Monday, June 28, 2010

Search in Progress

It always amazes me how quickly information, as in really old, almost forgotten information, starts to blossom and pore in when you really search for someone hard.

My girlfriend’s family has been missing a sibling for many years, since the girl was about six years old.  My girlfriend’s aunt was in a situation in the mid 1970’s in which she had to give up all of her children to foster care. 

At some point or another, all of the children were later reunited with the aunt and have always had a relationship since.  All with the exception of one girl.  The family made sporadic attempts to find out her whereabouts, but nothing ever came of it.  And the story of this girl is one of the first anecdotes I heard once I got to know my girlfriend's family.

After successfully finding my own sister, who had been legally adopted (read, totally sealed records, seemingly impossible to locate), I know what is possible in the people-finding realm.  So I have essentially volunteered myself to help the family find this missing sibling.  As I said, it's a story I had heard year after year, and frankly, I just figured instead of hearing the story another time, why don’t I just find her for them?

So I’ve started interviewing many family members, running ads in papers, calling county protective and health departments, churches, libraries, and a whole bunch of other roads. 

Without getting into any of the details, I am really amazed as I always am at how much information lies dormant out there in people’s memories, and also in public records, that has just not been stimulated or accessed properly.  It’s the smallest details that, not sometimes, but are always the most important. It’s this memory of a food place they had visits at, or that memory of something that someone said after she had been placed that opens up a whole new world of search material.

I haven’t found her yet, and I’m guessing it’ll be a very long road, but what could be more important?  I have the stamina for this kind of thing, and my feeling is good about our chances on this one!

Find out what happened!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

If I Had Just Stayed In Process

I say this to myself a lot.  If I had just been writing more for the past six months, then I would be further ahead in this or that project.  If I had just been running more in the past four months, then I would have gotten my mile times down.  If I had just been teaching myself computer script code for the past eight months, then I would have a better understanding of the back end of the Internet…and so on.

I do this to myself because, 1) I see myself as self-disciplined person and expect a lot from myself, and because 2) many of the motivational books I’ve read have a common pattern among them that call for daily repetition in getting good at things.

Two of note are, “If You Want To Write; A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit” by Brenda Ueland, and “Dancing Corn Dogs In The Night; Reawakening Your Creative Spirit,” by Don Hahn.  Both of these books, aside from being great reads, share a common theme between them.  That is, to get really good at something, you have to stay in process.  Those little bits of writing you do every day, or the twenty minutes you take to work on some sculpting every evening, or the thirty minutes a day you exercise, really add up over time to significant gain.

In Don Hahn’s book, he describes his personal way of getting into the right mental state to draw or write each night; he circles the fridge a couple of times looking for chocolate.  And as funny as that sounds, the real gem in this knowledge is that it’s whatever gets you to do the thing that you want to be better at on a regular basis (getting some inspiring tunes on, playing on the Internet for a while, or circling the fridge for chocolate) that is actually a crucial prelude to one’s artistic and learning process.  One also needs to accept this in oneself.

My sense is that when you stay in regular repetitive process, you almost kind of begin to wire yourself to do whatever it is you are wanting to do more efficiently, and that you start to understand that creative world more fluently than if the same amount of time were logged in during one sitting.  In his book, “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell says that you need around 10,000 hours to get masterful at something; the equivalent of about ten years.

And so, I am hard on myself when I do not keep in process with the things that I want to be better at, and those things that I identify as a core part of myself.  I tend to feel I’ve let myself down.  I could be so much better at it by now if I had even put in “x” bit amount of time each day, and instead, I just whittled that time away doing I don’t know exactly what. 

