Sunday, November 1, 2020

Suntana's Chalkboard

Welcome to my Blog!

Here at Suntana's Blog Trek you will find a dynamic duo of entertainment options.  At the forefront are my specialty and pride & joy true stories, my anecdotes if you will.  They are interesting, hilarious and very entertaining accounts of incidents, tight predicaments in which I have found myself throughout the years.

Just recently I have now incorporated the 2nd form of entertainment.  I have added some Art Galleries to my Sidebar.

Viewer Discretion  My Art Galleries feature what I would classify as Contemporary Adult Art.  If you are easily offended by Adult Art, then I'd recommend you stick to my entertaining funny anedotes.  If on the other hand you are NOT offended by innocuous intriguing Adult Art, then by all means, feel free to browse through my Art Galleries.  No need to worry and freak out.  It is not Porn.  It is just entertaining Adult Art in which to engage in some Art Appreciation.

O --- kay ... Blog Orientation is complete.  Now feel free check out whichever area of my Blog is within your tastes ... preferably both areas.  Enjoy!




Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Phantom 57 Chevy

Seeing is believing.  What you see is what you get.  It is what it is.  We are all familiar with those three sayings.  But, is reality really that simple?  Are things really that black & white?  Is everything we see right in front of our eyes at any given time always real?  Is everything we see really always what we think we are seeing, or could our eyes sometimes be fooled?

The incident in this post tests and challenges the veracity and validity of the three aforementioned sayings.  Y’all will see evidence that apparently while we think that seeing is believing … sometimes what we see is not necessarily what we get.  It is not always as simple as “it is what it is.”   Sometimes it is actually something else all together.

NOW … take a good look at the image on the right.  At the top of the image is a 57 Chevy.  At the bottom of the image is a 70 Chevelle.  I think most, if not all of y’all will agree that the two cars have nothing in common as far as body style.  The 57 Chevy has what used to be referred to as the “Shoebox” style for obvious reasons.  The Chevelle on the other hand, is a more modern lean, mean, aerodynamic machine.  They look nothing alike, right?  Well, hold on to that thought.

So on the Saturday of the week after this past Halloween, I was taking my parents to Walmart.  We were taking a different route than usual because there was going to be a Veterans’ Day Parade there on the main road and any minute now, it would be closed.  As we were driving along, we saw an Oldies Classic car coming towards us.  As it passed right by us, we noticed it had several little USA flags on it, so we figured it was going to be participating in the parade as one of my sisters and her husband have two Oldies Classic trucks and they usually participate in the parade.

With my Dad having been a Wizard Guru Master Auto Mechanic in his younger days back in the Old School era of autos, he always gets nostalgic when he sees an Oldies Classic car or truck.  He likes to call out the make, model and year of the car or truck.  Not surprisingly, that was the case this time as well.  Below is the conversation that ensued.  The conversation was actually in Spanish, but I have provided the translated version.

Dad:  Heyyy!  A 57 Chevy, just like the one we used to have.

---  I paused several seconds before it dawned on me what he said and that obviously something wasn't right.

Me:  Whoa!  Wait a minute!  What are you talking about?  That wasn't a 57 Chevy.
Dad:  Yes it was, just like the one we used to have many years ago.
Mom:  No sireee!  We never had any such car as the one that just passed by.
Dad:  Yes we did.  I saw it clearly.  It was a 57 Chevy.
Me:  No it wasn't.  In fact, that wasn't a 50’s anything.
Dad:  Well, what did you think you saw?
Me:  I saw a Red & Black Chevelle.
Mom:  Yes.  That’s about what I saw also.
Dad:  A Chevelle?  Nooo!  That was no Chevelle.  I know what a 57 Chevy looks like and that was a 57 Chevy … a Red & Black 57 Chevy.
Me:  Well I too know what a 57 Chevy looks like and that was no 57 Chevy.  I saw it front and rear and both were that of a Chevelle.
Dad:  No, you’re wrong.  That was no Chevelle.
Me:  Well, I guess we’ll just have to ask my sister whether a Red & Black 57 Chevy or a Chevelle participated in the parade.
Dad:  I guess we will.

The next day, I was at my sister’s house.  I asked her, “Hey, did you and Joe participate in the parade?”  Joe is her husband.  My sister replied, “Uhhh, I didn't, but Joe did.  Why?”  I told her about our incident regarding the Oldies Classic car sighting and the debate that followed regarding whether it was a Red & Black 57 Chevy or a Chevelle.  My sister went, “Well actually, Sandra does have a Red 57 Chevy.”  Sandra is some woman we know there in town.  Anyway, with my sister’s comment, my jaw just about dropped and I went, “Wwww WHAT?  You mean my Dad was right?  Now I’m going to have to go admit to him that he was right and my Mom and I were wrong?”  I paused very briefly as I thought back to the incident, then reasserted my stance on the matter, “Wait a minute.  No!  No way!  That can’t be.  I know what I saw and there was no 57 Chevy there.”

Just then, my brother-in-law happened to be walking out of the garage.  My sister asked him, “Hey, Joe, doesn't Sandra have a Red & Black 57 Chevy?”  Before my brother-in-law could answer, I interjected to bring him up to speed with the details of the incident regarding the Oldies Classic car mystery.  To my delight, my brother-in-law replied, “Well, Sandra does have a 57 Chevy, but it is Red & White, not Red & Black.”

With my eyes opening up wide and no doubt a huge smile on my face, I went, “All right!  Now we’re getting somewhere.”  Excited and sensing victory, yet still somewhat cautious, I asked my brother-in-law, “Okay … now tell me this.  Confirm this for me.  WAS there or was there NOT a Red & Black Chevelle in the parade?”  My brother-in-law replied, “Yyyy yes.”  I immediately celebrated, “Woo Hoo!  YES!  I was right!  I win!”

I then proceeded to go tell my Dad about my brother-in-law’s confirmation that there was indeed a Red & Black Chevelle in the parade and not a Red & Black 57 Chevy.  I thought my Dad would finally admit defeat, but I was mistaken.  My Dad still did not budge.  He stood his ground.  He still claimed he saw a Red & Black 57 Chevy pass by us the previous day.

I don’t know.  I am perplexed and at a complete loss as to an explanation for how 3 people --- my Mom, my Dad & I could look at the exact same car pass by us … and yet while my Mom & I saw a Red & Black Chevelle with little USA flags on it, my Dad somehow saw a Red & Black 57 Chevy with no little USA flags on it.  How is this possible?  As y’all saw in the image above and no doubt agreed, these two cars look nothing alike.  And what about the USA flags vs. no USA flags?  Sheesh!  This is equivalent to a Hot Babe walking sexily by and out of 3 people … 2 saw Christina Aguilera in tight, short Red Shorts with a tight USA T-Shirt … while the 3rd person saw Kelly Monaco in tight Blue Jeans with a tight, short White Top.  I mean, both possibilities of who the Hot Babe really is are excitingly pleasant.  However, we all know it can’t possibly be both at the same time.

