Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Thing About Unions

I know how touchy a subject this is for a lot of people because of the sheer amount of workers in unions, but I think it’s an important one because of it’s effect on businesses and the economy.  And I want to be clear that I love the American worker, no matter how he or she comes.  However, I think that unions served their function at the beginning of the twentieth century, and that now they have gone way beyond that original intention of protecting workers’ conditions.  They are about gouging companies for as much as they can with little regard for the companies’ survival, and therefore, with little regard for the long-term welfare of individual worker anymore.  The union is an entity that has long ago outrun it's initial objective. 

I’ll start out with a story.  When I was fifteen years old, I went to work for Hughes Market’s Store Number One on Ventura Boulevard and Goldwater Canyon Boulevard (now a Ralph’s) as a box boy.  My duties, as you would probably guess, were to efficiently pack customers’ barrel sized paper bags with the items that they had purchased.  I became, after a time, the second fastest box boy employed there after a packing “master” named, Hirach.  Hirach was of Hispanic descent, was short and stout, slightly older than I by a couple of years, and to be certain, guy was fast as lightening.  He just had the feel for packing bags. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Reaction To Bill Whitaker's 60-Minutes German Prisons Piece - An Open Letter

Dear Mr. Whitaker,

I watched your 60-Minute piece, "5 Star Slammer," on the German prison system, and I can tell you, even without knowing much about how the prison system works, that being lenient on felons would be just about the worst idea one could do in the United States.  It would never work with hardened criminals and gang members of our overly dense cities, such as East Los Angeles and South Central Los Angeles, for instance, who have grown up, spiritually abandoned by their single parents and hardened by the extremely rough neighborhood environments, to act with aggressive criminality as a justification of survival.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Shooting Range

I had another nice shooting session the other day with a Glock 19 and fifty 9mm rounds.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Some Bag Bad-Assness

I downed a bag during my Muay Thai class this morning and got a few cheers.  The way I see it, the bag had it coming!  -Photo courtesy of Bridgett. 

Bob's Big Void

I don’t make it a point to eat at Bob’s Big Boy all that frequently, and when I do, I am lucky to have the most iconic Bob’s of all in my back yard.  I’m talking about the Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank.  People call it the “Toluca Lake Bob’s Big Boy,” but other than it sitting in a neighborhood that is tangentially close to the Toluca Lake hoods near by, it is most certainly not in Toluca Lake, which is simply a section of the City of Los Angeles.  The restaurant sits in the City of Burbank proper.  I emphasize this point because I think that it is important to know which city has protected such an architectural monument as designed by the noted Wayne McAllister.  All that one has to do is to look up the restaurant on Wikipedia to find out all about its fascinating design and business history. 

Tonight, while my girlfriend was out of town at her mother’s house for a few days, it was getting late, and I hadn’t cooked anything to eat yet (anyone who knows me is no laughing to themselves because they know I never cook anything for myself), and the eateries around town were getting ready to close.  There are a few twenty-four hour places nearby, but since I tend drop in on their limited number all of the time, I felt like going somewhere fresh tonight.  So I picked Bob’s Big Boy.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Smart Phone Absorption

I am re-reading The Great Gatsby right now, and it occurred to me that I seldom see kids, or even adults for that matter, sitting and reading books anymore.  It’s like the shiny thing (their cell phone) keeps them occupied because after every Facebook post, or Tweet, or Instragram photo, there is another quick one-hundred and forty letter “fix” accompanied by a photo that satisfies their need for short term stimulation.

I will sound like a male chauvinist now, but i don’t mind because this is absolutely true.  The next time you are driving, or are walking your dog, or are out and about in society at all, take a gander at the next women you see under the age of fifty who is walking on the sidewalk.  You will almost never see her walking straight ahead with her eyes up in front of them.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Government's Smoking Governors

I was at a lovely woman’s birthday party recently and ended up in a conversation with her father.  He is a dyed in the wool staunch Republican.  As we drifted into the subject of the elections and politics, he expressed his strong beliefs that government needs to stay out of people’s way and only provide the most necessary of services.

Those who are very needy and dependent on a safety net, such as the physically or mentally disabled who are unable to provide for themselves.  Babies and toddlers in need of support who come from families who have no means or sense of how to provide an infrastructure in order to raise a child; some of those parents abusing drugs themselves even in the prenatal period while carrying their babies.  But when it goes beyond that, there comes with it an extraordinarily high amount of wasted spending on those who would rather not work and who end up taking the money and going to Laughlin for the weekend. And I doubt that our tax dollars are meant to be used that way.  

He he also talked about the right to fire arms and the usually assortment of politically conservative views, many of which I agree with. 