Ultimately it’s the contrast between my ideal and the lack of having made the progress, that vacuum of discipline that I otherwise normally see myself as embodying (I think the fancy term in social psychology is “cognitive dissonance"), which finally inspires me to really commit.  I guess that’s just the way I’m wired.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Decades of Styles


I've always been amazed at how clearly recognizable a decade is by seeing people's clothes and hair styles.  My girlfriend and I watched, "Mystic Pizza" last night, and boy oh boy was there some poofed up hair in that movie.  In one scene, Julia Roberts' character is having dinner with an East Coast law school boy she's smitten with, and her hair is so blown out in a wire-like frenzy that she looks as if she's just grabbed a 220 volt outlet and failed to get go.  And her male suitor has one of those retro-rockabilly hairstyle that was so prevalent the same year I graduated USC - damn, I just gave my age away!

And yet, I remember living in the 1980's myself, and, while I recognized the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's styles as iconic, I really didn't see any prevalent 1980's styles at the time; people just seemed to dress "modern" to me.  But as time passed, and that decade slipped into recent history as well, the 80's look also started to gel.  Feathered hair, pastels, too much eye shadow (especially blues and pinks), denim-wash, turned up collars, Docker's pants, trench coats,...what???

So here we are in the 2010's.  Is there a 1990's look (Seattle lumberjack grunge)? Or a 2000's look (acoustic musician with beanie cap)?  It all doesn't quite seem like anything...yet.  Maybe because everything's become so homogenized, or maybe because we've been through a tough couple of decades economically, which as a result, haven't produced any real renaissance of artistic clothes styles and hairdos as has happened in the better times when the money is rolling on in; the periods of milk and honey.  But then again, ask me in another ten or twenty years, and maybe these past few decades will have gelled into something totally embarrassing and laughable.

Friday, June 25, 2010

“For Traffic Info, Call 511”

This is CalTrans’ latest announcement on their big, black, yellow-light dotted communication signs along the freeways.   Of all the entities trying to get our attention to make a phone call, this seems like a terrible idea coming from CalTrans.  We want to get people off of their cell phones while driving, not on them making frivolous calls.  Just tune into KNX1070, or any other radio station in LA to hear the traffic.

I’m all for CalTrans putting up info about Amber Alerts and, “Report Drunk Drivers to 911.”  Those are emergency situations.  But CalTrans shouldn’t be trying to get people to open up and dial their cell phones at 70 miles per hour, and I’m guessing have to navigate through a series of push button instructions to designate specific freeways, when this information is plentiful via less dangerous means.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the Nature of Things - Lucretius

No single thing abides; but all things flow.

Fragment to fragment clings-the things thus grow

Until we know and name them. By degrees

They melt, and are no more the things we know.

Globed from the atoms falling slow or swift


I see the suns, I see the systems lift

Their forms; and even the systems and the suns

Shall go back slowly to the eternal drift.

Thou too, oh earth-your empires, lands, and seas -


Least with your stars, of all the galaxies,

Globed from the drift like these, like these you too

Shalt go. You are going, hour by hour, like these.

Nothing abides. The seas in delicate haze


Go off; those mooned sands forsake their place;

And where they are, shall other seas in turn

Mow with their scythes of whiteness other bays.

The seeds that once were we take flight and fly,


Winnowed to earth, or whirled along the sky,

Not lost but disunited. Life lives on.

It is the lives, the lives, the lives, that die.

They go beyond recapture and recall,


Lost in the all-indissoluble All:-

Gone like the rainbow from the fountain's foam,

Gone like the spindrift shuddering down the squall.

Flakes of the water, on the waters cease!


Soul of the body, melt and sleep like these.

Atoms to atoms-weariness to rest -

Ashes to ashes-hopes and fears to peace!

O Science, lift aloud your voice that stills


The pulse of fear, and through the conscience thrills -

Thrills through the conscience with the news of peace -

How beautiful your feet are on the hills!

Enjoy my bumpy reading of this poem here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Culmination of Politics at Play


Photo courtesy of NY Daily News

President Obama’s firing of General McChrystal seems a little over the top.  The General has done a good job, and maybe another reprimand following his former leaks about troops needed in Afghanistan is all that was needed.

