Monthly Archives: October 2014

take a hike

Don and Eric and I were up around Twain Hart , California , one weekend when I was in college . I think that was the name of the place . We were hiking in the woods instead of studying . Don’s a radiologist now and Eric works up in Silicon Valley on  satellite technology , so I suppose they managed to sneak some studying in somewhere . Anyway………

We were sort of last minute campers . Someone would get back from class and suggest that we all climb into Don’s VW bus and head up to the mountains for the weekend .  We would scour the kitchen of the apartment and collect whatever food we could carry that might sustain us in the far off woods for a couple of days . Real backpackers coming down the mountain would sometimes strike up conversations with us , ask us about our provisions , feel sorry for us when they saw our pathetic rations  and give us the remains of their food supplies . That happened more than once . Anyway……..Mountain Oct.2014 022

We hiked past a campsite once . Three sleeping bags , mess kits , firewood set and ready for a campfire , but no one around . We stopped , just for a minute , to look , and just at that moment a forest ranger popped out from behind a tree .

” Can’t camp here ,” he said . ” No open fires allowed anywhere .”  We informed him that the three sleeping bags , etc. did not belong to the three of us . You can imagine the look we got .  So we trudged on along the trail as he stood there watching .

We had a good hike . We swam in a cold pool beneath a huge  boulder further up the mountain . My foot hit something odd and I pulled up an ice cold sixpack of beer . Some poor slob had evidently left it there to cool and lost it . Finders keepers losers weepers ? We might have waited awhile to see if anyone would show up . I can’t remember . It was a fabulous surprise and pleasure  to drink cool beer on a hot day up there on that mountain , though . I remember that . Anyway……..

On the way down the trail we came upon the three-person campsite again .  The late afternoon sun was waning a bit . The Park Service guy was still there , or there again .  He had his hand on his sidearm this time . You should have seen the look on his face now . Well , it did look suspicious ,being three of everything and three of us there . Again .

” What’s under the blanket ? ” he said . There was a blanket spread over a tree stump . It was one of those small olive-colored coarse army blankets . We told him we didn’t know . Wasn’t our stuff . We had no idea .

He walked over to the blanket , took hold of it , and with one swift hand movement flung the blanket  up and away . And he jumped . I think he jumped three feet . His hand gripped his weapon as he turned toward the three of us . We slowly put our arms into the evening air to show him that we didn’t deserve to be shot right then and there .

Oh , I didn’t mention the axe that was lying against the tree stump near the blanket . There was an axe there leaning against the stump . It seemed to fit with the camping gear until the ranger flung the blanket away . On the top of the stump was a bloody  head , wild hair , blood dripping from the severed neck , wild opened frightened eyes .  It was a rubber Halloween mask , but it took a few panicky seconds for this realization to sink in .

We didn’t get shot , which , as Eric might have said ,  is one good thing .  The ranger has probably told this story a few times over the years  , too ,  I imagine . I wonder if those other three  guys ever showed up .

Happy Halloween !Mountain Oct.2014 008



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I don’t spend much time contemplating fortune cookies .  I do , however , once in awhile save a fortune . One’s in my wallet now . I’ve had and lost several fortunes over the years . I’m just like old man Wilshire , of Wilshire Boulevard fame in that way , except on a different scale .  Fortunes come and go .  So , here it is : Fortune cookie 002


I have a dinner coupon that expired in December of 1989 . The restaurant isn’t there anymore however . Otherwise I might go over there and try to use the certificate . It does say ” preferred customer” , after all .  Buy one dinner and get one free . Not bad .  I don’t remember where the gift certificate  came from . I don’t know why I kept it .  So , here it is :Coupon and road sign 008


Some things just don’t make sense . I passed a road sign yesterday and had to take a shot of it . Someone went to some effort to neatly alter it . I like to think that the alteration was done  by one of the city workers doing the work on the street . The sign sits outside of the Chamber of Commerce office , though , so I wonder if someone inside there did the deed . So, here it is :Coupon and road sign 005

He that waits upon fortune is never sure of a dinner . —–Benjamin Franklin

He who tries to use Le Papillon Gift Certificate will be out a dinner . —–unknown

I took a date a long time ago to a restaurant in Los Angeles’  Chinatown . The only thing I remember about the date was that the fortune cookie I got had nothing inside . I mentioned this to the waiter . He hesitated only a second or two and said : ”  Fortune is with owner of restaurant .” 