He then got onto the subject of government setting limits and restrictions on public smoking.  He felt that, again, government had no place in stopping people from smoking.  He said something to the effect that, “Americans are stupid people.  If they want to smoke and ruin their lives, then let them.  But don’t have government tell them or anyone if they can smoke or not.”

I had to disagree with his point about government's tampering with smoking rights.

A Tilted Perspective

A thought occurred to me the other day.  How far is it until you start to experience curvature of the earth, excluding topographical irregularities?  Well, right away, technically.  But I decided to use one degree of curvature to represent significant change. 

Before I did the simple calculation, I wanted to see what my gut sense of mileage would be equaling one degree of curvature.  Without thinking about it too much, I decided it would be between 125 miles and 250 miles (between 201 and 402 Kilometers), and to pick a number, I chose 125 miles. 

I did the calculation and found that at the equator, one degree of curvature would be just a bit over 69 miles (111 Kilometers).  This surprised me as it is a smaller number than I thought it would be.  So, when I drive up to my girlfriend’s mother’s house and back in a day as I am sometimes prone to do, which is about 244 miles (392 Kilometers) round trip, I experience a combined total of 3.5 degrees of earth curvature there and back.  That’s quite a bit in just a few hours. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

New O.J. Simpson Evidence

The fact that a retired L.A.P.D. police officer turned in a knife that he said a construction worker found on O.J.’s property has a lot of people up in clamor.  Many see it as the public and the police not wanting to let go of a trial gone wrong, and they see the testing of this knife us unnecessary and a little bit ridiculous.

But the valid counter-argument is that if any piece of evidence comes up that COULD be associated with the double homicide, then, it should be tested.  There are a lot of people who agree with O.J.'s not guilty verdict.  I am not one of them.  I am sure in my heart that O.J. Killed Nicole and Ron.  But for those people who do agree with the verdict, any reluctance to potentially new evidence being tested seems extremely odd because, presumably, there is still a killer out there to be found, and one would think that those people, more than anyone else, would like to see the verdict further validated by seeing the real killer caught and sentenced.  Just a reminder that there is no statute of limitations on murder.  So, finding the “real” killer is a valid and necessary motivation for testing any potentially new evidence that ever comes up. 

Such reluctance on those people's parts would indicate that they really believe O.J. did indeed commit the crime, was acquitted, got away with it, and now let's all just let it go and move on because nothing can be done about it, and let's not waste any more time on it.  Okay, but an acquittal one individual in a murder trial means that there is a killer still out there some where.  So, their reluctance to test new evidence that comes up at any point in the future combined with their desire to bury it all in the past is more than a little transparent to me.

Image:
http://redalertpolitics.com/2013/05/13/o-j-simpson-says-bad-legal-advice-put-him-in-prison/

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Star Spangled "Girl"


A close friend of mine recently directed me to a YouTube video, which contained the musical intro of the opening credits to an obscure Neil Simon film based on a play that he wrote called, Star Spangled Girl.  Neither the play nor the film were hits in any respect; that’s probably why you’ve never heard of them.  The song that is played during those opening moments as a Greyhound Bus travels down Pacific Coast Highway is called, “Girl.” 

This is the very same song (with a slightly altered first verse) that Davy Jones was recording as Marcia Brady asked Davy’s lead recording engineer that she speak to him to get him to perform at her high school in the 1971 Brady Bunch episode, Getting Davy Jones.”  I had always appreciated this early 70’s crafted song through my youth and I had learned to play it by ear and and often sang it along with my assorted piano repertoire when nobody was in the house, opening with it’s Carpenters “Close To You” style intro and all.  I even went as far as looking for it a few years ago on iTunes to see if it was real but didn't find anything at the time.  Haha. What a dork I am!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Road Trip To Jackson Hole Wyoming






Sunday, December 27, 2015:
I woke up at 5:55am, showered and then spent forty-five minutes packing my Jeep with all of the items we’d need for our trip in the upcoming days.  I finally got out of my garage at 7:18am, drove to McDonalds on Olive and Verdugo, grabbed two Egg McMuffins and a large orange juice, and parked on the side of Olive Avenue.  As I ate them all up, I called Brenda to wake her up, telling her to be ready by 9:00am.  She had spent the last two days at her mother, Letha’s, house after a Christmas day gathering at her brother’s home in Bakersfield. 

I got to Brenda’s mother’s house at 9:20am and let Susie out to pee in her back yard, then packed Brenda’s bags into my Jeep.  Brenda then misplaced her make up bag and searched her mother’s house for twenty minutes, which ended up being in a bag she had already thrown in the Jeep.  We then got on the road, straight up Interstate 5 and arrived in Oakland about fifty minutes late for my aunt’s memorial, which had actually only gotten started about fifteen minutes beforehand due to everyone being late arriving from varying parts of the state. I nervously read a heartfelt speech that I had prepared for the event.  Everyone seemed to appreciate it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie - David Jones




Ashes To Ashes

You were a true talent and trailblazer.