Who knows?  Maybe this was just some weirdness residual leftover from Halloween.  Just a Phantom 57 Chevy because there for sure doesn't seem to be any logical explanation.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Clueless at the AutoZone

For quite a while lately, I've been helping my Dad with trying to fix his truck.  It has a very intermittent, tough problem that no one has been able to fix.  With the solution still eluding us, let’s just say I have become a frequent customer at the local AutoZone auto parts store.  I have been attended by various different Parts Specialists or whatever they are called.  Up to last week, I had not had a problem.  They had all appeared to be very knowledgeable.  Whatever part I asked for … BAMM!  They either got it for me or they ordered it if they didn't have it in stock.

Then came last week.  For the millionth time, or so it seems by now, I drove on up to the AutoZone store.  This time I was greeted by a new Parts Specialist, which I had never seen there before … a Girl.  Heyyy, no need to freak out.  No need to think that just because it was a Girl, she wouldn't be knowledgeable about auto parts.  After all, the local O’Reilly’s auto parts store actually now seems to have more Girls Parts Specialists than Guys Parts Specialists.  Not that they’d admit it, but no doubt their strategy is that the Girls Parts Specialists will attract the guys to O’Reilly’s instead of to the competition.

I proceeded to make my part request.  I went, “I need a quarter inch fuel line 16 inches long.”  Just the previous week I had bought 2 similar pieces of fuel line there without any problems.  The previous Parts Specialists had gotten me those 2 fuel lines with extreme expediency and precision.  So what could possibly go wrong this time with such a simple and similar request?  I mean, after all … all I was asking for was a little piece of rubber hose fuel line with a ¼-inch inside diameter and a length of 16 inches.  Simple … elementary, right?  Well … you would THINK.

Immediately getting a very confused look on her face, Parts Girl asked in Spanish, “¿Uhhh, para gasolina?”  (For gasoline?)  I replied in Spanish, “Si, para gasolina.”  (Yes, for gasoline.)  She then continued in Spanish, “¿Qué tamaño?”  (What size?)  I immediately got the impression that she really didn't know English, so I switched to speaking in all Spanish.  For the purpose of not having to be translating everything, I’ll just write everything in English from here on even though our conversation was now taking place in all Spanish.  Anyway, so I answered her question by reiterating what I had already told her previously, “It is ¼-inch.”  Still looking very confused, Parts Girl goes, “Is that like ¾-inch?”  WTF?  I was tempted to go, “NO, you blundering idiot!  Why the fugg would ¼-inch be like ¾-inch?”  Sheesh!

Working hard to keep my cool now that I knew I was dealing with a knowledge-challenged Parts Specialist, I reiterated, “No, ¼-inch is a ¼-inch.”  I even demonstrated with 2 fingers what the approximate diameter was.  She then asked, “What length?”  Again, I answered what I had already told her way in the beginning, “It is 16 inches long.”  Now thoroughly confused and looking like a scared deer caught in the headlights, Parts Girl goes, “Come over here to the back so that we can confirm that it is the correct hose and size.”  Again --- WTF?  I gave her all the information she could possibly need to get me the hose that I needed.  Even a crawling baby could have probably gotten me the hose that I needed.  But, there we went over to the back.

We got to the shelf with the hoses.  At first she was having a hard time finding the ¼-inch hose.  Finally she found a piece and went, “Oh, here it is … ¼-inch.”  She added, “Okay, we don’t sell it by inches, only by the foot.  So, about how many feet would you need for 16 inches?”  WHAT?  Oh my goodness!  Is this girl for real?  Could she really be that clueless?  Did she really not know how many feet would cover 16 inches?  So, I went, “Give me 2 feet.”  I visually estimated the piece in her hands to be around 3-feet long.  However, clueless Parts Girl having no idea just went, “Would this be enough?”  Now shocked at how unknowledgeable and unprepared she was, I went, “Pfffttt, well, you can give it to me if you want … as long as you don’t charge me for more than 2 feet.”  Parts Girl repeated, “So this would be enough?” 

I hadn't even noticed there was a Ruler taped at the edge of the shelf.  All confused, Parts Girl placed the piece of hose up to the Ruler, but really did nothing other than to look back at me as if for me to figure out how much I needed.  At this point it finally dawned on me, “Wow!  I don’t think this girl knows how many inches in a foot, much less in 2 feet.”  So I told her, “Just give me 24 inches.”  I would have thought that would have solved the numbers labyrinth of a nightmare for her.  But, Nooooooo!  She STILL seemed confused as to just exactly what to do with that information of “24 inches.”  So, while she was still holding the piece of hose up to the Ruler, I pointed with my finger and went, “Just get a knife and CUT right THERE!

Now, I ask y’all … wouldn't y’all think THAT would have made it perfectly clear how much hose to give me?  I mean, I told her exactly where to cut the hose and what to use to cut the hose.  Well, hold on to this thought because Clueless Parts Girl had not finished setting a new World Record for Cluelessness.  Oh no.  She wanted to make sure her World Record would never be broken.

Thinking I had already definitively showed her exactly how much fuel line hose to give me, I went back to the front counter of the store.  A little bit later, Parts Girl also showed back up at the front.  She gave me my fuel line hose and I paid the $2.98 with 3 dollar bills.  So, there was no way she could screw up giving me change since all she had to do was give me back 2 cents.  But, WAIT!  Just because I already had my fuel line hose, had paid for it and gotten my 2 cents change back, does not mean this story is over.  Oh no.  Parts Girl STILL had a surprise for me.

I took the fuel line hose to my Dad and told him about my adventure with Clueless Parts Girl.  We took the hose out of the bag and it immediately dawned on both of us, “Whoa!  That sure looks like more than 2 feet long.”  We measured the hose and sure enough … it was longer than the 24 inches I that I had showed Parts Girl exactly where to cut by pointing with my finger.  The hose was actually 33 inches long.  In the end, apparently Parts Girl had not been able to process, decipher and deal with what “Just get a knife and CUT right THERE” meant.  I don’t know.  Maybe it was my fault for not going 2 steps further and showing her what a knife was and how to use it.

I tossed this incident around in my mind over and over and came to a conclusion.  In Parts Girl’s defense, maybe she really isn't remotely this clueless.  Maybe upon encountering my great looks as I entered into the store and into her life, she got sooooo nervous that she instantly forgot everything about everything she ever knew.  That seems the most plausible, right?  Well, either that or maybe some Reality Show had me on hidden camera testing my patience.

Friday, July 25, 2014

L2D2: An Opera Odyssey

We have all at one time or another heard various people on social networks say that online friends are not real.  Those people appear to imply that online friends are like characters in an online game that you play on a daily basis or however many times a week the case may be.  I guess for those people the social networks experience might be just that ... an online game, a trivial diversion whereby they don’t actually develop real friendships and real interests in those peoples’ lives be it their good times or their struggles.