And, yet, one has to wonder, why is it that McChrystal has show a lack of discretion in past leaks and comments he has made, the latest of course being in Rolling Stone, in which he made unflattering remarks about the Vice-President and some members of Cabinet.  To paraphrase the President, “A General has to be held to the same standard as anyone else in our forces.”

But then again, to just cast McChrystal out of a career at just this time while we're in the midst of the Afghanistan fight; a career that started way back at West Point.  It just seems a little severe!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Tale of Jack Downey and Richard Fecteau

I only read about this story for the first time in an article in the Los Angeles Daily News this past Sunday.  It's an amazing tale about two CIA agents who were captured and held for 20 years by the Chinese government.  The CIA has just made an internal film about their experience, the screening of which they both attended.

Here is an article in the London Times about them.

Read the Article

Sunday, June 20, 2010

10 Quotes About Fathers on this Day of Theirs

1. William Shakespeare   It is a wise father that knows his own child.

2. J. August Strindberg  That is the thankless position of the father in the family-the provider for all, and the enemy of all.

3. Ruth E. Renkel  Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.

4. George Washington  Father I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my little hatchet.

5. T. S. Eliot  Those who trust us educate us.

6. Mark Twain  When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

7. Bartrand Hubbard  I've had a hard life, but my hardships are nothing against the hardships that my father went through in order to get me to where I started.

8. Charles Wadsworth  By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong.

9. Enid Bagnold  A father is always making his baby into a little woman. And when she is a woman he turns her back again.

10. Sigmund Freud  I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection.

Courtesy: Quotations.about.com

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Shield


Have you seen this show?  I’m admittedly always behind in my television watching.  We’ve been going through DVD’s of the detective series each night like there’s no tomorrow. 

We just finished the third season, and all I can say is, what a riveting show!  And like the show, “24,” the camera movements and writing on the series are very naturalistic. 

I especially like all of the tangled, and not always resolve stories that are going on throughout a season.  Well, we’ve got four more seasons to watch, so here we come!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Robin Williams on Last Carson Show

This is the great Robin Williams appearing on the, technically 2nd to last, Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.  The final show was a retrospective, so this was the final ‘regular format’ show.

Robin Williams and Johnny Carson work together here, as always, as a duo of comedic geniuses.  The energy was great on this night, and both at the top of their game.

This is Part 1 of 2.  You can find the 2nd part posted on my YouTube channel as well.  Enjoy!

Play the Video

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bette Midler on Last Carson Show

Here is video of Bette Midler appearing on the, technically 2nd to last, Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.  The final show was a retrospective, so this was the final ‘regular format’ show.

Bette sings a great opening number, reads a hilarious letter she wrote to Johnny regarding his departure, and then sings another wonderfully heartfelt song for Johnny on his 2nd to last night.  A fabulous performance!

This is Part 1 of 3.  You will find parts 2 and 3 posted on my YouTube channel as well.  Enjoy!

Play the Video

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Get By With A Little Help From My Family and Friends

My mother has just finished having invasive surgery to remove a couple of cysts, and what this involved was a whole lot of coordination between me, my two aunts, and a close family friend for four or five days. 

We did 3:00am shuttling back and forth from a hotel to UCLA hospital to my aunt’s house, and we kept my mother (somewhat) calm upon registration to the hospital, and in her post-surgery rest, when she was confused from her already existing dementia along with additional layers of anesthesia and medication. 

The good news was that her cysts were benign and she’s now back home with a nurse beside her along with all of us checking in on her.  It’s been an ordeal, and there is no way I could have done it all myself.  It’s good to have the support of family and friends!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Word About Abby Sunderland

I’m truly amazed that Abby Sunderland, the 16 year old girl from Thousand Oaks, CA, who was sailing around the world on her boat, WildEyes, made it as far as she did.  Not because she’s a girl, and not just due to her age.  But just the sheer distance we’re talking.

I had been checking her blog intermittently from her start in Marina Del Rey, and I noted to myself as she got past Catalina Island, then down towards the tip of South America, and on.  I wondered as dusk came here in LA what it must have been like to be alone on a boat at night for those lengths of time.

