Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Tag: salsa

My toilet exploded and my house was destroyed

You all might be wondering what the hell happened to this site for three months… well, the title says it all. Allow me to explain. I drove to Anaheim, CA on the evening of the 2nd of August. This was a Thursday. I had an appointment with the US Passport Office in Los Angeles to fix some errors on my passport. Whichever idiot handled my passport had my last name spelt as “Faliath” and my date of birth as 1931. I should have held on to that passport. I could have received senior-citizen benefits. But I digress.

I drove to Palm Springs on Friday afternoon to meet up with my friends there, for the Salsa Congress. The congress was a whole lot of fun. I took a bunch of classes and also went to the social. On Saturday night, we went to another social and also got pretty drunk. We went to bed around 5:00 am. I was woken up by a phone call at around 6:00 am. I was rather annoyed and so I just ignored it. They called again in about 10 minutes. This time, I figured it might be important, so I picked it up. The conversation went as follows:

Me: <slightly drunk, sleepy, and groggy> Hello?
Cop: Hello, yeah, this is Chandler PD. We’re at your residence here.
Me: <thinking> Oh crap I hope I the house didn’t get burgled!
Cop: We got a call from your neighbours this morning; they said there was water coming out of your front door.
Me: <pause> What?
Cop: Yeah, we went in. It looks like your tub was overflowing.
Me: My tub?! That’s not possible… are you sure?
Cop: Well… that’s what it looks like. We’re still waiting for the fire department to get here. How soon can you get to your residence?
Me: I’m in Palm Springs.
Cop: Oh.
Me: <sighing> I’ll try and make it there. It might take me a while.
Cop: Sure, here’s my number if you have any questions. <gives me number>
Me: Thanks a bunch. <hangs up phone> Wow.

After that, I called Michael. He had left for Boston on the same morning I left. So if he had inadvertently (unlikely) left the tub open, I would have heard it. I didn’t hear a thing, ergo, the tub couldn’t have overflowed. Our next thought was vandalism. The cop had also mentioned that the front door was unlocked (also rather weird – Michael is pretty good about locking the front door, and I always leave through the garage). At any rate, we could theorize and hypothesize but I wouldn’t get any concrete answers until I went home. Michael said he would be flying back that very day.

So I drove back. On an hour and a half of sleep. I had to stop three times to take a nap. And that’s not the worst part. Ok, I will admit. I was going fast. I was talking to my sister on the phone while I was driving. No, I didn’t have it up on my ear, my car has Bluetooth so I can hear it over the audio system. I was trying to explain to her what was going on, so I really wasn’t paying attention to how fast I was going (105 mph). The car has a really smooth ride, so you can’t tell how fast you are going. Anyway, I look behind me and sure enough I see a cop car. At this point, I was in the town of Salome, Arizona. If you look it up, you will see that it is five miles from nowhere, and ten miles from BFE. Anyway so I knew he was going to pull me over. So me, being the law-abiding citizen that I am, pull over even before he turns his lights on. Anyway he walks up to my car, gives me the once over and asks me to step out of the car. I am like “OMGWTFBBQ”. So I take my stuff and get out of the car. Mr. Asshole Cop pulls out his cuffs. At this point I am like “WTF is going on here”. He’s like “Do you know how fast you were going?”. I say, “No Officer, I don’t. I just found out that my house was flooded and I was talking to my sister at the same time and so I wasn’t paying attention”. Mr. Asshole Cop proceeds to lecture me about the dangers of speeding. He then decides he doesn’t know whether he should take me to jail yet, and so he decides to detain me. Before he does that he sees my veteran’s plates. He asks me, “Are you a veteran?”. I say, “Yes, Officer. Iraq War Veteran. US Army. I got back in November of ’05”. He mulls this over and then asks me to sit in the back of his car anyway. At this point, life couldn’t be any better for me. I mean, here I am, in the middle of nowhere, my house is destroyed, and I’m going to jail.

I have been sitting in the car for a few minutes. Mr. Asshole Cop is on his walkie-talkie. I hear him look up my information. I don’t have anything on my record obviously. Then I catch a snippet… “No, he’s seems to be ok – just a little scared”. And I’m thinking “HELL YEAH I’M FREAKED OUT! WTF DO YOU THINK?!”. He comes back and asks me to get out. He says, “Alright, I’m going to cut you a deal. I’ll give you a ticket for going 30 over. I could take you to jail, but I’m not going to do that. You just have to pay the fine – it’s just a financial spanking (I’m serious, he actually said that). Make sure you drive safely from here on out.” Then Mr. Asshole Cop gets in his car and leaves. My “financial spanking” came out to $423.00. Awesome eh?

