A very long time ago when I was 18, I was living in Mammoth Lakes in California. The reason I was there was to escape an abusive situation (mentally and physically) by my stepmother. When I tried to explain to people about her, I referred to her as the Wicked Witch of the West, a character in one of my favorite movies, the Wizard of Oz. This character description is perfect for my stepmother.
The Wicked Witch of the West is the major antagonist in the story.
When I was living in Mammoth Lakes, my stepmother decided to write me the following letter about a month after I turned 18. I have scanned it in its entirety. Before you read it, I’d like to say that EVERYTHING she accuses me of is a lie. The truth is that she stole most of the money I made working at the factory my father ran, the summer before I left home. Also, she and my father sold my car and kept the money. This letter proves that you can choose your family… unfortunately my father picked the wrong woman. Especially when that person is just 7 years older than me.
One of Carolyn’s wishes came true. I have not seen her since I was 17 and not long after this letter, my father told me that I can never have contact with him ever again. This included phone calls, greeting cards for birthdays, and more. The last time I spoke with my father (around 15 years ago), he dialed me by mistake, so that call didn’t last long. I’ve never met one of my half-sisters, and the other I have only seen once since then.
Neither of my half-sisters will be my friend on Facebook, because of my stepmother. She has spent her entire life, since I was 17, telling my two half-sisters what a terrible person I am. So I don’t think I will ever see them again. This really saddens me because I was the “live-in babysitter” for my sister Amy. To this day, I really miss being part of her life.
What also saddens me that my kids never had two grandfathers, only one. I’m especially sensitive to this since ALL of my grandparents died before I was born.
After reading this letter, many decades later, I wondered to myself if my accomplishments piss Carolyn off? I hope they do!
- I did graduate from High School.
- I did join the US Navy and when I left I was a Petty Officer Second Class.
- When I was 18, I was the head manager at a restaurant & profit sharing.
- I’m an award-winning photographer.
- I’m an award-winning software engineer and a patented inventor!
- I taught at a University for 18 years.
- I travel the world helping others by teaching software engineers.
- I’ve written more books than I can remember now, and am still writing!
- And much more.
I don’t know if it was that letter or the abuse from her or her constantly telling me I would never amount to anything; I was very driven when I was young to succeed in work and life. Later, when I was married, my drive was to be a better dad, husband, and provider.
Carolyn also left me with two chronic physical aliments that have left with permanent chronic pain that I will have for the rest of my life. If anything, SHE owes me hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical bills and pain an suffering.
In the end, Carolyn McCarter (Owens) and her emotional issues have ruined many lives. Mine, my brother, her kids, my kids, and even our neighbors in Flagstaff, Arizona where at least one of them had to move across town to get away from her. I’m not letting my father off the hook since he enabled her to carry out her “KGB” style of psychological warfare against his two sons. She won the war.
If You Don’t Wear Your Mask and Practice Social Distancing When Going Out, Then I Hope You Get COVID-19!
Since Mar 19, 2020, my home state of California in America has been on some sort of sate wide lock-down. This was to limit the spread by restricting the movement of the population to try to avoid the state being hit hard by the pandemic, which we now are. Also, our Governor made it mandatory for everyone to wear a mask indoors and outdoors where social distancing can not be maintained.
I specifically live in an area called Del Mar, which is close to the beach which means it’s very expensive to live here. So when I started to take walks, go to the store, etc., I thought I would be pretty safe since I figured most of the people that live here are pretty smart. Boy was I wrong! EVERY TIME I go outside, I see people not wearing masks or improperly. I did also notice that mostly minorities, especially Asians, follow the mask-wearing mandate 100%. The biggest culprits are, I hate to say this, are white people.
I am really tired of being the “mask police“, EVERY TIME I GO OUTSIDE! Every time I go out I have to remind people or ask them where their masks are. Most ignore me, until today.
Dan Is An Asshole
When I was at the shopping mall down the street from me today, I was walking out of the hardware store, headed to the grocery store. After a few steps, a guy (let’s call him Dan) comes towards me, with a mask in his hand but not on his face. As he passed I said (as I moved to make more space between us):
You have a mask but refuse to wear it? Thanks for that.
It took him a few seconds to think about it he turned around and said:
Fuck you! I don’t need to wear a mask outside.
Before I continue, let’s review what the California state web site says.
“To prevent infection, you must cover your nose and mouth when outside your home. So wearing a mask is now required statewide. Wearing a mask or cloth face covering can slow the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the release of the virus into the air. It also reinforces physical distancing, and shows you care about the health of others.”
The rule in California is to do this at all times, not just when YOU feel like it.