Then all the way through the Atlantic, stopping in South Africa to get some equipment fixed.  This stop cost her the title of youngest person to sail around the world.  But then she went on into the Indian Ocean and hit a big storm; 30-foot waves ripped off her mast, and then she was afloat from that point on, the outside world not knowing if she was dead or alive.

What a journey!  I was just impressed that someone that age got as far as Cabo on their own, let alone the Indian Ocean.  At 16, I was trying to figure out how to get my stereo working in my blue Camaro.

Well, she’s young, already extremely experienced, and I’m guessing, still ready to do quite a bit more sailing.  She’s got plenty of chance to do complete her goal.  Kudos to her!

In case you missed any of it, here is her entire blog on which she’s still adding to every few days from the French rescue fishing boat.

Abby's Blog

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dudes on the Rings in Santa Monica

Here is a compilation video of this one dude who was so good on the Santa Monica Muscle Beach rings.  He kept his movements so smooth, and knew how to leave the last ring that he passed through almost motionless; a great help for when you turn around and want to back in the other direction.

The video has three segments in it.  Two of just this guy, and then the third segment, in which he and his buddy do “pick up’s” from the platform.  They alternate on the rings in mid-swing.

I watched this guy for many cumulative hours trying to get my movements as fluid as his; never succeeded.

The latter and platform are no longer there, so people now have a less circular way of swinging on the rings.  I think that people who didn’t know how to use the platform kept swinging back into it and hitting their hips and shins.  Too bad.  I liked it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Sea Castle – The Fred Years



 

This is compilation of video I shot of The Sea Castle; an Art Deco beach club (The Breakers), turned hotel, turned apartments.  It sat about an eighth of a mile south of the Santa Monica Pier, next to where three other previous beach clubs were lined up in a row.  The following is not required reading by the way; you can just scroll to the bottom of this passage and click, "Play Video, if you want.

However, read on if you want to enter into the world of my crazy Sea Castle obsession, which is really an overenthusiasm for all old and grand buildings of yesteryear.  The Sea Castle is just extra special to me.

The way I ended up living in the Sea Castle was that after graduating from university and having my digs in West Los Angeles for about a year, my mother’s friend, who had an incredible studio apartment on the third floor of The Sea Castle with a 180 degree front ocean view, asked me if I wanted to sublet it from her.  She was moving to Colorado and didn’t want to have to rent it to anyone she didn’t know.

My first reaction for some reason was, “Will it be too desolate there?”  My concept of beach-living was that it would be too quiet at night and I would feel exiled from the inner city’s energy. It was rent controlled at the time, and had been HUD housing in the not too distant past.  So, it was a well-worn building.  After about 24 hours though, I came to my senses about this no brainer and realized that I might never get the chance to live on the boardwalk and pay only $480/mo.   So I took it.

I had so much fun there.  It was actually life-changing for me.  I wrote music there, started my first career while living there, developed some great friendships, and came into my own during that time.  My work-hours were variable, so I was able to spend a lot of time on the beach running, working out on the rings and gymnastics bars, and strolling on the pier.  What a paradise for a 23 year-old! 

Some of you who knew me when I made my  "Watercolors over the Sea" CD (available on iTunes by the way), will recognize some of the photos on the CD cover as being The Sea Castle.  I wrote most of those songs while living there, often while watching the storms come in off of the ocean like animated paintings.

After about a year and a half at the Sea Castle, I relocated down to the Venice Canals.  Ironically, the Sea Castle got heavily damaged in a big earthquake (1992’ish) and was condemned, and then burned down after transients had been living in it.  It was later rebuilt as modern, expensive apartments and still stands today at 1725 The Promenade, Santa Monica, CA  90401.