Once I took a dead battery back to Sears . I said I’d bought it there but the damn thing didn’t work . The guy asked me when I’d bought it .  ” Six years ago , ” I said , ” and it doesn’t work .” So much for attempts at humor . If I try that again next time I’ll say I’m  pretty sure road worms got to it . We’ve got to try to have fun in life .

I’m assuming the fortune cookie writer of my sample fortune was trying to be funny . Otherwise it strikes me as heavily cynical . Maybe that’s how he/she meant it . If so , that’s funny . At any rate , the target of this post  having been squarely hit , I will quit .

All generalizations are false , including this one .——-Mark Twain


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I Am Your Crispy Noodle


A few days ago, I went to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

My friends are so unsurprised by that news that they’re wondering why I bothered to write it. For those friends, I will just say that not everyone has had the pleasure of chowing down on Szechuan with me. Also, I’ve got to establish a setting and premise for this tale, so get off my back, OK?

As usual, my bill came with a fortune cookie. The slip in this cookie read –

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I wrote a rant recently regarding pool and drought and education . I got a comment from a blogger friend when I said I was backing away from education , implied I’d be joining Education Anonymous , that I  was trying my best to avoid the stuff . This blogger writes a well-researched mostly-military blog , Pacific Paratrooperthat presents well- written well-organized information in a historical context.  The blog  educates . He told me that learning should never end . He said that message came to him from his father .

So , in a particularly pusilanimous frame of mind today , I wish to offer something of a retraction . I am not all that much anti-education  if by education we mean learning .

I like to read history , for example .  I’m finishing a big thick Truman biography . It was well written , but I don’t read history for the sheer joy of the written language . I like to learn about , in this case , Harry Truman and some of the events during his time .  I , not too long ago , read a big thick biography of FDR .  I recently read a Bill Bryson book about the year 1927 . I think the title was  1927 . 

Also I’m researching the murder of an Arcadia cop in 1927 . I’ve been learning as much as I can about him and about his killers and about Arcadia in 1927 , etc. I got interested in this incident when I began volunteering at the Arcadia history museum , the Gilb Museum .

I wasn’t really on the level  when I said in my other post that I’m trying to avoid learning . I was trying to be facetious , I suppose .  Learning is o.k. under certain circumstances .

I started out badly with the education stuff , however . My elementary  school had a passageway near the entrance that opened up, too ,  to an open area behind the school  . When my dad dropped us off in the morning in front we’d all, my brothers and sisters and I ,  go into school . They’d go to class ,  but I kept going and walked out the rear of the school and headed home . School really wasn’t my thing , I had decided , at an early age .

Unfortunately , on the occasion that comes to mind and sticks in my memory , my dad saw me . He had stopped , by chance ,for cigarettes at the Hughes Market behind the school instead of going straight to work . I saw his old blue Comet chugging  along slowly in my direction .  My dad didn’t comprehend anyone who didn’t like school . He and his brothers and sisters had been top students .  My mother had been a top student , too , for that matter . My older sister was a top student , too , and my older brother wasn’t too bad , either . My dad was brilliant , but I’m pretty sure he mistakenly thought everyone achieves in school with a little effort . To him , that’s how life is . You just need to set your mind to it and do what needs to be done .  That’s the way the world worked to Dad .

