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August 29, 2017

Diddy Riese Cookies: Cheap L.A. Treats for 30 Years


What can you buy for 35 cents in Los Angeles? Not the L.A. Times, not a first-class stamp -- maybe a gumball in one of those machines outside of Ralphs? Your options are pretty limited on this piddly budget, unless you head over to Diddy Riese, a hot cookie spot in Westwood that has flourished since opening its doors in 1983.

When those doors swing open at noon on any given Saturday, the infamous line has already curved out of the shop and down the sidewalk. The gathering crowd is as assorted as Diddy's cookie menu: parents with small children, cliques of UCLA students, well-dressed couples in their 40s and, well, food writers. Everyone stands at ease, perfectly willing to wait 15 minutes for a 35-cent cookie or the famous build-your-own ice cream sandwich for $1.75.

Though the cookies are made fresh daily (day-old dozens are on sale for $2.50), they are not "artisanal" or seasonal or anything too fancy. You aren't going to find a chocolate chip cookie with a sprinkling of fleur de sel or any vegan or gluten-free options. These are down-to-earth, homey cookies that make you feel all warm and gooey inside. The ice cream sandwiches aren't filled with organic ice cream from grass-fed cows or the expensive stuff from local creameries, but that's cool with us, because they're a sweet steal and you can choose from 12 different Dreyer's flavors to build your own sandwich.

See also: 5 Great Chocolate Chip Cookies in Los Angeles


Some of the cookies on their menu include white chocolate macadamia, chocolate white chocolate (a chocolate cookie filled with chunks of white chocolate chips), oatmeal walnut, chocolate chip walnut, and cinnamon sugar (commonly referred to as the snickerdoodle). All are very flavorful, but the chocolate chip, white chocolate chip, and cinnamon sugar are our favorites.

Diddy Riese Cookies
Diddy Riese Cookies
Tracy Chabala
Mark Perry, the original and current owner, emphasizes the importance of freshness. He's so committed to the product, not the profit, that he absolutely refuses to franchise.

In a city smothered with food trucks and franchises and flea market stands, it's not only refreshing but shocking that a business owner reaping such success would choose to stay put and keep things as they are. With a catchy name like Diddy Riese, a wildly popular menu and a loyal following, it's very possible that Perry could have built up a pretty big cookie empire.

"The second you franchise, the price goes up and the quality goes down," says Perry, who grew up in the restaurant industry. He's a reticent but warm person and he manned the counter on the Saturday we visited, along with other employees. While he doesn't shun the press, Perry certainly doesn't seek it, and he could even be considered somewhat of a culinary recluse, a Keyser Söze of the cookie world, not wanting any attention drawn to himself. Indeed, there isn't one photo of him online anywhere -- and we really hunted. But there are hundreds of photos of his cookie creations.

"Our dough isn't frozen," Perry says. "Everything is made from scratch daily, even the fudge that goes into the chocolate chocolate cookie." It's apparent with one bite that the cookies are made from scratch and very fresh, given their terrific texture. "Three things make a restaurant successful," Perry continues, "quality, consistency and price. Most important is consistency." Though this seems fairly obvious, it's astonishingly difficult to maintain consistency in the food service world, and all the more difficult if a business grows and franchises. "We are absolutely dedicated to the product."

Ice Cream Sandwich at Diddy Riese
Ice Cream Sandwich at Diddy Riese
Christie Bishop

Diddy Riese cranks out hundreds of cookies a day and they fill several high-volume orders. Just $4 buys you a dozen, so it follows that Diddy's is a popular choice for anyone needing loads of cookies for a party or special event.

And this is no hole-in-the-wall bakery. The kitchen, which is open and visible behind the counter, is spic-and-span clean, the speed racks, industrial standing mixer and four convection ovens literally shine, even during their high-volume production. Clearly, Perry and his employees take pride in their work -- and both our palates and pocketbooks are the happier for it.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 29, 2017 at 11:12 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

August 28, 2017

Return to UCLA

The alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. and I don't even know what planet I'm on. I refill the cats' water fountain and their food silo, and head for the airport on the KTM.

I have both motorcycle keys on the same key chain, and I have to study the keys at length to get the right one in the ignition.

It's cold in the August morning air, and I zip up all of the zippers on my riding gear as I'm rolling out of the foothills down towards Denver.

Now, I go to the short term parking, instead of Canopy Parking. I'm trying something different this week. Trying to cut down on my parking costs in Colorado.

