Archive for elsont

Second Eye Blind, Episode 3.5: Highball Eyeball

San Gabriel Mountains, Pomona Fairplex

A view of the San Gabriel Mountains in Pomona from my eyes.

 

No appointments today, just an update on my vision and how it’s sort of affected my daily life. Today was the World’s Greatest Hobby On Tour show, a major model railroad traveling show featuring model train manufacturers, layouts on display, and swap meet/retail items for sale. Of course, the show was all the way out in the L.A. County Fairground Fairplex in Pomona, some 40 miles east of me. This show only happens every 5 or so years in a certain city, so I can’t miss this. But no freaking way I’d be driving all the way there, and public transit options are difficult to get to the fairgrounds when the fair isn’t going on. Fortunately my fellow model railroader friend Ryan offered to carpool, plus he wanted to take his new Chevrolet Bolt electric car for a spin. So all was good. Along the way he even shared his experience of getting eye surgery himself a few years ago.

World's Greatest Hobby On Tour Show, Fairplex Pomona

This show ain’t as fun with one good eye.

 

The event is laid out across one of Fairplex’s hangar-like exhibition halls, with multiple rows of exhibitors, vendors and train layout displays. Though I loved looking at some of the new model trains being released this year, as well as shopping for some items, it’s a bit daunting navigating with just one good eye. And now the cataract had progressed where all I can see is a pure foggy white in my right eye.

I model N scale model trains, which is one of the smaller sizes (1:160th the size of the real thing), so having good vision is a must. I refrained from doing any kit-building work or anything that required any degree of accuracy, and just ran trains around my 4×8′ layout.

I should hear from Kaiser any day now…

Second Eye Blind, Episode Three: By Any Measure

Kaiser Lens Measurement

This way to restoring my vision.

 

Today’s appointment: Kaiser Ophthalmology, 1:30 p.m. with Maria Elena Vallez.

The whole purpose of the appointment was to take measurements of my eyes for the artificial lens that will be placed in my eventual surgery. I guess it was a precursor to the actual surgery as my eyelid was propped open, eyeball was given numbing drops, water squirted in my eye, and a caliper-like device was placed on my eyeball. It didn’t hurt, but it felt a little uncomfortable, but that’s part of the deal I guess.

Although at my last appointment, I was told that today was when my operation date would be set, instead, they would call me “in a week” with the date.

The waiting begins…

 

Splendor In The Tall Grass: Madison Park Story Gathering

LA Commons Madison Park Story Sharing

Great turnout today for our community event.

 

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 was to “retire” from voluntary community involvement activities (with the exception of Friends of Cahuenga Library and any community projects currently in-progress, of course). So, this was the latter. I assisted LA Commons with doing community outreach for a “story gathering” event today at the proposed park/community garden at 1175 Madison Avenue in East Hollywood.

The organization was tasked with creating a mural for a structure that would be built on the park, including the process of hiring an artist and facilitating the recruitment of local high school students to help paint the mural, which was similar to the process of the utility box murals that were painted along Hollywood and Santa Monica boulevards and Vermont Avenue here in my ‘hood.

But the event today was focused on gathering stories and opinions from people in the neighborhood, which would influence the eventual design of the mural. The extent of my outreach was getting event flyers to students/parents of the nearby Lockwood Avenue Elementary School and Lexington Avenue Primary Center, who are in close proximity to the park and would no doubt benefit from it once it’s built. The effort turned out pretty well, as over 60 people came to the event, which also featured some Zankou Chicken. Fellow local (and Friends of Cahuenga Library boardmember) Jimmy Recinos recited some local-centric poetry, and I got to sing and play (on my new Breedlove acoustic guitar) “My Part of Town” and a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” (as an allusion to um, the current leadership of this country).

I also met Dalila Mendez, the muralist of our project (whom I helped lobby to be selected due to her community ties and relatability to the students) and chatted with a writer from the Eastsider L.A. blog who was covering the event.

