Content-type: text/html Ray Manning

Monday, February 7, 2000 6:55 AM

A Just Plain Weird Weekend

After three late night ice hockey games on Tuesday (9:15pm start time), Wednesday (9:30pm start time), and Thursday (10:45pm start time) and many, many hours at TRW, I am exhausted. I make it though Friday at work only having to answer a few questions as to why I am wearing a tie on a Friday. (I have implemented Plan A of the One-Eighty Phase Shift Project by wearing business attire including a Jerry Garcia tie to work on Fridays. A brief scan of the TRW cafeteria at noon time shows only one other tie to be found.) The typical response to the above question is "Oh I have an interview today and I have to see my publicist". This usually takes off on a long discussion regarding the need for a publicist.

I get home and lift weights, mow the front yard, and take Nopey V. Dog for a walk. Now I am beyond exhausted. There is only one course of action to take in this situation: Take a shower, put the business attire including a Jerry Garcia tie back on, and go to the Frat House.

I arrive at the Frat House at 9:30pm and ChiChi is there. We get our 7-Ups, find a table, and catch up on things from the past three weeks. We listen to music and greet our friends and acquaintances. ChiChi gives me a card saying that because the distance is so great between us, we shouldn't see each other anymore. We discuss this and decide to postpone the decision. At 11:15pm, Toan walks in with a guy who is wearing a silver-mirrored shirt which is fairly vibrant and almost, but not quite, bio-rad. It reflects and distorts the lights from the dance floor and is fun to watch. The guy wearing the mirrored shirt looks familiar, but I cannot place him. Eventually ChiChi and I go outside for a breath of fresh air and to talk in an environment where it is easier to carry on a conversation. Toan and the mirror-shirt guy come out a short time later and come over to us. The instant - the very instant - that the mirror-shirt guy opens his mouth and says something, I know who he is and where I know him from. I am now completely and absolutely shocked! I cannot believe this. The guy wearing the mirror-shirt is Sabrina! Sabrina, the HVAC, has decided to be a boy for tonight! With no high heels on, I actually look down to talk to Whereas I usually have to bend my neck back and shade my eyes from the lights (or background stars) in order to talk to Sabrina. as prefers to be called in identity is going to the Buddhist temple shortly to celebrate the new "Year of the Dragon" and didn't think it was appropriate to go as Sabrina. The four of us make light conversation and then Toan and Tony leave for the temple.

ChiChi and I go back in the club. After listening to more music, ChiChi asks me "Do you want to go to the Buddhist temple and celebrate the new year?" It is 12:45am. After confirming that the temple is still open, we drive for 8 minutes, park the truck, and walk 10 minutes to get to the Buddhist temple near Magnolia and Lampson. I am glad that I have decided to wear business attire including a Jerry Garcia tie tonight so that I am respectful towards the Buddha. Also out of respect I turn my cell phone off. It is 1:15am. The place is packed! It is wall to wall people at the temple praying to Buddha and celebrating the new year. There must be 5000 people here. With the exception of one other gentleman, I appear to be the only white person in the crowd. We push and shove our way through the crowd - only trying to blend into the crowd and take the customs of the other celebrants - and get to the various altars (or statues). I have never seen and heard so many cell phones going off at once (not that I have been to a Buddhist temple before or at least cannot recall it). The cell phones seem to be in competition with the lotus flowers and the incense as to the most popular item to be hand-carrying. ChiChi and I both pray for health and opportunity for the poor people of third world countries. I also pray for some slightly more radical political solutions to this dilemma which we should probably not discuss here. As we are about to conclude our prayers, I also ask for a winning lottery ticket. But I do this unselfishly because I know that if I won the lottery I would be broke within a year giving it away to reputable charitable organizations. A number of people, mainly younger ones, ask me in particular if I believe in the Buddha. They appear to have picked me out of the crowd, though I cannot figure out why, and they ignore ChiChi and want to talk to me. I am polite and admit that I believe in many things - including the Buddha. (I do NOT volunteer that I also believe in heroin.) It is 2:10am and we are leaving. And yet there are many, many more people just arriving at the temple.

ChiChi and I go home and have our own religious experiences before the time arrives for me to return to TRW on Saturday morning.

I leave TRW after a fairly unproductive time - operating on just a few hours of sleep each night for the past week. I arrive home to many messages on my answering machine from ChiChi asking me to join in the festivities in Little Saigon. Because ChiChi has no cell phone, I am unable to make contact and make arrangements to meet down there. There is a sharp curve in the road. The wagon makes it. I fall off. And drink lightly. Well, maybe more like moderately. Um...Well... It wasn't REALLY heavy drinking anyway.

After a bicycle ride on Sunday morning, I ride the motorcycle out to Corona/Riverside to work on the race car. An interesting set of circumstances happens while I am there. The guy across the street from where we work on the race car is out in his front yard. He has two step ladders set up with a 2 by 4 board running across the top of the two ladders. He also has a notebook computer sitting on a chair near the ladders. The guy methodically runs a string (with some wooden wedges attached I presume) along the 2 by 4, sets a bowling ball and a billiard ball on the 2 by 4 against the wooden wedges, pushes a button the notebook computer, pulls the string (hence releasing the bowling ball and billiard ball to roll off the 2 by 4 under the force of gravity and fall to the ground), then walks back to the notebook and pushes a few more buttons. He continues this "put balls on board, set notebook, pull string, record data, save data" as we continue to work on the race car. Five hours later, at 4pm when we are getting ready to put the race car away, the guy is still performing his activities. He has, at times, substituted a different ball for the billiard ball, but the experiment is always run with two balls - one of them always being the bowling ball. For the last four hours we have had to listen to a loud "thud" as the bowling ball lands on the grass - and we have been laughing and making comments for the past four hours that this guy can't believe that gravity works and is trying to get just one experiment to show that gravity might fail. I consider going over and talking to the guy, but he's dressed kinda weird. Though it doesn't sound weird, he's wearing Everlast satin boxing shorts and a red basketball jersey - like he's hoping to get on the cover of Wheaties cereal at the same time that he makes the cover of Scientific American for his pioneering work on gravity. Or maybe he's found that elusive warp in string theory that makes the leap between the big bang and the existence of gravity. I get on the motorcycle and ride home - glad to be away from erratic crazy people who dress funny.