Random Thoughts

This page is dedicated to things I think about that are longer than my Weblog but shorter than a normal Blog. I update this as I ponder about life's lessons.

‡ So I went to the doctor for my annual physical. Art Mollen, who is a famous Phoenix doctor, has been taking care of me for 14 years. Since I'm on the eve of turning 50, Dr. Mollen thought it was time for me to get a colonoscopy. Insert jokes here. I spoke with his nurse/scheduler and got a list of Valley Gastroenterologists. The mistake I made is going to an office near work rather than my house. Dr. Kazi is okay but it took FOREVER to see him. My appointments kept getting postponed. Fast forward to day prior. I had to limit what I ate and drank. Of course, I love drinking water but there weren't many approved dining options. I had several bowls of lemon and lime Jell-O. I prepared a prescription concoction called Movi-Prep. I added lemonade drink mix and it didn't taste bad. Movi really cleans you out! In the morning, arrived at Arizona Digestive Health. After getting an IV and talking with nurses and the Anesthesiologist, I was wheeled into the exam room. I had a brief conversation with Dr. Kazi and fell asleep. Next thing, I woke up and the procedure was done! I had no pain. Dr. Kazi said everything looked good. I went home, took a nap, had a light dinner and went back to sleep. Since then, no complications. My advice for everyone, not just men: get your colonoscopy done!

‡ I like to give people who I don't know nicknames. When walking or jogging or riding my bicycle around my neighborhood, I see some of the same people. There's a guy who I call 'The Eagle' and he's always walking his two beagles. I later found out his name is Orrin. There's a short woman who used to walk 3 large dogs. I called them 'Cerberus and Its Midget.' Lately the Midget only walks one dog. I was walking on the New River Trail when a woman with her dachshund told me about wild coyotes that live in the dry river bed were trying to attack her dog. I noticed she had a small pistol in a holster. I named her 'Annie Oakley.' Over the weeks and months I'd see Annie and she'd wave and say hello. Finally I stopped and we talked. Her name is Freda and she's 78 years old. I haven't seen Ms. Freda in a while until recently. She thinks I'm in great shape and still remembers my name.

‡ I hate math. The main reason is because I'm not good at it. Recently it took more than a minute for me to realize that 32 / 2 = 16. So how did I get A's and maintain a 4.0 grade point average in Introductory Algebra, Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra? Three reasons: (1) I had two good teachers (Kathy McCoy and Debbie Hill) who would break down formulas & problems and explained everything. (2) They gave a lot of homework which forced me to practice. (3) I watched videos of the lessons prior to class which familiarized me to the concepts. I recently looked back at some of the work and I donít believe I actually understood what factorials and polynomials are.

‡ Weird story. During my fabulous Detroit vacation in June 2013, I decided to go into a local bar for a Happy Hour drink. This establishment is in West Detroit, not too far from my Dad's house. I've never been in there before. After walking in, I tell the hostess I want to sit at the bar, which is straight in front of me. The main part of the restaurant was to my left. Suddenly, a woman says "I know you. You're Brian! Don't you remember me?" Iíve always had a good memory. Once I really looked at her, I recognized her as Roxanne (not her real name). I said "Yes, I remember you." Roxanne lived within 3 blocks of my Mom's house. Her Mother also still lives in the same house. When I was 15/16 Roxanne and I were good friends. Once I started working at Kresges/McCrorys, we mostly stopped talking. I haven't seen Roxanne in at least 15 years, probably closer to 20 years. I said it was good to see her. Roxanne said I hadn't changed and I look the same. I said I willingly lost most of my hair. I told her that I would be sitting at the bar and to come over so that we could talk. For some reason, I thought she worked there. I had my 'One and Done' drink but Roxanne never came over. I checked the restaurant and didn't see her so I guess she left. My theory is that Roxanne was with her boyfriend/husband and he wouldn't let her talk to me.

‡ I bought my last banana. I needed a snack option for mid-mornings and mid-afternoons. In order to continue with my healthy lifestyle, I started buying bananas. I admit I have a love/hate relationship with bananas: I like the taste but don't like the peel strings. I normally buy 4 or 5. Recently, I've had several instances where I didn't eat all, or even most; more like 1 or 2. The rest got brown. I tried buying almost-ripe bananas so I could keep them longer but that bunch went from green to yellowish-brown. By the end of the week, I chop them up and put in my compost pile, which is happy to receive a nice gift. I'm not wasting any more money on uneaten bananas.

