Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat?

It looks like I will be staying in and handing candy to trick or treaters tonight. So, I got my treat earlier today. My buddy Wayne (Yes, the apple guy) heard about The Counter in Santa Monica on television a while back and sent me an email about it this morning. I thought why not? I had a lot of fun at the Apple Trip and this one wasn't too far so....
It wasn't too bad! Wayne and I agree that the buns weren't all that great but the burgers were good. I liked that they gave you an incredible choice of toppings, sauces (not just mayo) and cheeses.
It made #15 on the GQ's list of "The 20 hamburgers you must eat before you die" Funny how 4 of them are in California.
Hmmm.... Road trip anyone?

Monday, October 30, 2006

For how long?

Downey Avenue and Flower Street, City of Paramount
Ok, who wants to bet that this will last only until after the election Tuesday?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Someone needs our help."

I've been a member of the Patriot Guard Riders for only a short time. The members are some of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. They do what they do for complete strangers and for nothing but the chance to say thank you to the families who are thanking them. I've been aware of the other activities (they call them "missions") that the Patriot Guard Riders do, the "Welcome home" missions, the Send-off missions and the ever popular parades we get invited to participate in. I've long decided that I would only participate in attending the funerals. There will always be more than enough people for the other "missions."Recently, I was made aware of another facet of the Patriot Guard Riders. I shouldn't really be surprised by it as it is more of an extension of the "caring and compassionate" statement I made about them earlier.
It came to someone's attention that a woman that served in 3 wars as a marine was in dire need. This woman, Gunny Sergeant Helen A. Brusack has some how "slipped through the cracks" of getting some much needed attention from the government and the service she had devoted much of her life to, the church that she has been a member of for many years and the Marine Corps League and the American Legion Post of which she has been a life time member.
I say "slipped through the cracks" because even though I do not have the whole reason for the over sight, I would hate to think of the alternative.

Ed Finch, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, upon learning of the Gunny's plight and realizing that she lived a mile from him took it upon himself to spread the word about Gunny. Through his efforts a visit was made by several members. He started a fund for her and during a funeral mission, Patriot Guard Riders selflessly contributed to the fund only hearing a very abbreviated explanation. For the most part someone summed it up by saying a "someone needs our help."

After a week and a half of planning, getting the word out and getting a roll-on dumpster delivered to the Gunny's house, a few of us showed up at Gunny's house in Yucca Valley to start. I was surprised, appalled, infuriated and then finally thankful. I learned that Gunny's problems went deeper than just the flooding damage by bad plumbing, her inability to take care of it due to her hospitalization and the lack of assistance from the people and organizations that should have been there for her.

The following is an excerpt from a letter to the Patriot Guard Riders from Angel Carter:
The long story short is that the Gunny has been in the hosptials and rehab for over 3 months now. Bruce first met her at Balboa hosiptal. For 3 months Bruce was the only one to call her and check on her. She was not receiving any get well cards or phone calls muchless visitors. Gunny has been grateful for such a simple thing as a call each day. She served 26 years in the Marine Corps herself. Paving the way for women Marines like myself who came behind her. After 26 years she retired. But then she's spent the follow 40 years doing volunteer work with Marine Corps League, American Legion, her local church and even taking in foster kids. She had a grandfather that served in the Marine Corps and died in WWI. She had 2 brothers in the Marine Corps that died in WWII. She served during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Met her one true love in WWII. He was a pilot in the Air Force and lost his life during WWII as well. She never looked for another and never married. In the true sense of the word she considers the Marine Corps and Marines her family. Her life has been spent serving our country, her community and her fellow Marines.

Gunny has spent her life in the service of others, whether it is in the Marine Corps, the community in which she lives. Gunny devoted so much time in the service of others, she neglected herself.

I was surprised at the way her troubles were understated.

I was appalled that people who knew her either let it get so bad or worse yet did not know it was that bad.

I was infuriated that one excuse given was "we're too old to help."

I was finally thankful that there are people who will act to help another human being with only the words, "someone needs our help."

For Gunny (2)
Front of Gunny's house.

For Gunny (4)
The Roll-on dumpster.

For Gunny (9)
By this time most of the debris already filled much of the dumpster. I was told it was much worse.

For Gunny (13)
Pitchforks, shovels, wheel barrows, gloves and masks were the order of the day.

For Gunny (16)
Only way to fill the dumpster. It too full to just roll the wheel barrows in.

For Gunny (26)
At one point the only way to start was through a window because the debris blocked the doors.