Some of my camera-work here is shaky; my apologies.  A lot of this specific footage was taken when it was extremely windy, and my camera and recording pack were cumbersome and a handful to say the least. It was so heavy, I had to carry the recorder in a back pack to be mobile.  You can hear me grunting more than a few times while operating it. I don’t know why I waited for such a blustery day to do a detailed survey of the building.  In fact, I had to pull down the ambient audio because it was so overwhelmingly loud, and then just ended up taking the audio out of the whole thing.  The video feels more like a window to the past this way.

I’m really glad I took all of this video because it represents my hey-day there, and because I took it upon myself to meticulously walk the entire perimeter of the outside of the property to show it’s size and some of it’s details.  I’ve cut as little as possible to show as much as I could for purposes of posterity.  So thank you in advance for your patience; I wouldn’t call this the most economic of edits.

Just a note that people also called this the “Whale Mural Building,” because of the fantastic ecological painting on it’s south side.  I didn’t show it in the video, but there was a quote painted on the upper left part of the mural (covered by trees in my video) that said, “We did not inherit this Earth from our parents; we are merely borrowing it from our chidren.”  I believe it's translated from a Native American saying.

At some point while living there, I took some video of some of the inside areas of The Sea Castle., which I have not found yet, and which when I do, I will add onto YouTube as separate video(s). However, all interior areas of the building, aside from the bright interior of my studio apartment, were so dark that they barely registered on my Precambrian camera equipment.  The building inside had been chopped up into apartments.  The level I lived on was actually a whole ballroom.  My floor and the one above me formed the real height of the ballroom level. 

For the first few months as I got off of the elevators to walk to my apartment, I always wondered why the ceilings of the enclosed atrium I walked through were heavily painted and decorated, then came to a sharp end where the apartments had been built into the perimeter of the inside of the building.  This was because the area I walked through was just a small, preserved portion of the huge ballroom I just mentioned above.  There are pictures of this on postcards in some books. 

I recommend highly two out of prints large coffee table books by Jeffrey Stanton, which you can probably find on Amazon.com or eBay.  They are, “Santa Monica Pier; A History from 1875 to 1990,” and “Venice California; Coney Island of the Pacific.”  These books have a lot of great information and pics of Santa Monica and Venice back in the day.

The dark, silent and vacuous lobby, where you will see the old man standing by the glass doors, now in hindsight somehow seems to me like a sort of forshadowing of the end and destruction that was to soon come for the building.

Things to notice in this video only if you're into nitty-gritty details:

1.  In the front of the building, you will see a decaying wall.  In the first part of the 1900’s, when The Sea Castle was built, the ocean used to come up very close to this wall in the old days, and so the stairs that lead from the boardwalk lever to the sand used to go down a lot farther. On this video, they look like steps that lead into the sand.  Also, when the camera pans to the Santa Monica Pier, note that the pier looks like a “land pier” now.  It wasn’t always that way.  It was originally built mostly over water. 

I got to know the security guy for the building who was mostly bored and loved answering questions, and he allowed me (and I doubt that he was even supposed to) into both Penthouses on the top of the tower.  Penthouse 1 and Penthouse 2 had incredible views like nothing you can see today because the new version of the building doesn’t have a tower with any penthouses anymore.  Being right on the sand and the pier that high up was breathtaking.

2.  When you are able to see the flat, open space between the sea wall and the boardwalk, you will notice a metal grating.  The security guy for the building also let me into the basement, which housed huge boilers and was mostly a mess by the time I saw it.  But he showed me how there used to be showers in the basement, a towel room, and then steps, which lead to that outdoor grating so that people could emerge, near the seawall with their beach stuff and just walk down the steps to the water.

3.  When you look at The Sea Castle from the front view, as in the first shot in the video, the two wings of the building weren’t originally apartments; they were later retrofitted to house more renters.  On the South side of the building (right side from front view) was an enclosed swimming pool.  If you look very carefully when I show the big whale mural on the South side of the building, you will see very large window frames that had been plastered over a long time ago.  These windows used to allow large amounts of light into the indoor pool.  And on the North side of the building (left side from the front view), was an indoor restaurant.  When I have almost completed my circle around the building and I am about to step back onto the boardwalk, you will see me aim the camera at a window that looks like a take out food counter. That was an extension of the indoor restaurant.

