Tag Archives: Encinitas

Writing 34 Days In A Row

After last night I decided to take a peek back to see how many days in a row I have posted and found that I’ve reached 34 days in a row. By my rules I can now take a break and I find that I’m not in a breaking mood.

Sunday morning is a pretty good time to write for me. As long as I’m up early enough. I won’t have to get ready for church for at least another 45 minutes.

I haven’t written a lot about my “inner workings” here, but I’ve decided to take a chance.

I’m remembering some stuff.

When my family moved to Valley Center from Encinitas 36 years ago I was not happy with the decision. Even before we left. I remember not playing little league baseball that year and someone pointed out that the baseball year would end right before we left. I didn’t care. I just hoped no one would stop and think about my decision and point that out.

My dad (and mom?) had made the decision to move and we kids hadn’t even seen the house. In fact, my little sister and I were to go on vacation with my mom back to Illinois and when we came home we would arrive at the new house. Looking back I’m not sure how many families were making those kinds of decisions together as if they were the Brady Bunch. I honestly don’t know how many did that. But it strikes me even now as pretty unusual that we didn’t even get the see the house before we moved there. It’s not like it was across the country. It was about an hour away.

Back then that seemed like a long drive to a kid that age. I’m sure it was probably longer still for my little sister.

We were not consulted about our vote, though we made it clear that we didn’t want to move. At least I did. We were moving from a pretty cool place to out in the country. Not most kids idea of cool. We lived just a couple miles from the beach. I could ride my bike there if I wanted. My brother used to go surfing all the time. As I recall, he had surfing P.E. in high school.

Things didn’t get much better after we moved there. I didn’t like being so remote. I didn’t fully appreciate the land we had. I wouldn’t fully appreciate until after I had moved from there.

What I was thinking of that had me start writing this today was dealing with competition as I got into high school.

In 9th grade I was in journalism class and I enjoyed that for the most part. We went to a journalism convention in San Diego in the spring and that’s when Star wars was playing. Yes, the first one! It had been playing for a while and I finally got to see it and we all thought it was amazing. THAT was fun.

In 10th grade I was in what was called MGM block. I was finally in a class with all advanced students. I wouldn’t find out until later that my mom had fought to get me in there. I don’t remember now if I heard this from her years later or someone else. I kind of think it must have been her, but the years make it foggy.

I had excelled in elementary school and pretty much kept nearly straight A’s in 7th and 8th grade. I remember 8th grade graduation seemed so strange to me. I thought what’s the big deal? It’s 8th grade. In my mind you needed to graduate at least from high school to be accomplishing anything. Little did I know that four years later I would be taking a test to finish high school and my mom would be saddened that I wasn’t going through the ceremony with the rest of my class.

When I got to 10th grade I found that I was not the big fish anymore. I was in a class with some truly excellent students, many of them with parents who had college degrees. My dad had gone to some night school, but he had been an engineer with a high school diploma and now my parents had a flower shop in Valley Center. My wife informs me that I need to take a shower now because our son is going to church with us.

To be continued?

Ex

Saturdays

When I was a kid in 6th grade I bowled on Saturdays. I got on my bike with my bowling ball and my bowling shoes and road a few miles across town to the bowling alley in Encinitas and bowled in a league. I was good for my age. Good. Not great.

At other times of the year I played baseball on some Saturdays and I remember being dropped off. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I didn’t always have a family member with me at those games. My mom was there a often and my dad rarely was and usually when he got there it was near the end of the game.

Many Saturday afternoons I watched monster movies or science fiction and there was a local host – Moona Lisa. There was also Bob Dale from San Diego. I sometimes watched the Indy 500 and those types of races and it never ever occurred to me that some people watch those races to see if there might be a crash that might kill someone. I was a Catholic boy then and I just didn’t think that way.

More than once in a while I watch Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, especially as I got past 4th or 5th grade. I found his record rating interesting and it was really interesting when John Travolta was interviewed and later Madonna and others. I also remember The Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy. It’s funny because I didn’t really get into rock and roll until 7th grade or so. Not that I never listened to it, but I didn’t really know who very many bands were besides The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and a few others.

In 7th grade we got pencils at school that had the names of bands on them like Deep Purple, The Who and Jethro Tull. I had absolutely no idea who Jethro Tull was. It’s funny what would sell back in those days. Obviously we needed pencils for school so there was a bit of a captive market, but compared to today those pencil “products” were very primitive. No colored erasers. No sparkle. Not attached to anything. They just had a name of a band printed on the side in the same way the pencil brand was if you bought it at the store instead of a Oak Crest Junior High.