It was a great time, on a sunny winter day, though at the same time a bit surreal due to my partial blindness, which I talked about with some friends there. At least I didn’t have to drive to the event.

 

 

Second Eye Blind, Episode Two: The Appointment

Kaiser Ophthalmology Office

The arrow points to the only way to go: Forward.

 

Today was my first step to treating this thing. My first appointment, 3:30 p.m. at the Ophthalmology (it took having this eye condition to get me to finally spell the word correctly) department at Kaiser Permanente’s L.A. Medical Center. Dr. Hyong Sok Choe, M.D. I underwent an eye test on both eyes and after a long wait, finally sat in his examination chair. My head sat on some sort of frame while he examined my eyes with a bright light. Almost matter-of-factly, he diagnosed my right-eye blindness as a cataract. The malady was so advanced that he couldn’t see into my eye, so he did an ultrasound of the eye. Fortunately, he couldn’t detect any unusual issues besides the cataract, but I’d need the cataract removed for him to if there were any other issues. And then scheduled me for surgery.

Gulp.

Surgery. It sounded so…serious. I asked him what it entailed.

Basically, my cataract-encrusted natural lens that I have been seeing through for some 45 years would be removed and replaced with an artificial one, which is fixed for near-sighted vision and that I would require glasses to see distances. But after reading and participating in a thread in a model railroading forum on the topic of cararacts (how timely!), I discovered about a multifocal lens, which allows one to see both near- and far-sighted, but would come at a cost. I inquired about that, and he said that they do provide it, though it would cost $2,500, as it’s not covered by insurance ($2,500 is a lot of money, but we’re talking about eyesight here; I consider that an investment).

And the whole procedure would take all but 15 minutes. But I would have to be put on the track for the procedure, which means it would take at least a month to happen.

That means at least a whole month of walking around, cloudy-eyed, closing my good eye periodically to realize that I am indeed visually-impaired, and sometimes bumping into people in the subway station on my right side because I can’t see them. A whole month of driving cautiously (a friend of mine lost one eye in his youth yet still drives, so I figured I could do it), though limiting my driving to nearby distances, familiar streets and avoiding nighttime driving as much as possible. At least a whole month of being super-conscious of whether my right eye will wander and cause me to look obviously blind, at least a whole month of being somewhat hermit-like and just passing the time away so we can all get this over with.

It seems though, it’s all going to be worth the wait.

My pupils were also dilated for the appointment, and though I returned to work after visiting the doctor, I eventually took the rest of the day off because I basically couldn’t read anything in my condition.

Next stop: Lens measurement appointment next Monday.

Second Eye Blind, Episode One: Oh Say Can’t I See

Second Eye Blind Sunset, Feb 1, 2017

This is a Photoshopped rendition of how I my eyes see the world right now.

 

A few days ago I woke up not being able to see very clearly with my right eye. Everything was overtly cloudy and blurry.

It was both a shock, yet not really.

About eight years ago, I saw an optometrist regarding some vision problems I had that suddenly appeared while at work. My eyes were straining to see clearly and there was a faint dark “blob” spot that formed in my left eye’s vision. The optometrist said I had an early form of glaucoma, and prescribed me some eyedrops to ameliorate the issue. The other issue was that in my right eye, I had an early form of cataracts (which, after getting to a certain point, would have to be operated on).

The eye drops have largely worked, I don’t have any eye blob issues (although it has returned a few times, and later shrank again due to the drops) in that eye. But while the left eye got slightly better, my right eye’s cataract gradually got worse. In dark rooms with bright lights, I would close me left eye and rapidly blink my right to see a gradually-increasing halo or glow around the light source. I even recall performing on a stage a few years ago not being able to see the audience because the light (and the glow) were too overpowering. And in late 2016, the fogginess in my right eye got noticeably worse, I would unconsciously blink it habitually, and the eye would tear up without any irritation or provocation.