4.  When I am in the back (East) side of the building, you will see two car entrances; one which lead to upper level parking (which my parking area by the way) and one, which lead to lower lever parking.  There are also a couple of service entrances that I pass as I walk by there.  Fortunately for your sake, I've made cuts during that walk so it's not so long.  Notice how the back of the building had old fire escapes as I point the camera up.

One day back when I lived in the Sea Castle, I happened to be looking out of the back of the building from a window at the end of a hallway on maybe the third of fourth floor.  Construction crews were demolishing a small old hotel turned apartments, which sat behind the Sea Castle (on the east side) of Appian Way.  They had completely removed the hotel and were excavating down, I think to build the Santa Monica Loew's Hotel, or something next to it at the time.  I had always been a Pacific Electric Red Car buff and knew that there had been a Red Car line that ran north and south along Ocean Avenue, and that there had also been a spur line that descended from Ocean Ave to Appian Way northward toward the Santa Monica Pier. 

So on that day, when I happened to look out the back of the Sea Castle, I noticed that they excavation team had uncovered those tracks.  I felt like I was witnessing the unearthing of a history that no one else would ever see or know the significance of.  It was an exciting day in my urban-archeology world.  I wish I had had a camera with me, if for nothing else, to prove to myself from time to time that I had seen this event.

Wow!  You made it through all of that. So there you have it.  Click the "Play Video" link below and maybe it'll give you at lease some sense of what it was like there in 1989 to 1990.  Living at the Sea Castle was such a great time for me!



Friday, June 11, 2010

Fred’s News Broadcast

With nothing to do one night when I was about 19, I decided to create a news broadcast.  But as was almost always the case, aside from doing a little setting up of a few props, I didn’t plan anything in the way of a script to follow.  And hence, the deer in the headlights result…

Play The Video

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Santa Monica Pier 1983

Just after buying my used, monstrously heavy video camera and recording pack, my buddy and I went down to the Santa Monica Pier and videotaped on a weekend.  The pier had been seriously damaged due to a storm that razored off it's end.

Where you see the makeshift dance platform is where the pier ended.  It stayed like this for many years until the money could be raised to renovate the pier to it’s modern day restaurants and attractions.

The dancers are doing 80’s break dancing and some Michael Jackson imitations.  If you look carefully beyond where the dancers are, you will see a cream-white colored Sea Castle.  This was a few years before they painted it the aqua-blue that it was when I later moved into it.

Also, in the first minute of the video, you will see me zoom into the only partially in-tact brake water, which used to protect recreational boats moored to the North of the pier way back in the day.  I haven’t been to the pier lately, but my last recollection is that you can’t even see this breakwater anymore at all.

Play The Video

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Boogie Boarding in Manhattan Beach

Here’s video of my buddy Tim and I popping down to Manhattan Beach at the time that I lived in The Sea Castle in Santa Monica.  We parked in El Porto, and then hit the beach. 

I taped him doing some boogie boarding, and we had intended to tape me as well, but the battery on my monstrous video-recorder pack ran out, so you don't see much of me here.

It was a hazy morning, but it made for that picturesque yellow angular sun hitting us on the wide Manhattan Beach sand.

Tim and I had gotten pretty good at drop knee and knee boarding.  This is when you get either both knees on the board, or one knee on with one flat foot on the board's surface.

We both learned a lot from going down to “T” Street (Trafalgar Street) in San Clemente, which is an underwater reef about a quarter mile South of the San Clemente Pier.  This reef makes for great lefts and rights, and so some of the best boogie boarders in California of our time went to that spot, and we were able to pick up a lot from watching them. 

