A Tale of Two Mustangs

Many of us have fond feelings about cars we had when we were kids. Here’s a 1980 picture taken in Forest Grove, Oregon, featuring me and my 1968 Mustang. I drove this car for many years, from college through law school and into the early years of my professional life. Although everybody agreed it was a cool car, it was far from fancy. It had “three on the floor” and a little 200 cubic inch “straight six” engine. It did not have air conditioning, but it did have a black plastic interior well-designed to retain heat.

For me this blurred image has a vaguely dreamlike quality. Could this picture really be 33 years old? The field in the background has been richly developed during those years. Was that shirt one I’d bought in ’73 to wear at my graduation from junior high? Inside the car I can see that my disassembled racing bike is in the back seat. Wasn’t that fancy bike stolen right out from under my nose at Venice Beach seven or eight years later?


Here is a 2013 Mustang Fastback, which I rented for my latest excursion to Redwood Country. The modern car is quite similar to the one that was built 45 years ago, but it is more comfortable and has more modern conveniences. It was fun to drive around northwest California in this car…but it did serve to prove that nostalgia is a longing for something you couldn’t stand anymore. I’m much happier with my Sebring than I ever was with a car with a hard-top.


4/20 Graffiti Wisdom


Highway 20 is a magnificent place to drive. You take the 101 into glamorous Willits, Gateway to Redwood Country, and turn left towards Fort Bragg. A series of remarkable events found me on this wonderful road on April 20, headed to Garberville in southern Humboldt County. The graffiti is from a rest area bathroom off Highway 20. Here’s a sample of the local color!



Newspaper Farewell

Newspapers have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. The Los Angeles Times always was scattered around my parents’ house, and I got my first newspaper subscription (to the Portland Oregonian) when I went to college at age 17. These days, the number of Americans who read print newspapers continues to decline.

White Netbook

Here in the Shire, the local fish wrap is a sorry and petty embarrassment known as the San Diego Union Tribune. This product is published by somebody who calls himself “Papa Doug” Manchester, a name more suitable for the owner of a chain of pizza delivery stores. The San Diego Free Press says Manchester “…took a hard right turn and drove the local newspaper off the cliff of delusional insanity.”

This paper used to have a little slogan near the top of the first page that read, “More Than 1,000,000 Readers Weekly.” Now in the same spot are the words, “The World’s Greatest Country and America’s Finest City.” Really? I’m reminded of something once said by Spiro Agnew, Vice President of the United States: “America is still the greatest nation in the country!”

Over the years I’ve observed that San Diego has “America’s Finest Weather,” but it’s hard not to notice that the town is dominated by the military and big money connected to developers and other standard-issue rich folks. Even so, out of habit our household has carried on subscribing to this increasingly shrill Republican paper – until recently. Alexis and I decided we were fed up with the constant barrage of naked Republican propaganda and the general absence of meaningful content. Why pay for this rubbish?

Take a look at the white netbook in the picture. It cost $150 new. I’ve got it configured as a dual-boot Windows / Ubuntu system, but I find myself using the Linux OS almost all of the time. It’s a perfect operating system for a little cheap computer because it is so much faster than Windows.

Breakfast is a little different without newspapers flying around the table. There have been times when I subscribed to several newspapers at the same time. These days I am not subscribing to any at all. The little computer screen is easy to read. The trackball mouse turns all the pages, my morning coffee conveniently adjacent. When the Financial Times renews its offer to give me the pink fish wrap for Peasant Price instead of Daddy Warbucks Retail, I’ll gladly take them up on it.

If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see that my dainty little netbook is browsing the UT’s  website. Now “Papa John,” er, “Papa Doug” will have to carry on working to enrich himself and his cronies at the public expense without getting any further monthly checks from me.

Temecula Wine Tasting

Temecula Wine Tasting

Raising kids is a delight. As regular readers know, I take seriously my responsibilities as a parent. That’s why, back in the summer of 2010, I exercised extreme caution when I dangled Lana and her camera over the tiger cage barrier at the zoo so she could look death in the eye and get a really cool photograph.

Here is a picture of me with Lana, Alexis and Emily. Ms. Em recently turned 21. To help her celebrate, Alexis thought it would be fun and memorable to go out on an early morning wine country vineyard horseback riding tour. She and I have been riding horses together since we were teenagers. The ride was great fun.

After we finished with the tour, we got into our car and went to several of the local vineyards, armed with tickets and hand stamps. As usual under social drinking circumstances, I was the designated driver. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that all wine tasting events are set up to emphasize moderation and “responsible drinking.” That’s why they only give you a little serving of each of the multiple wines you get to sample at each stop.

Join me now for a rousing prayer meeting, all about Sin and Mr. Booze.

Art Camp 2012

The San Diego Zoo is one of the great attractions in southern California. I still remember touching the Galapagos Tortoises at the SD Zoo during my first visit more than 50 years ago. When I was a kid, I spent most of my summers in various swimming pools, libraries and science fiction conventions. Not once did I attend a summer camp. Who needs camp in Hollywood if you’ve got good student discount movie passes and daily chances to swim? No, I never did go to summer camp and I can’t say I ever felt especially deprived.

The San Diego Zoo Art Camp actually is set up for all ages. I didn’t require any special dispensation to be able to attend. There’s a lot to be said for the experience; certainly it was a highlight of the summer for me. It is much different to go to the zoo for a day and spend an hour at a single exhibit compared to a typical visit where you’re trying to see as much as possible. It’s also cool to go to the zoo for several hours a day, five days in a row.

There is a lot to be said for hanging out with children, too. The kids ranged in age from 8 to 14. All of them were charming and most of them were accomplished young artists. It was a pleasure to spend the week with Elana, getting behind the scenes glimpses into the working of the zoo. We both enjoyed studying and practicing the art of drawing, too. The teacher was generous with her knowledge and patient with her students. Here is my elephant and Lana’s giraffes, to show you what we were up to.

 When we were at Art Camp back in 2010, Elana got a great photograph of an outraged and hungry tiger. Maybe it was a little risky for me to dangle her over the protective barrier just to get a really good picture, but I figured it was a good way for us to bond, plus it’s invaluable for young people to face death and live to tell the tale.

This year it was my turn to get a spectacular picture of a deadly predator without the presence of bars or glass barriers in the way to mess up the shot. Here’s the picture – a furious and ravenous crocodile!

Hungry, Angry Croc!

These animals are impressive killing machines, but they have a tender side too – they care for their babies with far more attention to detail than most reptiles. They have eyes as acute as owls and also superb hearing. Crocs can swim and run very fast, too. They tend to be ambush hunters, lying in wait for unsuspecting prey. This was my big advantage. Surprise was on my side. Most captive crocodiles are not used to guys with cameras making a hurried run-through in order to get a quick photograph!

As you can see, the picture was well worth any short-term danger. Sure, I know a lot of idiots get killed at zoos every year. They drop their camera into the tiger cage and try to retrieve it, or they want to pet the nice panda or polar bear. Those folks are Darwin Award candidates for sure. What the High Cabal doesn’t want you to know about are all the people who take less outrageous, more calculated risks for the sake of art.

OK, I understand that it is against the rules and generally accepted notions of common sense for an ordinary middle-aged clown to risk life and limb for a photograph. Still, nobody got hurt. It is true that the croc did go after me a split-second after I took the picture, but the fact that I’m writing this is proof that he didn’t get me. It’s also true that some of the zoo attendees were quite frightened by the sudden action in the crocodile enclosure. I admit that I didn’t expect to have quite such a close call, and it’s also true that I didn’t know that the croc would end up slamming into the glass so forcefully. I imagine a few of the folks were a little flustered by the experience. Well, I say that the picture was worth it. You be the judge.

Torito de la Virgen

It’s been too long since these pages featured a nice lizard.

Great Horned Lizard

Here is a fine example of Phrynosoma, the Great Horned Lizard. Native American cultures respected these creatures for being symbols of strength. You can find out more about ‘horny toads’ here and here.

In case you’re curious to trace my previous series of lizard-related material, you can try here, here, here, here and definitely here.

Reiki Appliance Repair

What is Reiki? The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power” and Ki which is “life force energy.” So Reiki is actually “spiritually guided life force energy.” This approach to healing is gaining acceptance beyond Asia.

I can fix them all!

According to the erudite authorities at Dummies.Com, Reiki can be used on pets with great results. Here in southern California, we seem to have a knack for adapting exotic spiritual healing practices to more practical ends. Yeah, it’s great to transcend our limitations and distribute our internal energy in healthier and more productive ways, but how is that supposed to save money?

It is my distinct pleasure to take a stroll with you down the path of progress. I know a lot of people come to this website for practical tips on how to cope with the challenges of daily modern life. Once again it is my privilege to be of service.

Why spend outrageous amounts of money on appliance repair? It is possible to use the spiritual power of reiki to heal your appliances and other equipment. Not everybody has the patience and the capacity for empathy required, but I can tell you from personal experience that if you persist your efforts will be rewarded.

The most important aspect of reiki appliance repair is to put your hands on the appliance and feel the energy imbalances that are preventing it from fulfilling its function in the material world. You have to merge your spirit with the spirit of the appliance. Let me tell you a true story from my own kitchen. In yet another example of hypocritical decadence, I have a huge fridge with a fancy ice maker that offers filtered water and crushed ice without having to open the door. This thing was expensive in the first place and I understand that it is not cheap to fix. A few days ago it decided to release a lot of its cold energy and merge with the outside climate. Cold water came out of the ice chute when I pushed the button. My Morningstar Farms Fake Bacon Strips came out of the freezer all limp and thawed out.

A lot of people would panic and place an urgent call to a repair person. Not me. I decided to embrace the big decadent fridge. I put one hand on each side and pressed my face against the door, the warmth of my body merging with the cold metal of the appliance without further warming the culinary treasures inside. I could tell that the fridge wasn’t really physically damaged. No, its feelings weren’t right; there was something amiss with the internal flow of spiritual energy. I projected my sense of inner serenity into the soul within the machine. Then I gently opened the doors and caressed the switches that control the freezer and fridge. I let them know that it would be OK if they had to quit working forever but that their natural purpose was to provide cold where before there was warmth. Couldn’t we all work it out and get along?

Within minutes both compartments of the beleaguered refrigerator were humming with activity. The internal energy balance of the device had been restored to a natural harmony with the external elements of the environment. By the evening it was as if there never had been a problem. That’s what a little applied spiritual evolution can get you.

Of course, it’s also true that there is a learning curve to consider. A few years ago we had problems with our water heater. I used the transformative powers of reiki to repair it. Unfortunately the results weren’t so good. I was able to restore full function to the water heater, but I failed to notice or to heal a small leak. A couple of weeks later the water heater failed again, after having soaked through a wall. We had to replace both the water heater and the wall, including a vast expense associated with getting rid of some mold. Sure, it was a costly little life lesson. My family had to take showers outdoors in the middle of winter for a couple of weeks. We all grew from the experience, and it did not deter me from continuing to pursue my own special spiritual path.

This time things are different. I know the fridge really is healed. As Chick Hearn used to say, “The eggs are cooling, the butter is getting hard and the Jello is jiggling!”

First Strawberry of ’12

Little pleasures can be captivating if you’re paying attention.


This strawberry is (was) a little smaller than the average commercial raspberry. 2012 is the third year in which this little plant has offered up a little magical taste of flavory goodness.

[Excuse me while I go copyright and trademark that phrase, “magical taste of flavory goodness.” Once Hostess brands gets out of bankruptcy, they’re probably going to line up with my other friends from Nestle chocolates to buy this brilliant bit of intellectual property. That’s a relief; if present trends continue, Ms. May is going to start college in the fall of 2016. It’ll be cool to have her expenses covered.]

Earlier this afternoon I went outside to tend my modest little garden. This beautiful tiny strawberry greeted me. I took this photograph right before I severed the berry and part of the stem from the plant. Inside, I washed off the brilliant bright red berry and gazed at it lovingly under the golden glow of the afternoon sun. After that I bit the berry off of the stem and savored each bit of the marvelous morsel.

I couldn’t help but do a nice little happy dance of joy as the divinity of the strawberry permeated my consciousness. I’m telling you, strawberries make a compelling case for the existence of a loving divine spirit in the universe.

Eclipse in San Diego

You don’t see this every day. Here is an annular solar eclipse.

This is how it looked from Carmel Valley, California at about 6:20 or so yesterday, May 20. Once I was present for a total solar eclipse. The changes in light were gradual until the moment of totality, and at that point it was almost as if a switch turned off the sun. What I remember most about it was how something that dramatic could also be completely silent.