In my experience and from my observations during my 5 or so years on the AOL Message Boards and almost 6 years on the now defunct MyOpera Blogging Community, I can attest to that online friends CAN most definitely be real.  The online experience is what you make of it.  You get out of it what you put in.  I’ve read of many couples who met online and wound up getting married.  Other people have gotten to meet up in person and become real life friends.  That is not to say that everyone will get to meet up in person with some of their online friends and / or find their soul mate online.  But, a great time can be had with online friends who are definitely more than allegedly just characters in an online game.

That said, today on this July 25, 2014, which happens to be her birthday, I wanted to pay homage to a dear departed online friend, Linda whom I referred to as Peppermint during our years at MyOpera.  I had started my Blog on MyOpera on July 31, 2008.  As I believe I recall, I stumbled upon Peppermint’s Blog around March of 2009.  It caught my attention that she was a fellow Texan.  As big as Texas is, I would have thought I would have come across more people from Texas on MyOpera, but I never did.

So I commented on her Blog and she soon after that followed suit.  It wouldn’t be until later on when we more officially became friends that she confessed something.  She admitted that when she first checked out my Blog and saw my Suntana logo profile image, she was hesitant to comment as she wondered just what kind of presumptuous guy I must be to have such a pretentious profile image with 'Suntana' in huge letters.  She had some trepidation as to what she might get herself into if she dared chat with me.

With Peppermint and I having become friends and me dabbling in my hobby of creating Blog Designs, I created a Blog Design for her.  Here is the 1st Header that I created for her.

As you can see by the ‘Garden Party’ title for her Blog that she chose at that time and the rest of the text on there, she loved to have fun and had a personality much bigger than her short physical stature.  It’s funny that in the beginning, I was sort of her Blogging mentor.  There I was giving her tips and advice on the do’s & don’ts of Blogging.  Well, very soon thereafter, with that Texas-sized personality of hers, Peppermint made a lot of friends and her Blog became a mecca of chatting & fun to the point of even having more activity than my Blog.  And that was saying something considering that my Blog was no slouch in the chatting & fun activity area.  You could sorta say that the student had become the teacher.

Early on in our friendship, I had been having major problems with my computer monitor.  I would complain periodically about my having to wrestle multiple times daily with my monitor.  Out of the blue, Peppermint mentioned that she had several computers, monitors and assorted extra computer equipment in general.  She said that if I wished, she’d give me one of her computers and one of her monitors as they were just occupying space there at her place.  I told her that I would think about it.  Later on when my monitor got even worse, I asked Peppermint if her offer was still on the table.  She said that sure.  And just like that ... BAMM!  She mailed me a computer, a monitor, some computer speakers, a keyboard, a mouse, a tracker ball mouse, a microphone, an Ethernet cable and a fonts CD!  Wow!  Talk about a care package ... and from an online friend at that!  Now if that’s not evidence that online friends can be real, I don’t know what is.  I knew at that instant that I would never forget that gesture of friendship.

So Peppermint got interested in Blog Designing.  She asked me to teach her about CSS Code and Blog Design.  After what she did for me, there was no way I could refuse her.  So, I taught her and she learned.  Eventually she started creating her own Blog Designs.  She really enjoyed that a lot.  She was very inquisitive, very curious and very eager to learn more and more.  Her inquiries were now often not only pushing the envelope of my knowledge of CSS Code … they were obliterating the freakin’ envelope.  Interestingly enough, what initially seemed on some level like relentless pestering turned out to actually be a positive.  Her constantly asking me how to do this and how to do that regarding things I didn’t know how to do pushed me to experiment, investigate, ask around and in general learn more about CSS Code.  Thus, it can be said that ultimately, Peppermint pushed me to become a better Blog Designer.

Peppermint really enjoyed hanging out on MyOpera.  She would quickly go on to make her mark on MyOpera as evidenced by her having gotten selected Member of the Week in around only 6 months or so after having joined MyOpera.  That was FAST!  Yeah, you could say Peppermint the Little Texas Tornado took MyOpera by storm.

As you can see there in the image, she was a Sci-Fi fan.  I remember way in the beginning not being able to connect the dots as to just exactly what the heck ‘L2D2’ might be referring.  I mean, I figured the ‘L’ must stand for ‘Linda.’  But, why two ‘L’s’ and what the heck did the ‘D’ stand for and why two of them?  Well, it would turn out to be just her Sci-Fi creativity Linda take on ‘R2D2.’  Elementary.  Doh!

Unfortunately, despite all the fun and great times she was having on the MyOpera that she loved, it was for the most part no secret that she was not in the best of health.  In fact, even since when we first became friends, she informed me that she had COPD and that she didn’t see herself being around in 5 years.  I had hoped that she was seriously erring on the low side of how many years she had left to live.  However, having later on being diagnosed with cancer, that only exacerbated her health problems.  Her prediction would unfortunately turn out to be almost spot on.

I would have much preferred to have made this post on the MyOpera community so that all the friends she made there would be able to see it.  However, when MyOpera shut down on March 3, 2014, that plan went out the window.  So, in remembrance of Linda / L2D2 / Peppermint … for those friends of hers who might somehow happen upon this post here on Blogger, here is a reminder of how her MyOpera Blog page looked the last she left it before MyOpera disappeared.  I believe as I recall, her Blog’s title at the end was --- L2D2’s Opera Odyssey.  Hence the title of my post.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Suntana vs. T-Rex

One routine, peaceful, uneventful Saturday morning back in September 2013, I was originally going to wear shorts. Now now .. alright you women, stop drooling and settle down. I know the image of Suntana in shorts gives y'all a huge smile and gets y'all all excited and stuff, but try to control yourselves so that I can continue my post.

As I was saying, I was originally going to wear shorts, but since I was going to go help set up at a yard sale that my parents were having at one of their friends' house, I decided to wear pants so that the mosquitoes wouldn't have a feast biting my legs. Little did I know at that instant just how lucky I was to have made that decision.

After having set up at the yard sale and having stayed there for a little while, I finally came back over here to Suntana's Blog Trek Headquarters. Left on my agenda for the day was that after lunch, my youngest sister was gonna drop by so that we could work on a school Science project with her daughter. And I'd also eventually probably do some work on starting my new Blog post although it was scheduled to be about a different topic at the time.

A little bit later, as per a heads up from one of my sisters, I decided to go to the Post Office to check if some party invitation had already arrived. On my way back from the Post Office I decided to do one of my nieces a favor and check on the status of her laundry dryer machine that was getting repaired at a place nearby. I got down at that dude's house where he has his appliance repair business. I went inside the yard as I've done on other occasions. I saw the guy's son over by a truck. I asked where his dad was. He pointed to his left. I started walking over there.