You do have to wear one when you are only walking a few feet from me.
He continued to yell at me, including obscenities. Before he was out of earshot I said:
You must be a Trump supporter!
Since we all know Trump is a mask denier. He said:
I didn’t vote for Trump, I am a liberal.
I told him that he is not acting like a liberal! I thought it was over, but he turned towards me, started walking my way, still yelling obscenities. At this point, I could see he was sizing me up, maybe to get into a fight. He walked right up to me, still without a mask on and said:
Instead of saying something in passing, why not have a conversation?
Okay, I’m not unreasonable. So I asked him why he isn’t wearing a mask. He said:
I don’t have to wear one outside since I’m not around people.
We are standing in the middle of the food court at this mall, with many people around and I said:
Yes, you do here since there are people around. And you walked very close to me without one.
Then he got very close to me, I thought maybe to start that fight (which would be silly with me due to my size). I told him to get away from me. Then he started yelling very loudly:
Then I hope you get on those people who are over there eating (pointing to the people in the foodcourt).
I told him I won’t since they are following the rules and are socially distant. He finally started walked away, still yelling obscenities. I looked at some of those people in the food court and they were shaking their heads (at Dan).
I Can’t Believe This is What We Have Come To
The best way to get out of this pandemic is the cheapest, by just wearing proper face masks that cost less than $1? Why is this so hard for so many Americans? I’ll be the first one to admit that I do not like wearing one at all, especially outside in the summer months. But unlike asshole Dan, I am smart enough to know that it will provide me some protection, but the biggest reason is not to spread it to others.
So, Dan, I hope you get COVID-19 and end up in a hospital on a ventilator. Let’s see what you say after that! Maybe that will change the mind of a mask denying asshole!
So if I didn’t like going out before today, now I really don’t want to ever again until California fully opens back up, whenever that will be. Maybe in 2021?
All the protests about the police and Black Lives Matter in the United States in 2020 has reminded me of a story that happened over 20 years ago where I was called a racist. I’d like to share that story now.
Way back when my son Paul was in 3rd or 4th grade, I was at home and he and his friend ran into our home and told me that a man was chasing them. They told me that there was a man in a car that was trying to get them to stop and talk to him. I can’t remember if that man was yelling or not, but Paul did exactly what I taught him. He ran away and came home!
I asked Paul what happened, and he told me that he and his friend called a black girl, from his class, the “N” word (sorry, I don’t want to use the actual word) when they were walking home. I guess she went home and told her father. Her father, who was a police officer, decided to get in his personal car, wearing street clothes, to track Paul and his friend down. I still have no idea why he decided to do that or what his end goal with that was. Since Paul ran away from him, he decided to go tell his school.
Then I got a call from the school that we had to go in for a meeting about it and this is where the story goes in a bad direction. Paul, his mother, and I arrived at the meeting early. When the girl’s parents come into the room, the first thing out of their mouth was that I and Pauls mother was a racist and we taught Paul the “N” word and to be racist. I got very upset because I could not believe someone was calling me a racist.
When I was a small child, I grew up on the east coast of America. I have always felt that that area is a lot more racist then where I live now. My relatives and even my parents might have taught me about racism, but I don’t know now that I am older. I do remember, when my family moved to Flagstaff, Arizona I felt that people there were less racist, so I worked hard when I was in the 5th grade to change. Even though there was a lot of racism going on when I served in the US Navy, from all sides, I have worked hard ever since I have lived in California to be less racist. Let’s face it, everyone is a racist, one way or the other. It’s what you do with what you were taught is the most important part.
Currently, I feel I have done a decent job on changing how I think about other races to the point now that I don’t see color, I try to see the person. I think my very first girlfriend in 7th grade was half black and Mexican. Most of my dates or girlfriends since I have been divorced were with non-white women. Even both of my kids’ partners are of color and all three of my grandkids are of color! At work, I am the only white person in my team, and they have even made me an honorary Pilipino!
So, when this girl’s parent called me a racist, it upset me. I did push back on the girl’s parents and the vice-principal and told them that Paul’s mother and I never use racist words at home. Heck, we didn’t even curse around the kids. We wanted them to learn not to use any of those words.
I told everyone in the room that Paul learned those words from other kids at his school. Also, the reason Paul even said the “N” word was that the black kids in the school use that word all the time. He was simply copying them. His mother and I didn’t even know he even knew that word, otherwise, we would have had a talk with him, which we did after this event happened. After all this, Paul still received an in-school suspension. I thought this was an overreaction, just to make the other parents happy.
