Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Walk In The Park

Living across the street from a park must have some benefits. Having thought about it I never recall living so close to a park before although once in Huntington Beach we lived a block over from a site of a proposed park where we slowly watched the paint fade and peel from the sign. We finally moved to the edge of the suburbs where home owner's association supplied the fenced recreation facilities. Rather that tally the pluses and minuses whose weight would vary with ones point of view let illustrate some observations.

Lot of things get left behind there, some by those forgetful such as toys, clothing, socks and shoes. Dog waste and birthday parties are probably the most popular waste followed by a trail of fast food user, Del Taco condiments aka Mexican Manna and empty Marlboro boxes. The city subcontracts for emptying the trash containers and their effectiveness vary from not at all to just plain sloppy.

One wonders about those things left laying around that are not quite obvious . Examples such as discarded Coors Light and cans of whipped cream, or several discarded dust-off cans, plastic-sandwich bags and lots of used matchbooks. Today there was an interesting plastic water bottle that someone had poked a ballpoint pen in after removing the ink cartridge.

The picture shown is only using the SOBE bottle cap to hold the bottle upright and not part of some discarded bong laying around. In our not so distance past a food gather or hunter might have taken thousand of years to discover a tool or new way of doing something but with our technology what someone discovers today the world can know tomorrow.

Then every year March madness comes along and the basketball crowd celebrates my doing donuts with their cars between layups and free throws. Time today limits more pluses and others of being a park neighbor maybe next time I can add some more.

Previous Word of the Day

Link Rot

When an Internet link goes 404 (error: page not found) after a period of time

From Science 2.0 by M. Mitchel Waldrop in May 2008 Scientific American

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mixing Up My Schedule

The price of gas has reduced my visits to my boat but not the usage of it. Wednesday was always a work day on the boat and I have started to skip that day for two reasons: the cost to operate the car and the amount of timing spent driving. In the morning during the week I must wait till the traffic thins out and that is the same in the evenings so having to conform to these harsh rules eliminates the freedom a sailboat gives. To lessen the cost of fuel I switched to commuting on my motorcycle a couple of months ago but it is dam hard to carry anything of size. So I got a locker at the marina for off-boat storage but it is hard to carry supplies.

My next step in my plan was to drive my Westphalia over there with my bike in the back, leave it there and ride my bike home. Then for my next trip I would return on the bike to the marina. This allows for combining my ride time with my boat time. When I got back into sailing my cycling started to take a back seat and riding my track bike and racing mountain bikes ceased. Now I have to get back in shape to make the 45 mile commute (one way) on my bicycle which would have been no problem when I was in shape. So everyday this week has had ride time on my mountain bike and a chance to me old friends, the rattlesnake. Again when you add one thing to your life something else gets pushed aside like this blog.

Time is surely available but the computer here is shared my a group of mutant teenagers that have decided that this a good place to hang out, watch YouTube, play on the Playstation 3 and work on bicycles and cars. The body count exceeds half a dozen at times and yesterday I volunteered to drive all of them down to the local Marine recruiting office, tell the Master Sargent they were all my kids and they wanted to join. Another option would be to charge for parking: three VW GTIs, a Ford Ranger, a Turbo Subaru, a trashed Toyota pickup, an Explorer and a new lifted Nissan plus the other mutants that don't drive yet. My neighbor across the street says he enjoys watching all the kids as it reminds him of when he was a kid but has refused my request to take them in. Almost forgot, some of the mutants have girl friends so my son does clean the house from time to time. Before the kid with the old truck could drive his mother would drop him off as they didn't live close. After I submitted her an invoice for groceries she stopped coming by and he started driving over and but his eating hasn't slowed any. At the present time I am proud of my mutants, take the time to praise them, love to make fun of them, constantly reminding them how to wear their pants correctly and showing what a book looks like.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sexual Selection and The DMV

Six years ago I purchased a motorcycle that was used for off-road and somewhere along the line one of the digits in my address was deleted from the purchase documents. When doing things with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) here in California the more confusion the better so to complicate matters I bought my son a similar motorcycle and subsequently sold it. Well the records over the years continued to show the one sold and fail to show the one in our garage. Letters with threats of liens, trips to the DMV and several return letters met with frustration. Then I made an appointment at the DMV and timed it with a full moon. There are those that may scoff at my lunacy but I now have a sticker for my motorcycle.

While visting the DMV office which had a line that filled the waiting area in the office and continued out on to the sidewalk I observed a young woman standing on the sidewalk with a bare mid drift. As a scientific observation (being a Darwinian) I did spend some time observing the advertisement (tattoo) placed there around her navel. With my trusted IPhone in my pocket I could have photographed the specimen and taken the data back to my lab for further investigations but thought better of it. There are many unique displays that play out in the dance of sexual selection but I have grown tired of the peacock tails, puffed bird feathers, clashing anthers that are shown on the nature shows and relish the advertisement on the bare mid drift.

Those who have read the biographies of Charles Darwin would know he was plagued with various illness through out his life. I too at times are bothered by the complaints of aging but there are some sights that can provide great healing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Earth Day

The Catalina Islander cover of Earth day was the only mention this weekend that I saw or heard about Earth day. (Actually Earth Day is April 22, 2008) Since I spent the last three days on my boat without the normal media distortion there might have been some great Green Happening I might have missed. Saturday night I listened to several radio programs than originate in the Midwest which appear to have live audiences. When I was a kid we listened to the large radio set in the front room. The set had a lit dial and a band for selecting foreign countries then television came along and killed the requirement to imagine along with conversation and many other things.

Catalina Island has always been short on fresh water and the locals use many methods to save water. Some methods are quite ingenious in conserving water.

This Classified Ad Rental in The Catalina Islander illustrates my point: Year Round Rental

Sol Vista 3 Bdrms-
1/34 Bths-
$2295 per month.
Must make for real cozy bathing.

There a zillion Earth Day pictures on the internet, here is my personal one ,sometimes the crap is so thick you could walk on it

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flora and Fauna

My dog and I took a short walk this afternoon and what was real great was seeing two of my old favorites. It is warm and spring time but here in Southern California the green is already vanishing. Many of the flowers have lost their color and are turning to seed.

The mustard still is yellow everywhere but one of my favorites is the bright orange that spots the steep hills and lines the bushes along the creek. I was first fascinated by it when I found it while hiking in Trabuco. No one could tell me what it was called then but later I found out one of its many names "Witches Hair". That was about forty years ago when we were without our instant Internet so I then so the Main Street Library in Huntington Beach helped me find more about it. I even took some home and tried to attach it to the bushes in our front yard. It is also called "Witches Shoelaces" but the correct title is California Dodder, Cuscuta californicia. It is consider a weed and a parasite but the patches of orange are splashed everywhere as if a giant drunk painter was on the loose and I love it.

My other good buddy is harder to see from a distance but up close it is a rich beautiful blue, the Common Blue Damselfly. This insect also is fascinating and is very similar to the dragonfly we all know. My grandparents had a fish pond in their backyard so of course they had dragonflies hovering over the water. To me they are a sign of future good luck like finding a four leaf clover.
My interest in the Damselfly started with a hiking trip in Modeska Canyon with my son when he was in first grade. There was this old dam with a large pond backed up behind it. We were at the water edge picking up rocks when he uncovered this thing not knowing what it was. We took it home and put it in our aquarium and I started searching insect books until the answer was found: a Damselfly nymph
If you check on these links you can investigate their curious metamorphosis. We watched it molt in the aquarium several times then finally it rose out of the water and filled in its body and wings. I took the aquarium outside and it flew away. These neat little guys (please note my exact scientific terminology) predate the mighty dinosaurs by a 100 million years.

Mixed Recall

One of the marvels of modern technology is the Internet and our instant ability to access information as almost everything is available. I say almost as some searches come back empty like trying to find your cars keys or where you laid your wallet. My memory works like one of the motorcycles sitting in our the garage, if it has been sitting there unused you must keep kicking it until it fires over, it will pop and sputter, but with more kicking and fresh fuel it will fire up and run smoothly. When my memory fetches to a requested address it often brings back several mailboxes. When I learned to program for the computer we had a set of toggle switches to load the data and a set of toggles for the address where the data was stored. The panel was silk screened in different colors to show how the instructions code were divided in different operations. My calculus instructor in college labeled the core memory address a post office box when he drew on the blackboard and that analogy stuck.

An example of my convoluted memory's schematic is when I hear of the food riots in Africa this week I also hear the music of Tom Dooley. If you were around in 1958 and listening to the radio you would have heard the song Tom Dooley. If you had just purchased a stereo and have moved up from hi-fi you would be buying long playing (LPs) records. I owned several Kingston Trio Albums. Memory works great if you encode the information then repeat the repetition at different intervals many times. For me listening to the few albums I had over and over resulted in this convoluted connection. One of my records had a song recorded live by the Trio. It was the Merry Minuet, lyrics as follows:

They're rioting in Africa,

They're starving in Spain.

There's hurricanes in Florida,

And Texas needs rain

The whole world is festering

With unhappy souls.

The French hate the Germans,

The Germans hate the Poles;

Italians hate Yugoslavs,

South Africans hate the Dutch,

And I don't like anybody very much!

But we can be tranquil

And thankfill and proud,

For man's been endowed

With a mushroom-shaped cloud.

And we know for certain

That some lovely day

Someone will set the spark off,

And we will all be blown away!

They're rioting in Africa,

There's strife in Iran

.What nature doesn't do to us

Will be done by our fellow man!

Maybe my explanation helps in explaining my weirdness
Some people say the problem is hardwired
I thinks it is a bug in my software

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Solving The Duct Tape Mystery

Oh the wonders of duct tape or as we used to call it "racer's tape" as it would hold many a motorcycle together. If you have ever watched The Red Green Show on PBS you have witnessed the marvel of its application. My son has his own roll for taping his bicycle rims to prevent the spokes from poking the tube and I have a white colored roll for making quick repairs on my boat sails. Recently I started seeing empty duct tape rolls around the street where we live plus strips of used tape laying on the ground. They were up and down the street especially where the street makes a sharp curve around Cherry Park. Asking my dog where all the tape was coming from met with her usually reply "When is dinner?"

Then I asked my son, who has vast knowledge of video games and MySpace, and to my great surprise his normal reply of "I don't know" was replaced with an explanation: Kids are placing the duct tape sticky side up in the street so when a car runs over the tape the tire grabs the tape and the flapping tape makes a sound like a flat tire. Now who said our next generation doesn't have a great future?

I miss the Red Green Show after stopping the subscription to Direct TV. Now I no longer have to pay their monthly charges that allowed me to watch the same weight loss commercials on four hundred different channels. The monthly charge they were billing now matches the cost of filling up the gas tank on my Nissan which is good for around 330 miles but that cost is far less than the $200.00 required to fill up my neighbor's large SUV that he so proudly parks in his driveway.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Who Said I Had To Write Code

Well I started this blog about a week ago and I slowly learning the in's and outs of blogging. Last week I sent my sailing buddy my blog and his reply was he couldn't find the word "blog" in the dictionary. Well, he is really old school and still uses a dictionary (I do to), a tiller and neatly folds his hanked jib on the fore deck. Well to create this blog I have to go Google's Blogger and pick and choose which is not that difficult but if you want something a little different you must edit their standard code and I quit editing code and reading it quite a while back.

Taking information from Google over to Flickr and back again last night took me way too long to add a Slideshow. Now to resize the Sideshow I will have too edit the Html, this is too much like work. Well enough of the grousing now to be a political editor instead.

Today a noted economic wizard stated that war in Iraq is causing our current recession. Yet others disagree and they say that the war is good as the demand for goods and services have increased. Fuel cost are raising and business are closing yet the price of fuel goes up driven by the demand or speculation.
Somewhere in the past I must have watched a few lifeboat movies and read several survival stories. Captain Bligh was booted off his ship HMS Bounty and then proceeded to make one of the most heroic voyages in history. A story well worth reading. His supplies were finite yet he made it.

You are very careful about your drinking water in a lifeboat. Bligh took a five day supply and made it last fifty days. He didn't guzzle it or pour it overboard. Now how hard would it be here not to waste our finite fuel supply. My observations are that that car pool lanes are still mostly empty (I use it), nobody is slowing down, and demand has not slowed. But those are my observations. Those out there who continue to drive their gas guzzlers as fast as possible as much as possible are in our life boat poking holes in the sides with an icepick.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I spent Friday through Sunday both working and sailing my boat. It was one hot weekend and our marina's parking lot was full on Saturday and I saw owners uncovering boats and spring cleaning that I had never seen before. My boat lacks any TV/computer or connection to the Internet but I can check my e-mail with my IPhone but it is so slow. This morning I was reading the weekend's e-mail and saw where a fellow surfer was alerting others to the current problems with rattlers and dogs getting bit. I ride my mountain bike in the local foothills and I have not seen any rattlers yet this season. Bikes don't warn the rattlers as a hiker's footsteps do and you can be on top of one of them warming in the trail real quick. It will give you a real wake up call. When I was a boy scout we were told to drag our feet and step on fallen branches: make noise, to let the snakes know we were coming.

Yesterday afternoon I spotted quite a disturbance on the water, churning water and diving birds, I was in the channel off the San Pedro breakwater due south ing but I could not point up in that direction of the disturbance to see it better. My boat is powered by the wind and my direction is controlled by that. Later on the way in I saw what I had missed earlier. Not being one to exaggerate, my estimate would be about a zillion dolphins, Delphinus delphis. Simply amazing, as I sailed right through the middle of the pod my Nikon was busy but their path was opposite ours and their lighting speed and with so many of them I didn't know what point and click at.

So in looking up information about the dolphin's population in the San Pedro Channel I discovered that Terminal Island was once called Rattlesnake Island. Terminal Island is now mainly a site for loading and unloading container ships and lies between the two harbors of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Then I learned that Catalina Island contains its own rattler, Crotalus catalinensis. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that we live in a country where a large percentage of the population doesn't not believe in evolution. (Well to make up for them I have read Voyage of the Beagle at least twice.) Speciation makes for the most interesting reading and right now I am finishing Richard's Dawkins The Ancestor's Tale "A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution".
Catalina Island is of special interest to me: My mother, aunts and cousins lived there before World War ll and in the future I will post some of their earlier pictures.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Morning Walk With The Dog

Every morning our dog requires a morning walk. Her contract includes a minimum distance of one mile including smell breaks and rabbit viewing. Her lawyer also included a provision that she must be fed at exactly five o'clock each evening. So we started out this morning and headed for the park across the street to get a blue bag from the dispenser and saw some new graffiti on a brick wall that borders the sidewalk between neighborhoods. Right under the tagging there was a gusher of water from a pipe at the bottom of the wall where the pool owner drained their pool. The stream of water went down the sidewalk into the park and the creek that flow through it. There are various regulations for emptying swimming pools and I do not know if the correct procedure had been followed. My surmise based on the unmowed lawn and for sale sign is probably not.

Not far into the park we encountered the normal Del Taco litter. Our fair city has two Del Tacos at one intersection and we are located within a half mile from the two. Maybe they are situated such so if you forget something you only have to drive across the street to place another order. After a little walking we got to the bike path and headed north. At the foot bridge crossing the creek I stopped several boys about to push a shopping cart down the steep embankment into the creek. A simple "don't" led them to ride their bikes down the trail and left me with a shopping cart to return and the dog really doesn't care for her course is altered but it makes in convenient to pick up trash on the way home. We also have a Starbucks next to Del Taco so there are plenty of discarded cups next to the plastic bottles and beer cans in the gutter. The Simpson's did a show years ago noting the countless Starbuck's in the Springfield mall so I want go there now about that, maybe later. I collect the wandering shopping carts and place them in my VW van and take them back to the store when I go shopping. My son hates it if I leave the cart at the side of the driveway and I have been scolded for it.

When in the car I listen to NPR radio from time to time and the subject Wednesday included depression. The interviewed author explained that one must not dwell on all of the problems in our world for there's no shortage. Since we have abundant problems and undoing disorder full time would make me entropy's watchman and nothing else. So each day I fulfill my contractual obligations to my dog for she is prone to tort and pick up some trash. Now walking through a suburbs pushing a shopping cart picking up trash is not as my son says is "cool" but I have not been "cool" for a long time. So I put a spin to it and see my walk as being on the Green Zen Path with a little Yoga thrown in.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Where I Grew Up

My father was born in St. Bernard, Ohio in 1900. His family moved to Los Angeles after World War One and had a house at 78 Street and Vermont. My grandparents lived there when I was born. My father built an apartment building that had five units in it at 1710 Tenth Street in Santa Monica and we lived there during World War Two. Olympic Blvd was widened after the war and house next to us was destroyed and our address changed to 988 Olympic. Several years later the Santa Monica Freeway came along and erased a strip of houses so my father moved away from Santa Monica. I already had got a job to far to drive to and moved also. My father always missed living there and it was a great place to grow up in. You had the beach, near by mountains, two piers, a small harbor, railroad tracks, a downtown, movies. and a lot more.

Back in January, 2008 I attended the ART LA at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium where my daughter Frances was doing a book signing. It was funny standing there looking out the windows at my old high school across the parking lot. I have been cursed my the need to write poems most of my life. This illness comes and goes and may lie dormant for long periods. Not having a soothing lotion this recent visit caused an itch to write this poem:

Noises In Santa Monica

Sunday morning model airplanes circling the parking lot at 14th street

Fog horn from the pier end

Crashing waves from a big surf pounding the sand with claps of thunder

Whine of centrifugal superchargers testing across from my house on Olympic Blvd

Clinking of 2 cent and nickel bottles collected in the alley

8:15 A.M. cannon fire followed by the bugle at Samohi

Screaming of routers and sanders at the surfboard shop the floor below

Rub of a blistered front tire on the bicycle forks
and the scraping of the bent crank arm against the chain cover

Playing with fire crackers, ringing in the ear lasting all day long

Thud of getting hit in the head with a dirt clod

Cry of "I’ve got it" playing three flies up

Dropping of the bat to the street playing hit the bat

Steel wheels on strap-on roller skates against the sidewalk divisions

Bang of the drum at the pier’s spinning carousel

Rattle of my pocket change for the penny arcade

Recorded laugher of the polka dot fat lady guarding the mirror maze

Creaking and rattling of the pier roller coaster climbing up the steep

Screaming coming down

Tarzan yells while jumping off the pier

My first set of dual pipes on a 39 Ford

Our Viking marching band playing Sousa’s

Dogs barking and howling at the pound by the tracks

Johnnie Ray’s Cry blasting from the Muscle Beach’s beer joints

Elvis’s Heartbreak from nickle counter jukes at Pico and Lincoln

Bowling ball striking the pins and ricocheting off the pin setter’s skinny leg

Starter motor cranking against a flooded flathead in a dirt garage

Splashing in the Chase Hotel’s indoor swimming pool

Bumper cars sliding across steel floors

Whip conductors arcing against the ceiling

Squeaking screen door on the corner liquor store
Nickels into the pinball machine and the bells ringing
Bumpers popping, flipper clicking

Explosion of a patched tube overly inflated at the gas station

Silence of a kite dropping after the string breaks

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Graffiti has been around for centuries and there are few areas that it has not reached. Some of it has merit or is artistic but the bulk is not (in my opinion). The city where I reside has a hotline for reporting graffiti and I used to place calls and report the tagging when I would get back from walking my dog or riding my bike. I would leave a message on their answering machine and they would call back for a more better description and location. To make the reporting a little easier I requested an e-mail address to send an example of the graffiti as I often carry a camera when I am hiking.

Then the IPhone came along and presto change-o, I would take a picture of the tagging with my phone make a with clicks and send the report directly to the city. Now and then there would be a rub as to whose jurisdiction the offense was located as the bike trails wind through various citites and in most cases the county is responsable for the removal on the trail and flood control and they can be really slow (six weeks) to do anything.

So I started making a list of the cities with the county I ride and was surprised that two cities actually offer a reward if the vandal is caught. (see list)

Several cities have a connection or electronic message reporting on their web site. Check where you live you maybe surprise at what you find there. Here is list of the cities where you can find their sites.

City Graffiti HotLines in Orange County, California

Aliso Viejo 949-425-2500 no hotline
Anaheim 714-765-5200
Brea 714-671-4465
Buena Park 714-821-8658
Costa Mesa 714-327-7491 Offers $2,000 reward
County of Orange 714-834-3400
Cypress 714-229-6700 no hotline
Dana Point 949-248-3573
Fountain Valley 714-593-4400 Offers $500 reward
Fullerton 714-738-3108
Garden Grove 714-741-5381
Huntington Beach 714-960-8861
Irvine 949-724-7196
La Habra 562-905-9723
La Pama 714-690-3310
Laguna Beach 949-497-3311 no hotline
Laguna Hills 949-707-2656
Laguna Niguel 949-362-4300
Laguna Woods 949-639-0500 no hotline
Lake Forest 949-461-3583
Los Alamitos 562-431-3538 no hotline
Mission Viejo 949-460-2948
Newport Beach 949-644-3333
Orange 714-744-7279
Placentia 714-630-8693
Rancho Santa Margarita 949-635-1800 no hotline
San Clemente 949-361-8200
San Juan Capistrano 949-443-6363 abatement
Santa Ana 877-786-7824
Seal Beach 562-799-4100 EXT 1109
Stanton 714-890-4252 option 2
Tustin 714-573-3111
Villa Park 714-998-1500
Westminster 714-895-2876
Yorba Linda 714-961-7100 no hotline

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This is a learning period for me to try and figure out how to create a layout for this blog.

My daughter started one recently so here I go. She has a boat and I would visit her on it but I never got the urge to ever own another one. Never, never, never. Last year during one of January's sunny day one of my surfer friends paddled over to me in the mid day line up and asked me if I wanted to buy a boat. Never, never, never. Well here I am three boats and four marinas later. So this blog will sometimes be about my boat and sailing but not always.
Each day will be different I hope.