Monday, March 17, 2008

Who knew 24 hour pharmacies were hot spots?

Last night around 9:00 p.m. Caroline was starting to wheeze and cough from a cold she caught over the weekend. Turns out it was a minor asthma attack brought on by the cold.

She is fine now, but I spent the better part of three hours with her in the emergency room, just to make sure.

By the time I got Caroline home and back into bed, it was close to 2:00 a.m., and I needed to have her prescription filled so that she could take her medicine first thing in the morning.

Terri found a 24-hour Walgreens near our house, and so at 2:05 am, I set out to fill Caroline's prescription.

I expected to find the Walgreens staffed by a single cashier, sitting on a stool behind the register of an empty, semi-lit store, reading a frayed copy of People magazine.

Instead, when I walked into the store, I was greeted by the blast of rock music blaring from a radio. Up and down each isle, stock workers were busy stocking shelves, each singing their version of the rock song in Tagalog. It was a like American Idol in the Twilight Zone!

There were actually two or three customers shopping in the store. And I'm not talking about people in their pajamas picking up a bottle of milk or diapers. One woman was pushing a cart going aisle by aisle as she scanned a list coupons held in her hand.

Who knew that Walgreens was a hot spot for Tagalog karaoke and all-night marathon shopping?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Truck Stops and Andy Capp

So this weekend we were in Southern California for a wedding. We drove down Interstate 5.

We stopped in Los Banos, about 130 miles south of San Francisco, and stopped in a truck stop to let the girls run around (Yes, a truck stop. I realize it's not the best place to take a toddler for a break, but on the I-5, you take your breaks where you can find them.).

As the girls played with about 50 windchimes on display in the lobby of the diner (no one seemed to mind all the noise they made), my eyes were drawn to a sign:

"ANDY CAPP CHEDDAR FRIES!! On sale now! $0.79."

Andy Capp Cheddar Fries.

Now for those of you not into comic strips, Andy Capp is a long-running strip about some English guy and his wife. I remember Andy Capp comics very vividly because:

  1. Andy Capp was featured prominently on the front page of the L.A. Times Sunday comics sections throughout the 70's and 80's, my formative Sunday-comics-reading stage.

  2. Andy Capp was featured along with "Peanuts" on the front page of the L.A. Times comic section, so I figured any comic that shared the front page with "Peanuts" had to be funny, right?

  3. I read Andy Capp faithfully for over 15 years with the above reasoning in mind.

  4. In over 15 years of reading Andy Capp, it was NEVER FUNNY. Ever.

Most of the jokes had to do with Andy being lazy on the couch, or making fun of his wife. Or he would be at a bar and end up chasing someone angrily out of the bar. Occasionally he would play soccer, but being English, Andy Capp called it "football." That gag usually had Andy chasing someone around angrily for no good reason. Somtimes Andy would hit on some attractive girls, and then the gag would end with his wife chasing him around angrily. Like I said -- NEVER funny. Did I mention, "EVER"?

Andy Capp - Not funny.

So I hear I am in Los Banos, watching my kids with one eye, while my other eye is fixated on this ad for Andy Capp Cheddar Fries. I wondered, "Did I miss something in all those years of reading Andy Capp comics? Somebody must think that comic is funny or they wouldn't give him his own bag of chips, would they?"

And why in the hell was I seeing these chips for the first time in Los Banos?

Of course, I had to buy a bag. I plunked down my $0.79 and was rewarded with a bag of potato and corn sticks sprinkled liberally with orange cheddar-flavoring.

After eating the whole bag of chips while driving, I reached three conclusions:

  1. Driving while eating greasy "cheddar fries" is hard, because it makes the wheel slick.
  2. You get what you pay for.
  3. Andy Capp Cheddar Fries are about as tasty as the Andy Capp comic strip was funny.

Below are some photos from our car trip NOT related to Andy and his fries:

Caroline reading in the car.

Katherine with her milk.

Hills along the I-5.

A red barn.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The new "improved" San Francisco Zoo

You probably know that on Christmas Day 2007, a tiger escaped from the San Francisco Zoo, killing one person.

As members of the Zoo, we went back there about a week before the big cat exhibits were scheduled to reopen. All the newspapers said that the tiger exhibits were closed. Signs at the zoo said, "All big cats will not be on display until improved safety measures are put into place."

So imagine our surprise when we turned a corner and ran into this:

Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the creature I photographed above a . . . TIGER?

The same type of tiger that attacked and killed someone on Christmas Day?

The same tiger that the signs around the Zoo said "Were off exhibit for your safety and theirs"?

The tiger was about 12 feet from me, separated only by a thin wire mesh fence. Other than good common sense, there was nothing to prohibit me from sticking my hand through the cage.

A zoo employee who was standing nearby merely commented, "Aren't they magnificent?" To which I wanted to ask her, "What do you mean, 'they'? Isn't this the last one left after the other one got shot?" But good manners stopped me from making scene.

Luckily, we survived our encounter with the Big Cats, and took these other non-tiger photos:

Caroline & Katherine at the Meerkat Exhibit
(click on photo for larger view)

With Grandma checking out a big owl.
(click on photo for larger view)

Everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. A miracle!
(click on photo for larger view)