I get on the plane and we push back and I'm asleep before we even fly over my house. I wake up somewhere over Nevada. We land at LAX and I go outside. My bike is right where I left it. I'm getting used to leaving it at LAX now. Normally, it's at Ontario, but for now, I'm keeping it at LAX.

Hop on the bike and, program my GPS to go to 308 Westwood Plaza, Ackerman Student Union at UCLA. Only this time, as I'm leaving the airport, I finally grasp where I am. I recognize all of the roads now, for the first time.

Now, I'm rolling north on I-405, lane-splitting. The front end has a dangerous wobble, and I'm not clear why. Maybe my front tire is low. Maybe the steering head bearings are loose? I'm not clear.

I park at UCLA, and get into the office at 10:00 a.m. So, it takes me roughly 6 hours to get here from my house. Brilliant.

They don't bring us breakfast today...I think that they never do on Monday. They never bring us lunch, either. So, we only get breakfast, and we only get it 3 days a week (Tues, Wed, Thr). Great.

All of the management disappears into a cloud of conspiracy. Our project was in the news last week, and they're meeting to discuss the project, I'm sure.

At 3:11 p.m., people start talking about where we'll go for dinner. "No...you have to have reservations to eat at the hotel" someone consoles another consultant. And so it goes.

The little man comes in and starts conspicuously cleaning our conference room. Like, it's time for you people to get the fuck out of here. Can you not take a hint???

Mondays are always the hardest. Like, at 5:00, you feel like you've been run over by a train. I've been awake for 13 hours and my life seems like a disconnected series of poor decisions and weak impulse control.

"Where do we go for dinner, John?" I ask him. Like...don't think you flew in from Jacksonville, Florida and are going to skip out on dinner with the clicque.

"Why don't we go to Westwood Village...there's some good places there. We can walk there..." he offers.

"OK. Deal."

So, we walk down to the Fox Theatre at Westwood Village, and we decide to eat at California Pizza Kitchen, so I can have my BBQ Chicken Pizza.

Ben joins us, so it's Me, John, Sapna, and Ben. The four of us sitting there eating pizza.

But Ben is one of those people that just calls you out on everything you ever say. Like...if I had a chance to murder that motherfucker and get away with it, I'm pretty sure that I'd do it.

It starts out with me saying that "When they built Terminal D at DFW airport, they spent a billion dollars on that terminal."

"No way. That's bullshit. THat's not right," the dickhole replies. "No way it would cost that much.".

Like...OK...faggot..you're right...it didn't cost $1 billion. It cost $1.7 billion, and it opened in July of 2005. http://www.corgan.com/story/dfw-terminal-largest-design-project/

So, you're dead wrong on that point. And, then, what does he say? "Oh...my bad...I was wrong?" Nope. He doesn't say shit. If you're going to call me out, how about you say, "Oh...I guess I'm a fucking idiot for calling you a liar when a) you were right and b) I'm a fucking idiot."

So, the night just goes like this. With him calling me out, and me proving him wrong. Just like playing tennis with a quadraplegic.

Then, I mention something that happened to me today on the plane.

I carry all of my luggage onto the plane (it isn't much), and I always put it underneath my legs, and hide it with my motorcycle jacket. So, the long and the short of it is, that I'm not adding any luggage into the overhead bins, which is what the flying waitresses are most concerned about. The only thing that I ever put in the overhead bin is my motorcycle helmet. And, I've noticed before, that people tend to feel comfortable moving my helmet if it suits them. This drives me absolutely bonkers.

Like...just because I dont' stick a huge oversized suitcase into the overhead bin doesn't mean that you can move my helmet wherever it suits you. I'm the highest level frequent flyer there is at this airline (A-List Preferred). I fly ever week. And how about you keep your fat little hands off of my helmet. Don't tucking touch it. I honestly don't know why they think that they can put their grubby hands on my property and move it around.

So, I'm sitting there in seat 2A, as always, and I look up, and the fucking flying waitress has my helmet in her fat little hands and she's acting like she's going to go bowling with it and I'm like..."Oh no you didn't. I didn't ask you to touch my helmet. Put it back where you found it. I was here first. I'm A-List Preferred. Don't touch my helmet Put it back."

And she says, "Well, I've got two international bags from a connecting flight..." she starts into this diatribe, like I give a fuck.

"I don't care!" I tell her flatly. "Put my helmet back where you found it. I was here first. I'm A-List Preferred. Don't touch my motorcycle helmet."