‡ Back in the late 80's while working in the retail store, I started bringing my lunch to work. We got an hour to eat lunch. Even though there were several restaurants in the area, including Omega (my Favorite Coney Island), I still had to get into my car, drive, eat and drive back to work. Plus spending money on fast food that wasn't very healthy. Bring my lunch, I figured, would save time, money and have good things to eat. Once I joined the Air Force and got my first apartment, I again started making my lunch. My basic menu was: a sandwich, pasta like SpaghettiOs or Beefaroni, potato chips and dessert like pudding. I would vary the types of meat like turkey, ham or chicken and different pudding flavors. About a year ago, I replaced the pasta with rice. The rice was mostly white with some brown. I put in sugar, butter, vanilla extract, milk & cinnamon and would warm it up. A few months later I stopped making rice and started buying those bags of pre-washed lettuce and had a small side salad. A couple of months later, I had a short 3-day work week. Instead of making the usual lunch, I had just a big salad with some shredded chicken. I liked it. So now my regular lunch menu is a big salad, 2 hard-boiled eggs, crackers and pudding.

Macho Man Randy 'Macho Man' Savage

‡ Ever since I was a little boy, I've enjoyed watching professional wrestling. I remember hearing about the Original Sheik trying to set Bobo Brazil on fire at Cobo Arena. Of course my parents didn't take me to the matches. I followed it off and on throughout the years and really started back when the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) went national. I remember I was on a high school field trip and couldn't see Wrestlemania 1. I watched on my Dads BetaMax video recorder. In the summer of 1985, a new wrestler came to the WWF: Randy Savage. I liked him because he was a bad guy, looked cool, talked weird and could fight. He got better when he hired a beautiful woman, Miss Elizabeth, as his manager. They were the total package. I created 3 VHS tapes of his matches and TV interviews. I kept posters, pictures and articles of the couple. I cheered when Savage won the Intercontinental championship in February 86. I was sad when he lost it in March 87. Proud when he won the WWF championship in 88 and 92. I liked him as a good guy. I felt bad when he lost a retirement match. He revitalized his career when he went to World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1995. When WCW went out of business in 2001, for the most part Savage was done with wrestling. He had a small part in the first Spider-Man movie in 2003. Due to very-speculated but never confirmed issue, he never returned to the WWF. There were times that it seemed (now World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE) wanted him to actively participate with them but it never happened. Randy Savage died on 20 May 2011.

‡ Seeing all of the saguaro cacti with spring flowers, reminds me how I lost an old friend on 23 December 2010. We met on 29 February 2000. The unofficial 607 Air Control Squadron mascot was a big saguaro cactus that grew between 2 buildings (1383 and 1384) on the campus. It was in a great spot where students and instructors had to past by it several times a day. According to desert Horticulturists, saguaros start to grow arms when they are 75 years old. This cactus had huge arms that faced North. During springtime, I would sit outside and watch a lot of bees flying around the flowers taking turns getting nectar and pollen. In 2001 when workers extended building 1383 to create classrooms, it changed the sun pattern; the cactus didn't get much morning sunlight. I noticed the difference: some years the cactus didn't produce flowers. In the winter of 2007, the area got flooded and the cactus absorbed too much water. This created a hole in the bottom and it started leaning to the North. Fast forward to December 2010. We had a bad rainstorm over night. When I drove up to work and parked, I saw my friend laying down broken, hopelessly gone. Every time I walk between the buildings I see the empty spot and feel a little sad.

‡ Another car story. Like any other young man, I couldn't wait until I turned 16 so I could learn how to drive and get my license. The summer of 1983 I went to drivers training at Mumford High School. Afterwards took the written and performance test and got my license! About 3 weeks later, our Dad picked up Karen, Mike and I. I begged Pop to drive. He said Yes! Mike was riding shotgun, Karen & Pop were in the back seat. I made a left turn when the light was yellow/turning red. A police car pulled me over. To the Cop, it looked like there was a car full of kids joyriding. I got my first ticket. I didn't have a physical license, only the temporary piece of paper. So I started off my driving career with 3 points on my record.

‡ My Mom and my Dad raised Karen, Michael and I strict. We were taught early on to say 'please' and 'thank you' for everything. I think I am more polite than Karen and Mike; I say 'excuse me' if someone bumps into me, even if it wasn't my fault. Over the years, I've had many people tell me how nice I am. As I right this, I know that I am a sincere person, but one thing that I DO NOT like is when someone asks me to help them or do something for them without, at a minimum, saying 'hello' and 'how are you?' When I'm at work, making telephone calls, or just talking with someone, I always greet and ask about them. So my new stance is when someone approaches me with something and they don't say it, my lines are "Hello! How are you? I'm fine, thanks for asking."

‡ A friend got a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. I thought that was weird, because I feel very uncomfortable if I don't wear seat belts. I've wore seat belts since the late 70s. My Mom had a friend who was in a bad accident and would have died if she wasn't wearing a seat belt. From that point on, my Mom made Mike, Karen and I wear them. We hated it! I thought it was stupid. I had to look like (more of) a nerd in front of my friends when my Mom made everyone in the car wear them. After a while, I got used to it. So when it became a law in Michigan to wear seat belts (July 1985) I didn't have a problem. Today, there are times when I'm not sure if I closed my garage door in the morning. I've driven halfway to work before I'll turn around just to check it. My new trick is to not buckle my seat belt before the door goes down. There is no way I'll drive down the street without a seat belt so now I know I closed the garage.

