Archive for Personal

Getting Organized to Start Off 2018

Starting Off in Grand Fashion

Happy New Year! Manigong Bagong Taon! Feliz Año Nuevo! I spent last night ringing in the New Year at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles, which has been doing their #NYELA event for the past five New Year’s Eves. I’ve gone to them every other year (to ring in the even years, incidentally – 2014, 2016 and now 2018) and each time the event has gotten better. Centered around a high-tech digital projection show on the west face of Los Angeles’ City Hall (which turns 90 this year), what started out as a quiet projection show has now blossomed into a multi-stage music event with a small fireworks display at the stroke of midnight. The crowd was large, and grows every year, but very lively, very civil, and not too packed where one can’t move around. I was even able to meet up with my friend Maya in front of the main stage below City Hall just in time to see the big show at midnight (my own video above). Los Angeles has come a long way since the anticlimactic lighting of the Hollywood Sign as an anemic attempt to ring in the new millennium.

To My Heart’s Content

I’ve had this site for over five years but have really neglected the potential of this blog (paying my annual hosting fee for nothing more than a glorified email server…), citing things like procrastination and wasting time on Facebook, among other things. But since we’re starting off the year, a time when people traditionally make resolutions, this is actually a fulfillment of one of them.

During my nearly 10 year-long love/hate relationship with Facebook, I’ve been prone to sharing my original jokes, memes, musings, and life experiences on my FB posts, but because of the sudden discontinuation of LAist.com (and sister Gothamist sites) in November of last year (hey, this is the first time I referenced 2017 as “last year,” cool…), whereby over a decade of content was gone forever, leaving their writers with nothing to link past work with for future opportunities, or even the use archived articles for historical reference, it gave me pause to wonder, “How much of my online content online do I actually own?” The content on Facebook is, for all intents and purposes, the property of Zuck and Co., and not mine or yours. If one day FB were ever to go Error 404 on us, then…our prized moments, photos, videos and other posts would be gone forever. Since I own this blog, and have the whole WordPress thing set up anyway, I might as well use it. So here goes…

Annual Traditions

The biggest New Year’s Day tradition here in Southern California is an internationally-recognized floral procession followed by a collegiate football match. Many people have various New Year’s Day traditions; in the past I’ve spent The First Day Of The Year doing things like going to family parties, hiking, attending church, going on a bike ride, going to a brunch hosted by some new friends I just met the night before, or just vegging out at home. This year was more like the latter, but with a purpose: It’s time to get organized, yo.

Email organization

Into the “2017” folder you go, email from last year!

I decided to just spend the day at home getting things in order aside from cleaning up my room, I also devoted time to organizing my email folder [above], moving all my mail from last year into the “2017” folder, deleting all unnecessary email (marketing/list email, “me too” replies and the like, while archiving any emails that contributed to my life story over the past 12 months) and starting from a near-empty inbox.

Photo folder archives

How I organize all my archived cell phone pics on my PC. And yes, I rock both a PC and Mac.

Another New Year’s ritual is the (Semi-) Annual Archival Of My Cell Phone’s Photos and Videos. Since I got my first digital camera in 2001, I have made it a point to regularly move my photos off of the memory card and into year-organized folders on my computer (with subfolders organized by month – named as “01_January,” “02_February” etc. so they will show up in chronological, and not alphabetical, order on the computer). Not only does it free up memory for the card, but it also allows for an archive of my photos. That way, if I need to recall a photo from a certain event, I can simply call it up by date. And thanks to the high amount of available data storage in memory cards, and the more ubiquitous use of phones as both still and video cameras, I do this archiving thing every January and July, starting off with a blank DCIM directory twice a year. I also back up these photo directories onto an external hard drive for safekeeping.

New year standards

Yes, I actually filled a whole page with “2018” handwritten 156 times. Because that’s just how I roll.

On a decidedly less technical realm, here’s an annual New Year’s tradition I’ve done since I was in elementary school: Getting used to writing the new year [above]. Due to habit, most of us are still prone to writing the previous year on homework, on reports, on checks or other sorts of documents. So to combat that, I forced myself to do “standards” and write the name of the new year repeatedly on a piece of paper. That way, training myself via muscle memory would get used to me writing out the new year.

I guess I should be ready to face 2018, now that I’m organized, or at least somewhat so. Let’s see if I can consistently keep up this blogging thing…

Second Eye Blind, Episode Four: Communication Breakdown/Date Set

So, after waiting for, like for-ev-er to hear from Kaiser, I get this:

Kaiser Permanente

2/16/2017

Dear Elson R Trinidad

[We have] been trying to reach you but [have] been unsuccessful. Please contact the Pre-op office regarding your eye surgery. No response within two weeks will result in cancellation of surgical case request.

AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!!

So I call them back ASAP and talk to the contact person listed. She tells me they called me several times but to no avail. I had never gotten any calls on my cellphone from Kaiser, and I have even checked me home land line messages repeatedly. I asked which number they called, and they told me it was my home number, and I asked them what was the number they called. They said, “The number was area code 213-[home number]”

AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!! My area code is 323.

Anyway, date set for the operation. It will be on Wednesday,  March 22. I have a Pre-Op appointment on Thursday, March 16. We are a go.

 

Second Eye Blind, Episode 3.6: Valentine’s Day Edition

Instagram Post

My Instagram post today. Just to show that I have a sense of humor about this.

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…

 

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.

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]