Anyway, I get to Chandler. I am starving, because I haven’t eaten all day. I spend 80 billion years trying to find a parking spot at the mall because stupid high-school kids with their parent-bought cars are taking up all the spots. I grab some food and then decide if I should go to my house. At this point I am physically, mentally, and emotionally drained (not to mention, I also have a bit of hangover). Looking at a destroyed house wasn’t really my thing. So I went over to my friend Suhrid’s house and crashed over there. Michael got in by about 9:00 pm.

The next morning, I call my insurance company, and Michael and I get to the house. We open the door. It smells pretty bad (like wet dog) and it’s twice as humid as Florida in the summer. It also sorta looked like this:


And my expression after seeing all that was like this:


The tarp that you can see in the picture was helpfully put there by the Fire department. They were also nice enough to move all the furniture into the center of the room. As you can see, the drywall has caved in everywhere. Everything downstairs was a total loss. All my electronic equipment downstairs was destroyed (especially my Wii). As far as the furniture… well, very little of it survived.

While waiting for the cleanup and recovery team to come over, Michael and I tried to figure out what happened. The tub was filled up, but that didn’t say anything. What was odd was that the towels and the toilet paper above the toilet in the master bedroom were completely soaked. There was also a spray pattern on the mirror. The paint on the wall above the window opposite the toilet was also damaged. This told us that there was something that must have burst. We couldn’t find any burst pipes. The cleanup guys came over and came upstairs to look at the damage. As he saw the tub, he said “If it’s your tub that overflowed, you’ll have a hard time getting this covered” As he said that, my heart was in my mouth. There was no way I’d have the money to fix the damage. Then the other guy looks behind the toilet and found the culprit. It was a burst supply-line to the toilet. It probably burst a little after I left, and flooded for about three days.

Michael and I grabbed everything we needed, out of there. The recovery team was going to come the next day and put everything in storage. It was a very long and hectic day. But once the insurance guys took over, everything became a whole lot better.

I was staying in an apartment not far from my house. It’s pretty sweet. Fully furnished, free cable and internet, and housekeeping service! Pretty neat, huh? So it wasn’t that bad of a deal. My house almost done. I’ve been able to change the flooring and upgrade stuff, so I’m actually able to remodel my home for a pretty good price. When I bought it, it was a spec home, so I wasn’t able to change some of the options.

Right now, I’ve moved over to my parents’ house. They don’t live here and so I’m basically looking after it. I’ve moved all my stuff over here and I’ll be renting my home out.

Anyway, so that’s the story of The Destruction of Vivin’s House. I actually tried to get this site back up when I was at the apartment. But for some reason, NAT on my router wasn’t working correctly and so I really couldn’t get it to work.

Over Here – Day 433

Happy Halloween, everyone. Guess what I’m going as this year? A soldier! Yeah, pretty original, don’t you think? This time last year, I was on the first day of my four-day pass to Phoenix. One year. Three hundred and sixty-five and a quarter days. The time it takes for our little blue, wet world to travel around the Sun. In a few days, I will be on my way home. Physicists and philosophers have long tried to understand the perception of time. But neither arcane equations nor metaphors have actually been able to fully explain the human perception of time. I have come to understand that over the past year. It is strange when a year can seem both interminable and fleeting at the same time. I remember the day I got here, like it was yesterday. It was a cool December afternoon and we were waiting at Baghdad International Airport for the old unit to pick us up. I guess the date of our departure was so far off in the future, obscured by the clichéed “mists of time” so to speak, that I didn’t even think about it. Or, maybe it was because it was so far off, that I didn’t want to think about it. Whatever the reason, I did acknowledge our departure was a very long way off. I set myself little “markers” during the year. Chronological mile-markers, if you will. Some of them were totally random, meaningless to others, but of great import to me. For example, on my second day in Iraq, we made our way to the International Zone, to go to FOB Union III where we thought we would be staying. As I grabbed my stuff and made my way to our living quarters, I caught a glimpse of some writing on a dry-erase board. It said, “10 weeks”. 10 weeks – a nice, round number. Although it seemed like a long way off then, I remember thinking how it would feel when we were down to 10 weeks. My next “mile-marker” was my leave date, which was in the first week of May. My leave was situated nicely in the middle of my deployment and so it was a sort of halfway point too. The marker after that was for when we were down to a hundred days, because after that, we would be down to double-digits – woohoo. Then I had “83 days”, because that’s how many days our SSA had left (they had come to Iraq a month before we had) when we were at a hundred-and-something days. My second-to-last marker was for 10 days, because after that, we’d be down to single digits. Now that’s a REAL reason to celebrate! And last, but by no certain means, least is our actual day of departure. Suffices to say that it’s only a few days away! Now when I look back, the whole year looks like it just sped by. I think a year seems like a year because of the different things we do. Different things that happen. We set up “mile markers” in our head so we can think back to “the totally crazy party back in February where I got totally wasted”, or “oh man, Spring Break”, or “Oh yeah, that’s when I went up to meet my family” and so on and so forth. But over here, there really isn’t much to distinguish one day from the other. I did the same thing over and over again, and so there was absolutely nothing to mark the passage of time. I do remember the individual moments when I would wistfully stare at the “Time Tracker” spreadsheet that we had, wishing that time would move faster, but at the same time it does seem like it sped by. The old adage “time flies when you’re having fun” doesn’t really seem to fit here. I can’t really say I “had fun”. It wasn’t all that bad, but it really wasn’t “fun”. Oh well. At any rate, I’m just glad that it’s almost over.