‡ I was born and raised in Detroit Michigan. Still love it there. Still support my Detroit sports teams. So why won't I travel there from October to April? Because I can't take cold weather! When I joined the Air Force and found out I was going to be stationed in Florida, I was happy. When I decided to separate from the Air Force, I planned to move back to Detroit. When I got my job in Arizona, two things were important: a job and warm weather! People ask do I miss changing seasons, leaf colors and snow. And I say No! If I really wanted to see snow, I can drive 2 hours North. I remember as a kid shoveling snow for an hour just to go and do it again 6 hours later. I remember what the salt does to your car. My 'best' memory is the Winter of 1983-1984. I had a paper route for the Detroit News. I got up early Sunday morning to deliver. It was so cold outside that my hands almost froze. I stopped halfway through my trip, ran home and tried desperately to warm my hands. It felt like a million needles jabbing at my fingers. I was in the basement screaming with pain into a pillow so I wouldn't wake up my family. Finally the agony went away and I could finish my paper route. And that's why I don't miss cold weather.

‡ I've been thinking about my Grandma Mary a lot lately. Mary is 80-something years old and lives in Inkster Michigan with her niece. Mary's sister Rebecca lives right behind them. Mary owned a restaurant in downtown Detroit named B&B Fish Dock. It specialized in soul food. Lots of Detroit dignitaries dined there including judges and mayor Coleman Young. Trivia note: B&B's building is used as a part of Ford Field where the Detroit Lions play NFL football. So if you own a restaurant for at least 30 years, you have to be able to cook well. Mary is an excellent cook. One night in 1990 I was in her neighborhood and I stopped by to visit her and my Grandpa Loyace at home. If you visited Mary, you had to eat something. Mary was cooking steaks so I sat down. As the three of us talked, I noticed my steak had a weird aftertaste. After a few more bites, I said "is this liver?" Loyace said yes. I said "I don't like liver!!!" Mary said she didn't know. One of Mary's best selling items was her fried liver with onions. I've never eaten liver since then but I finished my plate that night.

‡ On 18 September 2009, TV soap opera Guiding Light (GL) aired its last episode, number 15,762. GL is the longest-running drama in television and radio history. It started as a radio show in 1937 and switched to TV in 1952. GL has been losing viewership over the years and was the lowest-rated soap. I'm a little sad because I am a fan of Guiding Light. I first started watching in the mid-1970's because of my sister Karen! I got out of school earlier than she did. Karen wanted for me to tell her what happened. When I was in 10th grade I used to talk about GL with a girl named Glenda. When I first started working at Kresge's in 1984, I would go to work early so I could change the breakroom TV channel from General Hospital to GL. Most of the employees were mad! My favorite storylines were the Kelly and Morgan love affair, Carrie Todd murder trial and the exploits of Nola Reardon. Around 1987 I stopped watching as much. Once I joined the Air Force, I gave up on GL. Up until it got cancelled, every couple of weeks I would DVR GL to watch while I ironed clothes. I would also DVR when big events happened like when Philip Spaudling came back. I watched the last week and thought it ending well, even though they left a few questions. Even though I didn't watch it regularly, I'll miss the citizens of Springfield.

Brian With Bag

‡ A lot of people ask me about the bag I use to carry my Karate gear. The bag has Marlboro cigarettes logos all over it. They wonder do/did I smoke. I smoked for about a month back in 1985 when I was 18. I didn't know how to smoke so I just quit. My brand was Newport. Fast forward to 1992, when I worked part time at the JR Store. Mostly rednecks shopped there. I eventually got to know all of the 'regulars' and I think they tolerated me. By far, the most popular cigarettes were Marlboro Reds soft pack. If we ran out of soft pack, I would offer hard pack and most would refuse it. JR received a 5 pack mini-carton of Marlboros that we sold at a special price. Inside the carton were 5 Points to get Marlboro gear. Nobody would ever buy the carton and wanted just 1 pack. So we would open the cartons and sell individual packs at the normal price. I threw away at least 300 Points before I started saving them. I got a catalog and ordered stuff. I got t-shirts, drink holders, back pack, bottle openers, and hats. The only thing I have left are two Marlboro bags, one I use to carry my Karate equipment.