In the end, I was upset we were called racists when the parents didn’t even know us! That is like me calling them a criminal just because they are black! So, I know first hand how people just jump to conclusions without knowing the facts. My wish, that I don’t see happening right now, is that everyone would do the same thing. There are always two sides to every story. I believe that if both sides tried to understand where the other side is coming from, there might be better outcomes. When one side just starts yelling, the other side either shuts down or put up walls to defend themselves; as I did in this situation.
For most of my life, I’ve avoided shopping for Christmas gifts in December. The biggest reason is that people focus on the gifts and not what Christmas is all about. They are pushy, mean, stressed out and more and it just kills my Christmas spirit.
Because of this, every year my goal is to have the gifts purchased by my birthday which is at the end of November. Even way, way back when I was in the U.S. Navy, I would take my birthday off and do all of my shopping for Christmas. After the Navy, I would take my birthday off of work and do the same. This way I could focus on the spirit of Christmas and avoid the shoppers in December that killed my spirit.
On this Christmas eve, I’m reminded of one Christmas eve when my kids were small (they are adults now). In those early years, my wife (now ex-wife) and I didn’t have a lot of money for gifts. Like most Americans, we lived paycheck to paycheck. When it was getting close to Christmas, my wife won $1,000 from a local radio station (complaining about me).
On that Christmas eve, she went to Toys-R-Us to get last-minute gifts for the kids. When she came home I was surprised because she had no bags with her. She told me that the power when out at the store, so she came home.
Since I don’t like shopping during Christmas, I jumped into action, grabbed my flashlight and dashed to Toys-R-Us! There was hardly anyone at the store, so I grabbed a shopping cart and grabbed all the gifs we wanted for the kids! Since the checkout didn’t rely on the internet back then, I was able to pay for the gifts and get home pretty quickly.
I spent all night wrapping the gifts and the kids had a pretty good Christmas! Thanks to 91X and my ex-wife for complaining about me on air!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Since 2017, I have been lucky enough to travel to India to speak at a software engineering conference in Delhi. All three times, I can’t get enough of authentic Indian food. It is so much better than any Indian food I’ve ever had in America!
After my visit last April, I set out to create a killer chicken curry recipe for the slow cooker, since that is the type of cooking I do the most. After over a year of hits and misses, I finally have my recipe. I hope you will enjoy it.
- 1.5 – 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste).
- 1 tablespoon of avocado oil.
- 4 garlic cloves.
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger.
- 3 tablespoons of organic cane sugar.
- 6 tablespoons of curry powder (or to taste).
- 7 oz plain Greek yogurt.
- 42 oz sweet potatoes.
- 1 large yellow onion.
- 3 zucchini’s (medium to large)
- 2 cans of coconut milk (from Wholefoods)
In most of my slow-cooker recipes, I like it where you can just throw all the ingredients in the pot and come home from work and it’s ready. While you can still do that with this recipe, I found it works best using the steps below.
This step needs to be done the night before or, just put all of these ingredients in the slow-cooker. In a medium-sized bowl combine the following ingredients:
- Chicken, cubed.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Avocado oil.
- Garlic, minced.
- Grated fresh ginger.
- 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- 4 tablespoons of curry powder (or to taste).
- Greek yogurt.
Mix so that the chicken is well covered with the other ingredients. Cover, and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Putting the chicken with the Greek yogurt in the refrigerator overnight is the key to making sure the chicken is as tender as possible when done.
I don’t know if it’s my slow cooker (Instant Pot), but I could never get the sweet potatoes to cook all the way through every time I made this recipe. The solution I came up with is to cube the sweet potatoes and place in the slow-cooker with a little bit of water. Then pressure cook them for 5 minutes while completing step 3. Drain any excess water after cooking.
Cut into small cubes the onion and zucchini and place in the slow-cooker along with the ingredients from step 1 and 2. Sprinkle over the ingredients the remainder of the sugar (1 tablespoon) and curry powder (2 tablespoons or to taste). Add the 2 cans of coconut milk. Mix all the ingredients together and slow cook for 8 hours. Stir before surving.
I have tried coconut milk from several grocery stores and found that the brand from Wholefoods, 365 Everyday Value, Organic Light Coconut Milk, works best.
I serve the chicken curry over a bed of California Brown Jasmine Rice. When I cook the rice, I add curry, ginger, salt & pepper (to taste).
I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you do, please make a comment below.