"Do you have anything else in the overhead bin," the flying pig wants to know. As if that mattered.

"No. I do not. The only thing I have in the overhead bins is that helmet. And put it back where you got it from."

She said something smartass like "great" or "super" or "thanks", or something like that. Something that some cow making $40K a year would say when they just realized they they accidentally dove head first into the shallow end of the pool.

Like...Mother Fucking I don't need you people putting your filthy mitts all over my things. So what if someone is on a connecting flight from another country. What difference does that make? So you're going to take my motorcycle helmet off of the plane. Fuck you. Fuck their suitacases. Stick them in the belly of the plane and get your fucking hands off of my helmet.

So, finally, the flying waitress returns my helmet to when she found it, and leaves it alone. Lord how I hate a flying waitress. I think if there is a heaven, it will be me on a skeet range going "pul!" and having a flying waitress come flying through the sky and I cut her in half with a 12 gauge.

So, Ben is all over this also. Pointing out that I'm a jackass for wanting to keep my helmet in the overhead bin. I think that I'm not going out with him any more. It's too stressful. Like, who needs that?

After dinner, we walk across the street to Diddy Riese, a place that sells ice cream sandwiches....like....you pick the cookies, the ice cream, they sandwich two cookies around a slab of ice cream, and hand it to you, for the grand total of $2.00. Now, keep in mind that this is in Westwood Village. I have no idea how they do this and make a profit, but this place is decadent. I'm eating an ice cream sandwich here every night until I die.

After dinner, and ice cream sandwich dessert, then I ride my KTM back to the place where I'm staying at 1532 S. Crest Drive. The neighbors are all in the front yard drinking beers. I pull up and they immediately invite me over, and now we're drinking beers in Westwood/Beverly Hills, having a grand old time.

This is the nice thing about doing an Air BnB. You can get to know the people and build some friendships, instead of just going to crash alone in a hotel at night.

Apparently, their parents were riding tandem on a bicycle, and got hit at an intersection and were injured pretty badly, but are expected to make a full recovery. So, I'm praying for them.

I file a complaint with SouthWest and ask for their fat-pig flying waitress air-hogs to not touch my motorcycle helmet ever again. They say that I should get an email from them in 24 hours. Sure. I'm sure that that will happen.

And now, I go to sleep for a few hours, after a long and crazy day.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 28, 2017 at 6:28 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

August 26, 2017

I Don't Have Alzheimer's?

Like, I love that people think that they know whether or not I have Alzheimer's. My father died from it in a memory ward/old folk's home and didn't recognize his own children at the end. My grandmother, (his mother), died from it also. So, it doesn't take a fucking rocket scientist to grasp that 1) it's genetic and 2) it runs in our family and 3) if you wake up and don't know where you are, that's a pretty fucking good indication that things are not getting better.

Like, I love how people tell me I don't have a memory issue. And, it's not just my immediate family, it's also friends. Look....I don't need you fucking people telling me that everything is fine. In fact, it is not. And you have no fucking way to judge this, but it isn't up to you to decide anyway. Stop assuming that I'm lying or stupid. It certainly doesn't help me any.

Like, I love how you can't say "boo" about the protected classes (blacks, women, gays, etc.), but somehow, you're free to call me a fucking moron 24/7. Stop. Stop it now. You have no fucking clue what I'm going through. I don't need this shit. Seriously. Let it fucking go.

The presumption to think that you can diagnose someone's mental state from a different time zone. The gall.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 26, 2017 at 10:24 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

How to move your iTunes library to a new computer


Posted by Rob Kiser on August 26, 2017 at 9:46 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

August 23, 2017

Soan Papdi

With the onset of Alzheimer's, my world begins to crumble around me. I look at people I've worked with for over a year, and can't come up with their names. Slowly, everything pulls away from me. But, because you can't remember what you can't remember, it's sort of hard to grasp how far gone you really are.

There are a few indications that sort of show you how far gone you are. A sort of mental measuring stick, if you will.

Like, I look at my posts on the internet. Some of them I remember making. Some of them I do not.

Surf the internet, and I'm vaguely aware that I've read these links before.

This weekend, we go out to dinner, and I see some people in a restaurant. They speak to me and ask me to join them. Only, I don't know who they are. I don't recognize them. This is a very awkward feeling. Like....presumably, they know me, but I don't know them.

Now, you really begin to question the world around you. Like...how is it that all of these people know me, but I don't know them? How many people are there like this out there? How is one supposed to act in a wolrd such as this?

