Monthly Archives: November 2010

What’s in a name?

There have been a few additions to Casa Bustamante that require some Proper Names.

On Saturday, I replaced Rodal, my 1999 VW Jetta, with a newer, flashier model. I’ll formally introduce the newbie at a later date. After it’s gotten its shots and, more importantly, been named. Rodal was the perfect name for my Jetta. My high school French teacher—Mme. Rodal. Jetta Rodal.

Before Rodal, there was Alvin. A late ’80s (or early ’90s?) Cadillac Seville. Why Alvin? Because of the fateful Alvin and The Chipmunks episode where the boys are sent to army boot camp. Alvin, lagging at the bottom of the hill and caving under a heavy backpack, gets yelled at.

“Move it along, Cadillac!”

“It’s Seville, sir.”

“I don’t care what kind of car you are!”

So you see? My new car needs the same thoughtful consideration before being named. I know this much:  I’m getting a masculine feel off him. No sissy names that ends in a -y or an -ie. Until I arrive at the right word with the right amount of gravitas for the German beast, he shall be known as Rodal 2.011.

Proper Name No. 2

There’s a new puppy at Casa Bustamante. He’s 3 months old and is a Chihuahua/terrier mix. He looks like a little wolf with huge pointy ears and an extremely long tail. Since last night, all he’s done is run around the old geiser dog Coco (actually just 2 years old) and cry A LOT.

¡Llorar! ¡Chillar! ¡Fregar!

One of my brother’s friends needed a new home for the puppy. It was either us or the shelter. So that’s how we got Rudy. Yep, Rudy.

What did I just say about cutesy names that end in -y. VETO!

I think the pup is young enough to not get an identity complex from a little nip/tuck in the Proper Name Department.

PHOTOS: Official pic of my new Jetta. PUPPIES!!


Drama don’t come cheap

I understand that the Thanksgiving holiday can be quite stressful for families getting together. The hours leading up to the full-fledged meal. Liquor flowing freely. Tongues even more.

My Thanksgiving stress came two days after the big sit-down meal. After I made a big to-do about being grateful for my family.

Before I knew it, everyone minus the damn dog, was on their way to downtown Los Angeles to see me get my new car. The madness!

After a 30-minute trip in a packed SUV to downtown, fending off the silly USC game traffic and construction. We pulled into the dealership.

“Thanks for the ride. I’ll see you guys at home.”

Damn, didn’t work.

After doing my thing with the salesman, test-driving a car and deciding on a specific model… the drama began.

My dad wanted a better price.

The guy showed him the Costco invoice.

My dad said, not good enough.

The guy said, It’s the best I can do.

My dad said, you’re lying.

The guy said, I’m not, sir.

My dad said, What about the Costco price?

The guy said, That’s what I’m giving you.

I said, Ok, that’s enough. Let me do this.

The guy said to me, He keeps asking me questions. What should I do?

I said, Avoid him.

Dad said, blah blah blah.

Guy and me hide in the car while paperwork is processed.

Guy said, Thanks for getting me in this mess.

I said, Maybe you should take an early lunch?


PHOTO: Downtown Los Angeles skyline

Accio ‘Arry Pottah!

SCENE: A chilly November night on UCLA campus waiting to watch the Harry Potter movie.

DATE: 2001

Today, on the eve of the wide-release of the penultimate Harry Potter film it made sense to look back at where I was when I saw the first installment.

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The movie had come out over the weekend and I hadn’t read a single book. I hadn’t even heard of this bloke with the funny scar who stopped you-know-who. I had nothing else to do that evening and went down to the Fox Theater in Westwood with a few friends. Such a cute movie. I saw it again shortly after that with other friends. Then, I decided to read the books and see what all the hoopla was about.

Nine years ago, I was just someone mildly interested in the storyline who stumbled into a movie theater. Today, having come full circle—read all the books more than once and purchased some essentials at a Halloween shop— I am once again on the UCLA campus on a cold, November night waiting to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1. This time, I’m dressed in my Hogwarts Griffindor tie and sweater.

I could have dorked out even more with glasses, a cape and wand. But it has been nine years. I have matured a little in that time. Sheesh!

PHOTOS: Taken today in front of UCLA Kerckhoff Hall, which could easily have been part of Harry Potter set. Kerckhoff Hall (below)

I lack the wherewithal to heal properly

If you learn who you are during the dark, trying times, then I have found out that I’m stubborn, hate feeling helpless, pissed to be told what not to do and a little crazy to boot.

Things I already knew about myself. But now, … gasp… , others have learned of my secrets.

Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle in a freak accident that occurred during a routine workout. It hurt. I kept back the tears. Laughed a little and went on my merry way.

Had I done what I was supposed to do from the beginning, this might have been a minor annoyance and I would have been back to tip-top shape by the first weekend. Instead I ignored everyone’s “sage” advice. Where they saw a mulish stupidity in pushing myself too far, I saw RESOLVE and perseverence.

Here’s what I did that apparently should not be done when trying to rehab an acute ankle sprain…

1. Drive (stuck in traffic) with your messed up ankle.

2. Walk all over UCLA campus from parking lot to office and back.

3. Wait too long to go to the doctor.

4. Drive yourself to the E.R.

5. Ignore doctor’s orders on length of time you need to be off ankle.

6. Yell at people who are trying to help you.

7. Remove ankle brace for a wedding.

8. Shove swollen foot into new shoes.

9. Pretend you can walk  5K 10 days later.

10. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

11. Ignore signs from God that you shouldn’t take a spin class.

12. Spin for 75 minutes.

13. Turn deaf ear to weird sound you heard on the bike.

14. Shrug off slight numbness while on bike.

15. Sign up for fast-approaching marathon.

16. Start training (17 days after the fact).

On the fifth day of Sprain-mas, my ankle gave to me…

Human psyche is a funny thing. What you never had any interest in suddenly turns into an obsession when someone tells you you can’t do it or have it.