Recently I was driving down highway 5 in San Diego county around 4pm in the afternoon and the traffic was stop and go almost the entire way back to my home. Like most of the time when I’m stuck in traffic like this and in the far left lane, there were motorcyclists were flying down the space in-between my lane and the lane next to me. Unfortunately, California passed a law in 2015 making lane-splitting legal: “Assembly Bill 51, permitting motorcyclist to split lanes so long as they do so at speeds no faster than 50 mph and no faster than 15 mph than traffic in adjacent lanes is moving”. I think they forgot a statement about “…if it’s safe!”
Before I continue, I should point out that I use to be a motorcyclist and never did lane splitting. I have always believed that motorcyclists should obey the same rules of the road as other drivers. Actually, they should be safer drivers than other drivers since riding a motorcycle is much more dangerous. I don’t ride anymore due to California drivers and how poorly they watch out for motorcycles and how some purposely try to hurt motorcyclists. I’ve had a few friends seriously injured due to this.
So before I get hate mail for this blog post, I’m writing it to the 90+ percent or more of motorcyclists that don’t seem to follow any traffic laws. They speed, pop wheelies, weave in and out of traffic for no apparent reason other than they can and have an entitlement attitude.
On my way home that day I had two very dangerous encounters. I decided to write the following to the California Highway Patrol:
“I am writing because last Thursday while driving back from my doctor, the traffic was really slow. I was in the far left lane and when a motorcyclist came in-between my car and the car in the next lane, he hit my car with his hand on the right front side. I am assuming he did this because the car next to me and my car were close together and he had trouble getting pass. I was unaware of this since I was paying attention to the traffic in front of me since it was stop and go.
Four minutes later another motorcyclist had the same issue and decided to go down the emergency lane next to me and he almost hit my car too.
I have both of these incidents on video from my dash cam and I have a picture of the first driver’s hand print on my car. I can provide the videos and photos to you if needed. Is there anything can be done about these two incidents, especially the first driver since he hit my car?”
As I’m writing this post, I did get a reply from the CHP asking for the license plate numbers of the motorcyclists which I have provided. So far there hasn’t been a resolution. I will update this post if I find out more information from the CHP.
So motorcyclists, the next time you complain about drivers, maybe you should look at how you drive that speeding bullet because I’m sure it’s why we hate you! My dash cam will be pointed at you recording your illegal driving!
Here is a gluten free variation of a brownie recipe I found on the internet featuring Ghirardelli chocolate.
- 3/4 cup Ghirardelli premium baking coca
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter – melted
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1-1/3 cups gluten free flower
- 1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 8oz shelled walnuts
- 12 ounces Ghirardelli premium baking chips – semisweet
- 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda; blend in butter until smooth.
- Add boiling water; stir until well blended. Stir in sugar, eggs and cinnamon.
- Add flower, vanilla and salt. Stir in 3/4 of the walnuts (broken into pieces, as small or big as you like) and backing chips.
- Pour into greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle the rest of the walnuts on top (as shown in picture). Bake 36 – 42 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of the pan. Cool 30 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen brownies (depending how big you cut them). Enjoy!
Recently I went on my first international business trip to Lviv, Ukraine. This is the first time I have been outside of North America since my early 20’s. If anything could go wrong on this trip, it did, and I learned the hard way how to make my travel next time much better.
I must preface my tips below with I never missed a flight and have never had a bag lost, until this trip.
- Don’t count on Wi-Fi working in planes at all overseas. The foreign airline I took (Austrian airlines) does not seem to provide this on any flight. We’ve gotten use to this in the past few years in the US.
- I thought using Wi-Fi while traveling in the US sucked until I went to Europe!
- Exchange money in the country of origin to the place you are traveling! I got to Vienna and they won’t exchange Ukrainian money to Euros!!!
- Get to the airport 2+ hours early before an international flight even if the first leg is to a city in the US.
- Learn to speak common phrases in the language of the country you are going to before you leave. You cannot rely on software translations apps, especially if your cell does not work in the country. People in that country will greatly appreciate it.
- The US allows two carry-ons, but Europe does not! They only allow one, the rest you might have to pay for up to 75 Euros ($83 US dollars) or more for one bag! Even though I could do two carry-ons all the way to my final destination in the Ukraine, I could not do it on the way back. I actually wish the US did the same thing since many abuse this privilege and it makes boarding the plane MUCH longer.
- If your hotel provides a shuttle, call at least one day ahead before. They might not schedule it when you land.
- Count on your checked luggage getting lost or delayed in customs. Always carry at least one day of clothes, meds or anything else you need. Even more days if you can.
- If you use a debit card, make sure you have more than plenty of money on it before you leave the US. ATM machines in other countries do not provide the ability to transfer money. Only dispense cash or transfer money to your phone (not even sure what the latter is). At some ATM’s your card might not even work at all, so it’s better to have a credit card or lots of cash with you! Also, if you use a debit card, you might get socked with big fees!