We will all see you in our next Moonage Daydream.



Image: http://musicfeeds.com.au/feeds/david-bowie/

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Aunt Lane - A Eulogy

I can hear aunt Lane’s voice in my head now.  “Be brilliant kid!”  Wow, thanks for the pressure, Lane!  I’m nervous enough as it is! 

I will miss Aunt Lane.  She was very playful with me, especially when I was younger.  She would walk around the kitchen of the Beverly Drive house while she’d sing some children’s song or rhyme to engage me, and which cleverly applied to something we were doing together.  It was this kind of stimulation, which Lane provided that I believe resulted in her four children being such interesting and insightful people.  I can only assume that they were taught from an early age to look at the world with a multitude of perspectives. 

It always felt to me like our short visits were emotional check-in's to see how we were both doing, but really, mostly how I was doing.  She seemed to be able to unravel me, and what I was currently up to, in mere minutes. She prompted me with just the right questions that challenged my answers, getting directly to the heart of my inner life. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Great Uncle's Date

This afternoon, Brenda and I went my uncle’s assisted living residence to give him a quick hello.  When we arrived, we saw a young man locking up a black BMW and then seemingly setting up uncle’s Mercedes.  I thought that maybe it was one of the assisted living workers either cleaning or maybe starting my uncle’s car since he no longer drives, but still likes to have his vehicle kept and maintained there. 

We went directly up to the my uncle's floor and found him standing next to the alternate elevators just down the hall from the one we had used, waiting with his walker.  We surprised him and said, “Hi uncle!” He was delighted to see us, and he said he wanted to talk with me to catch up sometime this coming week.  However, he couldn’t visit tonight because he had a date waiting for him downstairs in the parking lot.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Highly Improbable Moments

Which moments?  Every moment of your life.  And here’s what I mean.

Think about that time when you last ran into your buddy that you haven’t seen for a while at the hardware store, or you turned around to see your high school gal pal at a market that you hadn’t planned on going to that day.  Or, think about, sadly, the last accident you saw on a street somewhere.  And, think about when someone…anyone, wins the lottery.  Jackpot!

Those are all occurrences that are obvious to us and are unlikely to happen in each of our days.  They do happen, but just not that often.  But I submit to you that every moment of our lives is very unlikely.  Take the most banal event:  With the side of your arm, you accidentally brush an ink pen off of the counter at the auto mechanic where you’re getting your oil filter changed.  The pen lands in “that” specific floor tile.  You pick it up, and then put it back on the counter and you don’t think any more of it.  Why should you?  But I do.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Staged Event

A friend of mine who lives in San Francisco told me of something that happened to him recently that I found interesting to hear and think about. 

His name is Craig, and he works in graphic arts in the city there and puts together visual pitches for advertiser clients.  He was apparently shown a pamphlet of a musical play at an equity waiver theater not far from his work.  Since his wife and wife’s sister had planned to spend the evening together seeing the sites of the city and shopping, Craig decided to attend the show.  He likes to explore what’s up in the city. 

As Craig approached the theater, he saw that there was a small line of people getting their tickets, and after a few moments, he made it to the front of the line.  A ticket salesperson asked Craig if he was on the list of guests, and he said, “No.”  She responded, “Oh, so many people who are coming tonight were invited by crew members.”  He smiled cordially and got out his credit card, which she swiped through one of those phone credit devices. 

He then headed into the theater, seeing first a blockage at the entrance of people who were trying to figure out how they could squeeze in because the theater was mostly full.  Craig felt fortunate to be solo, slipped past the bottleneck, and headed up the bleacher graded seats to the back section.  He saw two empty seats, one of which ended up being saved.  So he asked a white haired man next to the seemingly only remaining seat left if it was taken. “Nope!” He said in a welcoming voice, “Looks like you got the last one!” 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dalton Trumbo's House

Me With Dominic Holding One of Dalton Trumbo's Oscars

During the time that I was very young, after I was adopted at age five to about eleven years old, I became friends with a kid named, Dominic, who was one year older than I.  He was the son of a psychotherapist that my mother, a child development specialist, worked with.  My mother, Marcia, became good friends with Nikola, or Niki.  And Niki was the eldest daughter of Dalton and Cleo Trumbo.