Without warning ... a huge, Black, evil-looking dog ... or SOMETHING, some creature that might have been a Tyrannosaurus Rex popped out from over to my right, heading straight for me. It was angrily barking and definitely did not have a "Welcome to our humble business" tone in its bark. I stepped back just in time as the T-Rex Monster missed me by about 2 feet as he was on a long leash tied to a post way over about 30 feet away. It was obviously the Guard MONSTER ... the Guard Dog since they have appliances out there in the yard and in the porch. I figured they had a guard dog at night. But, I had never seen one during the day the various times I've been there. I don't even recall ever having seen a "Beware of Dog" sign before.

Having been just barely missed by T-Rex, I then moved over to my left to where the father and son were … and in hindsight, lost track of where T-Rex went and what wicked plan it was cooking up. I thought I was now safe and in the clear. I started inquiring about my niece's laundry dryer machine when catching me totally off guard ... the T-Rex Monster popped out from under the truck, barked loudly ... and took a BITE at my left calf!!!

I felt the pressure of the bite and instinctively jumped back. At the same time, the guys yelled at the dog. Now ... I don't know if the dog immediately released because the guys basically yelled at him to get back ... or if maybe he's trained to only give a light WARNING BITE to anyone it feels is trespassing. But, it was only an instantaneous, quick 1 or 2-second bite on my left calf before it released.

I immediately looked at my pants leg to see if it had been ripped, to see if it was likely that fang contact had been made with my calf. There was no tearing in the pants at all. So, that was immediately good news. I then started raising up my pants leg. The guy goes, "¿Le alcanzó a morder?" (Did it manage to bite you?) I replied, "Pues, si." (Well, yes.)

There was NO carving into my calf. There were only 2 very small scratches where the teeth over the pants did pull the skin a little bit. And 2 slight pink areas because of the pressure of the fangs presumably. But, NO blood, NO actual cuts. Now ... had I worn shorts instead of pants as I had originally planned ... Yikes! There would have assuredly been broken skin. It would have turned into a much more serious incident. The Sheriff would have had to be called. And I would have had to go to the hospital. As it was, the guy brought out a bottle of alcohol and I poured some on my calf.

When I got back home I washed my calf with hot water and soap and poured some more alcohol on it. Everything turned out fine. It didn't swell up or turn red or black or purple or anything. There was no pain. I didn't turn into Weredog during Full Moons a la Werewolf. I didn't inherit any super powers and become Dogman or T-Rexman a la Peter Parker being bitten by a radioactive spider and becoming Spiderman. I guess Kirsten Dunst won't be letting me give her a kiss while upside down in the rain.

TigerDirect: Be Paranoid ... Be Very Paranoid!

With me being a stickler for details, it shouldn't surprise y'all that here and there I get accused of being paranoid. I can still hear my youngest sister's words periodically reverberating in my head, "Oh STOP it! Quit being paranoid!" Well, today I am going to regale y'all with an account of an incident, which will prove that sometimes it pays to be paranoid.

In Winter late 2012, Dino, my extremely old, slow, underpowered, RAM-challenged, Hard Drive space-challenged … but, trusty and very faithful HP Pavilion 3rd hand computer finally gave out. It had carried me through most of my almost 6 years on MyOpera, but the Hard Drive on it finally decided it was time to retire. So, I allowed Dino to retire at a fancy resort in a tropical paradise. Okay, so it was more like in a cabinet next to my other broken computer for several months until I finally gave it to my youngest sister to take to a recycling center.

I used my backup computer briefly before my oldest sister, who was in South America at the time, told me that if I wished, I could use her computer until she returned to the USA in 8 or so months later. So, I took her up on the offer. I went to the storage where she had all her stuff stored and made acquisition of her computer. I was all excited, "Ooooooo! NOW I'll have a computer with some SPEED & POWER!" Lo & behold, from the very 1st power up of that computer that had me drooling at the thought of using it, it exhibited a problem of its own. It turned out to have an intermittent boot up problem. My sister swore that that computer worked fine the last time they used it before packing it up and putting it in storage. However, reality indicated that it obviously had an intermittent boot up problem.

After messing around with the computer for a couple days, I at least confirmed that it had a tolerable routine. Oh sure, I had to wrestle with it everyday to get it to boot up. It would take between 2 to 16 or more attempts, but it'd eventually boot up. And once it booted up, it'd work fine.

I used the computer in this quirky status for a couple of months. Eventually it started getting more flaky … rebooting on its own and giving error messages, Etc. At one point it even got to the point of not booting up period, no matter how many attempts and no matter what else I did. With a Windows Reinstall, I at least got it back to its old intermittent self. My sister told me that I could take it to get repaired and she'd reimburse me. I procrastinated for a couple more weeks.

At some later time, it again got to the point of not booting up period. I figured I had had enough. I took it to get repaired at the store since that's where my sister and brother-in-law had bought it. Besides, I also had a master plan. At that point I had 2 TigerDirect Gift Cards from when at one time I was thinking of ordering a refurbished computer from their website. My master plan was that I'd pay for the computer repair with the TigerDirect Gift Cards and with my sister reimbursing me with cash, I'd now have more flexibility as to where I could buy a used computer, maybe even from CraigsList.

I then got ambushed when I dropped off the computer for repair. As far as I had thought, I wouldn't have to pay for the repair until AFTER the computer was repaired. That's why I even left my 2 TigerDirect Gift Cards at home that day. However, there the Tech was entering my computer's pertinent info into their service department computer. He suddenly catches me completely off guard with, "Okay, that'll be $81.28." I was, "Whoa! WHAT? You mean like NOW?" The Tech nonchalantly goes, "Yes sir, for labor." Shit! I managed to be able to cover that $81.28 with cash that I had on me, but that money had been for something else. And besides, this ambush stunt now threw my master plan out the window as to what I was going to do with my TigerDirect Gift Cards.

The repair was supposed to take 3 to 4 days. They were supposed to call me with the diagnosis to see if I would give them the green light to go ahead with the repair. Not having been called in 6 days, I went to the store to check on the computer. I was informed that it was a bad Hard Drive. I went, "Let's do it." Not surprisingly, I had to purchase the Hard Drive right then and there. That was $62.77. This time I was prepared with my TigerDirect Gift Cards.

The next day, I went and checked on the computer again. The Tech told me, "Oh, the new Hard Drive fixed the intermittent Boot Up problem, but I ran some tests and got some RAM errors. So, I am pretty sure this RAM Stick right here is bad too." At that instant, I got a bad feeling. My paranoia mechanism was immediately automatically activated. I had a strong feeling that I was probably being taken. My immediate thought was that probably the Hard Drive had not fixed the problem and now the Tech was trying to tack on the cost of the RAM Stick … presumably the REAL fix.

Very reluctantly and with major doubts, I gave the green light to replace the RAM Stick.

The next day I went and picked up the computer. I found it odd that I was given the supposed bad RAM Stick, but not the supposed bad Hard Drive. My paranoia shifted into overdrive. I thought, "WHY is that? Why give me the bad RAM Stick and not the bad Hard Drive? If they're gonna be giving back bad parts, then give back ALL the bad parts. DID they really replace the Hard Drive? Or did they just charge me for a new Hard Drive and not install it … and now they are returning it to stock?"