‡ I'm amazed when actors cry on demand. An actress (Melody Thomas Scott who plays Nikki Newman on Young and the Restless) who is an excellent crier says that she taps into a sad moment from her past to drive her on-screen emotions. Whenever I feel bad and need to smile, I think of this: in May 1993 I went back to Detroit, Michigan on leave/vacation. Of course, at that time I was in the Air Force and stationed in Northwest Florida. Johnny, a Detroit police officer and my best friend in high school, and I went to Cedar Point, the great amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Weekdays in the middle of May is an incredible time to go, because CP isn't crowded and you can get maximum rides with short wait times. Even though I love roller coasters, one of My Favorite Things is the bumper (or Dodgem) cars. I don't like hitting other cars; I like to drive around avoiding hitting/getting hit and making the car go backwards. I'm cruising along when a little girl, around 12 years old, hit me head-on and started laughing! I said "watch out" and the girl, lets call her Lucy, stuck her tongue out at me and said "You watch out!" I told Johnny that we were going to get her. Then the ride stopped. Lucy immediately got out of her car, got back in line, and entered another car. Johnny and I did the same. Since there were few people riding the Dodgem, we could get off and back on quickly without waiting. We did this about 4 riding cycles, with Lucy avoiding us each time. The 5th time we trapped Lucy. Johnny smashed her on her right side, startling Lucy. As he hit Lucy, Johnny said "BAM!" At that point, I swooped in from Lucy's front-left side and yelled "Hey Kid!" Lucy turned to me and looked with her eyes and mouth wide open in shock. I struck Lucy while shouting "BAM!" Right after, Dodgem stopped. Lucy ran over to her parents and they walked away. Johnny and I jumped out our cars laughing so hard that we fell on the ground crying. For the next hour, all we talked about was the look of fear on Lucy's face. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I think of Lucy.

‡ So the other day someone asked how did I become a PhD in the Study of the Human Condition? After asking that person to stay out of my personal business, I said I read, wrote a thesis and took tests. They went on to ask what is the Human Condition? First of all, how dare this person try to grill me?!? Second, it would take days to fully answer that question. A condensed answer is observing behavior. I'll give you an example: As you read on my Work History page, I had a job in retail for almost 10 years. One place that I didn't mention was from 1991-1993, when I was living in Panama City, Florida I worked the overnight shift at a convenience store called JR (pronounced Junior) Food Mart . This was one of the those combination gas stations with an attached shopping area and sold hot dogs, drinks, potato chips, lottery tickets and cigarettes. Actually, I have a story about cigarette habits but that's another Random Thought. One thing I liked to watch was coffee drinkers. {Full disclosure: I like my morning cup of coffee at work. Sometimes I'll drink coffee at home but it's mainly a work thing.} I made sure JR had a fresh pot of coffee for my shift. At 3:30 A.M. I started keeping more than one pot, increasing as it got to closer to 6:00, my quitting time. I noticed that people automatically reach for the coffee pot that is directly under the maker, assuming it is the freshest pot. So I started putting the "older" coffee underneath the maker and "newer" pots on the warmers. No one noticed a difference. At my present job, we have a similar coffee maker setup and I watch how people still drink from the "new" pot of coffee.

‡ My friend Chris Thornton made Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) in the United States Air Force. I'm incredibly happy for him. To see a good guy make rank shows that it doesn't take ass-kissing to get promoted. Another great example of a hard-working man who got promoted is Master Sergeant Aramis Stevenson. I supervised Aramis back in 1997 so I know what type of person he is. Also I should mention Robert Grimmett, who turned in his Master Sergeant stripes and went to officer school and it now a Major stationed in Washington D.C. Why do I mention this in Random Thoughts? I often wonder: Where would I be at if I were still in the Air Force? Before I decided to separate from the Air Force, I had the next 5 years of my military career planned out. I was going to go to Korea, then go to the 726 Air Control Squadron (ACS) in Mountain Home, Idaho. During my 726th tour I would go to Advanced Weapons Director School. I wanted to go to Army Jump School. I figured sometime in the twilight of my career I would like to work at a school like where I work now (607 ACS). Hopefully by this point (March 2009) I would at least been a Master Sergeant. But who knows? I thought I was a hard worker. I always got excellent reviews (but so did everyone else). If I study, I know I can pass any test. In the back of my mind, I wanted to go to Officer Training School. With the way I was working and not taking college classes, I'm not sure if I would have ever received my Bachelor's degree but now with online schools I could have received it. I'm not sure if would be thinking about this if I still didn't work with the Air Force.

‡ While washing my face, I noticed two small holes on my left earlobe. Back in October 2008, a Woman who watched my Second Degree Black Belt Test said it was good that I took out my earrings. I told her I don't have earrings. I got my left ear pierced back in November 1988. My brother Michael got his done first. Since I'm older, I got two gold studs. I thought it was cool. Back then I was working in retail at McCrory's as a management trainee and the regional managers didn't like it. So in February 1989 I took my earrings out and never put it back in. 20 years later the holes are still visible even though they're closed.

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