I didn’t think of myself as a lonely kid and I don’t think I was a true loner, being left on my own on Saturday seems unusual for that time as I look back.

Dick Clark was a friendly face on television and I had no idea about marketing the music. I just knew that I liked music and my tastes were beginning to change.

Less than 2 years after not knowing who Jethro Tull was I owned their album that had Bungle In The Jungle on it. I didn’t realize that many of their original fans were not that happy with that single. Very soon after that I had this interesting dychotomy in my musical taste. I asked my aunt and my mom for The Commodores and Alice Cooper Goes To Hell for Christmas. My aunt was really concerned about me wanting the Alice Cooper record and almost proud of me for asking for The Commodores.

When I got together with a buddy that I used to be really good friends with before we moved inland, he was disgusted that I liked Alice Cooper at all. He probably liked School’s Out and that was it. He was a straight ahead rock and roll fan who was really into Aerosmith. Alice Cooper? Yuck.

What so many people don’t know is that Alice Cooper Goes To Hell is really a metaphor for alcoholism. That album helped him deal with his addiction. And there were some really creative tunes on there like Give The Kid A Break. It was about a guy who dies and goes to hell and wonders what he’s doing there. I still remember one of the big lines of the song:

Don’t- know why I’m down here.
Must be something I said.
Or some small imperfection
in my soul or in my head.

Give the kid a break.

The big hit single was a slow song titled I Never Cry.

You probably know it even if you don’t recognize the title.

It’s so funny (strange) to look back on that now and when you get down to it, those shows were a way to advertise music and get paid for it. And all television with some exceptions like public television are really delivery systems for commercials!

When you’re a kid you don’t think about stuff like that.

Now that we have so many shows about so many tiny little niches of interest it seems more obvious that television (I’ll say it again…) is a delivery system for commercials!

Not so with movies at the theater. You are paying for the privilege of seeing a movie and only in about the last 20 years have they started showing commercials in theaters.

What about awards?

I’ve enjoyed the Academy Awards for decades.

Still, they are given out by the industry itself.

The Emmys are really more about what I’m talking about since the Oscars are about movies that you have to pay to see.

How funny that a medium that is a delivery system for commercials (except for HBO and the like) has awards that the industry gives to itself.

It’s amazing that anything that passes for art gets made.

This isn’t actually meant as some big criticism.

Are we really seeing things as they are?

Just something to think about.

A Walk On The Beach

It’s been so long since we walked on Moonlight Beach. Either of us. Today I convinced her to go to Encinitas and look at a couple of dream houses that we could afford if I sell a zillion books. Maybe a couple zillion. I do want to get back there. It’s where I’m from originally. My native land, so to speak. Spoiled? Maybe. But we can’t help where we’re from. I just happen to be from a beach community in beautiful Southern California. Now we live 1/2 an hour inland.

In a way I guess I feel like I have a right to live there. I know I felt really good walking with my wife along the ocean there. And sitting on a bench at the top of the hill just in front of Moonlight. We got some sun during our walk and our sitting. Not too much. I can feel the impact on my body as I used to feel when I was just a kid.

Back then we didn’t worry about sunburn too much. I don’t think we knew that it could lead to skin cancer. Just leathery skin. And we had a cute neighbor who was really, really tan. I saw her years later and I don’t think she had had cancer. She did have the leathery skin. She was still cute. We lived on a little street back then. L-shaped. Patty Lane in Leucadia, which is a community of Encinitas.

We looked at a couple houses just across Pacific Coast Highway right above the beach today. Upwards of $2 Million for a 2000 square foot house with not much yard. If you want a place across the street that’s truly right next to the ocean that will cost you $3 Million. And what a beautiful view of the ocean out your backdoor you’ll have.

I know lots of people think this kind of real estate is preposterous. Keep in mind that there is plenty of wealth in the world. I’m not talking about anything airy-fairy or new agey here. If you divide the amount of wealth that exists in the world by the number of people in the world you will find that there is a really big number available to each person. More than a billion dollars per person. I’d just like a few million.

What so many people have lost sight of is this: If you provide value, people will pay you for it.

Especially here in the United States I have seen it. People think in terms of a job or even a career and they don’t always think of what value they bring to the table. It’s not enough to be nice and helpful. How helpful are you? If you help 10 people that’s wonderful, but if you help 10,000 then it’s likely you’ll get paid more on average.