But then I came along . School wasn’t my bag , man  . Well , I’ll just leave Dad’s  reaction to my action, my failed school escape ,  at that . No need to go into details . Some memories don’t improve with age . Suffice it to say that he didn’t have a sense of humor when it came to school escapers .caricature man seated

And then I got into the teaching profession . An irony , eh ?  I worked hard and did a decent enough job educating the youth of tomorrow . Well , they’re the youth of today , now . Well , not so much youth any more , I guess .

And I’m done with the education part of my life . Some other people hold those reins these days and they go through the ups and the downs and the ins and the outs of it all . Good for them and good luck to them !  I’ll pay attention to what I want to pay attention to nowadays , learn what I want to learn , and leave the education establishment behind .

There’s a pile of information out there in the air , and I guess I’m just tired of people trying to learn me stuff I might not want to know . Always was , now that I think of it .

To succeed in life you need two things : Ignorance and Confidence .  ——– Mark Twain




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you’re super ( intendent )

John Deasy , ( former )  Los Angeles Unified Schools Superintendent , just resigned . He was ” under some pressure ” , as they say .  He says he now might work in the field of youth detention , or perhaps support superintendents , or maybe run for political office .

A columnist for the local paper says that although Deasy was autocratic and unresponsive to his bosses and overreaching in his goals and implemented policies without input and combative with teachers , and that some of his policies became disasters , he was just what LA schools needed . He pushes reform , she said . Although the interim superintendent is , and will have to be , a peacemaker , the columnist  said , she hopes that another troublemaker is ” waiting in the wings “. Yikes !

I used to listen to that kind of thinking when I was teaching . Change is good ! the administrators told us . They meant , of course , any of their changes .  They didn’t mean your changes .

When Ada got a new director at her workplace , the woman told all of the employees to read ” Who Moved My Cheese ” , a silly little book that tries to say , I think , that change is good , that change will happen so learn to accept it .  (Again , the Director’s changes , of course , not the employees’ changes . )

Things change , of course , and some change is for the better , of course . And some change is stupid and makes things worse .

Some change is well intended but not well implemented . The LAUSD is an expert at this kind of stuff . Deasy meant to put an I-pad in every student’s hand . Funds intended for school construction and maintenance were used to buy I-pads . From the start things ” went sideways ” , as they say . The school Board put language into Deasy’s  buyout paperwork to the effect that the Board didn’t think that he did anything illegal when buying the I-pads and software . A couple of the Board members  said that the ongoing investigation , however , would tell the tale in the end .

Meanwhile , at Jefferson High , the computer system that the school district bought for how many millions of dollars to program students  doesn’t work . The administration , subsequently , couldn’t figure out how to programs students into appropriate classes . Week after week they couldn’t do it . Students sat around waiting . The courts got involved and a judge ordered LAUSD to fix the problem immediately . Deasy cheered the judge’s ruling . Deasy , the Superintendent , was in charge , so shouldn’t he have fixed the problem  ? Instead , he went to Korea to visit Korean schools . He wanted one last trip on the taxpayers’ dime , I guess , before putting in his resignation .

Maybe Deasy was a great superintendent . It’s easy to criticize a guy trying his best . The fact that the teachers’ union president says that teacher morale is the lowest in years due to Deasy may be irrelevant . Maybe a guy who jumps in with both feet and stomps on those reform-resistant folks is just what is needed . I don’t think so , but I’m not always right .

Deasy says he might run for political office .  I have to roll that one around in my skull for awhile .  He thinks , maybe , that he’s just now getting out of a political office and so he’s got experience . But he should consider the fact that wasn’t elected . Supervising superintendents ? He should think that one over , too .  Maybe the youth detention plan would be best for him . At least he’d have a captive audience .Moving-from-Chicago-to-Los-Angeles-California-Move-to-Los-Angeles-California-IL-CA



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no doubt

I play  pool every Thursday.  I’ve lost track of the number of years that I’ve been playing pool every Thursday .