When Jennifer and I were in Cancun and Cabo this year, she would play music on her phone, which I truly enjoyed. Because, it's songs that I've forgotten to remember. So, she's playing all of these songs, which I know, but I would never have been able to remember them on my own. Only when I hear them played do I recognize them.

Now, today, the boss comes over. I'm working on some SQL for hiim. Doing some audits on the database. Nothing tricky. Code I've been knocking out for 20 years or so.

But now, he's plotting something. I'm not sure what at first. It's hard to know who to trust.

Like, if you can't remember anything you say, then you'd probably do best if you just shut your mouth.

If you ask someone 4 times in the same day what they did last night, people might start to realize that there's a problem. So, speak when spoken to. That sort of becomes the game plan.

But now, the boss is plotting something. He mentiond this to me yesterday. I'm not really clear what's going on. He comes over and sits down beside me on my couch.Everyone else sits in chairs in this large conference room. I sit on a leather sofa with my feet up on the coffee table.

I can be gone today. This is not a problem to me. I'm just here, serving at the will of my boss. He comes over today, and starts talking to me. Always, this is the hard part. When someone asks what you're working on, and you can't remember, it doesn't look good. Somehow, he gets me started talking. I'm able to say something that makes sense (barely).

Now, he's telling me to write this email. He wants me to email the project manager and give him some feedback. I try to write the email, but I can't even grasp what we're talking about really.

So, he writes me an email, and sends it to me. Here...take my name off of this...and send it to the project managers. cc all of the other managers.

Why are you doint this? I ask. But there's no answer.

I find a receipt on the sofa beside me. I unfurl it, and see that it's a receipt for Soan Papdi.

Soan Papdi...the nectar of the Gods. Like, I first had this last year some time. I work with a lot of Indians, and they turned me onto it. But, I'd completely forgotten about it until I saw the receipt. I don't really like how everything is pulling away from me like this.

Somosa House
11510 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 23, 2017 at 5:16 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

August 22, 2017

The Things You Think Will Make You Happy

Every morning, the girl comes and brings us breakfast on a cart. Coffee, creamer, sugars, orange juice, fresh cut fruit....cantaloupe, watermelon, raspberries, blueberries, honeydew melons, muffins, danishes....an unbelievable array of breakfast delicacies.

And, you'd think that you would be happily diving into the food every morning. But, in reality, you get used to it very quickly. So that, right away, people start to complain about the temperature of the coffe, or the perceived lack of varieties.

Like, you should never underestimate the ability of human beings to grow uncomfortable or unhappy with their situation.

Jennifer was surprised, I think, to go away to college and learn that her richest friends weren't ecstatically happy. But that's the nature of the beast. That's how it works. Having money doesn't make you happy. You'd think that it would, but it really doesn't.

The things you think will make you happy really won't. It doesn't work that way. Otherwise, people would be jumping up and down in the shopping malls, high-fiving each other on the perfect temperature inside the malls. But the truth is that no one talks about the temperature inside the mall, ever. Even though it's perfect. If you pointed out that the temperature was perfect, people would laugh at you.

Today, I'm sitting at my desk and the boss comes over and asks me how I'm doing with my data comparison. I think I'm making good progress, but then he tells me that what I'm doing is completely wrong. And that, I need to just do row counts on the tables in two different databases. Like...his request is so stupid that I want to jump out a window. I'm thinking...why am I here? Why do I get paid to do this? I wonder what the temperature is like down in Tierra Del Fuego. Like...if I left today, would I freeze by the time I got down there?

"I need you to work with me on this issue, and then we'll show the project managers that you are the lead on this project..."

I want to stick my hand into a blender. This request is so stupid there aren't words. And, the idea that we need to show the project managers that this is the whipping-boy task I've been assigned makes me want to murder everyone in the room with a ball-peen hammer.

Like, now, I begin to think that they're questioning my value, so he's come up with this little task for me to work on to demonstrate my value to the team. I want to swan dive off of the top of the Fox Theater.

I sit there at my little couch with my feet up on the coffee table and wonder if I can possibly kill 6 months riding one of the bikes down to Tierra Del Fuego.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 22, 2017 at 6:48 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

August 21, 2017

Eclipse of 2017

In the morning, I fly back to Los Angeles.

On the plane, I force myself to talk to the person in the middle seat. Like, when I see someone, I sort of force myself to talk to strangers, because that's all that there is really. I just make myself talk to them. For good or for ill. It's all that there is. When you find yourself surrounded by strangers, you reach out to them. It's not much, but it's all you have, and it might keep you from drowning in a sea of anonymous strangers.