I SHOULD have asked for the supposed bad Hard Drive right then and there, but didn't. I got back home and started setting up the computer. As I kept installing Apps, it kept gnawing at me. I kept having major doubts as to whether they even replaced the Hard Drive as they claimed they did. I thought, "But, how am I now going to prove it? How am I going to know for sure whether they did or didn't replace the Hard Drive?" Then it finally dawned on me, "Ooooooo! I know how! The old Hard Drive was a 233 gig Hard Drive. The new Hard Drive was supposed to be a 320 gig Hard Drive. So, I'll just check and see what size of Hard Drive is in there right now and that'll immediately indicate with 100% certainty whether the Hard Drive was replaced or not."

I ran a check of my system with this App – Speccy and lo & behold … BAMM! There was the smoking gun proof that my paranoia was justified. Right there in front of me on the screen was the irrefutable evidence that the same old 233 gig Hard Drive was STILL in my computer! OMG! It was now fact. The Hard Drive had NOT been replaced, and yet I had been charged $62.77 for it. I was fuming! This was really low. Not only was I charged for something that wasn't even replaced, but I was obviously taken for some computer illiterate who wouldn't be able to tell that the Hard Drive didn't really get replaced.

The next day I went to the store to talk to the Store Manager. It perplexed me that very surprisingly, the incident that had just happened didn't really faze the Store Manager. When I dropped the bombshell on the Store Manager, he just nonchalantly went, "Oh, so I guess we should reimburse you the cost of the Hard Drive." It didn't seem to register with him just how dishonest, shady and unethical it must have looked from my side what his service department had just done.

At that point, I thought, "This is one of those situations whereby the Store Manager would now have to offer me something so as not to lose me as a customer, something with which the store, the company can save face and somewhat attempt to show that it wasn't a scam as it appeared. With his service department just having been caught red-handed attempting to scam me, he REALLY should be doing something to get me to simmer down and keep quiet. If he doesn't offer me something to keep quiet … I'm gonna give them a scathing review in the 'Tell TigerDirect about your experience today' survey on their website. Little do they know just how detailed and Suntana Texas-style verbose I can get when writing." 

The TigerDirect Store Manger offered me absolute SQUAT to keep quiet. He just chalked it up to "Someone dropped the ball." So, that gave me the green light to let’r rip with the scathing review on the survey at their website. I found it very interesting that even though I gave TigerDirect my E-mail Address and permission to contact me, no one seemed interested in contacting me to explain that shady behavior. It made me wonder if it wasn't because perhaps TigerDirect encourages upselling of parts that aren't really necessary by the Techs to maximize profit.

So yeah ... Sometimes you just gotta be paranoid …
Especially when it comes to TigerDirect lest you get scammed.

A Hero ... To Be or Not to Be

That is the question with which I was faced New Year's Eve 2012. The day had started out pretty normally, routinely, uneventfully and innocently enough. I was at a family get together over at the house of my oldest niece. At around noon I proceeded to pig out. I ate some Grilled Chicken, Grilled Meat, 2 Chili Dogs, Scalloped Potatoes, Pasta Salad, Tostada Corn Chips with Chile con Queso, Cake and washed it down with some Coke.

After finishing my midday Texas-sized feast, I moved on over to the living room to watch some TV. For it being Cable TV with a gazillion channels, there really didn't seem to be much of anything good to watch at that hour. I did watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for a couple of minutes and would have probably stayed with that. But, I was a little bit self-conscious. It was kind of hard to properly drool over Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia with my parents there watching TV as well. Besides, I didn't want to bore them out of their skulls. So, I continued periodically switching TV channels. My brother-in-law eventually wanted to watch some College Football Bowl game.

Those of us not interested in the College Football game proceeded to engage in general chat. Eventually we were put out of our misery as the Football game eventually finished. While I love NFL Pro Football, I've never cared for College Football.

At that time, my niece made her way into the living room seemingly without any agenda. I thought she was simply going to join the chat. Little did I know we were seconds away from our encounter with the situation that would alter the course of the rest of the afternoon. In mere seconds, I would have to make the critical decision --- A Hero … To Be or Not to Be? Most people would cower away at the thought of having to take the initiative to play a hero in this situation with such huge responsibility, high stakes and consequences in the balance. Clint Eastwood would have probably summarized it best by saying something like, "Sometimes you gotta ask yourself the question … Do I feel lucky? Well, DO YOU, Chuck?!!!"

The next thing I knew …THOOMP! My niece turned on the Game Guitar Hero on the big screen TV. Heyyyyy! C'mon! I did have to make a critical decision. I had never played Guitar Hero before. I had seen other people play it at other parties, but had never had the nerve to take the plunge and be a hero … uhhh, that is to say, to play Guitar Hero. Since there weren't as many people at this get together as at other parties where Guitar Hero had been played, this time I couldn't just easily sit back and watch. This time I couldn't weasel my way out of playing.

So, I was drafted into playing Guitar. A bit nervous at the thought of making a fool of myself, I thought, "How hard can this be? After all, I did play Guitar in my early musician years before becoming a Keyboard Wizard."

For those not familiar with the game Guitar Hero, it involves 4 Players at a time playing Guitar, Bass, Drums and a Singer. Each Player selects a degree of difficulty for his / her respective instrument. There is easy, medium and hard. The higher the difficulty you select, the more notes will be thrown at you. They're not actually real musical notes. Up on the TV screen, each Player will just be thrown colored blocks in time to the music, which indicate which buttons out of five on the Guitar or Bass you have to press. Likewise, it'll indicate to the Drummer which Drums to hit. And the Singer will have to follow along as accurately as possible, Karaoke style.

The 1st song we went with for my Guitar Hero debut was Bad to the Bone. It was GAME ON! Time to Bring It! I was feeling pretty good, thinking, "Woooooo! I am doing very well. I'm not making a fool out of myself like I thought I would." Suddenly about 2/3rds of the way through the song, my niece yells at me, "Heyyy! You're not strumming the Guitar!" While having to remain playing, I yell back, "What do MEAN? I asked in the beginning if I had to press that thing on the Guitar body and my sister said I could if I wanted to." My niece goes, "NO! You HAVE to strum it as well!" I go, "NOW you tell me!" My Bass-playing sister of course denied having led me astray.

Needless to say, after the song, when the scores came out, given that for 2/3rds of the song I hadn't been strumming the Guitar, I got a score of 20%. OHHHHH YEAHHHHH! I was Bad to the Bone all right. Not Bad as in Good & Cool, but Bad as in shamefully pathetic.

Now knowing that I HAD to strum the Guitar as well as push the appropriate buttons out of 5 on the Guitar neck, my scores of course improved on the rest of the songs. I got scores of between 60% to 80%. My best score was not surprisingly on the Doobie Brothers' China Grove since I'm very familiar with that song. I got a score of 90% on that one.

