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All you klutzes, listen to Andy and call a professional

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

My Whirlpool dryer quit heating, so I tore it apart hoping to solve the problem. And Rooney of 60 Minutes would have said, “leave those jobs to the professionals.” Photo By BOB OTTO

YUCAIPA, Calif. – I remember the late Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes once chiding homeowners who foolishly thought they could patch a roof, fix a leaky faucet, or install a new garage door.

“Leave those jobs to the experts,” he advised. “Most of us don’t have the knowhow for that kind of work. It takes a pro.”

Andy’s wisdom was meant for klutzes like me.

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Fallen Marine no match for tough wife

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

‘I couldn’t find the soup strainer so I used one of your socks.’

YUCAIPA, Calif. – Most people think of Marines as being strong and tough. That’s true in combat. But in sickness, I for one surrender like a whimpering coward.

I’m in my sixth day suffering through an ugly bout of a cold, or maybe it’s the flu. Runny, sniffling nose, watery eyes, pounding headache targeted just above my eyes; and let’s just say, I don’t stray too far from the bathroom.

In this sixth day, I’ve blown (literally) through four boxes of tissue. I think I’ve earned a rebate from Kleenex.

This nasty illness has also stricken my wife Nan. She has every symptom I have.

However, there’s a huge difference in how we are handling our shared suffering. My wife battles through the day like a brave Marine in hand-to-hand combat. She refuses to surrender to this most intrusive invader.

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As old as the dinosaurs

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

120115-BobBasketball.45web James Naismith Otto, the inventor of basketball and the sports’ very first stoneage player.

It’s my birthday and I was asked at Starbucks this morning by a young barista who has yet to shave: “Bob, just how old are you!?”

I didn’t want to answer numerically, so I said, “well, let me tell you this way.”

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Old guy passes risky basketball two-for test

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

120115-BobBasketball.45web Bob Otto has been disparaged by many of his former basketball coaches as a poor defender, bad passer, weak rebounder, and so-so shooter. Yet at 67 he ignores their critique and the painful cries of his aging body, and continues to play hoops. The sport he has loved since boyhood.

DRAYSON CENTER, LOMA LINDA, Calif. – Foolish, risky, and what the hell was I thinking? All three assertions applied to my senior basketball venture on Monday at the Drayson Center. I decided a “two-for” was in order. Meaning playing basketball twice in a day – once in the morning from 11:30 – 1:15 and at night, 6 – 7:40.

17 year olds laugh at two-fors. And it’s no challenge even for 27 year olds. But at 67? At 40 years past my prime? It’s like opening the door for injury and saying, “come right in and wreck havoc with my old body.”

All my appendages and muscles (most of which are rapidly deteriorating) from the bottom of my feet to the top of my salt-and-pepper head were put at risk from the physically demanding two-for.

Especially my fragile left ankle. I had just been freed from 10 weeks of a spat of painful tendonitis. But on Sunday the ankle felt great; it turned and torqued and rotated like a frisky colt romping around a corral.

So Monday I decided a test was due. Why test the fragile ankle’s limits of basketball endurance? Why risk a setback from a two-for? See foolish and what-was-I-thinking in my opening line.

When I awoke Tuesday morning, I swung my legs out of bed and gingerly arose to my full 5-feet-9 stature (yes, little guys still play in the land of the giants). I took one step, then two. No pain, no creaking or crackling of the left ankle, or any other joints. What a glorious occasion! For I had just passed the two-for test.

Will I do it again? Once more, please refer to the first line.

California Czar’s buzz cut will save water

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

YuleBrynner The late Yul Brynner typifies the new California look to conserve water.

YUCAIPA, Calif. – California is running out of water. To solve this dire dilemma, I’m appointing myself California Czar of Water Conservation. I don’t want any help. No board of directors, no commissioners, just me.

If you want to shorten my title and call me “Czar,” that’s fine. Now let’s get to work and solve one of the worst droughts in California history.

I’ve got a few great ideas to fix the problem.

First, no more hot showers.

