Close Encounters, Golden Gods, and Kangaroo Burgers

Good evening. Before I begin with my usual ravings, I need to talk about an incident that occurred a few nights ago. Here goes:

I think I saw an alien. It was sometime after midnight, and I ‘d just gotten out of my car. Due to the lack of foresight by the builder of our apartment complex, who neglected to include parking spaces in his or her brilliant architectural plan, I’d been forced to park several blocks away. Just as I started trudging in the general direction of home, the creature emerged from the bushes and stepped into the street.

I froze in my tracks as the alien moved across the asphalt. I was struck by its unusual appearance. Every depiction of extra-terrestrials I’d ever seen had placed them at normal human size or bigger. But this one was less than a foot tall, and covered with fur. Suddenly the creature detected my presence and turned to face me. It rose onto its haunches and looked at me, whiskers twitching in the moonlight.

Unsure of what to do, I remained motionless. Finally, apparently sensing no threat from me, the alien dropped back onto all fours and scurried across the street, its long rat-like tail trailing behind. It disappeared into the high grass on the shoulder, and once again, I was alone. I resumed walking home, still thinking about my experience. I’d just seen an alien! Or maybe it was just a possum. Either way, it was a close encounter of some kind.

Whew! It feels good to get that out into the open and talk about it. Speaking of getting things off of my chest, let’s move right into the WTF momement of the week. Today’s moment comes via Texas congressman Steve Stockman, whose new campaign bumper sticker reads as follows: “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted. Vote pro life!”

WTF! Is this guy for real? While everyone has the right to his or her opinion, both on gun control and abortion rights, combining the two into a shameless grab for attention is ridiculous. No wonder nothing ever gets done in Washington, if this is what amounts to political dialouge.

Also making headlines this week was Jason Collins, who became the first active player in any of the four major team sports to come out as gay. I remember Collins from his stint with my Atlanta Hawks, and would like to join everyone from  President Obama to NBA commissioner David Stern in supporting him in this decision. It says a lot about how far we’ve come as a society that he felt comfortable enough to make this move.

Speaking of society, I recently saw the best panhandling sign I’ve ever seen. For those of you who’ve never graced our fair city, San Diego is chock full of panhandlers. It’s covered up with panhandlers. You can’t take a step in any direction without running into a panhandler. Many of them like to stand at busy intersections and hold signs, asking for money or food. But a few days ago, while driving in the Mission Valley neighborhood, I saw a man holding a sign which read “Why lie? I need beer.” Well, you have to admire his honesty!

As long as we’re just jumping from one thing to the next,here’s a good name for a retirement home: Colostomy Corners. Wouldn’t that be great! A little too graphic for you? How about Incontinence Inn? Come on, that’s genius! Or at least it seemed like it when the thought first occurred to me at 3 AM.

Speaking of restroom problems, some a**hole completely wrecked the bathroom at work today. This person crapped on the seat, threw all of the toilet paper into the toilet, completely clogging it, and then somehow knocked the entire toilet over to the side. As Randall Graves so eloquently put it: “bunch of savages in this town.”

On a serious note, the metal community lost a legend this week when Slayer guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman passed away. Hanneman’s death came on the eve of the Golden God awards, which recognize metal’s best bands and performers. The awards show, which featured, among others Metallica, Danzig, Stone Sour, Halestorm, and Five Finger Death Punch, was most memorable for Kerry King’s ultra cool tribute to his fallen bandmate.

On Friday, the Bear Team spent the day at Balboa Park, which is one of my favorite places in all of San Diego. This park has everything: grassy lawns, exotic trees, quiet trails; even the San Diego Zoo is located there. We walked for several miles, at one point spotting a crane, which almost seemed to pose for photos before moving along. Not a bad way to spend a spring day.

On a personal note, I’ve been on a weight loss quest for the last month. After weighing in at 220 pounds on March seventh, I’m happy to report that, as of May third, I was down to 192 pounds. What better way to reward myself than a visit to one of my favorite restaurants: Tioli’s Crazee Burger.

This former Italian restaurant, which became  a burger place upon being purchased by two German men, features such exotic choices as the Gator Burger with curry fruit tapenade, and the Kangaroo burger with creamed horseradish sauce. I ordered the Santorini burger, which is a combination of beef and lamb, topped with Greek style tzatziki sauce. It was delicious, especially when combined with the sweet potato fries. To learn more about this unique burger joint, click here.

On to this week’s top ten list. Today’s topic: things I’ve learned about Southern California. As someone who has lived in­­­­­­­­­ SoCal for nearly a year­­, I now present you with a few observations about this one-of-a-kind region of our United States. Here we go:

  1. Things cost more in California. Everything from gas to grocery items are priced higher here than in other parts of the country. I recently paid $244 during a trip to a supermarket in our neighborhood. Seriously!
  2. California charges a bottle deposit, called the CRV, for any item in a recylable container. The fee is five cents for anything in a 24oz or smaller bottle or can, and ten cents for larger containers.
  3. The climate in California can change dramatically within a very small area. There are times when you can travel ten miles and experience a temperature change of 15-20 degrees; especially during the summer.
  4. This part of the country is extremely multi-cultural. On a given day you can interact with people of American, Mexican, Central American, African, Filipino, Native American, Japanese,  Chinese, Cambodian, Laotion, and Thai descent.
  5. Very few people care about college sports here. During our time here, I’ve only met one or two people who follow NCAA football or basketball. Most sports fans enjoy NFL , MLB, or NBA, and don’t care about college sports. When I say “Go Dawgs!” most of my co-workers and friends have no idea what I’m talking about.
  6. The Mexican food here is unbelievable! I could literally eat nothing but Mexican food for a month and still not visit all of the excellent restaurants in San Diego.
  7. Being on Pacific Standard Time is an adjustment. After thirty-five years of being of Eastern Standard Time, I’m still getting used to the fact that things happen three hours earlier here.
  8. The sun is ultra strong here. Even though the temperature is moderate, you’ll get an extreme sunburn in no time.
  9. There are awesome hiking trails with jaw dropping views everywhere you look.
  10.  San Diego is full of what Dena and I like to call “Dr. Suess” trees. The legendary author and artist, who is from this area, obviously drew on his surrondings when creating his iconic style. Living here is like living in a fantasy world.

There you have it, everything you ever wanted to know about Southern California, and quite a few things you didn’t. The time has come for us to part ways once again, but only for a little while. I’ll be back before you know it with another offering of completely useless tidbits. As always, thanks for reading. I’ll leave you with this week’s thought for the day:

If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.”

            Words to live by! We’ll see you again next week. Same bat time, same bat channel. Until then, in the words of the immortal George Carlin, take care of yourself, and take care of somebody else. See ya!








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