I talk to men. Women. Young. Old. It's good practice, for hitting on chicks, because you don't want to act shy/bashful/inexperienced/desperate. If you're really truly not trying to get anything out of the conversation, then that's the only real chance you have of not seeming desperate.

I haven't flown into LAX a whole lot. Only a few times, but I'm getting to know the airport. Slowly, but surely. So that now, when I fly in, I sort of half know where I am.

The only problem is that I can't find my glasses. I hear someone tell the flight attendant, "no, those aren't my glasses". Panicked....I realize that I can't find my glasses, and the stupid flying waitress must have them somehow. "Uh....where'd the glasses go. I think that they're mine." Like, if I don't have my glasses, I'm so fucked that there aren't words. This is a show-stopper.

"I gave them to the woman...she's up at the end of the jetway, dressed like me, but with a red jacket on."

So, I race off the plane, and I find the woman. and she has my glasses. I take them from her, and swap them out for the readers I was wearing on the plane. Lord. God.

I go outside, but this time I walk right to the KTM. It was only there for 4 days, so it's not quite as nerve racking as if you've been gone for a week or two.

Like, I mean, I ride the Honda to the airport, and then fly out here, and then I get on the KTM at LAX. I have both keys on the same chain. And, I always get them mixed up. LIke, I'll be sitting on the bike, and I can't tell you which bike I'm on. So, I try to shove the Honda key into the KTM. Again. I'm going to ruin my ignition switches doing this.

I use a GPS and Waze at the same time to try to verify my route to UCLA. But, what's funny is that, once I get them all dialed in, I'm starting to recognize my route. Like, certainly, I've been this way before. This is kind of fun. Maybe, this is the only really fun/exciting part of my work. I think, really, it's the only thing that I enjoy. Riding the motorcycle, learning new airports, new cities. New routes. New restaurants. Really, this is all that keeps me going I think.

I walk into the office, half blnded from the sun.

It occurs to me that, the further away people travel from, the earlier they get here. The people from the east coast are here first. The people that have an up and down flight from San Francisco (Wheels up to wheels down = 40 minutes), somehow get here last. Sort of counter-intuitive, but this is where we are.

There's no coffee, so the boss and I go for coffee. (The don't bring it to us on Monday for whatever reason.)

So, we go for coffee. Where were you this weekend? Where are you moving to? Like...these are sort of normal questions that you ask someone who flies every week. Like...these people are so close to sucide that there aren't words. You try to talk about your travels as though it makes sense.

But, of course, nothing ever works.

"I was in chicago. We're moving to New Jersey...." he offers.

"Yes...yes.." I mumble. Like, he could say that, "we're moving to the surface of the moon and I wouldn't be surprised."

I try to focus to courage to ask him a question. To ask him what I'm supposed to be working on. And why it matters. Like...these are the little things that bother me...like the little kernels of sand that you feel in your shoes and in your pockets. Things that gnaw at you, out of sight of the public. But things that worry you and gnaw away at your sanity. I could go forward without addressing them, but I feel like I need to push the envelope. To give words to my deepest fears.

"What is it that I'm supposed to be working on?" I ask him. Like, I'm running all of this SQL. I know that much. But what is it for? Why does it matter? When can I go?

Like, there's no end in sight and I really don't want to be here any more. I don't really want any more money. I wouldn't know what to do with it if I had more money. I just want to go away. I want to ride my bike down to Tierra Del Fuego. And I feel like I'm just in this holding pattern here. We're never going to go live. And we're never going to cancel the project. And they're just going to keep paying me until eventually, I'll get run over on the I-405 by some idiot woman changing lanes into the HIV lane illegally. And I'm going to go down onto the concrete going 60 mph with no insurance. Like...that's a very real possibility, and I don't really want to be here any more. Maybe the eclipse is a sign. Maybe not.

"This that you are working on is like a staging of the configuration data that could be used for the next integration test. We could use it for the next phase of Integration Testing or Parrallel testing, if we move it into a different environment," he offers. As if that makes any sense. Like, I just grit my teeth and close my eyes.

"Here, put on these glasses and you can see the eclipse," a young beautiful girl offers.

I stare at the eclipse briefly, and pass the glasses on to the next person in line.