After that score of 90%, I got some newfound confidence and had just barely decided to try increasing the degree of difficulty to medium when the little kid playing the Drums decided he wanted to play Guitar. So, I decided, "SURE! What the heck? I'm curious as to how I'll do on Drums." I figured since I had now achieved Guitar Hero status, I might as well add Drum Hero to my list of legendary achievements. Okay okay, actually I was nervous because I HAD noticed all along that the stream of colored blocks notes for the Drums were significantly more abundant than for the Guitar & Bass on all songs.

I was hoping that SOMEHOW, my having some Drum-playing experience in band practice back in my musician days would help me at least avoid getting 0% for a score. I of course selected the easy degree of difficulty and gave the thumbs up signal to let'r rip! The song, which I don't even remember what it was, started and I was immediately overwhelmed and inundated with colored blocks notes. I was doing horribly! Often I was even missing the Drum pads and hitting the outer rims! Or I was hitting the Drum sticks onto each other! I kid y'all not. I was doing sooo terribly that I knew I was no doubt just barely above 0%.

I was laughing out of nervousness and embarrassment at my sorry excuse for a Drum Hero performance. Luckily I got a break. The Bass Player at that time, my niece's husband paused the game. As host of the party, he had to see off some guests. We then resumed the song where it left off. To my surprise and delight, after the song resumed, somehow I seemed to handle the situation wayyy better. I guess this time I relaxed, concentrated and somehow achieved a more natural focus than before. This time I didn't feel like I was getting overwhelmed and inundated with colored blocks notes. Miraculously, I somehow started hitting the actual Drum pads and on the beat.

With that incredible improvement on the 2nd half of that song, I managed to achieve a score of … of … 27%. Wooooooo! I shuddered to think of what score I would have gotten if there hadn't been that pause midway through the song giving me the opportunity to relax, focus and improve significantly on the 2nd half of the song.

Wayyy in the beginning of the game, I had asked my niece's husband if anyone had ever gotten 0% or a single digit score. He replied, "Nnnnggg, I'm not sure. I don't think so. But, I think you CAN get thrown out." Well, I'll never know whether I would have been thrown out of the band if it hadn't been for that pause in the middle of the song that suddenly mysteriously jump started my Drumming abilities.

I had fun playing that Guitar Hero game. While I did very well on Guitar, I demand a chance to redeem myself on Drums. I can't wait to get another chance at those Drums.

Punked by GPS

Probably most if not all of us have made use of GPS in one way or another. It might be via the use of actual GPS devices. Or it can be via the use of those Internet Map Services like MapQuest, Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, Bing Maps, Etc. My favorite of those Map Services used to be MSN Maps because it was hands down much faster and more efficient than all the others throughout the entire process. Unfortunately MSN Maps was eventually taken over by or simply became Bing Maps. It is no longer as fast as MSN Maps was. But, I guess it's still slightly better than the others.

Flash back to a certain evening back in 2011. I was going to a Housewarming Party. One of my nieces was going to be showing off the new house she and her husband bought. There was gonna be feasting and drinking. And of course, you can't have a nice, family-oriented, kid-friendly Housewarming Party without having some good ole-fashioned brutal UFC Fighting on the 70-inch Big Screen TV. Hah Hah Hah!  I'm not into that, but I just had to toss in that detail as it just seemed so out of place considering the supposed family-friendly nature of the party.

Nevertheless, since about 2 weeks before the party, I had already checked out Bing Maps and acquired the directions to my niece's house. I was all set. Being familiar with how accurate and awesome GPS is, I had no doubt it would lead me step by step to within inches of FOOD & Sodas at my niece's house without a problem.

My parents and my youngest sister were going with me in my Isuzu Rodeo. Upon picking up my sister, even though she knew full well I was equipped with GPS directions from Bing Maps, she nevertheless decided to play Navigator and attempted to undermine my directions. Here is the paraphrased conversation:

Sister: You know … I don't think we have to go all the way to Pelican Dr.
Me: Hey, I have the Internet directions.
Sister: Yeah, I know. But, if Vanessa lives in the houses behind the Sports Athletic Complex, I think I know where she lives and we don't have to go all the way to Pelican Dr.
Me: You THINK? I don't want any THINKS. We don't have time for THINKS.
Sister: What I mean is that she probably lives …
Me: PROBABLY? I don't want any PROBABLYS. I have the Internet directions.
Sister: Yeah, but I have an idea.
Me: An IDEA? I don't like THINKS, PROBABLYS and IDEAS. I have things under control. I have the Internet directions. They're can't miss. I'll get us there.

Reluctantly, my sister gave me back control of navigation and of my vehicle. Micro mutiny was averted. I was getting ready to administer a clinic to my sister on how to utilize high tech GPS directions and get us to our exact destination without any thinks, probablys, ideas … AND especially without getting lost. I exited the freeway onto Pelican Dr. Then just as Bing Maps had said, there was Sunrise St. right on cue. So, I turned left. Again, just as Bing Maps had said, right on cue, there was Paseo del Oro St. Acting all in control like a freakin' Captain of an airliner, I was, "And here we are! The house should be right there immediately on the right as soon as we turn left." After all, how could it NOT. Bing Maps said it would be there, right? Bing Maps wouldn't lie, would it?

However, for whatever reason, Murphy's Law decided to make a cameo appearance. Sure there were houses there immediately on the right when we turned left. But, neither of them had cars or any sign that a party was going to be taking place in half an hour. Now Mr. I've Got Things Under Control was flirting with not knowing WTF was going on. I was, "Hmmm??? It SHOULD be right there. That's what the Internet said. That house over on the left sure has a lot of cars and a ton of smoke like there's some definite grilling going on, but that's on the wrong side." Here is the paraphrased conversation that ensued with my sister:

Sister: Well, just keep going. The house numbers are too low here. It has to be 12597.
Me: But, the Internet said it'd be right here.
Sister: But, the numbers are obviously too low here. So, just keep going.
Me: No. It's NOT over there. I'm already getting to the curve. That is Riviera St. The Internet said, "If you reach Riviera St., you've gone too far."
Sister: But, who knows? It just might be.
Me: No. THERE! We're now on Riviera St. We've officially gone too far.

I circled around and got back on the entry into Paseo del Oro St. Again, there were just no indications that we were at the correct location despite what Bing Maps had said. 

Sister: Well, let's go try looking on this street, but on the other side of Surnrise St.
Me: No. It's NOT over there. Bing Maps clearly said turn LEFT on Paseo del Oro St., NOT RIGHT.
Sister: But, who knows? Maybe it could be over there. We're obviously not finding it here.
Me: FINE! I'll humor you. But, it's not going to be over there. Why would it?