I got a call yesterday from one of the pool guys , another Dan . He’s attending a lecture this Thursday at a canyon place called Nature Friends. He was discussing the event with another one of the pool guys , Bill . Bill will attend the lecture , too . And Willie ? Well , they’ll ask Willie . I was apologized to first , and then invited to the lecture . The invitation was a consolation prize , because only the four of us play ( every Thursday ) and now the game is off .

The lecture topic is : Are We In A Drought ?  Two and a half hours of Are We In A Drought ? Refreshments will be served .

I declined . Well , I asked that my pool buddies give me a report after the lecture . Are we in a drought ? Please ,  no synopsis . Just give me a yes or a no answer . I’ll be satisfied with that . I’ll save some time that way .

I know the answer already . We all know the answer . No mystery . Maybe my pool buddies will get some stats to convince unbelievers that California is in a drought . Maybe the evening will break down into a guilt trip session with suggestions how to save water . That might  be informative , but a disappointment I would think .   Maybe they’ll talk about the disgrace of watering lawns instead of planting native grasses . Worst scenario: A salesman from an artificial lawn company shows up to speak about the advantages of fake grass . He’ll have samples .old car in desert

I was a teacher . I should admire education . I should admire the fact that a couple of my pool group buddies  want to learn whether or not we’re in a drought . I should .

But , unfortunately , I suspect that I’m a reformed educator in the same way some people are reformed smokers , or reformed drinkers . I’m glad I got out when I did ; glad I’m out of it ; don’t want to be involved in no more education if I can avoid it . I’m not education-free , but I’m working on it . It will be a lifelong struggle , I know , to avoid education . But I’m working on it .

I’m not putting my friends down for attending the lecture at Nature Friends . I will say , nevertheless , that there is a value to tradition , too , to  consistency and steadfastidy  . Pool should be played every Thursday ,  lecture or no lecture . There are , after all , priorities in life .

I got an invitation, too ,  a couple of days ago to an important  lecture . Something about how to make a fortune at real estate and  put no money down . A real estate agent invited me . Or was it a lawyer ? It’s a beautiful printed invitation and the agent, or the lawyer ,  seems to really want me to attend . I’ll be sorry if I miss it , she says .

I didn’t check whether or not the real estate lecture , my key to future success ,  will be held on a Thursday or not .  If I had any intention of considering going , the first thing I’d do is check whether or not it’s on  a Thursday . If it’s a Thursday , then no way . I might make millions as a result of the lecture , but , on the other hand , I’d miss pool night . Couldn’t do that . There are , after all , priorities in life .las tunas drive,arcadia 1930
Besides ,  I’m trying to avoid learning anything new . If I don’t know whatever it is  by now , I guess that I haven’t been paying attention .  How about that ?  How does that grab you ? I’ll consider all of my opinions and prejudices as facts . When I listen to others parrot what I already believe , I’ll consider that to be an education about whatever it is . That way I’ll fit right in to  modern America .airlplane wing stars






















all this


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World’s largest single-masted yacht in San Diego!

Cool San Diego Sights!

Mirabella V is the largest single-masted yacht in the world! It's gigantic! Mirabella V is the largest single-masted yacht in the world! It’s gigantic!

I had to blink my eyes a couple times during my walk today. I was behind the San Diego Convention Center, where lots of visiting super yachts are docked, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!

That huge ship in front of me looked like the largest sailboat on planet Earth!

As it turned out, my first impression wasn’t far from the truth!

A little searching on the internet proved that I had spotted the Mirabella V, a sloop-rigged super yacht launched in 2003. Registered in the Isle of Man, it’s the largest single-masted yacht ever built! It’s 290 feet high! That’s almost the height of a 30-story skyscraper! It’s so tall, it won’t fit under any bridge accessible from the ocean! Not even the Golden Gate Bridge!

It’s hard to appreciate the mind-boggling immensity of this…

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