We happened on "T" Street when my high school girlfriend, Trish's best friend, Kim's family invited us on their annual summer stay in San Clemente, just north of the pier.  This video does not show that spot on this day.  We were much farther North up the coast when we taped this.  Tim and I both owned our own copies of, "California Surfing," a book which told about every single surfing spot in the state.  Tim and I did our best to hit all of the spot South of Ventura at least once in our lives.  We got pretty close anyways...

Our preparation for boogie boarding was kind of hilarious.  It’s too bad I didn’t videotape this process.  We’d get to the sand, stretch a little, talk, put on our spring suits, stretch some more, and then enter the water.  I always shrieked at how cold the 69-degree water was.  Tim would already be out there in the waves, laughing up a storm at his maniac friend.


Play The Video

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On the Rings in Santa Monica

Here is some compilation video of me swinging on the rings at the old site of Muscle Beach, Santa Monica.  It’s harder than it looks.  The trick is to get yourself rotating in circles, grab the next ring, but then to pull with all of your might on the previous ring you are holding onto to give you the big swing you need to get to the next ring in line.

Play Video

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bullshit

I was walking my dog, waiting for her to poop, and I thought about the word, “bullshit.” What is the etymology there? How did this phrase ever become associated with deceit or fraud?

As with so many expressions, maybe it has its roots in bartering and agriculture. Perhaps there were people who said they were selling mud, or good fertilizer from animals, or maybe a mixture of hay and mud for their thatched roofs, and they were given a pile of worthless bullshit for their money.

And with a few years of this happening to people, they started referring any situation where they were being ripped off or lied to as, “Hey, you’re giving me a load of bullshit.”

I don’t know. Seems like it might have come about that way.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bandwidth

I don’t want to seem impatient or churlish, but I want more bandwidth!  I can’t wait for the day when you click on a website or a video link, and it’s instantaneous.  Gone will be the day when you’re watching something, and there is a stutter or a skip, or worse, a wait for buffering to finish. 

Like all things tech-related, I know the day will arrive sooner than I expect.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pedal Pushing in the Summertime

I had just finished an open house in Reseda this past weekend and was putting my last open house sign into my Jeep when this kid, of about age 15, passed me on his bike.  He was holding a Slurpee in one had, and was cradling a submarine sandwich and chips in the other.  The fact that he wasn’t holding onto his handlebars made him look as carefree as could be.

It reminded of my own transportation at that age, in the sweltering heat of the summer, starting out on my yellow Raleigh ten-speed along with a friend or two on my wing.  We each had our squeaky flip flops on and a towel over our shoulder as we headed to the Sherman Oaks Park swimming pool.  A few hours of jumping off of the high-dive and splashing around, and then we headed home with bathing trunks squeaking as we rode home, trying to avoid getting the ends of our towels caught in our bicycle chains. 

We also did weekly rides to a go-cart place in Burbank, where we would spend most of that week’s allowance in an hour or so.  The bike ride from my home to this place, which butted up against the South runway of the Burbank, was an astonishing 7.8 miles; so we’re talking a good 16 miles of bike riding at the end of each of these go cart visits. 

This same time of year and mode of transportation allowed me to see Star Wars something like 7 times in 1977.  We’d start from Studio City and make our way over to the small General Cinemas in Sherman Oaks to get out of the heat and spend a few more moments in deep space with R2D2 and C3PO. 

Thank God for the bikes!

Friday, June 4, 2010

An Isla Vista Stroll – Part 4


Brenda and I found a place around the North side of the point to sit and play with Susie on the beach.  We had to urge her to go to the water since it was so new and noisy for her.  But, with a little encouragement, we got her in the shallow water and she ended up enjoying herself.   Lots of joggers passed by us, and Susie barked at a couple of them as of she owned our little section of beach.

After a couple of hours on the beach, we walked South back to the tide pools where Brenda noticed three or four jelly fish beached around the area.  They were big, clear with six inch long and half inch wide tentacles that looked like plastic wrap.  We tried taking a few more picture, and even though the sun was lower in the sky by this point, it was still too bright to get any good portrait type pictures.

