Happy birthday to me! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a column to write.
Had a relaxing week off, a mix of errands, trips to L.A., friends, entertainment and chores. Highlights included a stair walk in Malibu and lunch afterward, dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant Meals by Genet in L.A., lunch at the Nickel Diner in downtown L.A., triumphing at Scrabble against a friend whom I hadn’t played in years, receiving a whopping $270 in trade credit at Amoeba Music (which, if I use it sparingly, may mean I’ll shop free the rest of this year) and reading one super-slim book each day: 10 days, 10 books.
Sunday, by the way, marked my 16th anniversary at the Daily Bulletin. Huzzah!
Now I’m back at work, readying for an Upland council meeting tonight. Although I’d kinda like another week off — especially with the forecast predicting warmer, drier weather this week than last — I’m also glad to be back at it.
The other day on my Facebook page, reader John Bredehoft happened to ask if any of my billboards were still up, and I had to break it to him that those came down probably a decade ago. A couple of days later, out of the blue, a friend sent me a photo of that billboard which she’d found on the Internet while, she said, doing a Google image search for “clouds.” Huh.
The “Humor and Heart” slogan (dig the court jester!) jointly promoted my column and another’s, who wrote more heart-warming stuff.
I hadn’t seen that billboard in years and, in fact, didn’t have a photo of it, at least not handy. What I did have was one of me in front of it, taken by my then-colleague Tom Zasadzinski, whose name, even years later, I can spell from memory. (You’ll notice that I put the wrong hand on my chin. Either that, or I had the wrong hand on my chin in the billboard.)
Here are both photos for posterity. The billboard was up circa 1999 and maybe for a year or two beyond, on Central Avenue at the Montclair-Chino border, and maybe somewhere else too. Of course I took a lot of ribbing about it at the time, and also very recently when friends weighed in on the photo. As one commented: “Wait. Which one has the humor?”
I made a point of going to a Fresh & Easy on Tuesday night because I had a coupon to save $10 if I spent $50. It’s not easy for me to spend $50 at a grocery store but I boosted my total with a $12 detergent, even though I won’t need more for a month. When the time came to pay, I scanned various other coupons I had, saving $4.
It was only as I was leaving that I remembered my $10 coupon. D’oh. I spent $50 for nothing!
When you’re sick, everyone has an opinion, and maybe a remedy too. Also, no one ever thinks they’re contagious. A compendium of observations about colds, flu and the people who have them make up Friday’s column. I might get some interesting reactions to this one.
By the way, the following was supposed to appear in the paper today, but didn’t, to explain my column’s absence:
“Laid low by the flu, columnist David Allen missed Monday’s Upland City Council meeting and instead spent the evening at home under a quilt watching ‘Grosse Pointe Blank’ on DVD. He probably got the better part of that deal. His column should return Friday.”
And it should. I’m back at my desk, at least for half a day. I’m still a little achy, a little breaky, but better.
The quote on this shirt, found on thefancy.com by reader Hank Fung, must be from the productivity guru, but I have to say, as did Hank, that it does sound like something I might say.
In August, a plumber came by to fix the toilet and we had an exchange about the rock in the tank. He said that even though it doesn’t accomplish anything, the rock should stay right where it is: “It’s found its natural place of rest. You wouldn’t want to disturb the natural order of the universe.”
He returned last week to fix a kitchen faucet that had gone from drip-drip-dripping to emitting a steady stream of water, 24 hours a day.
My landlady, he reported, had just returned from a short vacation (who knew?) and had come down with something, probably on the plane home. “All those germs and gunk floating around in that recirculated air,” he said with a shudder. “It’s like licking a public water fountain.”
His assistant groaned, as did I.
“Too much? Maybe that wasn’t the best analogy,” the plumber admitted.
We discussed pay phones, a past source of germ spreading. You know, talking into a mouthpiece that may not have been wiped down in a long time.
I mentioned the oddity of businesses that have removed a pay phone but left behind the wooden carrel (I don’t know what else to call it) that once held the phone, with its shelf below for a nonexistent phone book. This fixture is instantly recognizable to most of us, but anyone under the age of, say, 10 would have no idea what it once was. I guess these objects are too much trouble to remove. Either that, or everyone’s waiting for a pay phone revival.
The faucet was duly fixed, the water flow stanched. I thanked them; the round-the-clock stream of water gurgling down the drain had put me on edge.
“It’s the drip that will get you,” the plumber’s assistant said sympathetically. “It’s like getting waterboarded in your own home.”
The plumber got the last word. “We’ve left you with all kinds of interesting visuals today, haven’t we?”