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Cursed camera envy

Monday, March 21st, 2011


Photos of the Summit (boys) SkyHawks and Rialto girl’s basketball teams that both won Southern California Regional Division II championships. Fontana and Rialto are neighboring cities that have strong basketball programs.
Photos By BOB OTTO

YUCAIPA, CA – Last Saturday I photographed the Fontana Summit boy’s basketball game against the Lincoln Hornets of San Diego for the Southern California Division II championship at the USC Galen Center.

I came away with what we in photojournalism call, “camera envy.” Actually, by the time the game ended, I had a raging case of it.

I sidled in and sat down amongst six other photographers along the baseline of the Summit basket. It was like I was driving a Chevy Impala (a very nice car) and had pulled into a parking lot in Beverly Hills full of Lexus, Mercedes, BMW’s, and even a Lamborghini or two.

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Veggie sticker shock

Friday, March 18th, 2011


My garden’s tilled and my seeds bought. And once again after 53 years I’m a gardner.

YUCAIPA, CA – My wife does the grocery shopping, but occasionally I make a trip to the supermarket for a few things. Yesterday was one such trip. What a shock when I ventured into the produce section.

Tomatoes, $2.99 a pound, broccoli, $1.99 a pound, green leaf lettuce, $1.99 a bunch, cucumbers $1.49 each – EACH!, carrots, 99-cents a pound (what a bargain!), and dandelion greens $1.99 a pound.

(Every summer I poison these troublesome yellow sprouting weeds when they take over my lawn. And now they sell for $1.99 a pound?)

With those prices, I settled on the carrots. I also realized it was time for me to plant a garden. And gardening is not my favorite springtime activity.

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Bargain Bob shops for the functionally fine and gently used

Thursday, December 16th, 2010


Bargain Bob’s functionally fine and gently used footwear.

YUCAIPA, CA – About 20 years ago I paid $279.99 for an Ektelon racquetball racquet. And least you think I traveled the pro circuit and needed such a finely strung instrument let me assure you, I didn’t impress many with my play.

Back then I bought nothing but the best – regardless of the cost. Now I regret my squandering ways. That fancy racquet improved my game not one single point over what a $39.99 racquet would have done.

There was a time when I flashed my credit card and eagerly opened my wallet gobbling up new stuff like a ravenous pig slopping at the feed trough. New clothes, new shop tools, new (expensive) basketball, racquetball, dress, and running shoes, new Nikon cameras and lenses – I spent thousands. Let me rephrase. I wasted thousands.

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A glorious Chamber of Commerce Kind of day

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Photos By JOHN OTTO / Cannon Falls, MN

YUCAIPA, CA – Living in southern California has its perks. Topping the list and the envy of most folks living anywhere northeast of Arizona is our sun-drenched winter months.

Today I raked some leaves, talked leisurely over the fence with my neighbor, and took a walk smartly dressed for the occasion in T-shirt and shorts, soaking up the sun’s generous rays on our little corner of the planet at a perfect 76 degrees.

When I rounded the corner, heading back home, sweat dampened my brow and my dog was panting. Weather-wise, does it get any better anywhere else? Hard to imagine.

Today was perfect for the Chamber of Commerce to extol the virtues of living in Yucaipa. I’m surprised I didn’t spot the executive director snapping photos of the San Bernardino mountains in all their 3-D glory, or of moms and dads playing with their kids at the park – dressed just like me. With the little energized tykes panting from the heat.

My brother John lives in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. He emailed me some pictures of his new truck. But it was buried under so much snow that I couldn’t tell its make or model.

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Johnny’s jumpsuit goes for big cash

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

YUCAIPA, CA – Now if you’re a country kinda guy, you probably wear Levi’s or Wrangler’s and denim shirts and button up jackets. Country guys in embroidered jumpsuits – blue no less? I don’t think so.

But apparently if the jumpsuit was once worn by Johnny Cash, it’s in high demand.

I read in the newspaper this morning that THE jumpsuit (I hope there’s only one) worn by country singer Johnny Cash sold at a Beverly Hills auction for a lotta cash – $50,000 – shelled out by a Belgiun bidder. (When did Belgium go Country Western?)

I can understand collectors bidding ferociously for Cash’s Martin guitar (sold for $50,000, too); or his boots that went for $21,875; or a poster that topped out at $25,000. But a blue jumpsuit? $50,000 no less?

I can’t recall that last time I’ve seen a countrified man wearing a jumpsuit.

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