be quiet this year but it turned out to be anything but. It was supposed to be my Mom, four friends, and I. And that what it was for the FIRST dinner at 11:30. That was turkey with all the trimmings. My nephew called and he said he and his family would be bringing a complete ham dinner to Mom's and that they would be there at five to serve mom and I. Greg, his wife, Angela, daughters Megan, Chelsea, Katie and son Grayson arrived a little late, about six. It was a great dinner. We played charades until late. I didn't get home until after a ten. It was great fun.

Now on to Top Chef. The life lessons we learned on Top Chef this week were: Sometimes completely out of your control you will be dealt cards that make you have to quickly change directions, sometimes it will rain on your parade, sometimes no matter how good you do someone else will do just a little bit better, never undercook anything, and sometimes you have to clean up after others.

The guest judge this week was Grant Achatz of Chicago's Alinea Restaurant. I was kind of touched when Hosea mentioned that he could relate to Grant since Grant was a cancer survivor and right before he left for Top Chef, Hosea found out his dad had cancer.

In The Quickfire Challenge the chefs drew knifes with numbers on it. The numbers on the knifes were page numbers in the Top Chef Cookbook with recipes from previous seasons' contestants. The challenge began with the chefs being required to cook the recipe on the page number they were given. Ten minutes into the challenge they were thrown a curve and had to change directions. They had to quit working on the recipe they were given and had to use the ingredients they had to make soup. The three that did the best at changing direction:

Jamie with her chickpea soup with pickled chilies, yogurt and crispy shallots.

Daniel with his ham and egg soup with sauteed mushrooms with corn and cheese.

Winning immunity from elimination was Leah with her chilled white asparagus soup with brioche, tuna, and tapenade.

The elimination challenge was to cook a Thanksgiving Dinner with all its trimmings for the rock group the Foo Fighters and their entourage of sixty people, including eighteen vegetarians. The chefs were divided into two teams. Since Leah won the elimination challenge she got to choose her teammates. Team Sexypants was Leah, Jamie, Hosea, Melissa, Fabio, Stefan, and Radhika. Team Cougar (named to honor the "hot and sexy" Ariane) was Ariane, Jeff, Alex, Richard, Carla, Daniel, and Eugene. The winning team goes to the Foo Fighters concert that night, the losing team stays back and cleans up the mess.

The Team Cougar menu: Turkey, Stuffing, Roasted Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Pork Loin Roast, Macaroni & Cheese, Pumpkin Mousse, Peach Cobbler, & Banana S'mores.

The Team Sexypants menu: Butterball Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Gravy, Side Salads, Pumpkin Tiramisu, and Fruit Crisp.

When the chefs got to the arena they found a kitchen with numerous toaster ovens and microwaves, one burner, no refrigerator, no freezer, and no oven. Eugene creatively made a burner from scratch. While they were cooking the higher ups threw the chefs another curve with a rain storm.

Team Cougar had the best turkey cooked by my gal Ariane. Finally I didn't have to hold my breath wondering if she was going home. Team Sexypants outclassed Team Couger with their desserts. The competition was extremely close but the winners were Team Sexypants. Which meant not only did Team Cougar have to clean up but one of the Cougar team members was going home.

Even though I really don't like Jeff I gained a lot of respect for him for the way he defended his team. Good for him. At the judges' table the ones from Team Cougar that were announced as safe were in order; Eugene, Alex, Carla, and Ariane. The bottom three:

Jeff with his spoonbread stuffing with figs, cranberries, walnuts, and onions, Daniel with his undercooked potatoes and sent packing with his poorly cooked banana S'mores, Richard.

Richard in a tearful exit mentioned that he has tried for three seasons to get on Top Chef and was sure his family was proud of him. I kind of respect him for not giving up and for keep trying to get on the show after failing a couple of times!

Hope your Thanksgiving rocked and that your weekend will too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The last two nights were the finals of Season 7 of Dancing With The Stars. The three finalist performed their last dance last night. What would win? Brook's elegant and beautiful waltz. Lance's energetic jitterbug. Warren's charming and fun hustle. I loved all three of the dances. I also love both in dancing and in life when a partner respects their partner. Brook complimenting Derek on his teaching skills. Lance saying that Lacey helped him gain confidence. Warren saying he was nothing without Kym. Good for all of them. The third place finisher: Lance. The second place finisher: Warren. The champion of season 7 of dancing with the stars the best from beginning to end, the second woman in a row to win the mirror ball trophy: Brook Burke. Can hardly wait for season 8 of Dancing With The Stars.

Now on to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, sort of Christmas without the shopping. It will be a quiet one this year. Sis just can't afford to come up from Utah for both Christmas and Thanksgiving and chose Christmas. Bro is in his winter home in Las Vegas with his wife and one of his daughters and her family. So it is Mom and I and four friends. One of the family traditions for Thanksgiving is for us to tell what we are thankful for. Not it any order and I know I will miss a ton of things that I am thankful for but here is the short version:

I'm thankfrul for all of you that read and post on my blog. You have become an important part of my life. Every post and every visit is special to me.

I'm thankful for my Mom and the time that I have to spend with her. She has taught me by example how to age gracefully. She teaches me love everyday.

I'm thankful for the dad that I had. He taught me to live life honorably. I try everyday to live up to that and fail often but it is always my goal. He taught me to laugh. He taught me to love. He taught me to be kind. He is my life. I miss his hugs. May he rest in peace.

I'm thankful for my dad's five sisters, you are angels watching over me. Nola I wish I would have gotten to know you better. Augusta thank you and Uncle Bob for all the summers in Glendale and all the Dodger games. Thank you Aunt Emily and Uncle Bill for all the Thanksgiving holidays we spent at your house. Clara my car is named after you, you made me feel special when you were alive and honored me when you moved on to heaven. Aunt Ella thanks for all the dinners at your beautiful house in San Francisco and thank you for remembering me as you left the earth, you have no idea how much it means to me.

I'm thankful that my mom's brother is still alive. Uncle Frank thank you for your devilish and fun nature. All those poker games during the Christmases at our mountain cabin where you purposely tried to lose rather than taking all your nieces' and nephews' money. It doesn't matter that you couldn't even lose on purpose it was still a nice effort. I'm grateful for your wife, my aunt and second mother, Aunt Velma. I know as long as Aunt Velma is alive that even if my Mom passes I will still have a Mom to turn to.

I'm thankful for my English instructors and my writing mentors that taught me never to be anonymous. Thank you for teaching me to always stand behind anything I write no matter where I write it, be it on a blog, a letter to an editor, or a book. It leads to new friends when I'm not afraid to use my name in all my posts on various blogs. It makes me work hard to be accurate. Sure I screw up a lot but the goal is always there to be as accurate as possible. Sure sometimes someone will steal an idea or a thought from my blog without giving me credit for it but imitation is the highest form of flattery. Besides they know it and I know it. That is all that counts.

I'm thankful for Comedy Sportz 101, the improvements that I've made during the class, the friends that I've met there, and the two women that inspired me to go beyond my comfort zone.

I'm thankful that I only had to go on one job interview before being hired to do tax season support. I start January 19th. It will be a busy ten weeks (usually firms are done by April 1) and then the rest of the year I will have enough money to party and travel!