Like, I don't mind the campus. The campus is beautfiul, but I really don't know why I'm here any more. I've been here for over a year, but I don't feel like we're any closer to going live. And I don't really want any more money....I just want to go get on my motorcycle and ride...for a long time....like for 2-3 months down in South America. I want to go exploring while I still can.

I don't really feel like staying here is helping anyone. I don't feel like the project is progressing. And I don't feel like having more money in the bank is making me any happier or more complete as a human being.

"Do you think that you can have the audits done of this environment today?" my boss asks.

"Yeah. Sure. I can have them done today," I reply, and I go outside to watch the eclipse with the eternally young, beautiful girls on campus.

We break for lunch as soon as everyone gets in, and, at some point, John points out that no one else is here. Like, we've all flown in from all over the country, and no one from UC is here. Like. No one. Now, granted, UCLA has an office that's a 15 minute walk away on Wilshire Boulevard, but they can't be bothered to come here. Not UCLA. Not Riverside. Not Merced. So, it's just us. Just a room full of contracters.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 21, 2017 at 11:49 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

August 20, 2017

2017 Solar Eclipse

So, it looks like the eclipse will start in Denver, Colorado at around 11:46 a.m. on Monday August 20, 2017.

Conifer 10:23 a.m. - 1:14 p.m., with peak at 11:46 a.m.
Los Angeles 9:05 a.m. - 11:44 a.m., with peak at 10:21 a.m.

My flight leaves Monday morning at 7:45 a.m. and lands at 9:15 a.m.
So, we should be landing just as the eclipse starts. Then, I can ride my bike up to UCLA and catch the eclipse there.

If you want to view the eclipse, don't look at the sun. Don't use some fake shades you got from Amazon.com for $0.99. Make a simple pinhole eclipse viewer.


Posted by Rob Kiser on August 20, 2017 at 7:11 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

August 16, 2017

Westwood & Wilshire Boulevard

At 5:00 a.m. in the morning I wake up and ride the Honda Africa Twin to the airport in the cool summer morning air. Park and catch a flight to Phoenix. I'm going back to Los Angeles, but my KTM is in Ontario because that's where I flew out of when my grandmother passed away and then I was in Colorado last week and so it goes.

My ticket was to fly to LAX this week, but then I realized that my KTM was in Ontario, so I bought a one-way ticket to ONT from DEN, but couldn't get a non-stop flight, so I'm going through Sky Harbor in Phoenix. This is my life.

I preboard the flight to Phoenix and then the pilot takes us to a place out on the tarmac I've never seen before in 30 years of flying and the pilot announces that we will be delayed due to air traffic control.

Great. The flight is delayed leaving Denver. Now, I'll miss my connection in Phoenix and I'll be royally screwed getting into work. This is why you take non-stop flights.

But instead, we're only delayed a short time and then we take off an I watch the mountains and then the deserts scroll by with little interest.

When you never fly, it's all very exciting but when you fly every week, everything fades.

I land at Sky Harbor and change terminals without having to reclear securtiy and now I'm at the gate and I preboard again. Now, a short flight into ONT, but this isn't really familiar country. I don't normally fly over this portion of the Great American Desert.

"Is that Lake Havasu City?" I ask the guy beside me.

"No. That's the Salton Sea."

Very cool. Now, we're landing in ONT, but the pilot does a go-around because a helicopter is in the way. Now, we land and I walk outside and this is the part where you pray the bike is where you left it nearly 2 weeks ago. And the bright orange KTM is there. Huge rush of adrenaline. Now, I'm not really sure where I'm going, so I put in the address of the last place we were when we worked at UCLA. It has to be close to that, I figure.

Everything shows to take I-10 west, and now that it's noon, I don't think that traffic will be all that bad, and I hop on I-10 heading west. Traffic isn't all that bad, though it does stop occasionally, and when it does, I lane split and I keep going west. I-10 joins I-5 for a little bit just east of downtown LA and I manage to get a little lost, but then I'm back on track, south on I-5, to I-10 west again. And traffic is bad, and then better.

When I get to 10920 Wilshire Blvd, I park the KTM in the same place I parked the last time we were here. Now, I see that Sapna has texted me a new address less than a mile from here, and now I'm off to the races. Like, first, get to the right side of Los Angeles. Now, go up Westwood to UCLA's main campus.

Some question about whether the building name is Ackerman Hall or Ackerman Student Union. Just ask for the bookstore. It's at the center of campus.

I park in a parking garage at the edge of campus and start walking looking for "the building with stripes". Find it and there's an information window. Apparently, UC Path is on the 2nd floor. I walk up to the second floor and I'm home.