So, as a child, when Niki needed to go do something such as attend some meetings or clients and I happened to be at Dominic’s house, she would turn us over to Dominic’s grandparents, Dalton and Cleo.  I remember running in and around the house, as Dom and I were wont to do wherever we were, and Dalton would be puttering around in his old age, usually sort of off on his own.  I perceived even at the time that he was constantly either reading or looking for something, maybe reference books, around the house and keeping himself busy with his own projects. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Rabid Rabbi

I was watching some YouTube videos about the illegal immigration of Africans and Middle Easterners into Europe, and specifically, the past legal immigration of some of these groups into Sweden, and I noticed some of the user comments posting comments about Jewish power in Swedish media and government.  Some stated that Jews = parasites, that they owned the media companies, and that they have been on the side of multiculturalism, and have welcomed immigrants and Muslims as a sort of self-preservation insurance.  Their idea was that Jews, by promoting multiculturalism, are ultimately protecting themselves from ever being singled out as a target in the future; such as they had been during the German Holocaust.  I have to admit that I don’t know enough about European and Scandinavian affairs to leave much comment on such an accusation, but I will say that it seems unlikely to me that Jews would have such control of Sweden as to sway it’s people and politicians to do something they don’t want to do.  I suspect that if Sweden has let into their country a lot of legal or illegal immigrants in the form of refugees, then it has been their choice and their policy, given their socialistic political bent as a sovereign nation.  And to put it bluntly, there are just Jew haters in the world, just as there are people who hate anyone of any other ethnic or racial group.  The world is full of interesting and uninformed types.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Rorschach Stars

Apparently, the stars are my emotional Rorschach test, or my Tabula rasa.  And though I just became aware of it tonight, I have somehow always been aware of it in myself.

This is Labor Day Weekend and my girlfriend had something she needed to do with her family that I wasn’t really up for.  She’s in an area where there is no cell phone service, so I’m on my own for these few days.  Furthermore, the apartments that I live in are emptied out for the holiday weekend.  There were a few people floating in the pool during the day today, Sunday, but as of about 9:15pm, the place was silent as the middle of the woods. 

It was the same here last night as well, Saturday evening.  At about 11:30pm, I went and laid down on one of the several lounge chairs that are perched on a third story upper deck of our complex.  I first brought my cat up with me, thinking that he would enjoy the fresh air and serenity as well.  However, upon depositing him next to me, he was immediately perplexed as to what this place was and let out several guttural cries that were qualitatively different enough from normal meows that I thought better of leaving him out with me.  It was likely that the few one or two people in the complex would think there was a problem of mating or otherwise outside. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Partition

I had a recent copy of The New Yorker lying around and I flipped through a few of the articles; one about a new country singer not exactly doing the Nashville thing, and another about how the solar panels system works in respect to hooking into utility companies.  They were okay stories; whatever.

But there was one article that was very interesting to me, whose information I was simply unaware of.  It is called, "The Great Divide," and it referred to The Partition, and how in 1947, with the British government intervening in India's way of life (which I realize is a little subjective), that India, which was somewhat of a homogenized society of Hindu and Muslims, suddenly became much more aware of their religious differences, and began to massacre each other, until eventually, they physically divided (mostly) with Hindu people staying in India and Muslims forming Pakistan.  Apparently it was very complicated because the two peoples shared the same languages and artistic endeavors; something that to this day has been nearly impossible to unravel.  But during the Partition, they were literally killing and raping each other by the thousands. And to be clear, both sides were responsible for these atrocities. 

The article described the ongoing pains that the two countries have always had with each other since the Partition and also how, eventually it has come about, that Pakistan has ended up harboring so many people of unsavory character, fostered the beginnings of the Taliban, and has used what have been essentially terrorists to fight their own battles (I guess you could see the terrorists as mercenaries in that way) and finally, how these terrorist fighters are now out of Pakistan's control.

It was just interesting because I had never heard of this huge rift at all in my North American naiveté. 

This topic reminded me of the only Pakistani person that I ever knew of a long period of time. There was a young woman of about twenty-four years of age that worked on "Pocahontas" as a production assistant who was from Pakistan.  She was very pretty, always ultra-sweet (to me at least), had a cute Pakistani accent, and she dressed in an American way, though, with slight hints of her culture, especially with regard to color schemes.  She reminded me a little of the character, Jasmine, from "Aladdin."  She had a special beauty and radiance about her. 

She went on to work with me on "Fantasia 2000," and then literally one week, she came to the production meeting and told us all that this would be her last couple of weeks with us; that her parents were marrying her off to some man who was prearranged for her by them and another family.  I remember acutely her telling us this with the most matter of fact delivery, which seemed based on complete acceptance and compliance. 

The two weeks went by, and after working with her constantly for four years, we never saw or heard from her again. It was the strangest thing for us, the American bred people of complete autonomously chosen life directions.  The lesson for all of us was that when push came to shove, as Americanized as she seemed, she abided by her traditional Pakistani customs and she seemed to easily accept the matrimonial fate that was handed to her by her elders.  It was just a little jarring for the rest of us making an animated movie.  I hope she is well.