For Gunny (32)
The masks could not hide the smell.

For Gunny (34)
Wet carpet...

For Gunny (35)
Other types of "uninvited guests".

Once the house is cleared, the next phase is clean-up and fumigation...

to be continued.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Typical Friday

Funeral, Disneyland, Mabo.

Today was the only day my god-daughter, Amanda had available for our monthly Disneyland "fix" but I had a funeral to attend with the Patriot Guard Riders. I told her that she can either go with me to the funeral then we can go to Disneyland afterwards or she can go to straight to Disneyland and I will meet up with her after I was done. She decided to go with me to the funeral. I glad that she came with me.
PGR for Spc Jose Perez (19)
PGR for Spc Jose Perez (52)
She even held up a flag as the honor guard/pall bearers escorted the casket into the church. A couple of the guys asked her if she wanted to ride with them, they had extra helmets. I guess she wasn't up to that today. Maybe next time.

Then off to Disneyland.
I guess you can say we are "seasoned" Disney-holics. We do not rush, run, self-inflict whiplash when we get into Disneyland. Though there are still a ton of stuff to see. I enjoy people watching and this is one of the best places to do that.
Disneyland in October
When the mother sees the daughter behind the giant Lego block, in her best motherly advise voice, "Oh my gosh honey! Be careful up there." The dad is right there cheering her on to go higher...
Disneyland in October (2)
Now there was a lot of hype going into the opening of this store. There were articles in the LA Times, etc. We checked it out and we were very disappointed. Not so much in the prices, it lived up to the high sticker range, but I think I would still rather go to the World of Disney Store.
Disneyland in October (6)
It's not often you see a crack in the cast members' characters, but this guy was nearing the end of his rope with the group behind him. Heck, I was already at the end of mine but then again I could walk away.
Disneyland in October (9)
Any other place in LA and the cops would have told him to move along.
Disneyland in October (10)
I don't remember my parents ever doing this when my sisters and I were younger but I don't think this girl is into the whole matching shirts on vacation bit.
Disneyland in October (12)
When you try to do the whole park in the morning, this is what happens in the afternoon...
Disneyland in October (14)
And of course I save this one for last. I WIN AGAIN!!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"A piece that would scare even me"

Yesterday, the Lemon Butter Club initiated and welcomed two new members in Sammy and Wil. As with most things we plan it is usually last minute, rushed and hilarious. We weren't quite sure who was going, the way it goes is that whoever shows up at Derrick's when it is time to go, goes.

The problem: Derrick's car has 8 seats. 9 people showed up...

Lemon Butter club (1)
So Berda squeezes between Hank and Sammy, giving Sammy the "legal" seat.
Lemon Butter club (3)
But try as they can, they just can't get the seat belt assignments right.

Lemon Butter club (4)
Lemon Butter club (5)
Once they finally settled in Sammy says, "Are we really doing this?" Uh, we're already on the road Sammy.
Lemon Butter club (6)
Lemon Butter club (7)
After a while things/people need to shift...
Lemon Butter club (8)
Until they finally settle into the next "comfortable"positions. Unfortunately, it doesn't last too long.
Lemon Butter club (10)
And traffic was not cooperating at all...
But we finally got there and got into some serious eating. Wil and Sammy were being initiated so Hank and I put together their first platter of crabs.
Lemon Butter club (11)
They had no problems putting it away and the second one was also not a problem for them.
Lemon Butter club (14)
Members present: Hank, Berda, Derrick, Wil, Sammy, Grace, Tony, James and me (not shown, taking the picture).
Lemon Butter club (15)
Even with all that Sammy and Will still had more room for dessert.
Lemon Butter club (16)
Lemon Butter club (18)
Lemon Butter club (17)
At this point they were just showing off.

Before we headed back, Berda was not liking her last seat assignment so she upgraded to the sleeper car. Not bad, she had a room to herself, some pillows and still within slapping distance from James.
Lemon Butter club (21)

Oh, what did I eat? Well, I had "some" crabs of course, but at the prime rib bar, I asked the lady cutting up the meat to cut me up "A piece that would scare even me." So...
Lemon Butter club (12)
I don't know. Scary? It was a little intimidating but Scary? I don't think so...

Here's the seat belt video:

and the "falling of her seat" video:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Club 33 Day at Disneyland

Finally got the chance to go to Club 33 in Disneyland! Berda thank you very much for the invite. Anna had a great time too!
We had a little hitch getting in the park but once handled we were off!
Club 33 (5)

The thing was, every time Anna and I stopped for a photo-op or to look in a window at the shops the rest of the group disappears!
Club 33 (6)
Club 33 (7)

Then there were the parades. Well, small ones being led by none other than the man!
Club 33 (8)

Anna and I had originally planned on getting to Disneyland earlier and have some beniers at Downtown Disney, but we were both running late. So we ended up with this instead...
Club 33 (9)

Life is unfair sometimes...sigh.
I guess after a while the rest of the group realized that we were no longer in tow. So Kathy calls me from the line to the Haunted Mansion and said, "Did you guys ditch us ALREADY?!!!" I told her when they ditched us we stopped for a "light" breakfast and that we would catch up to them after we got off the Haunted Mansion oursleves.
Once we got off the ride, I got another call from Kathy. They were now in line for the Pirates of the Carribean and just getting inside the building.
Club 33 (11)
Club 33 (12)

By then it was too late to join them in line. So Anna and I hung out and watched the pirates show between the French quarter and the river. Not too many people know of all these "street" shows all over Disneyland. They are fun to watch because there is a greater amount of audience participation and more than a few of them are hilarious!
We finally rejoined the group when they got out of the Pirates of the Carribean ride and we all went to the Indiana Jones ride.
Club 33 (13)
Club 33 (14)

Once we got out of that, it was time to get to Club 33!
Club 33 (15)
We still had a little time. Not everyone in our party had arrived yet. So in typical group fashion, cameras came out, our group was big enough that we sort of caused some congestion in the French Quarter section of New Orleans Square as a band walked by...
Club 33 (16)
Club 33 (18)
Club 33 (19)
Club 33 (20)
Club 33 (21)
You can take the elevator...
Club 33 (22)

or the stairs...
Club 33 (23)
We were in the Trophy Room
Club 33 (24)
Club 33 (25)
Club 33 (26)
Club 33 (27)
Club 33 (28)
Club 33 (29)
The place settings were really nice. In fact it was too nice. I was thinking, "Man, these are nice plates! I would have to be very careful with these." Just as I got doe thinking about it, the servers took them away! Hahaha I guess they're just for decoration, not eating hahahaha.
Club 33 (30)
Thank you Berda and Hank for inviting me!
Looking down the table...
Club 33 (34)
What the ?!!!!! Derrick!!!
Club 33 (35)
And these were just the appetizers... Let's see... lobster tails, crab claws, shrimp, pasta salad, caesar salad, all types of cheeses, salami, lox and capers and more stuff I passed on.
Club 33 (36)
Oh, I mean those were the appetizers, heh heh heh...
Club 33 (37)
The staff informed us of the choices of entrees. Fish, chicken or beef. Ok, so they really didn't say that. It was halibut with pasta, grilled chicken breast in a onion sauce and New York steak. Most people opted for the steak and chicken a few chose the halibut, but the halibut folks made out big time! Anna went for the halibut and...
Club 33 (38)

It doesn't look it, but it was a huge bowl! She gave me a taste of the halibut and it was delicious! It was served on top of pasta with chunks, not pieces of, but chunks of lobster and also topped with a lobster tail. The sauce was really good too!
I had the New York steak. It was great. I was a little worried when the staff said that they cook it medium unless I wanted it cooked more. I prefer rare, but it was still very good.
Club 33 (39)For dessert, we had (I say "we" because Anna shared what I brought back from the dessert table, hahaha) chocolate mousse, a custard type cake, a macaroon and this lemon raspberry concoction in the glass that was INCREDIBLE!! Don't know what it was but I knew that if Anna didn't help me with it I would have ended up in a sugar coma! Hmmmmmm...
Club 33 (42)
Of course we HAD to get our Club 33 mouse ears!
Club 33 (43)After lunch it turned out that Hank and I couldn't cover our bill so they put us to work...
I took reservations...
Club 33 (48)
and Hank seated people as they came in...
Club 33 (57)This is the other dining room...
Club 33 (49)Balcony overlooking New Orleans Square
Club 33 (51)
Club 33 (52)
Club 33 (54)
Hank and Berda in the elevator.
Club 33 (55)After lunch we all headed over to California Adventure. I have never seen the Aladdin Show over there and Derrick says it is a terrific show. So...
Club 33 (61)
Club 33 (62)
Club 33 (63)
Club 33 (64)
Club 33 (66)
Club 33 (69)
Club 33 (72)It was a very good show. The sets and how they transitioned them were awesome.
Thank you Berda for the invite to an awesome day!!
The rest of the pictures are here.