So this didn’t really come as much of a surprise. I would have to face the music and have this surgery sometime in the foreseeable future, a prospect that simultaneously brings me relief and anxiety.

Testing…testing…one…two…

Pardon our dust…

Pardon me as I dust off this old blog and get more mileage out of WordPress. I promised myself I should be writing more (both music and articles), and most of all broadcast my words to the world, as opposed to just friends on Facebook, which I’m also trying to leave (more on this later). In the meantime, stay tuned…

New KCET Article: Is Los Angeles a West Coast City?

My first KCET.org article in almost a year just made the site today. It’s part of the Lost L.A. section, a piece on Los Angeles’ true geographical location, titled, Is L.A. a West Coast City? For Many, It’s the East. Or the North.

Quoted, Contributed to KCET Article

That’s little me (in the overalls) at a Filipino provincial association picnic in Redondo Beach, circa summer 1973.

I contributed a few quotes and a picture to a recent KCET.org article today. Hometown Picnics: How Newcomers Kept Memory of Home Alive in Los Angeleswritten by my friend and fellow local history aficionado, Victoria Bernal, contained a few quotes from me on how picnics, holiday parties and other social events organized by organizations in the Filipino American community contributed to the cultural fabric of Los Angeles. I also scanned a picture from my early childhood, with my dad and little 1 1/2 year-old me at the Boholanos of Southern California, Inc annual picnic at Veteran’s Park in Redondo Beach, taken in June 1973.

A Conversation With My 2012 Self

On the occasion of my birthday, I’d like to share with you this fascinating fact: I have perfected time travel!

Well, okay, not totally perfected it. I’ve tried it, and after some minor tweaks, was able to travel to the year 2012 — exactly one year ago — and have a conversation with myself. Yes, I know about the whole disturbing the whole space-time continuum yadda-yadda, but seriously, who cares about that stuff when you can actually travel through time?

I was able to record my conversation and make a transcript of it. Only because posting an audio recording of it would sound like I was just talking to myself. I mean, I was, but, oh never mind. Here’s my conversation:

2012 Me: Hi, are you a registered voter in the 13th district?

Me: Um, yeah.

2012 Me: My name is Elson Trinidad, and I’m running for city council. Can you sign my petition so I can appear on the March 2013 ballot?

Me: Well, you see, I already did.

2012 Me: Wait a minute, you’re…me!

Me: Yes, yes I am. I come to you from the future. From the year 2013.

2012 Me: I think I’m going to faint.

Me: No, you never faint. And even if you’re squatting or sitting on the ground for an extended period of time and suddenly get up, you might get disoriented for a couple seconds, but you always manage to keep from fainting.

2012 Me: You know me too well.

Me: No duh.

2012 Me: So, did I win?

Me: Win what?

2012 Me: The city council election.

Me: Oh.That.

2012 Me: I…take that as a no. Okay, so how many votes did I get? Just curious!

Me: Uhhh…none. You didn’t make the ballot.

2012 Me: WHAT?!?

Me: You didn’t get enough signatures.

2012 Me: You mean…I…didn’t…you mean…

Me: I’m sorry, dude.

2012 Me: Damn, that sucks. Tell me more about the future. Do you have make more money than me? Do you have a girlfriend? Did you finally release that album? Did the Dodgers win the World Series?

Me: [Taking deep breath] No, no, no and…no.

2012 Me: You suck!

Me: No, you suck!

2012 Me: But I’m you so…

Me: You’re right, you can never win an argument against yourself.

2012 Me: So how did you take it?

Me: Well, I was bummed, obviously, but I actually took it pretty well.

2012 Me: How did you deal with it?

Me: How would you deal with it?

2012 Me: Well, I’d probably leave town for a while.

Me: And that’s exactly what I did.

2012 Me: So where did you go?

Me: Where would you go?

2012 Me: Oh, definitely Austral–

Me: You definitely don’t have the money to go to Australia again. Or any place that involves a plane ticket, for that matter.