The past few weeks haven’t been all that bad, really. The new unit came in a few weeks ago and we slowly started handing over ownership and responsibility for our various missions, to them. I also started doing something that I should have started a long time ago. They have Latin Dancing on base at many locations. They have one (and by having one, I mean in the most liberal sense of the phrase) at the Division MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) Center. It’s on Thursday nights, and there never has been a huge turnout. I went to this one because it was close to our pad. But the really good one, was the one on Camp Slayer (Saturdays at 2000. 8 pm for you civilian types). It’s a bit of drive from where I live, so I never really tried to go over there. But I decided to try it out last month and I didn’t regret it at all. The only thing I regretted was not going there earlier. There is a huge turnout – the dance floor is positively crowded. It reminded me of the old “Bash on Ash” (A club that used to be on Mill and Ash in Tempe) days! It also gave me a chance to unwind and do something different. Usually, when I tell my fellow soldiers that I enjoy Latin Dancing, I am met with humorous intrigue, quickly followed by a few lighthearted jabs. As a result, I am not really in the company of a lot of people who really enjoy the activity. So it was pretty neat when I met new people who enjoy dancing as much as I do. Never did I realize that there would be this much interest in this activity in Iraq. In fact, I was expecting a year of no dancing at all. I guess I was wrong. I was mistaken for a Puerto Rican more than once. It usually happens when someone approaches me and rattles off something in Spanish. When I tell them I don’t speak Spanish, they are often confused. I guess they don’t meet too many Indians who can Salsa or Bachata! I had my last “Latin Nite” last Saturday, and I felt a little sad but then I realized that I’d be doing more than enough dancing when I get back. In fact, Johanna told me that I’d have to dance so much that I wouldn’t be able to feel my feet. Making up for lost time, I guess.

Right now, almost all of us are in the Tents. We moved in two weeks ago. I sold all my stuff, and shipped a bunch of stuff home too. It’s not too bad in the tents. Since we don’t have too much to do now, we basically sleep in, read, or watch movies. I think it’s rest that all of us deserve!

That’s about it for now. The next time I write, I will most probably be in CONUS (Continental United States). Oh, and here are the pictures I promised:

Amber and I
Amber (SGT Brinton, USMC) and I at Camp Slayer on Latin Nite. She’s an excellent dancer; a great follow. Definitely one of the better ladies I’ve danced with.

HQ Ammo
A bunch of ammo!

Comforting Embrace
A really touching picture I saw in Stars and Stripes. Insurgents (so-called “freedom fighters”) killed the baby girl’s father and mother, before shooting her in the head. She’s slowly recovering in the hospital keeps crying and moaning all the time. The Air Force Chief Master Sergeant in the picture is the only one who can comfort her.

Waiting for our boxes to get inspected by Customs personnel.

Dora and I
Dora. One of the people I met while dancing at Camp Slayer.

Halloween Skeleton
Our Halloween decoration at the Motor Pool.

Camouflage Humvee Cover
Camouflage Cover for our Humvee

Card Page One
We get a lot of cards from kids. SGT Laning gets some strange ones…

Card Page Two
Like I said, strange…

Motorpool Mouse
We had a rodent problem in the Motorpool. They were getting fat off our food and off creamer. We finally caught one of them.

Palmer and Dahlseid
SGT Dahlseid and SPC Palmer installing the camouflage cover on the humvee.

Latin Nite at Slayer
Latin Nite at Slayer

More Latin Nite at Slayer
More Latin Nite at Slayer

Slayer Salsa Crew
Slayer Salsa Crew

Mmmm Steak
We look forward to Seak Night (Tuesdays) with great anticipation.

More Steak
Mmmm… More Steak!

Titty Twister

Another Iraqi Sunset.

Another Sunset
As you can tell, I really like taking pictures of sunsets.

Tent, Post Storm
We have thunderstorms here, just like the ones in Arizona. This tent didn’t fare too well after a particularly strong one.

The Plane
SPC Ortiz: “The Plane! The Plane!”