So, I proceeded to humor my sister and drove us over to the other side of Sunrise St.  Suddenly my sister, practically salivating, goes, "Ahhh HAH! THERE! There's their truck! And their car! That's the house! SEE?!!! I TOLD you!" Wooooooo! Talk about having egg on my face. I had no immediate explanation other than, "Well, the Internet said to turn left. It must be an error in the GPS somehow." We went into my niece's house. While half watching a movie, I was staring at the party invitation and still obsessed with just how the fugg could I have wound up in that quicksand quagmire of a navigation error. My sister goes, "You probably entered a 1 instead of a 7 there on the last digit." Still adamant, I asserted, "No I didn't. I couldn't have."

Later, my nephew showed up. I asked him, "Hey, did you get here alright without any problems or did you wind up on the other side of Sunrise St.?" My nephew confirmed that there was no doubt some GPS error because he too was led to the left by his GPS device instead of to the right. I was immediately all relieved, "YES! I was NOT wrong! It was NOT MY fault!" Later I also asked my other niece's husband if they got to the house without any problems or if they too were led astray by GPS. He confirmed that they too wound up being led the wrong direction by either Google Maps or MapQuest.

As it turned out, the problem was that my niece's house is on an extremely new area of houses and that side of the street on which my niece's house is located, was still not in the latest database that those Map Services use. It was still not in the GPS system. So, the GPS system did the best it could with the incomplete info that it had. It couldn't tell us to turn to the right because there was no street to the right yet as per the database. So, it improvised and told us to turn left.

Punked by GPS.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Sweepstakes Swindle Supreme

Supreme … a word that usually goes hand in hand with something favorable, something desirable. Some examples are: Pizza Hut Super Supreme, Banana Split Supreme, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Kelly Monaco Babe Supreme, Suntana Chiseled Abs Supreme, Etc. Then there can be the other extreme whereby something is Supreme in the sense of it being the ultimate in something NOT favorable, NOT desirable as in the Screwup Supreme. This post involves a misadventure back in early 2011 that is definitely more in line with the latter. 

At that time, my Dad showed me this Sweepstakes Promo Flyer thing for a car sale that was going to be taking place at some local used car dealer. Ahhh! I know what y'all are probably thinking. Yeah, the fact that the term "Used Car" is involved should have been a red flag already, right? Yeah, well, I did immediately treat it as such. But, let me not get ahead of myself. My Dad showed me that he had scratched off the 2 squares as instructed to do so in the flyer to see what he had won. My Dad goes, "The 2 scratched off squares match up to the 3rd, so it says I won. What did I win?" I looked at the 3 matching squares on the flyer and they indicated $25,000. For about 5 seconds I was, “Could this be real? DID my Dad just win $25,000?" But, I quickly regained my composure and came back to reality.

Even though I was staring at 3 squares that matched up $25,000, I calmly told my Dad, "Well, I don't know what you won. I have to scrutinize this flyer and see what's REALLY going on. These things ALWAYS have a catch. They're never what they seem." So, I literally got this 3-inch diameter magnifying glass and started scrutinizing all the info on the flyer, especially the fine print. Even though it was a promotion for a used car sale, it was for the used car department of a big regular car dealer. So, I cautiously thought, "Well, I guess it COULD be legit and not a fly by night used car dealer running a scam."

I finally deciphered the puzzle … the REAL meaning of my Dad supposedly actually having won. I explained to my Dad, "Okay, just as I thought, you haven't actually won $25,000. You theoretically CAN win it. You are in line to find out if you did. You have to go to that used car dealer and look up on a board they have there and see what prize your winning number matches on that board. But, for sure you did win 1 of 4 possible prizes." The 4 possible prizes were:

An iPad
$2,500 in Gold Dollars
A His or Her Car … or $25,000

Having gone over the info in the flyer several times, I told my Dad, "As per the best that I can decipher this info, the worst you can do is win the $100. It is clear that by matching the 3 squares, you have definitely won one of the prizes and from what I have extracted from the info, the $100 is the worst you can do." I then added, "Now, I keep having this uneasy feeling that there is a catch, something that I’m missing, but I'm just not seeing it. I hope I'm wrong. I mean, $100 is low enough to where it could be legit that they're giving that away as the bottom of the totem pole prize."

It was gonna be a long drive out to that used car dealer. But, I conditioned my parents to think in terms of … okay, the odds that my Dad actually won a car / truck or the $25,000 as per his winning number matching that on the board were virtually zilch and none. And the odds of winning the iPad or the $2,500 in Gold Dollars were not much better. So, I reiterated the bottom line to my parents, "Let's be realistic. Just think of it as we're gonna go up there, get the $100, make up the gas money from there and have plenty left over." So, the plan was set. 

The next day I drove my parents up to that used car dealer. It was 32 miles one way. But, no biggie. After all, we were gonna recoup the gas money from the virtually in our hands $100. We got there and y'all know the routine at car dealers. Within seconds of us getting out of my Isuzu Rodeo, there was already a seedy, shady, scruples-challenged, Snake Scumball … Oops! I mean, a salesman zeroed in on our coordinates with his Victim / Sucker Detector Tractor Beam.

So, we finally met up with the Sewer Sludge Slimeball A-Hole … Oops! Man! Why do those words keep coming up? I meant, we finally met up with the salesman. He goes, "Hi! My name's Jason." I go, "I'm Carlos." The Cockroach … I mean, Jason goes, "What can I do for y'all?" Not wishing to beat around the bush, I replied, "Frankly, we're here to match this thing up to the board and see what we won." Toe Jam Jason eagerly goes, "Well, come right on in. Let's get y'all all registered. Well, let's go ahead and see what you won." We strolled on over to the board. I was trying to contain my smile as I couldn't wait to get that crisp $100 bill.

Shyster Jason methodically went, "Here is your winning number and here on the board, it matches … 3 Gold Dollars. You win 3 Gold Dollars." Whoa! WHAT? 3 Gold Dollars? WTF? Talk about my jaw dropping on the floor! I did not see that one coming in a million years. I mean, sure, I kept having that uneasy feeling that there HAD to be a catch, but for sure, I saw absolutely nothing on that flyer about "3 Gold Dollars" as one of the prizes. I don't believe the number "3" was even mentioned in the entire friggin' flyer period. Riffraff Jason goes, "Let me go get your 3 Gold Dollars." I stopped him, "Whoa! Wait a minute. There must be some mistake here. I saw nothing about any 3 Gold Dollars in the flyer." All smug, nonchalant and very much evident that he had no doubt been explaining this very same justification for their bait & switch scam to everyone who had walked in and been shocked by their 3 Gold Dollars prize … Scamming Skunk Jason explained, "It says right here --- Up to $2,500 in Gold Dollars." So THAT was the catch that had been bugging me, but had eluded me in my scrutinizing of the flyer. The keywords were 'Up to.' That range covered the 3 Gold Dollars as well as covered their asses. 