2012 Me: Man, you’re starting to depress me. Okay then, I would probably take a road trip to some place in California that I’ve never been to yet. Maybe Eureka or Owens Valley or Mt. Shasta or something.

Me: Yeah one or two of those. I ain’t gonna tell you which. Life is full of surprises, and I don’t wanna spoil it for you. But you’ll have a life-changing experience, and your perception of community will change.

2012 Me: What about East Hollywood?

Me:  East Hollywood doesn’t need you anymore. All the work you’ve done over the years is pretty much forgotten now. You don’t matter anymore. But your idea of “community” is a much bigger place now. It’s time to move on.

2012 Me: So I’m going to move?

Me: Your address remains the same, but your heart finds a home elsewhere. And the natural world offers many clues.

2012 Me: Okay, you’re being really vague dude.

Me: Dude, did you just call yourself dude?

2012 Me: …Very funny. So, can you tell me any good thing that happens to me, er, you, er, us?

Me: You’ll make some really great new friends over the next year. And I’m 10 pounds lighter than you.

2012 Me: How did you…

Me: You’ll figure it out.

2012 Me: So I should just give up this city council thing right now, I mean, I’m not getting on the ballot anyway, right?

Me: Just do what you’ll set out to do. But on the very last day, in front of that Ralphs on Hollywood and Western, you’ll already know that you won’t get the signatures you hoped for. You’ll feel disappointed, but you’ll also feel relieved because you’re already stressing out about not raising any money. You don’t know how to raise money for these things. But that’s okay. Just go into the City Clerk’s office on the December 5 and pretend that you have all the signatures. And then they’ll tell you right there you won’t have enough. you’ll know this already, but because of that, you’re already emotionally prepared to hear the news. And then go on your adventure. I think you already know where to go. Don’t dwell on your disappointment but immerse yourself in the town of Indep…oops, I mean, wherever you decide to go. And the place will be very kind to you. Be open to discovery. You’ll forget about your failure very fast. And when you come back, sure, there will be people who would have lost their faith in you and don’t care about you anymore, but you’ll easily replace them with these new friends that you’ll meet throughout the next year, who understand your ideas and your heart better than those people who don’t care about you anymore. It’ll be okay, man.

2012 Me: Did you regret running for office?

Me: I’m not proud of it, and I’m not sure what I achieved aside from $2,000 in debt that I’m still trying to pay off, but…I have no regrets. Whatever you do from this point forward won’t have any context unless you go through with this. You’ll end up endorsing some of the other candidates. You’ll even make friends with some of them. Well, except for you-know-who.

2012 Me: Heh heh heh.

Me: Heh heh heh. Well, I have to get back to 2013 now. It was nice talking to you, 2012 Elson. Hang in there.

2013 Me: Hey, are you gonna go visit 1983 us and show him how to be more confident with girls?

Me: Hm, I’d like to do that, but on second thought, I could get arrested trying to strike up a conversation with a minor.

2012 Me: Oh, right. Hey, you wanna jam? Me on keyboards, you on bass?

Me: Man! Wow, I’d LOVE that! But…I gotta go back now. Hey look at me, no wrinkles yet! Happy 41st Birthday! [Enters portal, disappears]

 

Once Bitten By SHARKNADO!

sharknado

If there’s one pop culture buzzword that can sum up the Summer of 2013, it’s…Sharknado. I need not describe the cultural impact the SyFy channel movie has had on the entertainment world and social media.

However, since I don’t have cable TV, I hadn’t even seen the film.

Fortunately, it was screened midnight on Friday night at 200 Regal Cinema Theatres across the country. And having already participated in the snark-nado on Twitter and Facebook, it was only appropo that I experience the film itself, so yes, I was crayzay enough to plop down $12.50 to watch this in a movie theatre.

And I didn’t regret it.