Yeah, I’ve done it. But never really enjoyed it. It was more a chore.

With a debilitating injury, I am officially giving up on my resolution. I won’t be running 500 miles in 2010. Pushing it after I heal, is against doc’s orders.

But to prove that I’m not completely benched. I’m signing up for LA marathon this week.

What’s the deal? What happened?

Well, I blame human psyche again. A few days after my birthday (after I had wrapped my head around getting older and accepted it with grace), I’m reminded not to be so foolish.

I am not unbreakable. Damn. I totally thought I was Bruce Willis in that little seen M. Night Shyamalan film. I never get sick, either. (We’ll see if that holds this winter. It’ll be my first working at the university and, frankly, college freshmen are more germed than any kindergarten class.)

These are the issues I must now deal with as I move closer to mummification. The ones that came in earnest when I became a “runner.”

A knee injury, like a dormant volcano, came roaring back to life after 10 years.

Severe shin splints slowed my mile pace by three minutes. I could’ve walked faster!

And for the last few months, my heel has hurt so much that I’m pretty sure I had a collapsed arch. My Doc in her sage wisdom told me to stick an insert in my shoe and man up. I did just that. I ran the Los Angeles half in that condition a few weeks ago.

But, alas, my biggest embarrassment came last week. On Black Wednesday. While I was working out. At the end of my workout. One last set of suicides and then stretch.




Sprained ankle.

One second I’m upright and the next I’m laying on my back with my foot in the air in agony as my ankle swells to the size of a tennis ball.

My right ankle. The foot that controls the gas and break pedals.

After what seemed like an eternity. I slowly got myself up. Got ready, showered, changed and started my commute to work. That’s when the limp came. On the first day of Sprain-mas, my ankle gave to me a hobble all over the office. Wrapped and elevated. And loads of ice.

On the second day of Sprain-mas, my ankle gave to me… a cane.

On the third day of Sprain-mas, my ankle gave to me… a false sense of hope. I felt I was better and tried to manuever without the cane. Bad idea. Decided to go to the gym. Worse idea. By day’s end, the damn thing was throbbing and burning.

On the fourth day of Sprain-mas, my ankle gave to me… a trip to the E.R. Still swollen, tender and bruised, it was time for the experts to weigh in. I had to make sure the damn thing wasn’t fractured.

Again I drove myself. Parked a mile away and walked into the ER. I’m nothing if not consistently stubborn.

I tell the triage nurse the whole story. He takes my vitals and says, “damn, you are an athlete. Look at that heart rate.” Niiice.

I get wheeled to the x-ray room. WHEELED! And wheeled back down to a waiting room. After a while of playing Angry Birds on my phone, the doctor comes in.

“Your x-rays are beautiful,” he said.

That meant no fracture. But I do have a pretty serious sprain. I got a nice gel bootie, told to stay off of it for a week and follow-up with my physician. After which, I hobbled to my car in the parking lot, climbed in and drove home.

A week! That’s a long time without running. Yes, I’ve gone longer, but that was when I was able-bodied. Now that I’m not. I’m itching to use my NEW shoes, my NEW ipod and feel the cool breeze. Damn psyche!!

PHOTO: This is what I get from my trip to the emergency room. That and a stern warning to stay off the ankle.

I learned all I need to know about hockey from Gordon Bombay

And the Kings announcer.

And the annoying five-year season ticket holder behind me.

This past weekend, I went to my very first hockey game… match?… no, game. The Los Angeles Kings faced off against the New Jersey Devils. I know nothing about these two teams other than one is from the West Coast and one is from the East Coast. One used to have Wayne Gretsky and one is a favorite of one Kevin Smith.

According the the District 5 PeeWee Hockey Team, success on the ice is achieved when you….

Take the fall! Act hurt! Get Indignant!

As for the rules of the game, the fact that there are three periods or the 2-minute penalties, all that I learned from Gordon Bombay and his band of misfits-turned-Junior Olympic champions and prep school scholarship winners.  So even that knowledge might not be properly vetted. I kept looking for that famous triple deke? And from my removed seat, I couldn’t tell if people were taking the fall, but very many did get indignant.

I learned two valuable things from this game that I could never get from the movies. No. 1… I really do need the deafening sirens to clue me in on when someone has scored. And, a bit related, No. 2… Hockey does not make for very good replays. Even in super slow-motion from a thousand different views, it’s still  a black blur… maybe.

Now, having said that, it was apparently a good game to attend. Here’s what I learned from the announcer and the annoying guy behind me:

  • An old captain was getting honored. Mattias something?
  • New Jersey has the best goalie in the league?
  • Kings won. No “?” on that one. I figured that out by myself.
  • 30 shots on goal is about average? New Jersey took 40.
  • Apparently, not even stopping 39 shots is worth a player-of-the-game mention.
  • Kings were in first place after that win. Division. Conference. And League.

PHOTOS: The LA Kings on their way to a 3-1 victory over the NJ Devils. Goldberg becoming a man in the first Mighty Ducks film.