It was definitely old-fashioned bait & switch for sure and hung by a thread from falling into outright fraud category, but unfortunately jussst barely legal. I was virtually in shock at how in around 180 seconds from when we walked in, we had been had. Ass Wipe Jason goes, "Here are your 3 Gold Dollars." I swear, for about 6 seconds, I had some serious thoughts of going unhinged. Yep, I envisioned myself flinging the 3 Gold Dollars across the floor of the big room there and yelling, "3 Fugging Gold Dollars?! Are you serious? That is bullshit! Take your fugging 3 Gold Dollars and stick'em up where the sun don't shine or buy yourself a McDonald's Happy Meal." 

Unfortunately, with my parents there, I reluctantly had to let those thoughts dissipate and behave. Still numb from the sucker punch surprise, I actually stupidly thanked that Sleazebucket Jason for the 3 Gold Dollars. And to add insult to injury, as my parents and I were walking out, that Swindling Scumball Jason had the audacity to make one last ditch effort, "Are you sure you don't want to trade in that Rodeo? I can make you a good deal." I told him we were fine. I don't know why I have to be the Good Guy and take the high road. That whole situation deserved that I have taken a page from my older brother's book and thrown decorum out the window … parents or no parents, and call that guy out in front of the few customers there and loudly tell them what a no ands, ifs or buts bait & switch SCAM they were running there.

I wish I had it to do all over again. Maybe I could have told my parents to wait for me outside. I could have gone, "Uhhh, Mom, Dad, can y'all wait for me outside? I have to … I have to … I have to go mini unhinged." Anyway, so it was a 64 mile round trip. We spent ohhh, I don't know … I guess maybe $8.00 on gas to go collect the 3 Gold Dollars Grand Prize Supreme. And that concludes this Algebra lesson on Negative Numbers.

The Phantom Finger

Doesn't that title just give you the absolute chills? Even your goose bumps get goose bumps, right? It sounds like the title to a post more suited for Halloween rather than for this time of the year. This seemingly Horror Summer Blockbuster post almost seems out of place. Maybe I should reveal only 1 paragraph of it per week. Otherwise, if I unleash it all at once, I can't be sure that I wouldn't be exposing y'all to an over the legal limit of fear, shock, terror, horror and permanent mental scarring. Nnnnggg, Nah! I'll go ahead with my little adventure. Maybe things aren't always what they seem.

This flashback will take us back to when I was in the 3rd grade. My family lived in this pecan farming community outside this small New Mexico town. We had just moved there early that Summer. We had come over from a small town in Texas. There was a main street that divided the community into two sections. My older brother, who was in the 6th grade, and I had made one main friend there. His name was Lalo. Lalo was OK, despite his propensity for lying and exaggerating. The reason I specify "one main friend" is cuz we sorta had 2 other friends … sorta … I guess. Friend #2 was also from our side of the main street. His name was Sergio. Now the reason Sergio was only a sorta friend was because his allegiance as a friend was questionable. He was moody and periodically fraternized with the guys from the OTHER side of the main street! OMG! Heck, he too was infamous for his lying, probably running neck and neck with Lalo. WHAT, y'all are probably wondering, was so wrong with fraternizing with the guys from the other side of the main street? You know … at this time, I no longer quite remember anymore. As best as I can very vaguely recall, between Lalo and Sergio, they had painted those guys across the main street out to be these menacing, nefarious bunch of Hoods.

If it was any consolation, at least Lalo was ONLY a lying exaggerator. Sergio was a liar with suspected backstabbing skills. Sergio was like a double agent. We didn't trust him not to go blab to his other friends, the Hoods … ummm, alleged Hoods, what we'd be talking about over here on our side of the street at our headquarters. It didn't help matters any that Lalo and Sergio didn't per se like each other. So, who knows? They might have been trying to out-lie each other.

Our 3rd friend was named Carlos … aka Carli. Carli? WTF? That's too close to Carly. Anyway, he was actually from the other side of the main street. Double OMG! Now this Carli was also someone whom we never really did trust either. Yep, we suspected him also of possible backstabberish double agent activity in that cloak & dagger quagmire that was our community.

Liars and Exaggerators and Backstabbers, Oh My!
Liars and Exaggerators and Backstabbers, Oh My!
Liars and Exaggerators and Backstabbers, Oh My! 

To reiterate … by now, it's difficult to pinpoint WHY, but for some reason, a riff had developed between our little group of my older brother, Lalo and me vs. the guys on the other side of the main street. The probable theory is that either backstabber Sergio or backstabber Carli had something to do with having planted the seed with the other guys about us. As it was, it was no secret that it had been conveyed that they were out to get us. That's right, as in if those other guys got the opportunity to get us in a face to face situation, they were gonna administer us a beat down. 

One afternoon, my brother, Lalo and I were out bike riding. We stopped on our side of the street to watch as the Hoods were playing Football on a field on the other side of the street. They saw us and actually yelled out, "Heyyy! Y'all wanna come and play? We can use some more guys." We were like, "No! Are y'all kidding? Y'all just want to gang up on us and beat us up!" They were like, "No! That's not true. That was just some misunderstanding."

I'm a bit foggy with the details of why or how, but I do definitely recall that somehow, for some reason, somewhere around that time, we started --- Throwing fingers at them! I'm NOT 100% sure, but I wanna say that it was Lalo who started it in response to them trying to get us to go over to their turf where they were playing Football … presumably to beat us up. So, I THINK it was Lalo conveying in essence, "Y'all want us to go over THERE to supposedly play Football? Here y'all go …" :::The FINGER::: Then I guess my brother and I followed in Lalo's bad influence footsteps. By the time we had any time to consider any possible ramifications of our actions, we had already dished out a FINGER Fest at the Hoods … from a distance, of course. I guess it just didn't occur to us that we could run into any of those Hoods at anytime there around the community.

That unexpected day did come about. One afternoon, my brother, Lalo and I were again out bike riding. We happened to be stopped at that same spot where we had executed the infamous Finger Throwing Fest. We were caught off guard. We looked behind us and 3 of the Hoods had come upon us on their bikes. There was no time to head for the hills. Crap! I'll paraphrase, but the bigger of the 3 Hoods went something like, "Well, well, look who we have here! It seems I recall the last time we saw each other, y'all were boldly throwing fingers at us." We were scared out of our wits as we imagined the beat down that was about to likely ensue. I can't remember if it was my brother or Lalo, but one of them came up with the quick-thinking, but lame and implausible excuse / explanation that, "Oh, no! We weren't throwing fingers at y'all. We were clapping as y'all played Football." The Big Hood was like, "I'm not an idiot. I'm pretty sure of what I saw and y'all were laughing and throwing fingers at us."

We went back & forth with us desperately pleading our case, as ludicrous, lame and implausible as it was. Anything to delay the commencement of the beat down and preferably to prevent it all together. Eventually we somehow got out of that mess unscathed. I think Big Hood dude eventually figured he had scared the crap out of us enough. Either that or perhaps he eventually felt there was reasonable doubt. MAYBE … he bought our Phantom Finger defense. Yep, maybe we convinced him that there was NO Finger, Fingers or Finger Throwing going on after all.