Some friends of mine on Facebook were planning to watch it as a group, and I was looking forward to loading myself up at The Yard House or Trader Vic’s beforehand, and staring some loud chants with the people in line (“When I say ‘shark,’ you say ‘nado!'”) but having already had a full agenda that night co-emceeing a Thai CDC vigil/event in East Hollywood and hopping on the Red Line to catch the last few minutes of the Songs In The Key of Los Angeles concert at California Plaza, hurriedly rode the Metro to L.A. Live (even tripped while running up the stairs at 7th St/Metro Center to get on the Blue Line, but I was too amped up with Stevie Wonder and Sharknado-anticipation to feel any pain). My friend Justin told me he got a ticket with another friend, but the main theatre had sold out already. I was hoping the second screen didn’t sell out, and was able to buy one at the automated ticket kiosk. It was also my first time at the Regal, such a tall theatre but a vital part of DTLA nightlife and its recent renaissance.

Just a few minutes before midnight, they let the 50 or so of us into Cinema 8, where we were greeted to “Sharknado” trivia (Did you know there were 400+ special effect shots in the movie?) and a music video of the movie’s closing theme song.

So here’s what I got out of watching “Sharknado” in a movie theatre (WARNING: Skip this if you don’t like spoilers):

– The movie unabashedly has tons of plot holes, continuity errors, bad acting scenes and ridiculously over-the-top plot devices. That said, it was still suspenseful enough to be entertaining. It wasn’t boring at all, and in fact, I’d never say that it “sucks.”

– Emphasized again, unlike truly awful movies like The Room, (which has been presented via screenings in a similar way), it’s still thrilling and fun enough to not be a letdown. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s everything you’d expect it to be.

– The film had a few scenes that looked like they were going to drag on, but when you realize they’re dragging, they soon redeem themselves (the school bus rescue scene, for example).

– The actual “Sharknado” wasn’t really as damaging or destructive as the shark flood.

– Yes, the film features spliced-in footage of typhoon storms hitting the Philippines (I could tell by the architecture of the houses), passing for Los Angeles. Heheheh.

– This movie is extremely selachophobic.

– No one actually says the word, “Sharknado” in the film.

– I’ve pretty much accepted with this movie that any film set in Los Angeles will always be geographically inconsistent (The end scenes feature the main characters near Van Nuys Airport witness a tornado spinning close to Downtown L.A.).

– Hey, it was filmed locally! Up yours, runaway productions!

Cassie Scerbo = hawt.

– Even though the movie had Asian and Latino actors in speaking roles, there wasn’t a single black person in the film. Wassup with that? (Incidentally, the last film I saw, Chinatown, also set in Los Angeles, was the same way).

– When the actors recited the key lines (“I hate sharks…”) The crowd just screamed and cheered in the theatre. Yeah, it might have been sarcastic cheering, but still, it was fun.

– Some audience members even cracked comments in between lines and were responded by laughter in the audience…love that.

– Despite it’s shlock value, watching it in a theatre with several other people reminded us the fun and value of watching a movie on the big screen, as opposed to a TV or computer screen, or mobile device.

– The success of the midnight showings prove that one-off big screen events can be the wave of the near future in terms of entertainment. They’re natural money-makers (social media covers what marketing is usually spent on) and they bring a fun, live-performance-like environment. This could be a game-changer folks.

– I really would like to see this become the next Rocky Horror Picture Show. Thing is, will the world be all Sharknado’ed out by next year (Unless the sequel is just as good)?

– If it does, I only ask but one thing: Sharknado cosplay.

After the film, the audience was treated to a “Behind The Scenes” mini-documentary and a gag reel (which wasn’t as funny as the actual movie). It was kind of like watching a Sharknado DVD, except it was on a big screen, with a number of people present (everyone seemed to stay for the BTS and gag reel features though).

So there you go. Big props to SyFy (even though I can’t watch your network), The Asylum and Regal Cinemas for making this event happen.