I know I will remember 4,937 more things that I am thankful for as soon as I post this but the above will do for now.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

The kind of movie that makes me wonder why I go to artsy movies, the kind of movie that helps me to understand why I go to artsy movies. The kind of movie that makes me think that I should stay away from movies for a while, the kind of movie that makes want to go to another movie. Conflicting emotions? How did you ever guess?

The most dramatic, intense, troubling, emotionally nerve-wracking, conflicting, scene in any movie in years. Emotionally gut wrenching as it is thought provoking. If you walk away from this movie without shedding a tear you will be the exception. If you get up immediately and leave when the movie ends you will be the exception.

Shindler's List was in a class by itself. Not far behind was Life Is Beautiful joined now by the English film, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas is based on the book by Irish author John Boyne. The movie was the winner of three British Independent Film awards; Best Actress Vera Farmiga, Best Director, Mark Herman, and Most Promising Newcomer, Asa Butterfield.

The Synopsis from Moviefone: "'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas' is a fictional story that offers a unique perspective on how prejudice, hatred and violence affect innocent people, particularly children, during wartime."

"The imagined story of Bruno (Asa Buttefield) and Shmuel (Zac Mattoon O'Brian) sheds light on the brutality, senselessness and devastating consequences of war from an unusual point of view. Together, their tragic journey helps recall the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust."

Well acted but I think the British Independent Film Awards got it wrong. The actor that played the young Jewish friend should have won the award as best newcomer. Both he and Asa Butterfield deserved recognition as did the director and Vera Farmiga.

Five footballs. One football for a child should lead us. One for Asa Butterfield. One for Zac O'brian. One For Vera Farmiga. One for David Hayman as Jewish doctor Pavel.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Miscellaneous Sutff

Not much going on so thought I would just write about several things that are on my mind.

Somebody in Indiana won the Powerball, I've been praying that it is one of the favorites that posts here!

Amazing Race last night was interesting. One of the frat boys couldn't march in time with the music with the Russian Army so they ended up being last. They also spent most of their money on shoes because they forgot their shoes on the last segment of The Amazing Race. They lost time telling a cab driver they couldn't afford to pay him. They were saved from elimination as it turned out to be one of the two non-elimination segments on the show.

My favorites to win it all, mother and son team, Toni & Dallas came in first. Finishing second, were Ken & Tina. After a four week win streak coming in third was Nick & Star. And it looks like Dallas and Star have become an item. Star's brother and Dallas's Mom seem to be all for it. Can hardly wait for the next two weeks!

I am really looking forward to the finals of Dancing With The Stars tonight and tomorrow night. I think Brook is going to wow them but the free style may be all Lance's.

Another thing I am looking forward to is a movie that I am going to go to one day this week. It has got really good reviews and a lot of critical acclaim, THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS.

I'm also looking forward to my favorite holiday this week, Thanksgiving.

Hope this will be a great week for all of you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Your Weekly Update

Wow, where has this week gone? Another update day is here. This is the day you get to update me on your life. If you have been reading the blog for a while and haven't posted this is a good day to introduce yourself. Tell me how you are doing with your elderly parents. Your concerns and joys. Have any enlightenments this week? If you aren't caring for elderly parents tell me about your life and what you are doing that pleases you. Or if you have any concerns would love to hear about those too. The posters here are very supportive and maybe they might have some helpful ideas for you. Don't worry about being first either because technically you will be second since I am first.

As you know this week started with the caregiver being ill and me making arrangements for her to go somewhere else until she got well. I was the main caregiver until yesterday. The good thing is that with me there all of Mom's vitals went lower. The bad thing is that with me there all of my vitals went higher. Not significantly higher but higher. I decided since this intense caregiving was temporary I would make it as fun as week as possible for Mom. Monday I cooked dinner. Tuesday I fixed lunch but we went out for dinner. Wednesday we went out to lunch then I cooked a dinner from scratch. Nobody died. Thursday it was lunch in and dinner out. Yesterday I came home and Mom is back to what we were doing before. Of course there were a lot of games of Yahtzee and Scrabble. Watching Dancing With The Stars together. The meals out were interesting because the waitresses really love Mom and I guess me too because I was hugged by two waitresses I had never met before. It is fun to see Mom interact with people, she is really social and she always has a good time when people pay attention to her. Maybe I learned that a wheelchair with a ninety year old woman in it is a babe magnet.

Tuesday I went on the job interview. Met two really nice accountants. A woman in her early forties. A man in his fifties that wants to get out of doing tax returns and do nothing but litigation support and business valuations. The interview went really well. They asked for references so I rattled off ten names and phone numbers from memory. They were kind of impressed that I could remember all those phone numbers. I've always been able to do that. If you tell me what your phone number is I'll never remember it but if you write it on a piece of paper and give it to me I will never forget it. I've probably got five hundred phone numbers stored in my brain somewhere. It is only phone numbers. Names and faces no way. Meet you once and then run into, I'd have no clue as to who you were. Just numbers. A couple of references called me and asked me what they should say. I told them to be honest tell them my good points as well as my bad. The firm will let me know after Thanksgiving if they want me to work tax season support with them.

That is my week. Boring and exciting all at the same time. OK, now the blog is yours for a day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Hot Dogs on Top Chef.

Rooting for Ariane on Top Chef is like rooting for your favorite basketball team that is always two points down and then makes a bucket with one second to go to throw the game into overtime. Arianne is not only in overtime she is living on borrowed time but I'm very faithful and I'm sticking with her.

There were a lot of life lessons on Top Chef this week. Sometimes simple is better. One week we can be on the top the next week towards the bottom. Sometimes when we got out of our comfort zone we can lay an egg. Often it isn't so much what you do but how well you defend it. And last but not least men will often think their performance is better than it actually is.

For those of you that don't watch Top Chef each week involves two segments. A Quickfire challenge which is usually a really quickly prepared meal where the regular judges and the guest judges choose the winner. The winner then gets immunity in the next segment, the elimination challenge. The elimination challenge usually involves cooking for a group of people.

The Quickfire challenge this week was hot dogs. Hot dogs are big in New York with over one hundred million hot dogs being sold every year in the Big Apple. This week the guest judge was Ms. Donatella Arpaia of the restaurants David Burke & Donatella, Anthos, Mia Doja, and Kefi. In addition the show brought in the hot dog cooking expert, Angelina DeAngelo, for the fifteen chefs to cook against. The contestants were given forty-five minutes to create a signature hot dog. The bottom two hot dogs:

The double winner from last week, Stefan, fell from grace with an Italian Sausage on French Bread with Wisconsin cheese & Irish tarter sausage.

Jill went with a store bought hot dog rather than to create her own casing. She went down the tube with a summer roll hot dog cooked in chili sauce & rice wine vinegar.

The top three hot dogs:

Hosea with a pork hot dog with roasted pablanos, jalapenos, smoked bacon, & red vinegar.

Fabio with andquille sausage with goat cheese, roast bell peppers, and sun dried tomatoes.

The best and winner of the immunity was Radhika with a kabob style sausage with caramelized onions, cucumber, and tomato.

What did the hot dog expert, Angelina cook? She went with simple, a hot dog, mustard, sauerkraut and relish. Sometimes simple is better.

The cooks then moved on to the elimination challenge where they cooked a three course meal in head judge Tom Colicchio's Craft Restaurant. Their diners? Fifty New York Chefs that tried out for Top Chef and didn't make it. That made it really challenging. I've gone up against firms that have beat me out for assignments and while it is stressful it is huge fun to win against them. The fifteen chefs divided into three groups: Appetizers - Fabio Hosea, Jamie, Melissa, and Leah; Entres - Stefan, Alex, Eugene, Jill, & Jeff; Desert, - Carla, Ariane, Daniel, Richard, & Radhika.