- Find another cell provider than AT&T. My entire trip I could not use cellular on my phone. I tweeted them about this and all they did was send useless links.
- Make sure to purchase a power converter for charging batteries, running laptops etc. If you forget, airports should have them.
- If you or your company can afford business class on long flights overseas… do it! It’s well worth it… not like first class in the US which pales in comparison. Actually if any company in a foreign country wants me to come work or speak for them, I’m going to insist on it for the following reasons…
- There is plenty of leg room! The seats even go almost flat so you can sleep. They provide pillows, sheets and even a blanket. Your seat even will massage you!
- You get a personal chef that will make anything you like off of a menu. The first flight I had filet minion. On the way back I had a four course dinner that included so much food I couldn’t even eat it all. They will even wake you up for breakfast which was awesome too!
- The bathrooms are about three times bigger than any airplane bathroom I’ve ever seen. In the bathroom they have deodorant spray, shavers, combs, toothbrush and toothpaste.
- They provide noise canceling headphones.
- You get a very large HD TV screen. All movies etc. are FREE!
- There are USB charging ports available.
- You are allowed two carry on items. Everyone else only gets one.
- If you expect to use a cloud service like OneDrive to backup all of your photos while you are overseas… forget it! I had my Surface Pro 3 (Windows 10) trying to do this for the better part of three days for 4.6GB of picture/ video files and it did a very small fraction. I know part of this issue was the hotel Wi-Fi. Lesson learned… still carry enough memory cards for your camera or video camera that you will need. I will mention that backing up all the pictures on my iPhone to OneDrive worked great.
If you have any travel tips, please let me know by leaving a comment.
I know everyone wants a day off, a reason to party, wants so save a few bucks on a product they most likely don’t need, but please try to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day. It’s about the men and women who have died while serving in the military.
I served in the military for 6 1/2 years and am very proud that I did. I know our country has issues and could be better but we still live in the greatest country in the world. I feel its everyone duty to give back to make it even better.
It angers me when people do things like burn the flag! If you don’t like it here then I will be more than happy to pay for a plane ticket to send you to a different country! I’ve been to many countries that made me appreciate the United States a lot more. People in many countries don’t have anywhere near the freedoms that we do or the ability to get out of poverty by going to school etc. In the Philippines I meet women that were prostitutes just so they could earn money to send family members to school. I’m not talking about sending them to college, they have to pay just to attend high school.
It also angers me when people do everything they can to get out of their civic duty like being on jury duty. I’ve been on seven juries and take it very seriously. I do this because if there is ever a day when I am a defendant in court, I hope that there are twelve people there that take it as seriously as I do.
Every American should make it a priority to give back to their community every month. There are endless opportunities. I just ended twenty years of founding and running a non-profit group that provided education to help people in their careers to improve their and their families lives better.
So get off the couch and start giving back to make the United States better. If you don’t, you have nothing to complain about!
I created a heavy, rocking CD for someone I knew who was an Army Ranger (Tyler Holtz). Before I could burn it for him he was shot and killed in Afghanistan in September 2012. Sorry Tyler, I hope you have iTunes up there. Here is the list:
Confrontation – Otep
Die Hard The Hunter – Def Leppard
Gods Of War – Def Leppard
If I Were King – Queensrÿche
Indestructible – Disturbed
Sliver – Queensrÿche
Soldiers of Misfortune – Filter
Taliman – Uncle Junkie
These Colours Don’t Run – Iron Maiden
War (The Process) – The Cult
War Machine -AC/DC
War Pigs – Black Sabbath
Warheads – Extreme
Warrior – Kid Rock
Thanks for the great music Otep, Def Leppard, Queensrÿche & Queensryche, Disturbed, Filter, Uncle Junkie, Iron Maiden, The Cult, Black Sabbath, Extreme – The Band and Kid Rock!
Women, before you get upset with me, this applies to males too! So if you are wondering if you are a cat lady, answer the questions below on how you post profile text and/or pictures on online dating sites:
- Do you post pictures of you and animal?
- Do you post pictures of your animal (you are not in the picture)?
- Is your animal your best friend?
- Does your headline/ tag line say “Must Love Dogs”, “Must Love My Dog” or something similar?
- Can you not sleep at night without your animal or your animal can’t sleep without you?
- Do you have to rush home every x number of hours to feed, see or take your animal out for a piss?
If you answered even YES to ONE of these questions… YOU ARE A CAT LADY. Give it up and take your profile down from all online dating sites. You are too far gone and there is no recovery.