On Monday morning, we don't have any food provided, but on Tuesday morning, the bring us coffee. Fresh fruit. Danishes. Muffins.

The chairs are stiff, so I sit on a couch, with my feet on the coffee table.

We are here for the week. May as well make the best of it.

Suresh and I walk to starbucks for coffee, down in Westwood by the Fox Theatre.

There is a tree here with yellow flowers that I can't identify and it bothers me. I take a photo to send to the horticulturist that I met in Rockridge. But I don't have his contact information any more.

Cassia Leptophylia. Gold Medallion Tree. Foot long seed pods. Native to Brazil.


Posted by Rob Kiser on August 16, 2017 at 10:39 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

August 3, 2017

Elsie Lou Penner Sutton (Nana)

Today, we buried Elsie Lou Penner Sutton, my grandmother.
November 7, 1919 - July 30, 2017.

The service was at St. Paul's Episcopal Church 520 Summit St, Winston-Salem, NC.

She was buried at Crestview Memorial Cemetery at 6850 University Pkwy, Rural Hall, NC. Uncle Jack is buried there also. Herman Jackson Penner. Feb 4, 1911 - Nov 20, 1978.

We had dinner afterwards at Village Tavern, the one by Hanes Mall. (There are two of them apparently.) This is also where we ate on Nana's 90th birthday. The Village Tavern we went to is at 2000 Griffith Road Winston-Salem, NC 27103.

I believe that Uncle Jack and Aunt Vera lived at 225 Penner St.

There is another small family cemetery where Albert is interred. It's just past Old Nick Williams Distillery at 2675 Williams Rd, Lewisville, NC 27023. This is apparently a relative of ours.

Turn off of Williams Road onto Double Spring Road, and the first gate on the left is where we go in to the family cemetery. This is where Albert is interred and has a headstone. 11327 Double Spring Rd, Lewisville, NC.

Then, we went to Old Salem and got Moravian sugar cake from the Winkler Bakery 521 S Main St, Winston-Salem, NC.

We stayed at the Best Western Plus at Haynes Mall at 3320 Silas Creek Parkway.

The house that Nana lived in is at 1008 West End Blvd.

The house that Albert grew up in is Grommy's house at 1404 west 1st street.

Hanes Park is the park at the bottom of the hill we used to go to.

Uncle Bobby's house is at 7685 Fair Oaks Drive Clemmons, NC.

Here's a map that shows some of the places we went.

Sarah Lou Sutton - Albert Rufus Kiser
Catherine Kiser Oenbrink- Steve Oenbrink (Hannah)
Mary Margaret (Molly) Kiser Meeks - Mark Meeks (Hallye, Lilly, Sarah)
Robert Kiser (Jennifer Kiser)
Jonathan Kiser - Tatia Long (Jack, Caroline, Kate, Charlie)

Robert Bean Sutton, Jr (Uncle Bobby) - Vicky Sutton
Scott Sutton - Caryn Nowak Sutton (Robby)
Lisa Sutton Niemi - Mike Niemi

Margaret (Peggy) Sutton Wade - David Wade
Elise Wade Crawford - Gene Crawford (Anthony)
Carlysle Wade - Mary Rose McAdams Wade (Olivia, Mick, and Bobby)
Andrew Wade - Lori Wade (Not on Facebook)

Elsie Lou had:
3 children
9 grand-children
15 great-grand children(?)

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 3, 2017 at 4:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

August 2, 2017

Travel Plans for this week

Wednesday August 2nd, 2017
American Airlines FLT 682
Depart Denver 7:00 a.m. EDT
Arrive Charlotte 12:10 p.m. EDT

American Airlines FLT 5298
Depart Charlotte 1:10 p.m. EDT
Arrive Greensboro 1:54 p.m. EDT

Friday August 4th
American Airlines Flt 5165
Depart Greensboro 8:10 p.m. EDT
Arrive Charlotte 9:03 p.m. EDT

American Airlines Flt 1865
Depart Charlotte 10:10 p.m. EDT
Arrive Denver 11:41 p.m. MDT

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 2, 2017 at 6:49 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

August 1, 2017

The Fires of Hell (Tuesday)

Now, I should mention that we're working in Riverside, CA.

Yesterday, they didn't bring us coffee on Monday morning, and the lunch they brought us was a salad. So, I'm not a rabbit. So, that's not going to work.