Vegas Dance Competition

Just got back from Vegas! I was there over the weekend for the USABDA (United States Amateur Ballroom Dancer’s Association) competition. My friend Jenny (who is also my dance partner) and I went there with our friend April. April ROCKS! She gave us a ride all the way there! We stayed there with Marc and his friend Arthur. We also met up with a bunch of other people, namely Michiko (Marc’s partner, and I think I have the spelling wrong), Michelle (Arthur’s partner), Sherry (she’s three-quarters Persian and a quarter Italian), and Ed and Maria.

First of all, the competition was absolute fun. We mainly went there to have fun. Jenny and I did put in more than a few practice sessions, but I think we could have done better had we started earlier. But for the amount of practice that we put in, we did really well. We made it to the semi-finals in the Bronze level smooth dances – Waltz and Tango. We also made it to the semi-finals in Open Salsa, and Merengue and the semi-finals for Bronze Hustle. We placed in the Finals for Bronze level Rumba, Cha-Cha and East Coast Swing.

Now I really am NOT a sore loser. I have participated in more competitions than I can count, ever since I was little and if I never made it to the top three, I have always felt (except in circumstances like these) that those who did, deserved it. However, I felt some of the judging was really unfair in this particular situation. Furthermore, I’m not the only one who feels this way. We were pretty confident we were going to place either first, second or third in Rumba or Cha-Cha, and even compete in the finals for Merengue and Salsa. We weren’t upset with the smooth dances, Hustle or EC Swing because those are dances neither of us have done much of. But the others ones… Good Lord! I really feel that a few of the people who did end up placing; didn’t deserve it in the least! I made a point of video-taping the event (mostly for memories, and also so I can see what my mistakes are, and also to learn from others) and I went over it when I came back home. The couple that placed first had horrible arm-styling, poor posture, and most of all, were off-time. I really don’t know how they even made past the qualifying round. Even if Jenny and I weren’t “Number One” material, I could pick out at least two or three other couples that deserved it more than the couple who did get it.

Then there was the Salsa – the couple that won first place didn’t have a CLUE what they were doing… and I have no idea how they even made it to the finals. My friends Sakeena and Atin placed second – I thought they should have placed first!

Oh well… that’s life I guess. Eitherway, I had a fun time. I’ll post pictures here as soon as I get them developed. After the competition we went back to the hotel room to take a nap since we had all been up since six in the morning (competition starts at 8:30 am). After that we went to the Bellagio Buffet. We had a LOT of food. After the meal, Marc said that we had eaten enough to deprive a small starving country. He had a point.

We tried to make it to the Light club in the Bellagio. Sherry’s uncle owns half of it, and she was trying to get in touch with her cousin to talk to his connections at the club, to get us in. Unfortunately it was on short notice and she wasn’t able to pull it off. We tried to go to a bunch of other clubs and all of them had lines (no surprise). We eventually ended up going to Studio 54. It was ok enough – not too much of my kind of music though. But still, we all had fun dancing. We didn’t get back to our hotel room until 6 am! Yeah… it was great!

The next morning we had brunch at Rio. That was great too. We had a ton of food and a ton of dessert! Man… it was GREAT! After all that, we began the long drive home. I got home at about 11:00 pm.

It was a fun trip and I think I’ll do the competition again. Jenny is leaving Phoenix for Houston, in May. But we’re going to try and partner up again for Vegas!


My feet are sore and killing me. My calves hurt.


Leaving for Boston

Tomorrow I leave for Boston to see Michael and Laura! Woohoo! I have never been to the east coast. It will be positively Schweet. I can’t wait!

Yesterday, I met a girl who told me she had danced with me three years ago. I must have left an impression.


I am dropping my Competition Exhibition dance class. Unfortunate turn of events. Sad, because I really wanted to do Comp. Ex. I am not sure if I should write it all here… bleah… I will – so what? A man is entitled to his opinion.

I changed my mind. A man his entitled to his opinion, but this time I’ll keep that opinion to myself.

Suffices to say, it was NECESSARY to drop that class. If I had stayed in it, I would have gone positively insane. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with all that stress.

Maybe Vegas. I could dance there. There’s a dance competition there every year. Latin dancing… mmm… I love latin dancing.

Performance at the Tardeada

We performed yesterday at the Tardeada. It wasn’t a Comp Ex like I did over summer. It was basically a set of couples from the Latin 3 class. We did the Roueda which is Salsa in a circle. We thought we did alright and then Brenda, our dance teacher, told us that we did an excellent job!

I can’t wait for next semester… I can take Comp Ex again.

In a Magazine

Check it out! Johanna and I got our picture taken at the Bash. This was sometime in summer. The guy said that the picture would be in Clip – a spanish magazine. Our picture is online on their site now! Here is the link. I’m gonna put this picture in the Photo album also.

Butt Size vs. Cuban Motion

Cuban Motion is inversely proportional to butt size!


Dancing tonight was fun. I need to learn more… I can’t wait for Comp Ex next semester.

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