Brenda and I headed back down the beach towards the stairs that would take us up the bluffs.  Most of the people who had been out sunbathing had disappeared.  I imagined them having gone to their apartments to get ready for a night of partying.  Brenda and I checked our feet and found a lot of tar on the bottom of them; one of the badges always acquired from a day in Isla Vista.

We got back up on the bluffs, and took another look from the open field down to the tranquil sea.  Two girls jogged by, and a young couple double-teamed their long board back to their house.  It was nice to see that Isla Vista hadn’t changed much in the past few years.





















Thursday, June 3, 2010

An Isla Vista Stroll – Part 3

There were a lot of locals and college people on the sand, just hanging out on their chairs and towels against the base of the bluffs.  Others were surfing and kayaking. We headed North towards the point where there are rocks and small tide-pools. 

One thing I saw looming in the distance was an oil rig a few miles off shore, which I don’t recall being in that spot my last time there.  Being that it was the same day that another plan to stop the huge oil leak in the Gulf had failed, I couldn’t help but see the oil rigs off of Santa Barbara as much more of a threat than I ever had in the past. 

Brenda and I noticed that the rocks along the shore had a lot of tar build-up on them, and we also saw tar flakes all along the water’s edge.  It looked like years of these flakes being washed ashore and settling on the coast had produced big globs of tar covering many of the rocks resting against the bluffs.

The day was extremely bright.  With only twenty-one days to go until the longest day of the year, Brenda and I found it hard to take posed pictures of each other without squinting painfully in the direct sunlight.


Notice the oil rig looming off in the distance at the very top of the frame.

This tar is really thick and hardened.

It was so bright, we were like the squint-meisters!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

An Isla Vista Stroll – Part 2

We passed by one open lot facing the beach, and I couldn’t help but wonder how much it was going for; deflated a bit in this economy, yet still inflated because it looked over the blue Pacific, and with a few steps down the bluffs, delivered you to the sand.  Not a bad place to cool your brakes.

We unpacked the few things we had brought and made our way across an open field on the bluffs.  I noticed in the years since I had been there, they had added a running path that stretched North along the top of the bluffs, and then seemed to head east, making a convenient exercise circuit.  We saw a lot of locals jogging, biking and walking along it.

Brenda and I set our cooler down on a picnic table that was near the edge of the bluffs.  I was surprised with all of the people at the beach this day that no one else had set up camp there.  So we had a relaxing lunch with the food we had packed and watched people frolicking in the waves below.

We both realized sometime along the drive up, that Susie, our black Cockapoo, had never been to the beach.  She was adopted from an animal shelter in the Bakersfield area, and since that time, has lived in Burbank.  We made our way down the bluff stairs and set Susie down on the sand, which she reacted to by squeamishly looking down at her feet to be sure of what she was standing on.  The first wave that crashed nearby startled her, but after a few minutes, she was off and trotting along the beach.



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An Isla Vista Stroll – Part 1


Since about the age of five, my parents and I used to take our various dogs to an open beach just North of Santa Barbara in Isla Vista, where we could run them without a leash.  The combination of a natural habitat and a pooch-friendly environment always made for a good day.  But it had been a good while since the last time I was there; maybe seven years. 

So on Saturday, the beginning of the Memorial Day Weekend, Brenda and I packed up some food and dog-walking stuff, and headed North on the 101 to the dog beach.  The access to the beach is tucked in a little neighborhood that I used to have to look up each time on maps, and let me tell you, it was so much easier to find with Navigation on-board.

When we arrived to the neighborhood where you can park to get to the beach, I noticed that many of the apartments were UCSB fraternities and student apartments.  This has always been the case, but for some reason on Saturday, this was more apparent to me than ever.  Perhaps it was because there is now such an age difference between them and me. 

There were students biking and walking with their surfboards to the beach.  Others were jogging by headed to the bluffs.  We saw about 15 students standing on a long deck with beers in hands, shouting out to anyone in the street, which smacked of fraternity life.