We've had a problem with homeless people coming in and taking our food when it's out. The sort of pop inside the building and start munch9ng away like alley rats.

But, about a month ago, they got some security guards. Now, the security guards ride around the parking lot in a golf cart, and then come in and shake down the buffets for whatever they can take for lunch. I'm not really sure how this is any better, honestly.

All they did was legitimize what was previously a hustle/scam type of operation.

They just calcified the process. Set it in stone.

So, yesterday, we got a pretty weak meal. About 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon, the conversation grows to a dull roar. This is the climax of the day's activity. The crescendo. After this, the energy fades. People drift off. They slip away until, at 6:00 p.m., no one is left.

I wake up this morning after another sleepless night in the fiery pitts of hell that is Air BnB. The cunt that owns the place isn't there when I check in. I try to take a shower, the bathroom if filthy and the shower is full of thousands of sugar ants marching to god knows where.

I turn on the AC, because it's over 80F when I check in. In the middle of the night, a woman in another room turns off the air conditioning. I wake up in the fiery pits of hell that is Riverside, California on August 1st. This is Satan's birthday.

So, I turn on the AC and set it on 54F and go back to sleep.

In the morning, my slumlord messages me and says not to touch the AC any more, as her roommate woke up with a cold as she was so cold last night. I point out that it's just an old wives tale that being cold makes you catch a cold. And that, with the temperature hovering in the 70's / 80's all night, it's hard to imagine that it made her ill.

But far be it from me to impose on this bitch. So, at lunch, I go check out and tell her to refund my money.

Now, I call to check an see when Nana's funeral is and, for whatever reason, no one ever got back to me yesterday. Everyone is heading to North Carolina for the funeral, and I'm on the left coast. Fuck.

Like, I'd like to make it to the funeral. I have my own reasons for this. I look to see if I could fly round trip from Denver to Greensboro and back. I find a ticket that leaves tomorrow morning. That would do it. Then, I look to see if I can buy a one way ticket nonstop from Ontario to Denver today. There's the old 4:30 flight. It leaves in an hour. That would work. Then fly out tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. to Greensboro.

So, I have this sort of flight plan put together. I check the dates and times. Fuck it. I buy the two tickets. And now I head out. I'm packing up all of my shit at 3:20 p.m. on a Tuesday. I'm not even sure what day it is. I pack all of my shit and then I see I need gas so I go to the gas station and cut off a car that's about to fill up. I splash about 3 gallons in my tank as he's honking and dog-cussing me for all he's worth. I just ignore him.

Now, I'm flying down highwy 60 west. Lane-splitting at triple digits. LIke, I'm going to be the first person to die on the way to a funeral. OK, in reality, probably not. Probably I won't really die. Probably for real, other people have.

So, I'm just screaming out to the airport at 107 mph and come up behind a black an white SUV. Some sort of police vehicle. For sure. He has all the markings. I'm not sure what jurisdiction he's with, but he's a pig. Full on. For sure. I drop back, he exits onto I-15 and I'm wide open again. I start to think that maybe I'll make it.

Then, I roll up to the airport at Ontario, and park in my little spot right across from SouthWest.

I bust up into the airport to get my boarding pass at the ticket counter, because for some reason, the app didn't let me get a boarding pass. I'm about to jump over the counter. Like, my flight is about to start boarding right now. Hurry people.

Now, she gives me a boarding pass. (Pre-board). And the flight is delayed 30 minutes. Woohoo!!!!

So, now I have time to stop for an oreo milkshake at Carl's Jr. Yay!

So, I get my milkshake and go sit down at the gate, and I'm so stupid, I'm wondering why the plane isn't out there. Now, I'm looking at the tarmac wondering when the plane will roll up. Eventually, it dawns on me that we're royally fucked, so I go up to the gate and I ask her what the deal is.

The gate agent admits that they changed the departure time from 3:30 pm to 4:00 pm to 6:00 p.m. Apparently, the plane was in Las Vegas ready to push back, but it had a mechanical. So, they changed planes. Then, when all of the people got on the plane, the plane had too much fuel on it. So, they had to take fuel off of it. But, to take fuel off of it, they have to take the people off. So, they deboard the plane in Vegas, take fuel off of the plane, and then they reboard the plane. Now, we're waiting for them to push back from the gate, and then we have to see what place they're in to take off. Once they take off, it's up and down from Las Vegas to Ontario. Basically, you fly over the San Bernardino mountains and land.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 1, 2017 at 5:17 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink