Thank you for visiting!

You are invited to read Marcus of Abderus and the Inn at the Edge of the World, the first novel in my fantasy adventure series. Visit the Edge of the World! Come for the view, stay for the adventure!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Travel Dreams-

So, I have recently been thinking about my dreams of travel. I realized that nothing will come of such dreams unless I turn dreams into plans. So far my lottery winnings have not been sufficient to finance unlimited travel. Indeed, due to my regular failure to buy lottery tickets my winnings have been consistently quite thin.

Now great travel dreams are fun. I just the other day used Google Maps to go over Interstate Highway 395, and Interstate Highway 15. They both run from southern California through several other states to the Canadian border. Indeed, Highway 15 nearly connects Canada and Mexico. Both of these would be epic journeys and I really hope to follow them, some day.

However, considering my current responsibilities I can't start making plans for such epic journeys. They shall remain dreams for quite some time.

California Highway 9 is another story. It is very close to home, and not all that long. It will make a good first photo project for a reasonably comprehensive collection of a highway. It can be done in a day, and so will require no camping or overnight motel stops. It is something I think my wife could do with me.

So, it is there I will begin. I believe I can plan this for a weekend sometime before April. Since we got a nice new camera for Christmas, we should get some pretty good photographs.

Feel free to follow my ramblings on Google Maps. Just open another window and bring it up.

Highway 9 begins in Santa Cruz, California. It meets Highway 1 at the edge of the downtown area, and heads into the mountains and into the Santa Clara Valley. It is quite pretty, and worth the drive if you are ever in the area.

Another short highway I have in mind is California Highway 35. It begins at a junction with Highway 17, the main artery between the Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz County. Running along the ridge line northward it intersects Highway 9 and continues north. It has a bit more complex path than Highway 9, but eventually ends in San Francisco near the zoo.

This is another day trip, and if we start early we can spend a few hours at the zoo in San Francisco before returning home. Having practiced our highway photography on Highway 9 I am sure my wife and I can get some nice photos of Highway 35. And the zoo.

Hopefully we can get that one between April and July.

The third highway I want to collect this year is Highway 25. Unless my wife suddenly develops an interest in camping, I will probably do this one solo. It will require a short journey just to get to the beginning of the highway. Highway 25 begins between Gilroy and Hollister, at a point about 45 miles from my home.

From there it runs south to meet with Highway 198 about 77 miles to the south. On this particular journey I shall be watching closely for camping options along the way, stopping to evaluate those options for inclusion in my photo essay about the highway.

I am unsure as to just when I will be making this run. I will probably try to do it before the beginning of September.

These three journeys should provide the opportunity to develop skills in travel photography and travel writing. They will serve as a good beginning to what I would like to develop into a serious hobby. If I can find the right angle, I would love to turn it into something of a profession, though that is a great deal for which to hope.

With my Oregon trip later in the year this should be a great year for travel. Not just travel dreams, but travel plans and actual travel.

It should be fun. I will certainly be blogging.


In a few hours I get out of jail and go home to my family for Christmas! It was hard leaving last night and coming to work. I had to sleep all day, and the evening festivities were just getting started. I had time to grab a sandwich and be off.

This will be my 55th Christmas. After having my gall bladder removed and the episode where the doctors thought I had a tumor in my head I don't count the passing years lightly. These days and months and years have been a gift. Indeed, they have always been a gift.

I still struggle with how to "seize the day" and "live all of the days of your life." Most of life is mundane, and that can't be avoided. How to turn each step into a celebration is something I have yet to learn. I have, however, become better at appreciating the high points.

Christmas is one of those high points. It comes once each year. It has a lot of tradition and history. It is shared by multitudes, and so is a common point for many people. I have come to love Christmas for the magic it represents, both in its secular and religious significance.

A big part of my participation is anticipation. Now that anticipation is almost ended. In a few hours all of the Christmas season will have been realized for another year. It does not make me sad. I have lived another year. I now can begin looking forward to my 56th Christmas.

But not yet. Soon, I go to my family and rejoice with them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I have a vague interest in boats. I recall when I was in junior high school a friend and I would spend time looking at boat plans. We dreamed vaguely of building small boats and doing some vague kind of boating.

In high school I had a friend who was interested in sailing on a tall ship. For a time I shared his dream, at least in some vague way. We would sign on as crew on some cloth and wind powered vessel and see the world.

I have long had some vague notion of running down the Mississippi in a small boat, ala Huckleberry Finn.

Never real plans. No setting up savings and doing extra jobs to get the money together. Just vague dreams and notions.

When I am doing my virtual travel, and even sometimes when I do real travel, I see bodies of water on maps or in the distance and vaguely dream of exploring those waters on a vague general boat.

I have located some pretty large bodies of water in my virtual travels that just beg for exploration. Miles of shoreline. Days, weeks, even months of potential exploration.

It sounds interesting. It sounds fun. Vaguely.

Perhaps such a vague and general interest is better served through reading. I wouldn't have to get as much money together, and it would serve such a vague level of interest just as well.

Perhaps better.

I rarely get wet when reading.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas #55-

Yes, this will be my 55th Christmas. With my children grown, and only one grandchild nearby, Christmas has changed a bit. Still, I love the season. Here we are just days away, and so far it has been quite nice.

We attend Twin Lakes Church in the Santa Cruz area in California. If you check on YouTube some videos associated with the church will be available. Last week was the Christmas Concert, and this week the Candle Light Service. Both were very nice experiences.

Indeed, spending as much time as I do in jail makes church a very special thing. I spend my time with broken people, and it is trying. Being in church with a great number of people who are worshiping God is refreshing. Some of them are even the broken people I have had to keep in jail. That, too, can be refreshing.

It is a good church, and they do such a nice job presenting Christmas. I have enjoyed the season even more in recent years because of their wonderful efforts. Since this has been a time of healing for me, it is even more important.

My wife, Linda, does a great job at home. The decorations and ambiance are fabulous, and I am again refreshed. She even put together a nice weekend outing this week. We visited a mall in nearby San Jose and enjoyed the decorations. I especially like the themed trees in Macy's. She made it a point that we got over to see them.

We also visited with her sister Carol and her husband, Jack. We shall not be getting together for Christmas Day this year, due to my work schedule. It was nice to see them.

I spent a good amount of time playing World of Warcraft, which is also refreshing for me. I need such refreshments, because I am growing less and less able to handle my job without them. It is good that I am ending this career next year, just after Christmas. I do not know if anything would prove refreshing enough to get me through any more time.

It will be an interesting year. I really must get the whole retirement package together, and prepare for a next career. I have no idea what that career might be. I consider professional writing, but our income requirements might preclude such a risky venture. Nothing else really grabs me other than something that would include a lot of travel like my last trip to Oregon.

I really don't know how to make that a career. It would be so much time away, as well. With the family coming back together I don't know if I would want to be away for long periods of time.

It would be wonderful to do such traveling with Linda, but again the time is just not right. No, I need a career for the next few years that will lead into a future time of travel.

I have a year to develop my plans and begin getting them moving. And Christmas #56 will be one of the stops along the way.

That is something to look forward to.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seasonally Challenged-

I love Christmas. More than birthdays I count my life in Christmases. This will be my 55th Christmas.

It is a season, however, that brings out a personal weakness. Actually, each season brings out a personal weakness, but this is the Christmas season and I am addressing my particularly Christmas weakness.

I am gift wrapping retarded. I apologize to anyone who is offended by the term "retarded" being used in the manner it was used in my youth. It meant restricted, challenged, fundamentally weak in some way. I don't know, it got changed over time. Anyway, I am seasonally challenged.

Looking at it objectively it is not a practiced skill for me. Once or twice each year I try to encapsulate some object in paper, ribbon, string, tags and whatever else is seasonally appropriate. My overall lack of practice remains obvious from year to year.

It does not help that for most of my life the purchase of gifts and the wrapping of gifts was generally the responsibility of other family members. For the most part they would assume this duty to prevent the dubious result of my efforts from denigrating the underside of a Christmas tree or whatever other designated place of presents was being used.

There was a time in my life when I used newspaper comics as wrapping paper. Hey, they were colorful. They were available. I thought they were cool.

I learned that they were not cool. In the general run of my education, I again learned that my tastes were aberrant and generally cheap. You would think that some of this would sink in over time.

So, I have finished wrapping a pile of gifts for my wife. They are the only ones I will wrap this year. I guess she trusts herself to forgive my weakness.

Maybe I could find a summer program to help me. A nice camp somewhere. Days spent by the lake, under the pines, wrapping and re-wrapping practice gifts until the folds are neat. I can master tape, ribbon and label.

Perhaps not.

I will probably serve better as the poster boy for gift bags.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dream Job-

One of the exercises in I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It by Barbara Sher is to describe your dream job. Since I have not yet figured out what I want to do, though I am pretty much grown up, I purchased that book and did most of the exercises.

Of late I have been assessing my desires and dreams and my current life. I think I have found my dream job. Unfortunately, I just don't see it making enough money to actually do.

I really would enjoy traveling around and seeing the United States and visiting just about every campground and campable place along the way. I would love to assess the campgrounds and publish those assessments.

There are, of course, complications to doing dream jobs. They are called Dream Jobs for a reason. They aren't our real jobs. We get real jobs to pay bills and clothe the family and keep a roof over our collective heads. Dream Jobs are dreams.

Still, it is a great dream. Of course, this particular dream job has evolved out of recent events. My setting up camp at work to avoid having to commute home in the morning after working all night. I really didn't camp a whole lot before this. Some, but not a lot.

Now, having equipment and experience, I realize I could do this quite a bit. I could travel and camp. I like to write, so assessing the camps I visit would fit well. A man without a family and a mortgage and a LIFE could do this.

Still, it is a dream with appeal. I have to wonder, could I do this?

Probably not. However, I sure will keep myself open to some way to make it work.

Sometimes dreams do come true. Right?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Camping Notes-

This week I experimented with applying my tarps to the awning that is part of my Sportz II truck tent. Since the tent is designed for a compact truck (a 97 Ford Ranger in this case,) it is small. The point at which the awning is attached to the tent is lower than the level of my head when I am standing. The awning actually slopes upward from the tent to the top of the poles even when they are not fully extended.

As a sun shade it is adequate, when my chair is placed under the awning. As a rain shield the awning leaves a bit to be desired. I think the awning on the full-sized truck models probably works a bit better, as it can be sloped properly away from the tent to shed rain and will still be height enough off of the ground to allow the tent dweller to stand under it.

Anyway, what I really wanted was an enclosed space that would be sufficiently private to allow me to use my Lugable Loo bucket toilet. Not that I am anxious to do so, but it is the sort of thing that needs to be Incorporated into the overall camping plan.

Using two smaller tarps I was able to hang them along the sides of the awning. I clamped the tarps to the awning near the points where the awning attaches to the tent. It worked well. That left the large opening at the end of the awning, farthest from the mouth of the tent.

Folding my rain tarp (which covers the whole tent, a bit of the awning, and most of the truck,) I attached it to the poles holding up the end of the awning. The poles have long pins on the end to go through grommets. Long enough to take the side tarp grommets and the grommets of this folded end tarp.

Using some bulldog clips I was able to enclose the area under the awning. The resulting space was large enough for some storage containers (mostly under the truck tailgate), my chair, a TV tray, and a few other items. I found the space reasonably comfortable to sit in after I was done sleeping.

Three small tarps will be sufficient to create this space whenever I want it. I think I will want to find stronger clips to hold it all together, since even a light wind pulled a couple of the bulldog clip joints apart.

So, I have been evolving my camping system. It is going well. I have learned that I am surprisingly comfortable in relatively primitive camping conditions. Of course, my primitive system is opulent relative to the resources some people live with all of the time. It is good enough for me.

As I contemplate this set up, I think that a small truck with a utility bed would be a great base vehicle. Above the utility box a folding tent system could be installed. Such a system would be tidy, easy to use, comfortable, and set up quickly. So, I am homing in on the ultimate minimalist RV for my personal style and taste.

This has been fun, and I have years to perfect the system.

Gilmore Girls, again-

I am now most of the way through the second season. My coworkers are making fun of me. They fail to see that I am enjoying a show founded on great writing and an amazing cast of quirky characters. They think I am showing my lavender.

Not that I am bothered by them making fun of me. They always have. With abundant reason. Hey, I spend a lot of my time off driving a cartoon character around an imaginary world. I spent years reading mathematics books for recreation. I did word problems for fun. I have read the Lord of the Rings more than ten times. I live in the parking lot.

So, anyway, I really do enjoy the relationships that are central to the Gilmore Girls experience. Perhaps it is because even the most intense elements of those relationships are presented at a fast pace and in a context of humor. Oh, there are real moments of sadness. There is a real concern for the welfare of the characters facing the consequences of their story driven decisions. Fortunately, the doses are small and surrounded by witty banter and just plain fun.

The greatest challenge is believing the intensity of the young characters with regard to their education. Or even Grandpa Gilmore, reminiscing over his own youthful dedication in aspiring to a suit and a position with a powerful firm at the age of ten.

I am fifty five years old and don't have such devotion. I just want to finish this career and find a next career that fits a little more comfortably. I haven't any idea what that might be. My devotion has always been doing what I must to take care of my family. They still have needs, and so that remains my devotion.

Fortunately I have the Gilmore Girls to aid me in bearing the burden of an ill fitting career. They will see me through the waning months of that career, and provide what has always been good medicine.

A bit of laughter and a warm heart.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Finally back in the swing of all things Internet-

Due to changes in the economy my job has undergone some adjustments. Fortunately, they are relatively superficial and don't impact my income. However, every third week sees an assignment which does NOT include ready access to a terminal.

So, I have not been able to keep up on my blog reading or writing while at work. I did not have those odd moments not otherwise occupied to do either. I realize now that a lot of my blog time was done in those odd moments, and I really missed that.

Due to changes in the economy the changes due to the economy will be changed again. I will be able to access a bit more, and at least until the next change to the changes due to the changes in the economy all will be good.

Just in case someone is concerned about "wasted time" at work, the odd moments come largely when the inmates I supervise are asleep. Even while awake they don't occupy all of the time the officers are at work. Odd moments, like I said.

We had a good bit of rain this week. Since I am camping in the parking lot during the day (to avoid trying to drive when I am very sleepy) I got to test my rain preparations. I have a tarp I lay in the bed to aid in protecting the interior of the tent from any wet that gets into the truck bed. That worked fine.

I have another larger tarp that goes over the whole tent and part of the truck cab, strapped down with bungee chords and looking pretty ghetto. Well, maybe sub-urban white-trash ghetto. It also worked well.

Only one problem occurred. I awoke in the midst of the rain and looked out through the bug screen door to see the awning bulging toward the ground. It had accumulated a lot of water. I was able to reach out and push the bulge, forcing the water off of either side and freeing the awning from the threat of collapse.

I set my alarm to awaken me every thirty minutes so that I could take care of this problem during the greater part of the rain. Annoying, but it worked.

After I got up I addressed the problem. Lots of elaborate ideas came to mind, and were rejected. I did not want to add more stuff to what I hauled around with me. Then, inspecting the awning and tent, I saw where I could solve the problem with some cord and two chop sticks.

I found a chop stick in my glove box, but only one. I tied it to the end of a cord and then used that to lock the cord to a loop at the top of the tent door just under the place the awning attaches to the tent. I stretched the cord to the awning support pole and tied it off tight.

The cord lifted the awning enough to cause water to run off in two directions and not accumulate where it had gathered before. Two cords forming a cross support under the awning will probably prevent a similar event. Problem solved.

I found some spare chop sticks in the dining hall at work, and added them to my kit. The cheap throw-away sticks from Chinese restaurants can serve a lot of purposes in camp, I should think. They can be whittled easily, and already have a useful shape. I recommend them highly.

As to bungee cords, I have really taken a liking to the cheap ones available at the Dollar Tree. Yes, they are not particularly heavy duty. However, the way they are made leaves the hook piece free to slide on the cord. This makes them adjustable.

I stretch the cord where I need to use it, and if it is a bit too long I just tie a knot in the cord to push the hook back on the cord and thus stretch it tight when in use.

These things are cheap enough to keep a lot of them with you in your camp kit. They come in packs of six, in several sizes per pack. There are two pack choices at my local store. The range of lengths for the various cords makes the collection versatile and useful.

Well, I am glad I could get back to blogging. I missed it this week, and it took me a while to catch up on my favorite blogs.

Now I need to go air out the tent. It got wet and needs to dry out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blog Following-

I have made it a habit, recently, to check out the Blog of Note on Blogger Dashboard. I have even added some of them to my Follow list. I am selective. The blog has to be genuinely interesting to me. Though I am interested in promoting my own blogs, I don't see how I will have time to follow everything.

Indeed, if I add a blog each week to my list I will end up with fifty six new blogs to follow over the course of a year. That will be a lot of additional following. However, if they are genuinely interesting, it will be a pleasure.

Some bloggers I know follow hundreds of blogs. I don't know if that will do for me. I guess I will find out what my limit is when I reach it.

Meanwhile, it is certainly fun seeing what people are doing out there.

Sometimes things work out-

Blizzard Entertainment released Wrath of the Liche King, the World of Warcraft expansion, on the 13th. I did not have the $40 at the time. I expected to be waiting awhile, since money is tight these days.

My wife sold a piece of furniture on Craig's List. One stipulation was that we had to deliver. In exchange for delivery the purchasers added fifty dollars to the price. My son and I were to be the deliverers, and so split the fifty. Nice, but not enough for Wrath.

Delivery day came. Fortunately, my son Matthew had done some work that day using his company lift-bed, and had it with him for the delivery. With some effort we got it on board, and after a nice drive got it to the place of delivery. The people receiveing the large entertainment center had two big fellows on hand to help.

It went really well. One of the best furniture moves I have done, and I don't really like moving furniture. Just before we left their place the lady who bought the piece slipped me another fifty. So, Matthew and I each got fifty bucks for the work.

I bought Wrath of the Liche King. Actually, I just stopped by the store to see when the next shipment was coming in. I knew that missing the release date usually meant waiting weeks to get a copy of a new release. The young lady pulled one off of the shelf and I bought it. I was delighted.

The installation, downloads and initialization all went smoothly. I only had a few hours to play, but I jumped in, did a few quests, got myself killed, did another quest, and had a great time.

Now I am at work. I would love to be playing, but just knowing I will be able to when I get home on Wednesday is pretty nice. Plus, my main character Nehai will be well rested by the time I can play again. Being well rested provides some bonuses in the game, and is a good thing.

I was planning to bump my memory up a gig before getting the expansion, but it is running fine on the system just as it is. I still want the memory, but am glad I got into the next level of the game only two days after the release. It feels great.

Did God answer an unspoken prayer regarding the money? I believe so, even though I still have trouble believing God really cares about something as trivial as a computer game.

Then again, perhaps it is me he cares about. That is a great feeling, as well.

Trivial or not, I am thankful. This is going to be fun!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gilmore Girls-

I have never been fond of human emotions. At one point in my youth I attempted to shut off my emotions. I felt that emotions were at the center of most human problems.

I was right, but my solution was wrong. Our human emotions are a large part of being human. Indeed, though I still have a deep and abiding love of the intellect, I am convinced that we are fundamentally emotional beings. The intellect is just a part of our being, and quite possibly not the most important part.

That is a huge thing for me to say.

So, I struggle with feelings, with emotion. I am still not fond of human emotions. But, I am getting better. Perhaps before my time runs out I will become a complete human being.

Maybe not.

My wife, Linda, is a fan of the Gilmore Girls. She loved the show when it was fresh and new and on television. She loves it now when it is available on DVD. So, she offered me the first season.

It is a witty and cheerful program, for the most part. I like the nod toward the intellect. It makes me feel smart when I get some obscure reference. I also like cheerful. Along with all of that, a quirky set of characters, and pretty sets, there comes emotion. Not overwhelming. In palatable doses.

Just the thing for an emotionally retarded individual such as myself.

So, for the next few months I will be laughing and (maybe) crying along with the Gilmores.

I can probably balance that out with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I am still only half-way through that series.

Gotta love that Quark.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Day in History-

Actually, that is every day. However, today was a moment in history. Though the election was concluded on Tuesday I am still working the shift I started on Tuesday night. If you got here without seeing my profile, I am a correctional officer. I am writing this from jail.

This shift I am working a dormitory in a medium security jail facility. During the course of the evening the two televisions in the housing unit became tuned to the election results. One was in Spanish, the other in English. Both happened to be the same broadcast, and I could see both from my duty station.

I will say up front, I voted for Obama. I was pleased that he won the election. Though it registered in my mind that the election of a Black man to the White House was historical, it did not register as truly significant. Other than being factors in making up who we are and thus lending interest to each of us as human beings, ethnicity and skin color have never been of any special importance to me.

Not that I have adopted that attitude to be progressive or politically correct. It just has never been very important. So, I recognize the historical significance of the event, but do not experience it personally.

More important to me is the hope for change. It was that hope more than any affection for Obama as candidate or political figure that defined my vote.

Anyway, I observed the conclusion of the election of the President of the United States from the confines of a jail dormitory, and in the presence of a mix of inmates.

The several Black inmates were quiet but celebrated a victory I can only imagine. Some of the White inmates were obviously not pleased, but were neither vocal on the matter nor disruptive. Though I know that several of them were inclined toward White Supremacy, they did not act out in response to the news that Obama was victorious.

What surprised me was the response of the Hispanic inmates. A good percentage of the Hispanics I am supervising tonight are not citizens, and are not enjoying the best that the United States has to offer. Yet they were excited and elated by the news of Obama's victory. They were even more attentive to the events presented on the television than the other inmates in the dormitory.

The evening went well. I monitored the dormitory for any potential friction among inmates as a result of the news. The evening went well. They are now all asleep, and I have a moment to drop these observations into my blog.

The impact of this national decision will take time to become fully visible. Like most days in history the significance of any given day is not fully known without the perspective of time.

I feel vaguely hopeful.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Life in the Back of My Truck-

With the Internet I have excellent perspective on the weather. I saw the rains coming, and also saw that I had a nice window of not-rain in which to get set up. I purchased two tarps for the occasion. A smaller one to place inside the tent, and a large one to embrace my tent.

Set-up went fine. I got the tent up, and put on the rain fly. I always put on the rain fly, since it provides another layer of protection from the sun and is good for, uh, rain. This time I put up the awning as well. That went pretty good. I got things snug. Then the last item was the big tarp.

I had selected a tarp large enough to give excellent coverage, and some bungee chords to aid in securing the whole thing. The tarp even extended over part of the truck cab, insuring that the area between the tent and the cab was not exposed. It even extended about a foot out onto the awning, providing some added coverage of the door area.

When I went to sleep in the morning there were high clouds, but no rain. When I awoke about noon the clouds remained, but no rain. When I awoke again in the mid-afternoon I heard the patter of rain on the tarp. It got up to a pretty good roar of rain on my little Cloth Castle, but I remained dry inside.

The rain had reduced to a sporadic sprinkle as the time came for me to awake once again and go to my shower. I had finished my shower and was dressed when another officer arrived and asked if I had put down my awning. I told him I had left it up. He said the wind was strong. I went out to see to my little truck based house.

By shoving the awning poles under the truck I drew the awning down over the tent door. I then had to adjust the tie downs for the tarp. It was catching the wind and belling up. I adjusted the bungees and got it pulled down snug. Everything was ready for the rest of the storm.

The rest of the storm happened to be another hour of wind. The Cloth Castle bore that just fine. Apparently the storm was blowing away, and this was the grand finale.

Today I anticipate little rain, if any. I will put up the awning once again, to try and dry it out. I also like the little bit of extra shade. I may put it up more often.

The awning had fallen due to a tent peg rotating in the ground and dropping the guy line. I have another type of peg that should not rotate. I will try it out before buying more, but it seems to be a good design and not too costly.

On the whole life has not been too bad in the back of my little truck. Hopefully I can take this show back out on the road.

I feel the need to travel.

I Am the Audience-

Having completed my reading of the book Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, I am again impressed by the driving passion some people possess that, well, drives them. Having attempted a bit of performing I know it is not a particularly desirable place for me to be.

However, I can be the audience. Not just a member of the audience, but be consciously the audience. I have tried a lot of things in my life, and many of those samples have given me a depth of appreciation for the works of other people. I also read and watch informative video programs. I try to understand not just what someone is presently saying and doing, but how they got to this time and place.

Steve Martin essentially apprenticed as a comedian for ten years. That number ten comes up quite a bit. A lot of performers are out there doing performances for about that long before they are "overnight successes." Even more keep slogging along, sharpening the act, but remain in the minor league.

I have a place in some of those careers. I am the audience. I can appreciate how long it took (and sometimes how many people) to make the music, produce the movie, publish the book. I can watch/listen/read with deeper appreciation knowing that quite a few ten year apprenticeships went into making what I am experiencing.

That supporting actor that made the star look great may have years of dance training behind them. A decade of practice at tumbling or martial arts. A lifetime of cello playing.

With the advent of the Internet I can appreciate even more careers, and even avocations. As I explore the blogosphere I am constantly amazed by the things into which people pour their passions. Quilts (like my daughter's), knitting, tutus. Amazing. Photography. Poems. Fantastic.

Sometimes it is the passionate service of people. I recall a friend, Joni, who was honored one day at the place we worked. She had quietly delivered meals for Meals-On-Wheels for quite some time. None of us knew. She did this honorable task quietly. Just Joni and the grateful people receiving their meals.

So many others, doing so many good things.

I may not yet have paid my dues. I may not yet even have a consuming passion that might inspire others. I can, however, consciously be the audience. I can take the time to really appreciate the work that went into that last thing I enjoyed.

So follow your passion. Be your best. Share it freely, so that the audience can appreciate what you have done. We may not all have what it takes to hammer out a play or concert or television show, but with the Internet we can share.

Many of us do thankless tasks for years. The public does not see us.

Like the technical support making the actors look good, if the job is done well it will go unrecognized. That may be a testimony to the quality of such supporting work, but it does not hurt us to take a moment and look behind the scenes.

When you go to a movie, sit through the credits. Look at the names and titles. All of those people did their job so that you could enjoy a great movie. The same goes for plays, concerts, and just about anything else. Be conscious as The Audience. Do your job well, and appreciate all of the hard work.

Be the best audience you can be.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How I Failed My Memory-

I do not have a good memory.

More correctly, I may or may not have a good memory. I have never trusted my memory very much, and so it never got big and strong. It languished in some forgotten place, getting little exercise and suffering from poor self-image due to neglect.

I do know that I have a terrible mind for names. They do not easily attach to objects (which includes people) and I have a laps of confidence in my memory as a result.

Over the years I could have (and should have) trusted my memory more. Taken it out for walks, gotten a little exercise and fresh air. Instead I learned how to find information. Whatever the information seeking part of the brain is called, that part got exercise.

I need information. I ask my memory. It says, "go look it up." Then it rolls over on the nice couch I bought it and goes back to sleep. I go to look it up, and then come back to my memory. "Where?" I ask. My memory does not even turn over. It just mumbles the best place to start, and I go and look it up.

Not a strong working relationship.

Don't neglect your memory, folks. When my Alzheimer comes I probably won't notice. A memory is such a terrible thing to waste.

Steve Martin and Me-

I am nearly through with Steve Martin's autobiographical book about his stand-up comedy career. I recommend it for any fans of comedy in general or Steve Martin in particular.

Over the years I have seen Steve Martin on television and in movies. I like the man's work, but more so I felt that I liked the man. There is a vulnerability and sensitivity that comes through in his work that makes him likable.

I have connected with Steve Martin on several levels. He loves Disneyland. My whole family loves Disneyland. Steve began building his career there. We just go to enjoy the magical environment.

Steve Martin is a magician. So am I. He came to the conclusion that he loved magic because he loves to perform. I learned magic because I was fascinated with the trappings, the techniques, and the strange psychology that makes it all work. That is why Steve Martin is an entertainer, and I am not.

Steve Martin is an eclectic scholar and loves philosophy. I am an eclectic scholar and also love philosophy. His broad learning does not seem to tie directly into comedy, but then few people understand that comedy is work. Hard work. Comedy is informed by the whole life experience of the comic.

We are both funny guys. Steve Martin took the hard road of making a living being a funny guy. Me, I just occasionally entertain the people around me, and constantly entertain myself. Even before reading this book I had some understanding of just how hard professional comedy might be. Steve Martin relates that challenge in his little book.

My father once quipped, "I like Steve Allen, not Steve Martin." Interestingly enough, Steve Martin studied the works of Steve Allen, and other masters of comedy. Steve Martin also liked Steve Allen.

I really like comedy, and comedians. I appreciate the hard work that stands behind the laughter. They are not just entertainers, they are great physicians. I love to laugh, and I need to laugh. They help me find that laughter, and I appreciate their long efforts.

I recommend this book. Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin. He is quite a guy. I like him.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fellatio and Foot Care-

Here is where I reveal the rather twisted nature of my mind. Not twisted as in evil, twisted as in other-thinking.

Once in a while I think about things like ergonomic design. I especially think on this when working at the work stations where I work. Ergonomics were not considered when the designs were finalized. Though the county has (purportedly) an ergonomics specialist on staff for consultation in things like, say, the design of work stations for county workers, that individual seems to be perpetually somewhere else during design finalization.

So, I think on ergonomics. Then I wonder as to what the proper design for a service chair might be for someone specializing in fellatio. Lets face it, if you have ever seen such an exercise performed it has to be a strain on quite a few physical structures. A well designed piece of equipment would probably be most welcomed.

This led to imagining an establishment next to, oh, perhaps a podiatrist. What would the sign say for our specialist? Fellatiotamy? Pudiatrist? It would have to be more clinical than the usual titles. Those titles would imply the back seat of a 1982 Crown Victoria. We want to bring the service up-scale and into the 21st century.

Then I got to thinking about the nature of the work and the clientele. When you are young and sharing your life with an enthusiastic partner a professional fellatelist might not be high on the priority list. However, give yourself a number of years, loss of flexibility and a partner who might not be quite up to the required gymnastics. The need for a professional might at least suggest itself.

As you grow older some things are more difficult. Like pruning toenails.

That was where I experienced the flash.

A pedicurist is working in the proper neighborhood. With a little additional training and the right motivation one service could be added to the other. I would have to figure that the motivation might well be money. A pedicure can be had for less than twenty bucks. The addition of another relaxing service should bring in quite a few more dollars and a very steady clientele.

Oh, there are a few questions of legality. However, Bill Clinton presented an argument that fellatio is NOT having sex. That being the case, providing the service professionally (in a clean and comfortable environment) ought not to be a crime. The International Association of Fellatelists and Pedicurists should begin lobbying right away.

So if you one day find yourself living in a world of happy older men with well cared for feet, you will know it began here.

Now I need some paper and a pencil. I have a chair to design.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Return from Medford, Oregon 2008-

I left not too early in the morning on October 16th, with plans to travel most probably as far as Oroville, California. It was a fabulous day as I headed south from Medford, Oregon, on the old Highway 99, intending to pass through Ashland.

I spent the latter half of my growing up years in Ashland. I love to stop there, even for a few minutes, on my way south. I found a suitable parking space near the plaza and found the Lithia Water fountain running once again. It was down for repair last year. I always drink from the fountain when it is running.

The morning I stopped I observed someone who was obviously unfamiliar with Lithia Water drink from the fountain. He spat the water onto the ground in obvious distaste. It is an acquired taste. I had a few sips, relishing the nostalgia if not the effervescent mineral tang.

Then, back on the road. Soon I was over the pass and into California. Very soon I was again visiting the Randolph C. Collier rest area. This is a beautiful place to stop. I stop even if I don't need to stop. I had a bite to eat, and again was headed south.

Interstate 5 is rather interesting through the mountains in this area. Mount Shasta is magnificent, and was particularly so as I passed beneath it. Then came Castle Crags State Park. Though I had been on the road but a few hours I would love to have called it a day as far as travel and set up camp in this beautiful place.

I continued on. Another stop at Shasta Lake, a nice rest area there. I ate the rest of the food I had with me, walked around a bit, and got back on the road. Soon I was in the northern reaches of the Central Valley. Another hour and a half brought me to the Rolling Hills Casino. I got a free cup of coffee, lost two bucks on half penny slots, won three, and lost it again on penny slots.

So, I paid three bucks for a free cup of coffee, used the restroom, and hit the road.

I headed east to catch old Highway 99, caught it and headed south. It was fun passing through orchards, farms and fields. There were several promising camps along the way, but it was still too early.

Around Oroville I was tired of traveling, and wanted to set up camp. I checked my directory, and gave some thought to two camps near the Feather River. However, my funds were low and they were costly. So, I wandered up toward Lake Oroville and found a very nice camp. It was $19, and provided clean restrooms and showers. I even had access to electricity, if I chose to use it. I will probably add some electrical components to my kit for such times, but this trip I had no need.

There were two casinos in this area. Feather Falls Casino and Gold Country Casino. I had no time for either, and continued south early in the morning. By sunrise I was packed and on the road. Soon I was passing through fields and orchards and farms once again.

Off to the west I saw a mass of mountains in the center of the Central Valley. I don't recall seeing them from this side before. I had often looked east upon them and wondered what they would be like to visit. Seeing them from the east was a delight, but I still longed to go visit them. Once again I was constrained by time and other obligations.

As I drew away from these fascinating mountains and headed on south, I received a call from my wife. There was a plumbing leak, and she had called my son to look at it. He had turned off some water, and she wanted me to call the plumber and then get home as soon as possible.

Once I reached Marysville I needed breakfast and a potty break. I found both at Carl's Jr. While I was there I called the plumber and arranged for the repairs to be made. I was not entirely sure why I had to do this from half-way across the state, but I made the call and made the arrangements.

After breakfast I reviewed my Google directions for my next stop, and realized I did not have enough information to get there from Marysville. I crossed the street from Carl's Jr., and went to a store to find a map.

The map cost me $4.95, plus tax. Over five dollars for what I used to get for free from gas stations. Oh, how the world had changed! I used to collect maps in my youth, and often looked at them and imagined traveling. I could actually fold a map even in my tender years.

Map folding. That is a challenge that will soon fall into obscurity with the explosion of digital navigation tools. The world is obviously going to Hell in a hand basket. Fortunately, the navigation will be turn-by-turn.

I referred to my newly purchased map and my Google instructions. Soon I was on the road again with my map correctly folded.

As I passed through the area north of Lincoln I spotted a train running nearly parallel to the road. I relished seeing it running along side the highway, recalling in my childhood watching similar trains from the back seat of other cars. Eventually the road and track converged, and I had to wait for the train to pass.

Once the train passed I was able to slowly overtake it as the road ran along side the tracks. I headed into Lincoln and once again needed to respond to my bladder. I turned down a side road to enter a MacDonald's parking lot but traffic prevented me. I had to go across the tracks, turn around and come back.

I arrived at the tracks just in time to wait once again for the train to pass. It did so, I made my stop, and was again on the road out of Lincoln.

My next stop was a planned one. Roseville, California. I was to stop at my wife's cousin's place and pick up a box of collectible owls. Apparently my wife's cousin's mother once had an extensive (and famous) collection of owls. These were now being given away. My Google instructions took me right there, and I pulled up in front of their mobile home well before noon.

Since I was rushing back home to assist in watching the plumber repair our leak, I was unable to stay for long. We exchanged a few pleasantries, loaded two boxes of owls into the truck, and I was again on my way.

West, on Highway 80. This is a heavily used highway, and quite worn. That being said, traffic flowed quite efficiently along this major artery in the California Highway System. Soon I passed through the edges of Sacramento, and was on my way toward Vacaville.

Since Vacaville would coincide with my need to stop for food and fuel, I planned on visiting the New Nut Tree for a look around. I have fond memories of the old Nut Tree has been a way stop for many years for my family and Linda's family. My father and I particularly enjoyed the strong aviation theme to the old gift shop, as well as the many aviation books and photos offered there.

My camera was without power, and so the only photos I got were phone photos. I still find it amazing that I am taking pictures with my cell phone. Had I realized how much I would use this feature I would have opted for better quality in the camera. As it is my images have proved serviceable, but not particularly good.

You can move back and forth through that album with the arrow buttons, and so you may see a few (poor) images of the New Nut Tree as it is developing. This development includes a lot more retail, and an amusement park that includes the old little train that was a significant part of the old Nut Tree experience.

The retail space is not fully populated, but there is much to see and do at the New Nut Tree. Unfortunately, my stop was a quick one. I soon found an International House of Pancakes and indulged in cheese blintzes. I love those things. I got some fuel for the truck, and headed out.

I decided to use the access road that led toward downtown Vacaville. I passed through part of the town, found my way back to Highway 80, and again headed west.

This part of the journey is pleasant as it passes near the San Francisco Bay, overlooking the Navy mothball fleet and passing over the Benicia Bridge. After that it is many lanes of endless traffic passing vaguely through the towns and countryside on the way to San Jose. It suffers from Freeway Isolation, that separation from everything real that freeways bring about. It is getting there, not traveling.

In an interminably short time I was passing through the Santa Clara valley and finally climbing into the Santa Cruz Mountains on Highway 17. Then I passed through Scotts Valley on my way to Felton. Soon I turned in at my own drive, parking my truck in the usual place.

I was home. The plumber had come and gone, making the repairs quickly in my absence and without my supervision. I left my family to visit my family, and returned again to family.

On this journey I was at home wherever I happened to be.

Medford, Oregon-

Having made my journey along Highways 101, 299, 96 and Interstate 5 to Medford, I enjoyed a week with my family. I see my family but once each year, and it is a special time. We don't always do much, but then with family you haven't seen for a year you don't really have to do much. Just being together again is enough.

A public blog is not a great venue to report such a visit. It might not even prove interesting to those who were there. It was time together, and it was good.

I enjoyed a visit to my sister Donni's pre-school. We watched her interact with and instruct her students in her custom built classroom. This is The Kinder-Garden, a dream project my father and my sister shared in bringing into being. Her long education and extensive experience in pre-school education, advised and assisted by my father's lifetime in the field of education, makes this a valuable asset for parents seeking quality pre-school education for their children in the Medford area.

One special part of the visit that is worth a report is our evening at Porters Restaurant in Medford. My niece Shayla manages this fine establishment, and invited us down to enjoy her hospitality in their very nice bar. She provided some very delightful selections from the bar menu for us to enjoy.

I would love to have taken notes. I did not. My Dad and I had bacon burgers that were excellent. There was a very interesting pizza made with goat cheese, and some sweet potato fries that were accompanied by two heavenly dips. I am a late-blooming foodie, and I simply failed at registering the many delights that graced our table.

The restaurant and bar occupy the former train station in Medford. The decor is rich and tasteful, with the railroad theme carried throughout without being overwhelming. The bar was very comfortable, with elements of whimsy here and there to provide a sense of fun. My own photos are valuable to me, but I think the images provided in the web site convey enough of the spirit of the place without introducing my own images.

The evening at Porters capped a very pleasant visit in Medford with my family.


This last weekend was one of considerable self-indulgence. Keep in mind I work on a schedule of twelve hour days. That means I work three days one week, four days the next, for a two-week pay period. That also means my short weekend is three days long. This was a four day weekend.

I rarely get all of that time off. I work quite a bit of overtime. Recently there has not been much overtime, so I got my whole weekend off. Four days.

While I was on vacation I did not have access to World of Warcraft. I got home and had one day to play a little, and then I was back at work for the week. A three day week. I camp at my place of work, since driving home just to sleep and turn around and drive back makes little sense and is dangerous. I work all night, and driving home sleepy is not safe. So, I camp.

I had been away from World of Warcraft too long. Also, within the game world they were having the in-game equivalent of a Halloween party. Lots of special events and interesting things to do. I got sucked in and played way more hours than usual.

Oh, I got some things done. We did a barbecue, and I spent some time with my granddaughter. I made a trip to San Jose to pick up a new computer chair for my wife Linda. Actually, a new to us chair, but much better than her old one. We carved pumpkins.

On the whole, however, I played a lot of World of Warcraft. I was willing to work some overtime, but the call just did not come. So, I continued to play a lot of World of Warcraft.

Blizzard, the company that produces World of Warcraft, had added a lot of new content to the game. This is in anticipation of the release of the next expansion pack for the game. A bigger world to explore. More World of Warcraft.

So, I indulged myself. I played until I was exhausted. I rested, and then jumped right back in. I know that many players do this all of the time. For me it is a rare indulgence.

It was fun. Perhaps I shall retire early, and split my time between travel in the real world and playing World of Warcraft.

I am sure my wife won't mind.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Travel Adventure 2008 (day two)

Travel Adventure 2008
Second Day

I awoke to a gray morning, but no rain. However, my tent was covered in dew and would require attention at the end of the day. I got up and made my way to the showers.

The KOA maintained clean restrooms and adequate shower facilities. I was soon ready to begin packing. Breaking down my camp takes a little time, and I did not hurry. Folding bedding, packing away various items. Folding up the foam pad that makes up the top part of the bed. Emptying the air bed that is the base of my truck bed bed. Breaking down and packing the Sportz II truck tent.

Soon I was ready to hit the road. I stopped by the KOA store on the way out to get a post card of one of the drive-through trees. My wife had requested it to send to a little girl in England. The little girl could not believe the tales of giant trees in the mythical land of California, so proof was in order.

I headed north and caught the northernmost end of Highway 255, which begins just south of Arcata. Indeed, it passes through the southern end of that quaint little town. I had passed through the town center the day before, and thought the little square was interesting.

Always so much to see, and never enough time.

Beyond Arcata the land became quite rural. Farms, many with cattle. Evidence of wood processing in the distance. Simple farm structures in various degrees of decay. One house and barn stood gray against the gray skyline.

Lots of marsh land. The horizon was low. If you Google Map or Google Earth the area you will see a peninsula. It was onto this I was driving.

I passed through Manila, headed for Samoa. Though I saw evidence of the influence of the Philippines in these names I saw no real evidence in the land or structures. I turned from due west to the south, and went on.

Soon I arrived at my morning destination. A friend had recommended the Samoa Cookhouse. I was going there for breakfast. It is a long-lived establishment based on nourishing a great many people in a very short time. Loggers in the past, but tourists and locals in the present.

It is a big building, sitting on the highest ground around. To the west I could see a large plant that looked like a wood or paper plant. Rising steam and the scent of wood were issuing from the distant facility.

I entered the restaurant and was greeted cordially by a nice gentleman and invited to sit at any of six tables near the kitchen. One waitress was in evidence. Four other people were dining. As I took my place the man who had greeted me gave me a brief introduction to the place.

The menu is set, and choices are limited. This day was biscuits and gravy, french toast, scrambled eggs and sausage. All with plenty of coffee and orange juice. The waitress had my plates before me in a jiffy.

It was all delicious. The gravy was particularly flavorful. Everything else was just great. I was offered more, but the first helping was more than enough. I ate it all.

I thought I saw a tip jar at the counter, and intended to drop my gratuity there. After a potty break (always a wise thing at my age) I paid my bill. I observed that what I thought was a tip jar was actually intended for some other purpose. It only registered to me much later that I failed to leave a tip of any kind.

The Samoa Cookhouse is in itself a little museum to the development of northwest California and the timber industry. Lumberjacks of any ilk will enjoy examining the many displays. I bought a shot glass as a souvenir.

With regard to shot glasses, I consider them the ideal souvenir for the retarded tourist. After collecting hats and t-shirts, I have concluded that the shot glass is the best bet for me. Small, easy to transport, and they are everywhere. You can even get nice display cabinets for them, though I prefer random placement on any flat surface.

So, breakfast concluded and the necessity to tip generously if I ever return well established, I once again hit the road. On the way out I completed my circuit of Highway 255. Another complete highway for my “collection,” and the first of two I would collect this day.

Highway 255 crosses Humbolt Bay via the Samoa Bridge. It is actually three bridges hopping from peninsula to island to island to main land. I went into Eureka to find fuel, and then turned north.

My planned route required me to take Highway 299 inland. I was not going the full length of this highway this trip. I hope to do that in the future.

The forests were lush and green as I climbed away from the coast into the mountains. This road was not freeway, but very well maintained highway. Passing lanes are provided often enough that getting stuck behind a commercial truck (or a slow moving tourist like me) is not a problem.

The road climbs quickly, and soon I was in thick fog. Passing through the top of that marine layer I broke out into sunshine and vibrantly green hills. Once again I longed for a way to safely record these images while traveling solo. This really is a problem that needs a solution.

Highway 299 went up and down over mountain passes and through valleys. Many very pleasant vistas opened up as I progressed toward my next highway.

Coming around a wooded bend the village of Willow Creek came into view. Perhaps the whole of the town was visible in that one scene. The road passed straight through town, but my route called for me to turn to the left about mid-way through the village.

Highway 96 exited the town of Willow Creek in about the equivalent of a block and a half. It passed through a rather inviting little valley that was dotted with small farms and rural homesteads. The road began immediately to meander. I was delighted, since meandering was what I had come to experience.

This highway passes through a couple of Indian Reservations. The first Indian village I came to was Hoopa. It was evident from signs and signs that fishing tourism was a big industry in this area. That and light farming. Oh, and the Lucky Bear Casino.

I found the casino rather cute. A small hotel, a small main casino building and a parking lot not much bigger than those in front of a Seven Eleven. Another place I longed to stop, but was compelled to pass up so that I could get where I was going.

Did I mention meandering? Lots of that as I continued on. One turn was long and slow and shaded by huge trees. A small farm was nestled in the turn. I actually went “oooh” in response to this delight.

Soon the road climbed above the river, providing vistas. I began a routine of stopping every few miles to grab quick pictures. The Klamath River ran below and was beautiful to see. Rocks lined the road so close as to threaten the paint of my vehicle. This was real traveling as I remembered from my childhood.

As I progressed along the road I found myself playing photo leap frog with a man on a BMW motorcycle. Sometimes one of us had to skip a turn-out because the other had grabbed it for photo opportunities. There was not always enough room for two.

The land began to change. It was gradual. The trees became thinner. More scrub and brown grasses appeared. This was part of the experience I had been seeking. Traveling, seeing the land change before my eyes. You can see this change by flicking through my images using the arrow buttons. Try it.

I noticed many more campground signs as I traveled in these lands. They had started appearing yesterday after Willits, and had been delightfully frequent as I moved along. A desire to return to this area in the future grew inside me. A very slow travel through these valleys. Fishing, camping, taking pictures.

Living like that sounds delicious.

I reached the mid-point of my journey at around one in the afternoon. Happy Camp. Again time constrained me. Most of the village lay to the left of the highway. I wanted to explore, but I hadn’t the time. I stopped for two quick photos. One of the road passing through town, and another of the Bigfoot statue that stands near the edge of the highway.

More delightful valleys ahead. Many were quite peaceful and inviting. I could see why people would find a way to move to places like this. Anyone who loves privacy, rivers and serenity would love these valleys.

The grasses and scrub became more common than trees on the south facing hills. The grass was dry and brown. Some of the groves of trees appeared blighted. Some hills were populated with the silvery carcasses of hundreds of dead trees. Other places were still green and lush.

As the dry landscape dotted by huge red rocks passed before me I knew that I was approaching the end of Highway 96. The land appeared like the land around Interstate 5 as it passed near the Klamath River. I spotted a red rock crag on the far side of the river and stopped for photos.

Soon I came to a stop sign. To my right a bridge swept away in an arcing turn to pass between two hills. I experienced a sense of invitation, a longing to explore yet another road. I turned left, instead, and continued to the end of Highway 96.

It terminated at the Randolph C. Collier Rest Area. I love this rest area. I first saw it when I was in my teens. My parents decided to drive down into norther California (we lived in Ashland, Oregon, at the time) and have a look at the massive excavation creating Interstate 5 in that area. The rest area is like a green jewel in the steep sided valley.

Every visit is equally delightful. I made a quick stop, got a picture, and was on my way.

The valley that comes before the Oregon border is guarded by a dragon. I did not stop, coming or going, to get a picture, but found a nice one on the Internet. I passed the great beast and continued north toward the border.

I could see Pilot Rock and Mount Ashland as I climbed to the pass into the State of Oregon. The sky was clear and I made the pass in fourth gear, moving slowly. Almost everything moves slowly on that climb.

On the other side I saw Callahan’s restaurant. It was burned to the ground last I saw it, and now it is fully rebuilt. Indeed, today (Saturday, October 18, 2008) is the grand opening. I passed the new place and began my descent.

This is one steep grade. Truck traps line the road to capture run-away trucks. Overheated brakes are common on this stretch of Interstate, and I saw more than one smoking wheel as I made my way down.

I regularly take the first exit and pass through Ashland. I spent the latter part of my growing-up years in this town, and my memories are fond. I like to pass through the town slowly, taking in what has changed and what has not.

Beyond Ashland I continue on the old highway. Through Talent and Phoenix, and eventually to the edge of Medford. A left turn, a few more blocks, and I finally pull in to my parent’s driveway.

I am expected, and welcome. In many ways, I have come home again.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Travel Adventure 2008 (the first day)

Travel Adventure 2008
First Day

My journey began with plans for my annual visit with my family in Oregon. Medford, Oregon. I generally go in the fall, and this year was no exception. I was a bit later in the year due to other people at work having vacation scheduled for the same time. However, it proved not to be too late to have good weather.

I have grown weary of Interstate 5 through the Central Valley of California. Freeways generally have rendered traveling to just getting someplace. Interstate 5 manages to reduce even the experience of getting someplace to a massive tedium.

Freeways are too fast. They bypass everything interesting. They are contained by sound walls and concrete barriers. Freeways are not for traveling.

So, how to get to Medford without using I5?

I left on the morning of October 7th. It was pleasant weather in Felton, California. That was my point of departure. My home. Plans were for crossing the Santa Cruz Mountains on Highway 17, and taking Highway 280 north to San Francisco.

I altered those plans, realizing I was starting my journey at the peak of commute traffic. Highway 17 would be thick with commuters going “over the hill” to get to work.

Highway 1 north from Santa Cruz would be much more interesting. So, that was the way I would go. I planned to grab some breakfast on the way out of Santa Cruz. I failed to recall the limited number of quick-and-easy (and also cheap) places to eat along that part of my route.

I ran out of town before I managed to find food. No matter, there was always Half Moon Bay.

The coast was generally foggy this morning. Coastal fog can be beautiful, rendering the views of the ocean, beaches and hills in a different light. There were many pumpkin patches along the way, full of pumpkins anticipating surgery for the coming Halloween.

I wondered why this bit of coast had become a pumpkin capital? There were pumpkins everywhere. And fog.

Half Moon Bay came all too soon. I was hungry, and it would have been nice to get a bite, but the turn-off to cross the mountains and meet Highway 280 at the mid-point preceded any dining opportunities. I opened the bag of barbecue chips I planned to munch on later in the day and had breakfast while I wound through the mountains.

There was commute traffic here, too. I may not have won anything by the detour, but I did get to see some pumpkins.

I reached 280 in good time, and moved north toward San Francisco with what seemed like thousands of other pilgrims. I stopped for a moment at a rest stop, and saw a full-time road person living in an old Volvo station wagon. I noted that it did not appear to be a particularly comfortable form of full-timing.

Soon I was passing through the city. The route is fairly straight through the city, and I always find it pleasant. Interesting buildings, the bustle of the city broken by Golden Gate Park and eventually the Golden Gate Bridge looming ahead.

The bridge was shrouded in fog this trip. Sometimes it seems even more massive as the towers disappear into the fog. I reached the other side and stopped at the bridge viewing area. It is a nice little park with a great view of the bridge. Even a bridge draped in fog. The exit was easy enough, and getting back on the road was not particularly difficult.

I got my first pictures at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge. I realized that much of my journey would go un-photographed due to my having to drive. Some day I hope to overcome this limitation, but missed photos abound in my memory from this trip.

Now I was on Highway 101. I am fascinated by highways, and remember some of the numbers being like incantations in my youth. The numbers sometimes related to trips made with parents and grandparents, and the magical places we went.

I fell in love with the smell of coffee in my youth, long before I began drinking coffee. It was the smell of coffee shops on the road. The stop, the opening of that door. The smell of coffee extending an invitation and promising scrambled eggs, hot cakes, and maybe chocolate milk.

Today I just had barbecue potato chips. Actually, by Marin County I had an empty bag. I needed to eat.

Rolling on, Highway 101 being freewayed enough to bypass most of those delicious coffee shops, I finally pulled off in desperation at a McDonald’s restaurant. It was close to lunch time, so I just did some hamburger thing. With a coke. No coffee.


Back on the road. North. Pretty little valleys filled with grape vines. Wine country. Each vista made me wish my wife were along to share the beauty. It was really nice. It would have been nicer if I could share it.

She could have taken pictures along the way. That would also have been nice. Trust me, it was beautiful.

Eventually the freeway sections of 101 fell behind me, and two lane blacktop flowed through the hills and valleys. North of Ukiah it seems that the freeway disease was less evident. It was nice to be able to slow down a bit and enjoy the ride.

Willits was the first town I got to where the old highway actually passed through the town. I wanted to stop and visit the Skunk railroad depot, but I realized that even taking two days to get to Medford I couldn’t afford to stop very often. Too bad. Perhaps I can plan another journey this way and travel much slower.

Soon I began to enter wooded lands and small farms cut from the woods. The road began to wind and I could go even slower. This was really nice.

One of my targeted stops was The World Famous Tree House. It was closed. From what I could see someone who carves wooden figures had acquired this attraction and tried to tie the old-school tourist trap into his art. It did not appear to be a going venture.

I stopped to get photos. I recall stopping here when I was a child. Well, my parents stopped us here, and let us go in. I was fascinated. You went into a tree! Then through the tree into a gift shop.

My fiscal condition in those days has not improved much over the years. I had little to spend, and I eventually settled on a dried seahorse. It had nothing to do with the redwoods, but I could afford it and I thought it was cool.

Poking around the now defunct tourist trap I found a wooden carving of a seahorse. Cool! Also a bit scary. How did they know?

The juxtaposition of a carved bear holding a sign saying “Welcome” next to a sign saying “Keep Out” was too good to pass up. I seem to have a passion for signs, and this was priceless.

I got on the road again, buzzed around the corner and passed up Confusion Hill. I wouldn’t have passed it up except that I was around the bend and past the entrance before it registered in my mind what I was missing. It was delightfully touristy in my rear-view mirror.

One day I will just be on the road to be on the road, and I can turn around for such things.

On I went, until I came across the One Log House. It was alongside the road on a straight stretch that allowed my mind to register what I was seeing and apply the brakes soon enough to actually stop. I got out and took two quick photos. I eyed the tourist shop that obviously housed the business that had acquired this bit of tourist history.

It was an inviting place. They even offered the secret code to unlock the One Log House so that I could see inside. They had coffee!

Alas, I was due in Arcata in too few hours. I got in the car and continued my trek through the redwoods. Since I live among the redwoods and near an old growth grove, they do not hold the fascination they might for a person from another place. Still, I love driving through them.

At one point the highway is extra-narrow as it passes through a stand of redwoods. Most of the time it is necessary to go off of the highway to find roads visiting these beautiful forests. Perhaps I will find the time to pay those roads a visit in the near future.

It was not long before the mountains lowered toward the ocean, and I was soon passing through Eureka. Just glancing around as I passed through this city I could see that it would be worth a visit. I could just see the old town section from the highway, and the buildings were colorful and interesting.

So, I long to travel slow and have enough money while doing so to stop and experience these things. Not today, though. Not enough time and not enough money. Just a mental note to try and fit this in, someday.

About midway between Eureka and Arcata is the KOA. I had a reservation. I missed the entrance the first time around. I had to go around a bypass road to get back and try again. They are tucked away behind some kind of hardware store and a Department of Transportation facility. Just keep going on the little road past the DOT place and there is the entrance.

I got my site assignment and went out seeking food. I wandered through the center of Arcata and eventually found a Subway restaurant. A portable feast was soon in the bag and I went back to the KOA to set up camp.

I had reserved a tent site, not knowing how KOA sets up tent sites. I found mine, and could see I would not be able to get my truck into the site. I parked in front and assembled my tent in my truck bed.

Close enough. I may have to take a low-end RV space in future adventures. It will better suite my camping style.

So, set up and ready for the night, I did as the pioneers did in their camps. I ate my sandwich while watching a movie on the tailgate of my truck.

Snuggled in my truck tent I settled in for the first night of my adventure. Pretty good, so far.

Home again-

I have been away on vacation. It was a purposed journey, to visit my family in Medford, Oregon. I had Internet access there, but devoted the time on being with my family.

The trip there and the trip home were engineered to give me a travel adventure. I have already documented day one. I hope to get that published soon. I will get more entries done over the course of this next week, and publish as I can. I return to work tomorrow, and do not know how much time I will have to work on these things during the work week.

Perhaps that needs some explaining. I work twelve hour shifts. Night shifts. I work 28 miles from home. Because I find myself too sleepy in the morning to drive, I have been camping (low-profile except for blabbing it all over the Internet) to avoid risk of accidents. My Internet access is sporadic, since I do have a job and I try to do that job when working. So, I do not know how much time I will have to work on my blogs.

The travel was fun, and I really treasured the time I could spend with my parents, my sisters and my nieces. So, I better get to that first post.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Excellence in Design-

Once in a while I see something, and note to myself that it is an excellent design. Most of the time I grumble about poor design, but on occasion a really good design catches my eye (and sometimes other senses, if they are involved).

For me that awareness of superior design came in high school. Not in a class, but in a restroom.

That obviously demands some explanation. Whatever picture you have in your head, erase it right now.

The real one will be stranger.

Our school was expanding, with new buildings and some perimeter buildings being acquired. A friend came to me just after a building had been opened for student use, and asked me if I would like to see a urinal "big enough to hold an elephant's balls." Needless to say, I was curious, so I followed him to this new building and looked upon this amazing porcelain creation.

It was, indeed, large. It had an elegance that is generally missing in urine related equipment. It was tall at the back, sweeping gracefully out into a wide receiving bowl, and contracted into a leading point that projected much farther out between the legs of the user than any other I had seen.

This was a urinal pleasing to look at, which also would contain all splash, spray and dripping. It was a urinal that did its job with grace.

Whenever I see anything that is designed well to do its job with grace and style, my mind goes back to that urinal.

Needless to say, my mind is a strange place to live.

Throw the Incumbents Out-

Our purported leaders passed the Bail-Out Bill. I figured they would. Many know they committed political suicide. They were damned no matter what they did, so seeming to do something through this bill seemed the better choice.

We need change. I would love to see a real leader, guiding meaningful change. I don't. I see politicians. Oh, I would grant that most are doing the best they can. It is not good enough.

So, change for the sake of change. It is time to exercise the one real control we have. We can change up the "leadership" and not let any of them light too long. Sure, they might not be able to do much good that way, but keeping them moving keeps them from doing much harm.

Vote the incumbents out.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I have come to realize, over the years, that I am a vengeful man. I think it is the consequence of my high ideals and the disappointments of having society fail to meet my standards. I don't think those standards are unreasonable, but then I am probably not objective.

Anyway, whether or not this bail-out happens, there are fat-cats who engineered this fiasco. I am sure they were just wheeling and dealing in their own special style, which is what made them fat-cats in the first place. Be that as it may, they are responsible.

Some of these creatures of dubious lineage (that's an expletive transliterated to make me seem educated and not quite as course as I really am) will receive "golden parachute" compensations for failing their companies and seriously damaging the American economy. Rewarded for failure, and for injuring others.

My sense of justice is somewhat offended by this.

Since they acted in the freedom (though not the responsibility) of a deregulated economy, few will be subject to criminal charges. Since they are fat-cats, even if they were they would just O.J. through the thing.

In this particular case I am all for a redistribution of wealth. Take their wealth and apply it to the deficit they have created. Leave each of them a house (any one of those they own that is paid for, preferably the least valuable of the lot), a car, and $400,000. I am being generous, but someone who has been living high on the hog will suffer when living on sow bellies and pigs feet.

Poor them.

They can start over. Oh, we could engineer more dire circumstances for them to work their way out of, but then we would expose possibly honest poor people to these creatures of dubious lineage. That would not be right. We wouldn't want them taking direct advantage of the working poor.

That is what the government is for.

As disgusted as I am with the recent machinations of government, I still love this country. I just wish to see it rise to the fabled ideals that supposedly are its foundation.

That would be a nice change.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Idealists and Visionaries-

For many years I thought of myself as a cynic. When challenged on the matter, I realized that I am really a frustrated idealist. I had strong visions of things as they ought to be, and I was often frustrated by how hard it was to push things in that direction.

Some people actually obstructed the development of my ideals. Imagine that.

I recently took a test to assist in finding my next career. I am planning to retire from this line of work, and I need a next career.

The test said I was a Visionary.

That sounds nice. Like Idealist.

I have yet to see a job description that includes visionary. Much less a visionary idealist.

I can't think of a combination of traits more inclined to buy frustration when dealing with human beings. Especially if you don't like people.

Before there is confusion, let me explain. I like some individuals quite a bit. I like some other individuals enough to enjoy their presence on occasion. I don't mind the existence of other people, generally. I don't dis-like people.

However, I don't like people. I don't miss people in general when I have periods of isolation. I don't long for crowds, for milling masses. I don't feel a compulsion to go to places where there are lots of people bumping and grinding. I don't enjoy the challenge of interacting with people, as in business or politics.

I have no idea what a visionary idealist is supposed to do with himself. What kind of next career is suitable for a visionary idealist who is just plain tired of interacting with people?

My next career will probably have to wait. I suspect I need a job that does not require a lot of interaction with people. Some time to decompress, and a chance to figure out just where I might fit in.

I have never really "fit in" before. I wonder what that might be like?

So, anyway, if you come across any jobs for visionaries or idealists, drop me a line. I could use the help.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bail-out Responses-

I have heard back from my representatives. They say they will not support the bail out. They want to work on a more fully thought out plan that has checks and balances. Good for them. They listened to the multitudes that say "no bail out."

Floating around on the Internet are a lot of bail out plans that give the people the money. They range in value per individual, but essentially they provide enough money for Americans to pay off their debts.

Can you imagine that? A debt-free society.

Of course, everyone then would have really good credit. Maybe not sterling, but pretty good for just about everybody. The companies that have survived this turmoil will of course extend a LOT of credit.

Giving people money does not make them smart. Oh, some smart people are good at accumulating money. However, giving people money does NOT make them smart.

Can you imagine the stimulus to the economy, when just about everybody is pretty secure (with their house and cars paid off) and now in possession of disposable funds? Those mortgage payments and car payments would now be available for EVERYTHING ELSE.

It would be an explosion of rampant spending. The bad-taste of popular culture would go wild! The grill work of fourteen-year-olds alone would jack the price of diamonds by depleting the supply. Bobby gas jockey would no longer be endlessly saving for that bad-ass tattoo. He would have skin art head to toe.

There would be no question that most people would eventually find themselves back in circumstances much like the ones they are in now. It would be interesting to see how long that would take.

It is just a pipe-dream, but what a ride it would be!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Internet Friends-

Internet friends are different from other friends. They are generally distant, and often people I have never met. They sometimes have funny names. Indeed, they could be quite other than what they represent. I might never know.

Yet I find that many are real friends. There are people on the other end of the conversation. They do exist in a persistent other universe.

If I were to go out and regularly attend a church, a class, or even sit at a stool in the same bar for a period of time I would gain friends. They would be associated with whatever activity brought us together, but we could move beyond that to develop deep and abiding friendships.

Some would share elements of their lives with me, and I with them. We would bond in the myriad of ways friends bond in the real world.

How is the Internet that much different from the real world? It is sometimes more immediate, as it allows us to eliminate distance. Though we often just type at each other the technologies exist (and are affordable) to allow us to see and hear each other.

One of my daughter's best friends is an Internet friend. They live practically on opposite sides of the world from one another, yet they share with one another a great deal. They send each other things they have made and things they have found. Theirs is a real friendship.

For me these friendships on the Internet are easier. I have a natural tendency to be reclusive. I am a person at ease with his own company. Yet the Internet draws me to other people as nothing else in my life seems to do. I rather like that, since it allows me to have many more friends than ever before and still live in a manner in which I am most comfortable.

Though I sometimes try to imagine what the Internet shall do to our various societies, I really cannot guess what will ultimately come to pass. It is new. It is exciting. It is something in which we can all share. I won't even say we should not be afraid. Change of this magnitude will, at times, prove to be quite terrifying.

I, for one, an delighted to live in such times. How about you, my friends?