The judges were very disappointed in the quality of the food this week. They thought it took a huge dive from last week. Tom also said their cooking sent American style of cooking back twenty years. In one case Padma spit out Ariane's desert into her napkin. Not a good sign for my gal.

The best three of a bad lot:

Jamie with a simple appetizer - sweet corn soup with chili oil & mint.

Carla's desert, rustic apple tart with ginger peach tea, apple cider reduction, and cheddar cheese.

The top dish was Fabio's beef carpaccio with argula salad, parmesan and spherical olives sliced and diced in a special way.

The bottom three:

Ariane's way to sweet desert the lemon meringue martini with a vanilla cookie crunch & cherry surprise.

Hosea was convinced he won the competition but his can bought grilled crab with citrus vanilla dressing with mango and avocado left the judges less than pleased.

Jill went out of her comfort zone by buying an Ostrich egg and making an Ostrich egg quiche with rice-pecan crust, aspargus, and aged cheese that layed an egg and had one of the diners saying it tasted like dog food.

It came down to Jill or Ariane. Ariane admitted her dish was to sweet. Carla defended her dish that was in the word of one judge "the lamest defense in five years of Top Chef." Whew. Carla went packing.

Hope this weekend really cooks for all of you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Amazing Race/Dancing With The Stars

Two of my favorite shows are down to crunch time. Amazing Race is down to the final four. Dancing With The Stars is down to the final three.

On the Amazing Race this week newly dating couple Terrance and Sarah were eliminated basically because Terrance, a vegetarian, couldn't eat meat. He tried and failed. Because they were on a fast forward and didn't complete it they basically had to start this segment of the race over. To big of an advantage to overcome. On the exit interview it did seem like they had taken their relationship to a new level and bonded during the race.

The final four in The Amazing Race are as follows:

Brother-sister team than now has finished three straight segments in a row in first place, Nick & Star.

Separated couple Ken & Tina. Separated due to his affairs, going on the race to see if they could repair the damage the affairs caused. Been interesting watching them because from the first week of the show to now they have tremenedously improved how they communicate with each other.

Mother-Son team and my pick to sneak in there and win it, Toni & Dallas. I never would have predicted them to go this far but they sort have flown under the radar except for Dallas's courtship of Star during the race.

Last up and my pick to be the next ones elimnated, frat boys, Andrew and Dan.


Loved this weeks' shows. The results show was very entertaining with Aretha Frankling, John Legand, Leona Lewis, and Julianne Hough all singing. Yes the same Julianne Hough that is Cody's partner has begun a Country & Western musical career and didn't do to bad.

Other highlights of the results show was last season's champs, Kristi & Mark, dancing while Aretha Franklin sang Respect. Then there were the young dancers, wow those not even teens yet can dance!

The performance show included a segment where Judge Len gave each of the four semi-finalists a private lesson. Very entertaining.

On the performance show I thought the judges were to hard on Brook and not hard enough on Warren. I thought both of Warren's dances were overscored because they were to slow to the music especially the jitterbug. I also thought Brook's Jive was underscored. Lacey and Lance stole the performance show. Their dances just couldn't be beat.

It was fun watching the now eliminated Cody dance both the Paso Doble and the Salsa. It was also interesting watching how mature the young man was when he was eliminated. He has really grown on the show.

The three finalist compete next week for the trophy:

Lance may sneak there and steal the win from Brook. He seems to be improving while Brook seems to be at a plateau.

Brook is next and I would really like to see her win so that a woman has won two seasons in a row. I'm just afraid the judges are grading her against herself and that works to her disadvantage.

The third finalist is Warren Sapp. I love the big man but don't want to see him win because I think he is the worse dancer of the three. He is the best performer of the three but his dancing doesn't measure up to the other two. This is a dance competition and I want the best dancer to win.

May you race through life with a smile on your face!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Lot Of Drama Dahn

In the first hour of the morning news I must have heard the phrase "no drama Obama" about ten times. Well, after yesterday the phrase in Portland is a "a lot of drama Dahn.

I am at Mom's this week until at Friday. When I visited Mom yesterday the regular caregiver was very ill. Of course my main concern is my Mom because if she catches a virus it could be fatal for her. Carolyn said she couldn't afford to go to the doctor. I can't really afford it right now but I can't really afford my Mom dying either so I told Carolyn to get dressed that I would take her to the Urgency Clinic and pay for it. At the urgency clinic we found out that Carolyn has a virus. She thought she was going to stay at Mom' and have Mom take care of her. Let's see a woman with a contagious virus is going to stay with a 92 to year-old woman with serious heart trouble who can barely walk and be taken care of by her? I don't think so. I was very blunt with Carolyn about her not staying at Mom's until she gets well. Heck she has a Mom five doors down from my Mom's place, a brother and two sisters within in a mile of Mom's house. I told her I would take to one of her relatives and when she got well she could come back to her job and mom's but there is no way in hell she would stay at Mom's while she was ill.

I waited until she made arrangements for where she was going to stay. Then took her there. Went to Mom's house and got her night stuff and makeup. Then went to the pharmacy to pickup her drugs. Back to mom to get her car and drive it to where she was staying and drop of the drugs and the keys. All told from the time I took her to the doctor and got her and all her stuff to her brother's it was six hours.

I'm not really a germaphobe but I am very germ aware. I completely cleaned out my car and sanitized it with Lysol. Then I completely cleaned Mom's house and also sanitized it with Lysol. The cleaning took a good three hours. That was my day yesterday.

The doctor said Carolyn would be down anywhere from two days to a week. The other caregiver comes Friday. That is why I am at Mom's until then.

OK, I need some support here but I also want you to be honest with me if you thought I was to harsh with the caregiver. Should I have let Carolyn stay with Mom while she was ill?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The People We Meet

A week or so ago I told the story of how I stood in line waiting to audition for the T.V. show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. I really didn't want anyone to know but my luck put me in the line right next to a reporter from The Oregonian sent by her editor to write about the experience of trying to get on Millionaire. The next day she wrote a column about the experience and mentioned yours truly and others that she shared the almost eight hours of standing in line with. The reporter was young and beautiful and still writes for The Oregonian. Her name was Inara Verzemnieks. You can read some of her current stuff by going to and search Inara. The ending paragraph of the Millonaire column was:

"And then I think, really, who wants to be a millionaire? Or at least on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire."Give me a few hours on the sidewalk, any day, talking to the Myras and the Marks and the Bills and the Norms listening to their stories, hearing about their lives, trying to make sense of the universe, and knowing that there is no right or wrong to the order of it all, there really is no final answer."

That paragraph got me thinking about the people we meet in our lives. Sometimes we see them once, like the people I met on that street that day, but we still remember them. With the Internet now there are people we have never met that have become important to us and impacted our lives. Like the Donas, the Kims, the Mary Zs, the Kayes, the Snugs, the Symplys. Those that we have met several times but haven't seen for a while like the Lisas, Drs, The Marys, the Ellens, The Pats, The Sians,, The Bevs, the England Diane, the Texas Diane, the Julias, Shirley, Tricia and so many more. But then there are those that we do see weekly but we will never socialize with but they become an important part of our lives and if they disappeared we would miss them. Four of the last mentioned people come quickly to mind.

First up is my Korean Dry Cleaner. I see him once a week. Just a very nice man. He says "You walk. You walk a lot." "You lose weight. You look Good." Then the day after election day he gives my a high five and hug because he knew we were both rooting for the same guy, If he disappeared out of my life I would miss him.

Next up is the older married couple that I run into many mornings on my morning walk. Always holding hands, always smiling, always showing a tremendous amount of love to each other. Always a kind word to say to me. I would miss them too

Then there is the young gas station attendant that pumps my gas. Some of you probably don't know it but in Oregon and New Jersey it is against the law to pump your own gas. The young man that pumps my gas is maybe twenty years old. If I'm wearing a suit he will shout "looking good, great suit." If I am wearing a sweater "great sweater, I want to dress like you." It always makes me feel good but if he is looking at me as a fashion guru he is barking up the wrong tree! I never wear designer clothes, heck I don't even know who the designers are. I just buy what I like and what feels good. Still I would miss the young man.

OK, tell me about the people you run into on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, that you would miss if they suddenly disappeared!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Update Day

This is update day or better yet we can refer to it as caring and sharing day because I do care about all of you and want to hear about what is going on in your lives. This is the day you tell me the joys you have experienced the last week or the tribulations that you have gone through. It can be about caring for elderly parents but it doesn't have to be. It can be just about anything that you want to talk about. The more I learn about you the happier I am so make me happy and let me know about your life! If you have been lurking and haven't posted yet this would be a good day to introduce yourself. I'm also going to add one thing to sharing and caring day, it is ask me anything. Ask me anything you want to know about me and I will answer all questions.

For me, this has been one of the best and most amazing weeks that I've had in ages. With the stock market decline I really have been in my own personal economic crisis. Monday I picked ten CPA firms at random that are close to where I live and sent out ten letters telling the firms I was available to work this tax seasons. Tuesday was a holiday so there was no mail. Wednesday morning I got a phone call from one of the firms. They are interested in me working fifty hours a week during tax season. The woman I talked to sounded so great. I have an interview with them this next Tuesday at 2:30. Wish me luck!

My dad had five sisters. Nola, Augusta, Emily, Clara, and Ella. I was close to all but Nola whom died when I was a very young man. Augusta lived in Glendale, California and when I visited them during my high school years she and Uncle Bob would take me to Dodger games. Emily lived in Longmont, Colorado which we visited every Thanksgiving during my childhood. I learned things like how to use a pogo stick. Clara and Ella both lived in the San Francisco area until their sixties when they moved to Sun City, California. Clara died in 2004. She was a lovely lady. Until March of 2007 Ella was my dad's last living sister. She passed away 3-04-07. I learned this week that her estate is settled, that the distributions are going to be mailed out next week, and that I am one of the heirs. I'm stunned. I am really pleased that Aunt Ella remembered me. The only asset Aunt Ella had was her home so what I get will be a very small amount. Any amount will be helpful right now, what is more important than money is the love my Aunt Ella showed when she was alive and in her passing on by remembering me.

The rest of the week was very enjoyable. Thursday, former clients, Mark and Sandra, drove down from Seattle to have lunch with me. They also know Mom from when Mom worked in my office. They wanted to know if she would join us for lunch and she did. It not only was an amazing lunch but it was an amazing conversation. Turns out that their relatives grew up in the Midwest in the same area Mom and Dad lived and at the time they lived there. This was maybe seventy years ago. Mom actually danced with some of Mark's relatives. Such a small world. It gets better too. My dad managed a hardware store in Great Falls, Montana. Above the store was what we will call a hotel. Turns out Mark's relatives ran that hotel, the only one in Great Falls at the time. The food was great and the conversation was extremely interesting. Mom had a great time. Can life be any better?

The other days of the week? Sunday was brunch with Ted, his wife Sandy, and friend Bill E. Ted and Sandy are well known in the Democratic party so were elated with the election. Bill E. is a really nice man and a McCain supporter. We had a really nice interesting conversation because nobody got upset about the other's views, it was sort of like a round table. Monday I took Mom shoe shopping. Wednesday took Mom to the library. Friday it was taking Mom grocery shopping.

OK, the blog is now yours. Catch me up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Life Really Cooks

Let's See I predicted Warren Sapp would be the first one to be eliminated on Dancing With The Stars and he will probably finish in the top two. Then before Top Chef New York started I predicted Alex who finished in the bottom eight of the elimination challenge and Ariane who finished in the bottom two of the elimination challenge would be two to watch out for. As well as my predictions are going I'm predicting I'm not going to win the lottery. Being a bit on the stubborn side I am sticking with my two favorites although I kind of liked Hosea's attitude. Carla needs to drink less coffee but she may be fun to watch. Without a doubt my least favorite is Jeff. I've never liked men that would be happy living in a house of mirrors.

A couple of things struck me as I watched Top Chef this week. 1.) The number of parallels there were with the show and the comedy class that I just completed. How well you do under pressure. How creative you can be on short notice. 2.) How the ingredients in the show is sometimes how you should live life. Don't overcook, don't undercook, sometimes don't be a salty, sometimes you need to be a little salty, be properly inspired, sometimes going out of your comfort zone pays off and sometimes faking it works.

Before the chefs even made it to the Top Chef Kitchen there was a quickfire challenge where one of the seventeen contestants was eliminated. There are only sixteen slots in the kitchen so one had to go early. The quickfire challenge was three parts. Slice Apples. Dice Apples. Cook Apples. Stefan finished on top and won immunity in the elimination challenge. The bottom two were friends, Lauren and Richard. Lauren was sent packing before she had a chance to even see the kitchen. She was kind of cute so it would have been fun to see her stay on for more then one week.

The elimination challenge involved ethnic cooking. The remaining sixteen contestants were paired by drawing knifes with ethnics areas of New York imprinted on them. Each pair would compete with each other with the winner going to the top eight and the loser going to the bottom eight. The pairs and the winning dishes follow:

Richard and Jamie went to the Astoria section of New York known for Greek food. Jamie won with Eggplant puree, seared bass with arugula salad.

Hosea and Carla went to Brighton Beach to buy ingredients to cook Russian food. Hosea won with smoked fish with caviar, creme friche, & apple chutney.

Jeff and Fabio took their seventy-five dollar budget to Ozone Park to create a couple of Latin dishes. Tom's least favorite Jeff still came out on top with his Coffee seared Tenderloin, smoked plantain with black beans and rice.

Radhika & Jill shopped in Queens to build a couple of Jamaican dishes. Jill won even though her Plantain Friters & Jerk spiced scallops were overcooked.

Leah and Melissa were sent to Little Italy. Leah's Italian dish, Farrio Risotto with seared red snapper & mushrooms won.

Patrick,18, the youngest contestant ever on Top Chef and Daniel went to Chinatown. The judges didn't like either dish but Daniel barely won with his poached chicken with pok choy, shitake mushrooms, and fried wonton.

Alex and Eugene went to Little India. Eugene won with a dish he didn't describe properly but still in the judge's words "hit it out of the park" with Masala rubbed lamb with basmati rice and the erroneously described by Daniel, Tzatziki.

Stefan and Ariane went to Long Island to experience the buying of Middle Eastern food. Ariane undercooking gave the win to Stefan's lamb chops with tabouli salad, beef onion skewer with cinnamon spice.

The top three were Stefan, Eugene, and Leah. The guest judge, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, announced that Stefan got his second win of the night.

Patrick ended up in the bottom two for the second time of the night. This time with Ariane. Patrick was sent home. I breathed a sigh of relief.

How is life cooking for you? Win any challenges lately?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Final Class & Self-Discovery

A couple of blog notes. I am changing update Fridays to update Saturdays. I noticed that most of you posted your updates on Saturday so I am going with the flow. On Friday I want to talk about The Top Chef season premiere.

It was touch and go last night but I did go to week 3 of The Farm Team Transition Class. A couple of hours before the class I lost my power due to rain and wind and a driver that thought running into a power pole would be exciting. The power came back on in time to go to class.

Last night was the "where" night and since the where is really easy we did only one where exercise and then played actual improv. games the rest of the night. One of the games was a repeat of one of the games that we played in the eight week class, it was a four line scene. I'm not going to discuss that exercise since I've already discussed it in one of the eight week class posts. Since I went first in that exercise I went last in the next one. The next game was called, "What are you doing." Because there was an odd number of class members I went on stage with the instructor and we killed them. The exercise involves physical comedy which I'm usually not very good at. However, with Herb in the lead it worked out really well. The game is as follows: audience shouts out an occupation. Ours was grave digger. The referee points to the person to go first. That was me. You start with a motion that defines the occupation you were given. I started digging. The other person on stage asks "What are you doing." "Digging a grave." The referee will zap you if you use the word "I'm." The person then starts a motion that is digging a grave, and the stage partner asks "What are you doing." The person has to respond with an activity that has to relate to grave digging but can't be the words you just said. "What are you doing." Herb "cleaning my shovel." Of course he takes the shovel and then acts like he is wiping off the shovel. And the game goes one until someone uses the word "I'm", repeats the word or motions of the stage partner, or does something that doesn't relate to what a grave digger would do. Herb and I never did get eliminated. It was great fun.

Where I am at now after eleven weeks of the class. The class was more of a self-discovery class than it was a life changing class. I imagine if I take the discoveries in the right direction it could be life changing. This was an amazing class. Not your normal improv. class. The class members were teachers, engineers, accountants, attorneys, inventors, two Stanford honor grads (one took improv. at Stanford.) The teacher said last night that every single person in this class was good enough to be in their Farm Team shows within a couple of months.

I took this class to build confidence, to get over shyness, and to meet people. To compete with and be mentioned with such a talented class has been a huge confidence booster. I'm more confident but not where I want to be yet. I'm completely over my stage fright. I met some really fun and nice people. I'm still shy but not as shy. I did call an ex client that used to ask me out all the time but I couldn't date her because it is unethical to date clients. She was happy to hear from me but is in a relationship. I'd have never called her before the class. It's a start.

What I want to do is to build on the foundations that this class has started. I want to continue to build my confidence. Continue to meet people. Continue to work on my shyness. I've decided that Improv isn't really for me. My two favorite moments in the class were the sixty seconds that I was on the stage by myself talking about hobbies. Even though I don't remember what I said there was something exhilarating about having the teacher tell me he couldn't stop laughing and have other class members tell me for weeks that I made them laugh. The other favorite moment in class was the interview-interviewee game when I was the lasso champion and had the audience rolling. That tells me I want to make people laugh. It also tells me that I am best either on the stage alone or with one partner vs. a team. I'd really like to take a standup class but they have none in Portland and it is impossible right now to go to another city to take one. Until that becomes feasible I want to bridge the gap. That leaves me a couple of options. An acting class through the community college might continue the confidence building, reduce shyness, and keep my stage fright in the background. A dance class might be an option. Or maybe there is another type of class that might work.

Ok, I need your suggestions, where should I go from here? Should I even consider continuing the improv?

May this be a day to lead to self-discoveries for all of you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Final Class/Dancing With The Stars

I'm seriously considering not going to the last week of the comedy class tonight. I really enjoyed the eight week introduction class but the advance Farm Team Transition Class has really not been all that enjoyable. I've learned tons during the eight week class and a little more in the transition class, what I learned and where I want to go I will discuss on tomorrow's blog. One of the difficult things about going to class has not so much to do with the class it has more to do with the weather change and the time change. Driving fifteen miles in dark and rainy weather has never been one of my favorite things to do. I leave in the dark at 6:30 to get to a 7:30 class and often don't get home until later than 10:30 because the class will often run over.

Here is the email about tonight's class:

CSz 101+Class #3 of 3
Choose & Discover

Week 1: WHO; choose your character, discover how you relate. Week 2: WHAT; choose what your doing at the top of the scene, discover what the scene is about
Week 3: WHERE; choose where the scene is taking place, discover all the mimed props on your "set". We'll also play a few more games, and laugh as much as we can. The last 10 minutes will be set aside for questions. See you Wednesday!--

Improvisationally yours,

Herb Spice

Should I go tonight? Or Stay home and watch Top Chef? I'm leaning towards going but am wavering. I've already set the tape for Top Chef.

On to Dancing With The Stars.

The final four, one woman, three men. That is about equal, no? Lance, Warren, Cody, and Brook are in the semi-finals. Because of her talent Brook is a lock to go to the finals. Because of him being absolutely joyful to watch Warren is also a lock to be a finalist. That beens the third finalist will be between Cody and Lance. Both have good fan bases. Both are equal in talent. It boils down to what professional the fans like the most and that is Julianne, so Cody makes the finals. I also respect Cody for showing such emotion on the results show when asked what Julianne meant to him. That wins my vote.

For the results show I told my Mom before the show that Maurice would be eliminated so I wasn't surprised at his being voted off. I was surprised, however, when Cheryl said Maurice will always be number one in her heart. Do we have a romance here?

On the performance Show I loved Brook's dances and thought Len grading her as a professional was very unfair. I also think Len has some kind of a dislike for Lance, his score for him is always less than the other judges.

The quality of dance on the performance show was amazing, the lowest score being a 24. In the first week of the show that would have been the highest score. The most fun dance of the night to watch for me was Warren's jive. Gosh such energy for such a big man. I am hate to admit that he was my choice to be the first person voted off, was I ever wrong. My choice to win it all was Mindy, she left the show due to an injury.

The highlight of the results show was the jive by brother/sister Derek and Julianne. There was an online contest where the fans picked the dance and the professionals to perform on the results show. The Jive and The Houghs won. It was an amazing dance. I could watch it over and over.

May this be a great day for all of you! May you dance through life with a smile on your face!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Tribute To Our Veterans

November 11 a day off of work, a day off from school, a day to run errands but most of all it is day when we honor those that have served and are serving our country.

This is Lt. Edward Grover Delong one of the hundreds of thousands of men in our history to give their lives so that we may live free. One of the few hundreds of men to win both the Silver Star and The Navy Cross. He had a P.T. boat named after him, before being retired to an East Coast shipyard the S.S. Delong was stationed in the Long Beach Harbor. During World War II he was captured and beheaded by the Japanese. The movie They Were Expendable is about his platoon. He is a hero like all that serve our country. Lt. Delong was my Mom's first cousin, my brother Grover was named after him:

In my humble opinion the greatest tribute ever given to the soldier was given at the end of the Battle of Iwo Jima. Given by a man that many didn't want to speak because he was both a pacifist and Jewish. A compromise was reached and the man was allowed to give the Sermon on The Dedication of The 5th Marine Division Cemetery. When you read these words remember they were spoken over sixty years ago and still ring true. To honor those that have served our country, those that are serving the country now, those that were injured in battle, and those that gave the ultimate sacrifce so that we may live free read the following words and hug a solider today:

Sermon on the Dedication of 5th Marine Division Cemetery
On Iwo Jima
By Chaplain Roland B. Gittelsohn

THIS IS PERHAPS THE GRIMMEST, and surely the holiest, task we have faced since D-Day. Here before us lie the bodies of comrades and friends. Men who until yesterday or last week laughed with us, trained with us. Men who were on the same ships with us, and went over the sides with us, as we prepared to hit the beaches of this island. Men who fought with us and feared with us. Somewhere in this plot of ground there may lie the man who could have discovered the cure for cancer. Under one of these Christian crosses, or beneath a Jewish Star of David, there may rest now a man who was destined to be a great prophet to find the way, perhaps, for all to live in plenty, with poverty and hardship for none. Now they lie here silently in this sacred soil, and we gather to consecrate this earth in their memory.

IT IS NOT EASY TO DO SO. Some of us have buried our closest friends here. We saw these men killed before our very eyes. Any one of us might have died in their places. Indeed, some of us are alive and breathing at this very moment only because men to lie here beneath us had the courage and strength to give their lives for ours. To speak in memory of such men as these is not easy, Of them, too, can it be said with utter truth: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here. It can never forget what they did here."

No, our poor power of speech can add nothing to what these men and the other dead of our division who are not here have already done. All that we can even hope to do is follow their example. To show the same selfless courage in peace that they did in war. To swear that, by the grace of God and the stubborn strength and power of human will, their sons and ours shall never suffer these pains again. These men have done their job well. They have paid the ghastly price of freedom. If that freedom be once again lost, as it was after the last war, the unforgivable blame will be ours, not theirs. So it be the living who are here to be dedicated and consecrated.

WE DEDICATE OURSELVES, first, to live together in peace the way they fought and are buried in war. Here lie men who lived in America because their ancestors, generations ago, helped in her founding, and other men who loved her with equal passion, because they themselves or their own fathers escaped from oppression to her blessed shores. Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor . . . together. Here are Protestants, Catholics, and Jews . . . together. Here no man prefers another because of his faith or despises him because of his color. Here there are no quotas of how many from each group are admitted or allowed. Among these men there is no discrimination. No prejudice. No hatred. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy. Any man among us, the living, who fails to understand that, will thereby betray those who lie here dead. Whoever of us lifts his hand in hate against a brother, or thinks himself superior to those who happen to be in the minority, makes of this ceremony and of the bloody sacrifice it commemorates, an empty, hollow mockery. To this, then, as our solemn, sacred duty, do we the living now dedicate ourselves: to the right of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, of white men and Negroes alike, to enjoy the democracy for which all of them have here paid the price.

TO ONE THING MORE do we consecrate ourselves in memory of those who sleep beneath these crosses and stars. We shall not foolishly suppose, as did the last generation of America's fighting men, that victory on the battlefield will automatically guarantee the triumph of democracy at home. This war, with all its frightful heartache and suffering, is but the beginning of our generation's struggle for democracy. When the last battle has been won, there will be those at home, as there were last time, who will want us to turn our backs in selfish isolation on the rest of organized humanity, and thus to sabotage the very peace for which we fight. We promise you who lie here: we will not do that. We will join hands with Britain, China, Russia in peace, even as we have in war, to build the kind of world for which you died.

WHEN THE LAST SHOT has been fired, there will still be those eyes that are turned backward, not forward, who will be satisfied with those wide extremes of poverty and wealth in which the seeds of another war can breed. We promise you, our departed comrades: this, too, we will not permit. This war has been fought by the common man; its fruits of peace must be enjoyed by the common man. We promise, by all that is sacred and holy, that your sons, the sons of miners and millers, the sons of farmers and workers, will inherit from your death the right to a living that is decent and secure.

WHEN THE FINAL CROSS has been placed in the last cemetery, once again there will be those to whom profit is more important than peace, who will insist with the voice of sweet reasonableness and appeasement that it is better to trade with the enemies of mankind, than, by crushing them, to lose their profit. To you who sleep here silently, we give our promise: we will not listen. We will not forget that some of you were burnt with oil that came from American wells, that many of you were killed by shells fashioned from American steel. We promise that when once again men seek profit at your expense, we shall remember how you looked when we placed you reverently, lovingly, in the ground.

THUS DO WE MEMORIALIZE those who, having ceased living with us, now live within us. Thus do we consecrate ourselves, the living, to carry on the struggle they began. Too much blood has gone into this soil for us to let it lie barren. Too much pain and heartache have fertilized the earth on which we stand. We here solemnly swear: this shall not be in vain. Out of this, and from the suffering and sorrow of those who mourn this, will come, we promise, the birth of a new freedom for the sons of men everywhere. AMEN.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

TV Starts To Cook This Week.

Top Chef., one of my favorite shows starts this Wednesday night on Bravo at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. With Dancing With The Stars, The Amazing Race, and Top Chef all on at the same time I will be spending an inordinate amount of time in front of the tube!

Here are the contestants:

The Eight Women:

Ariane, 41, New Jersey, Owner of CulinAriane a four star restaurant in Montclair.

Carla,44, Hometown Nashville, lives in Washington, D.C., owner of Alchemy Caterers.

Jamie, 30, Hometown New York City, lives in San Francisco, Executive Chef of Absinthe Brasserie and Bar.

Jill, 28, hometown Latrobe, Pa., lives in Baltimore, Executive Chef of Red Maple Restaurant.

Lauren, 24, Hometown Cincinnati, stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Chef Tournant, Jag's Steak and Seafood Restaurant.

Leah, 27, hometown Scarsdale, NY, resides in New York, Sous Chef, Centro Vinoteca.

Melissa, no age given, Home state Maryland, lives in Boulder, Colorado, Sous Chef, Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace.

Radhika, 28, Hometown and resides in Chicago, Executive Chef of Between Boutique Cafe & Lounge.

The Nine Men:

Alex, 33, Hometown New York, lives in Los Angeles, Executive Chef Restaurant 15.

Danny, 26, Hometown and resides in New Hyde Park, New York, Chef De Cuisine of Babylon Carriage House.

Fabio, 30, hometown Florence, Italy, resides in Moorpark, California. Owner of Cafe Firenze Italian Restaurant Martini Bar.

Gene, 33, Hometown, Whitmore Village, Hawaii lives in Las Vegas, Executive Chef of Executive Sushi Chef & Chef Consultant.

Hosea, 34, Hometown, Taos, New Mexico, lives in Boulder, Colorado, Executive Chef of Jax Fish House.

Jeff, 30, Hometown Niceville, Florida resides in Miami, Chef de Cuisine of the Dilido Beach Club.

Patrick, 21, hometown Quincy, Mass, resides in Hyde Park New York, Culinary Student.

Richard, 27, Hometown, Sayville Long Island, NY, lives in San Diego, Executive Sous Chef, Confidential Restaurant & Loft.

Stefan, 35, Hometown Tampere, Finland, resides in Santa Monica. Owner of

Heck not one person fifty or older. I wanted to at least root for someone on the AARP mailing list. Be interesting to see who takes the lead. Without seeing them my favorites right would be Ariane among the women and Alex among the men.

What are you cooking today? I'm not cooking I'm going to brunch with my friend Ted.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Second Update Friday

Today is the second update Friday. This is the day you get to tell me how your week has been and what is going in your life. For those caring for elderly parents this your day to vent and catch us all up on what is going on with you. For those of you not caring for elderly parents we would still like to know what is up with you and how your life is going. For the people new to the blog this is a good day to introduce yourself and tell us something about yourself.

My week has been up and down. Like most of my weeks. Sunday was spent recovering from a cold. Monday was the day to take Mom to the library to get more books. That woman is a reading fool. God love her. Tuesday it was taking Mom to lunch, the post office, and to the bank. Then I went home and spent the rest of the day/night watching the election coverage. On Wednesday afternoon I went to a high school girls soccer match. My nephew's daughter, Katie, made first team all conference as a defender this year. Her team, Churchill, made the 5-A playoffs. They were playing Cleveland High in the second round of the playoffs. Cleveland is located in Portland. I like to support my family. My brother is in Wyoming so can't really support his granddaughter by going to her matches so I've taken up the responsibility. It was really a cold and rainy afternoon but it was worth it. Katie played great. They upset Cleveland by scoring a goal in overtime. Cleveland was a huge favorite. I went to the comedy class directly from the match. Churchill now moves on the final eight. Their next match is at Mountain View of Bend, Oregon. I don't think I will attend that one because it is a three hour drive and by the time I got back home it would be the wee hours of the morning. Yesterday I took Mom grocery shopping and out to a nice lunch.. Today it is a work day. I'm sending out ten resumes to in the Portland area. Monday I will send out resumes to the Seattle area. I am still considering whether or not I should send out resumes to other cities.

Things are sometimes difficult with mom sometime not so difficult. The really difficult part is how fast my mom is declining. Watching that decline close up is just one of the worst experiences anyone can experience. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. The good part is Mom is enjoying being at home and is still sound enough mentally to read three books or more a week.

OK, the blog is yours. Tell me what is going on with you!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Farm Team Transition Class - Week 2

The three week followup classes to Comedy Sportz 101 in order are who, what, where classes. Three elements that are necessary for good improv. The first class last week was the who class, last night was the what class and next week will be the where class. There were a lot of warmup exercises last night and then on to the actual games that they play on stage in their professional shows.

The first game was the positive-negative game. Two people on stage. The person on the left always has to give the positive of the situation. The person on the right has to give the negative of the situation. This is an elimination game so when you get to the place that the ref thinks the scene is done one person is eliminated. Last night, however, they took the elimination portion of the game off of the table. Most of the night we were instructed that any line that followed the first line had to start with the words, "Yes and." With Farm Team Transition you never get to pick the focus of the story or the character. The audience does. The audience is also instructed to cheer all positive comments and boo all negative comments. Remember this is compeltely unscripted and no planning is allowed. Here is an example of the positive-negative game.

Audience: Redwood Trees.

Positive: The Redwood trees we saw were so big and beautiful. John enjoyed seeing them so much.

Negative: Yes and when John tried to climb the tree he fell.

Positve: Yes and Several branches stopped John's fall.

Negative: Yes and several branches then broke and John fell completely to the ground.

Positve: Yes and John fell into a big pile of soft leaves.

Negative: Yes and in the pile of leaves were several rocks that John fell on and had to be taken to the hospital.

Positive: Yes and at the hospital he met the love of his life, a beautiful woman doctor.

Negative: Yes and the beautiful woman doctor was married.

Referee stops the game there to give others a chance to participate in the game and also because the direction of the story was really about as far as it could go. This would be a great party game.

Another game had a name and I forget what the name of the game was but it involved story telling. Eight people on stage. In front of the eight people are eight imaginary cirlces numbered one through eight. The first person stands in slot one and gives the first line of the story. The second person stands in slot eight and gives the last line of the story. The other six choose when they go into the story and which slot they stand in and what line in they story they are to give. Although I won't do it here because of how long the post would be, every time a new line is told in the story everyone repeats their line. After all eight have participated then the story is told in proper order. In this game we didn't have to begin lines with yes and. Here we go:

Audience: Raccoon

Slot One: Herb started out going on a walk through the woods.

Slot Eight: Herb was happy to have found that the raccoon wasn't rabid.

Slot Four: Herb heard a terrible noise it sounded like racoons fighting.

Slot Seven: OUCH.

Slot Two: Where he went searching for his pet raccoon, Rocky The Raccon.

Slot Six: The damn raccoon bit me.

Slot Three: Rocky had been missing for several hours.

Slot Five: Rocky had been acting really weird before he went missing.

Here is the story in order (I was slot two)

Herb started out going for a walk into the words, where he went searching for his pet Raccoon, Rocky. Rocky had been missing for several hours. Herb heard a terrible noise that sounded like Raccoons fighting. Rocky had been acting really weird before he went missing. The damn
raccoon bit me. OUCH. Herb was happy to have found out that the raccoon wasn't rabid.

It was a really fun game. I found it a lot easier thant the positive-negative game. I also found it a lot easier than another game we played last night that I really stunk at. That is why I am not going to include an example of the game here that includes me lol. What the game was called was Freeze Frame Tag Team. Eight members on stage. Two of the eight began a scene and have to use pysical movements to define what you are doing. Maybe they start out making shovel movements and saying something like "I shouldn't have taken this job." At anytime during the scene one of the six remaining on stage not participating in the skit can yell "freeze". The two people in the skit have to immediately stop where they are at. Maybe one is at the bottom of the shovel movement and the other has the shovel going over his/her shoulder. That is where they stop. After the yelling of freeze two of the remaining six replace them and have to stand in the same exact position of the actors/actresses they replace. And it doesn't have to be the person that yelled Freeze. Now the trick is once they have replaced the two on stage they have to begin a new scene that can't involve shoveling. In other words they have to define the shoveling movements into something that would be another activity. Maybe in the this case it would have been someone one just saying "one, two" and the other saying "this is really good exercise." Of course they then can change movements and move on to another scene until the word freeze is shouted out again. People can end up in all sorts of weird positions, men can end up dancing with men, people can end on the floor like they are playing twister. What was amazing is the funniest scene of the night was when not a word was spoken. Two men on stage just mimicked each other's movement. It was hysterical.

It was an interesting night. I'm still processing what I learned last night. May all your scenes in life be positive!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What The Election Means To Me

This will be my last post about the election, tomorrow we will go back to caring for elderly parents, comedy classes, finding love in Portland, Dancing With The Stars, a little Amazing Race and soon to be on the horizon the next season of Top Chef.

Congratulations to Senator McCain and his supporters. You ran a good campaign. Thank you Senator McCain for starting the healing with a masterful and warm concession speech. You were a class act in defeat.

Congratulations to Senator Obama and his supporters. You brought change to the politcal process. Now President-Elect Obama bring it to all of us!

I've never been this emotional after an election in my life. This has been the most personal election to me. Never has an election meant so much to my views about discrimination as this one has. I know I talk to much about the car accident that I had as a young man. However, it has not only been instrumental in forming who I am but it has also been instrumental in how I believe.

I went to high school in a very red neck style town. We had one black family in a city with a population of over twenty thousand. I remember one time when I was at basketball practice the son in the African-American family had turned out for the team. He was the first one on the court to begin practice. I was the second. I went over and started shooting baskets with him. Within minutes five team members came to practice and went to the other end of the court to shoot baskets. Two of the five members pulled me aside and I was instructed not to shoot baskets with him if I wanted to be part of "their group." I wanted to be part of the group so I followed their instructions. I gave no consideration to how that young African-American man felt about being excluded because he was different. I would soon discover what it was like to be discriminated against.

As part of the recovery from the accident I spent two years in a wheelchair. I became different. The people talking about me like I wasn't there. The being turned down for jobs because: 1. We can't have someone out at the front desk in a wheelchair meeting the public, it wouldn't look good. 2. The refusal of prospective employers to give me a qualification test because someone in a wheelchair just couldn't be that smart. There was the college counselor that told me I couldn't live my dream and become a coach because "the profession just wouldn't accept someone in a wheelchair." I just had to change my major to an occupation that I could do not only sitting down but that I could do out of the public eye. The stares when I would shop by myself in stores, I would almost always be followed by a store employee until I was done shopping. They assumed I was there to shoplift. The first day I got out of the wheelchair and was walking with crutches. So proud I was of coming that far. I was walking (struggling really) down Main Street when the first person that spoke to me said "Hi, Cripple." I was crushed. I was still different. When I fully recovered from the accident I promised myself I would never discriminate against anyone again in my lifetime. To me it would no longer matter what sex you were, what your sexual orientation was, what your religion was, or what your skin color was. You were a human. That is all that mattered.

Another barrier broken. One less area where skin color no longer matters. The first African-American president. It is redemption for that young man that we couldn't shoot baskets with. It is a condemnation of the views of the college counselor. It is correction of the vision of the man on the street that saw a cripple instead of a human. It is a victory for all that are or were at one time excluded from the club.

President-elect Obama we have helped you break the barrier, now do us proud by not only bringing change to America but by including everyone even your opponents and those that are different than you in the process!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I don't really care whom your favorite candidate is but I do care whether or not you vote. This is the day that you get to participate in the election , that you get to help decide what direction you want to take the country. Don't let the pundits' early predictions of the outcome of the election keep you from going to the polls. This is more than about presidential politics, it also about local, county, and state issues and candidates. Often the outcome of the local, county, and state elections will impact your life more than the outcome of the presidential election will. Wake up this morning and be proud. Be proud of the candidates that you support, that they are willing to put their lives on hold to serve you. Be proud that you live in a Democracy. Be proud that you are an American. Then drive, walk, take the bus, a cab, call a friend to transport you to the polling places and vote. This is your day.

MSNBC did something this morning that I thought was pretty neat. On the Morning Joe show they had on two guests at the time; A Republican pundit and A Democratic pundit. Joe Scarborough asked each one the same question, an enticing question. First he asked the Democratic pundit to say something nice about John McCain. He answered that John McCain was a true patriot that has served is country for years and we should celebrate him and his service. The Republican pundit was then asked to say something nice about Barrack Obama. He responded that he was an intelligent man that ran a focused campaign, that was cool under pressure, and gave signs that he would include Republicans in his administration.

After sixteen years of divisive politics with the country being ruled by ideology instead of what is best for all us we can learn from Joe's question and the pundits' answers. I've read articles that stated that Bill Clinton was the most hated president by the opposite party in the history of the country with something like 90% of the Republicans hating him. That was until George W. Bush, who then became the most hated president by the opposite party in history with over 90% of the Democrats hating him. That lead to little or no conversations between parties and yes between us. We can't put all the blame on Clinton or Bush or Congress for where the country is now. Nope, we have to take a lot of the blame ourselves. Discussions between us being stopped by either the phrase "How can you support such an idiot" or "You are not a true American if you are against the war."

Tomorrow is a day for a fresh start. Not only for the country but for us. It is time for us to reach across our disagreements and talk to each other. Time to stop the hate. Time to unite. If your candidates win then tomorrow find someone that supported the losing candidate and reach out to them. If your candidates loses, then tomorrow find someone that supported the winning candidate and offer them your congratulations. Change starts at the bottom. The country can be united but only if it starts on the ground level. With us.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Back Among The Living/Who Wants To Be A Millionaire

Sorry I haven't posted for a couple of days but I've been fighting a cold. This is the first cold that I've had in maybe ten years. Usually the flu shot fights off the winter blues but not this year. I'm up and about now and ready to go back out into the world.

This is the first Monday in several weeks now that I haven't had a comedy class to look forward to on a Monday night. It was such a fun eight weeks. Now I am looking into cooking classes! At least for two more weeks I can look forward to the Wednesday night comedy class.

One of the things that I did while I was fighting off the cold was to go through my desk to clean it out. I came across a file that my Mom had made for me of my "press clippings". Every time my name made the paper she would cut out the article and would stick the article in the folder. She gave it to me for Christmas one year. There was an article about holiday memories that I wrote that was the lead article in a insert in The Tigard Times. A poem that I had written about all the drug overdose deaths among sports figures had made page one of the sports page in The Oregonian. There were a few times when I won movie tickets for quick little blurbs about questions of the week the Oregon used to have in their Friday Entetainment section. However, the one article that I found that really interested me the most was a column written about a time when I did something totally out of character for me. When Who Wants To Be A Millionaire first came out they would get their contestants two ways; one is by phone, you would call a number answer several questions and if you got the questions right you would then go into a pool with all the others that had the right answers. The show would randomly choose ten people from that pool for specific air dates. I got into the pool several times but was never chosen. The other way the show would get contestants is by visiting various cities for tryouts.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire came to Portland one year. They held their tryouts at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Portland. Standing in line has never been my favorite thing to do. Also I was concerned about what my clients would think if they found out I stood in line several hours to be on a TV show. I gave it some thought and figured unless I got on the show my clients would never find out. The Oregonian building is maybe a block from The Hilton in downtown Portland. Because I had to take my dad to a doctor's appointment that morning I wasn't able to get down to the Hilton until maybe ten o'clock in the morning. There were a thousand or more in line. Who did I get next to in line? There was a block of four of us. An engineer that had driven down to the Hilton from Vancouver, Washington. A college student that had walked down from Portland State. Now you will never guess the fourth party? A reporter from The Oregonian who was sent down by her editor at the paper to experience standing in line, taking the test, and write an article about it for the next morning's paper. We were in line for over six hours. The four of us kind of watched out for each other, when one had to go to the bathroom, take a break, get a cup of coffee, something to eat we would save the spot until their duties were done. We had a great time talking to each other. It really wasn't as bad standing in line as I thought it would be. The one that talked the least was the engineer. He read the almanac most of the time. When we finally got into the Hilton we were given a test with twenty questions on it. You had to get eighteen right to go on to step 2. Step 2 was a video taped interview to see how you would do on camera. The one bad thing about standing in line that long is it kind of fries your brain. I missed going to step two by one freaking question. The only one of the four of in line that went to step two was the almanac reader. He didn't come across well on video so never made it on the show.

The very next morning there was a column on the front page of what was then called The Living Section (now called How We Live) of The Oregonian that mentioned all four of us in line by name, stating our ouccupation, and what we were like to stand in line with. The first call I got was from my friend Ted. The same Ted that I have breakfast with every Sunday. Everyone in Portland knows him. He surprised me when he told me he thought it was the neatest thing for me to do. I received maybe thirty calls that day from clients. All of them were surprised that I would do something so out of character for me but the general consensus was that they wished they had done it!

What have you done that was out of character for you?