Steve Jobs said that you have to provide something that people want. I’m pretty sure I got that right and if I didn’t I’m sure it was just that you can add in something that people need. But Steve certainly did create something that people want. So many people want those products enough to pay good money for lots of them. I daresay that he also provided people with an experience. Some people call it a cult and if it is I think it’s a pretty harmless one.

Apple customers like quality. They also like that there are many other people who share their ideas about quality and the experience of using the quality products in their lives on a regular basis. They like that there is a community of sorts.

When I say quality I don’t mean what some people sometimes commoditize and then forget about. Lots and lots of people in the world don’t really seem to mind if they get lower quality stuff or just ok stuff. But those who do like a better experience using the product are willing to pay more and Steve Jobs figured that out early on.

He also noticed that people like innovation. That’s part of the experience. You get to have some capabilities earlier than other people or the functionality of the products is so much higher that it’s a more enjoyable experience to use it.

I’m amazed that some people just don’t get this.

If people enjoy something more, many of them will pay more for it. Seems pretty simple.

We got a weedeater the other day and I don’t enjoy the manual which has all these warnings. I can’t even store the battery in a metal shed because that could cause it to get too hot. I understand that we can only do so much with certain technologies, but that seems pretty basic. When you get a metal shed they should warn you that some of the stuff that you want to store in there is not safe to store in there. But why were you getting the metal shed in the first place? You simply wanted to store your rakes, brooms, shovels and the like?

People who think this stuff through create better products.

Sometime in the last year or so I bought a pair of toenail clipper at one of the chain pharmacies. Not too long after I bought it it started to rust. Really? The manufacturer didn’t think that I would like something in the bathroom drawer that remained rust-free? When I was growing up I don’t recall ever buying a replacement pair of clippers like that. I’m not saying that my parents never did that, but I never remember seeing rust on one? I doubt that they were replacing the clippers regularly and I never noticed.

My dad was not a big spender on most things, but he was generally wise about what he bought. It was going to be sturdy and it was generally going to last. Sure, in my family my mom did most of the household spending, but my dad’s philosophy certainly had a huge influence. My family lived on a budget and there’s no way my mom would have bought clippers that could rust so quickly. It’s just that back then I don’t think it would have been easy to find toenail clippers that would start to deteriorate so rapidly. They simply made things better.

Notwithstanding breakthroughs in technology, manufacturers did a better job of putting out a quality product in most cases. I’m sure I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that my mom had a foot-powered sewing machine in the early 1970’s. That was probably from the 1940’s or earlier and it lasted. It was well built.

When I buy a product that starts to fall apart so quickly I want to tell the place that I did business that I would rather not do business with them anymore and that I’ll encourage others to do the same. It astonishes me how many places of business don’t actually care. Even in this economy.

And then they wonder why they’re closing their doors. Amazing.

Ex

Rainy Day With Lightning

Wow. I don’t recall ever seeing lightning so bright and so close. Our back yard was lit up so bright I jumped out of my chair. This happened more than once today. The lightning part. Not the jumping out of my chair. I made sure I told our son to get off the computer and I think he might have heeded my words eventually. The thunder was cacophonous and long.

It put me in the mind of past weather events. Over 30 years ago I lived in Valley Center as as teenager with my family. There were extremely heavy rains that winter and even flash flooding. I still remember the shock at hearing that a girl named Karen had drowned in her car. She was in my grade and I had met her in 8th grade. This must have been when we were juniors. You just don’t think of that kind of thing happening to someone you know when you’re a kid. I know that lots of young people think of themselves as invincible, but this was different.

Those of us who lived in Valley Center knew that we lived out in the country. My family lived on a little over 3 acres. It wasn’t a farm or anything, but it was a lot of land compared to where we had lived near the ocean in Encinitas a few years before. And everybody in Valley Center had approximately that much land it seemed. Or more. I think there was a law passed while we lived there that allowed people to build new homes on 2.5 acres. I don’t know what the rule was before that. But that was the minimum for a long time. I think today it might still be an acre minimum.

Every once in a while you might hear of somebody dying in a car accident, but drowning in their car? That was unsettling in more than the usual way. Of course, if someone loses a family member, it probably doesn’t matter if it was a flash flood or a car crashing into another vehicle or illness. You still have lost that person.

But being bused into a larger town, Escondido, for high school meant that we weren’t all that isolated. We say more of “civilization” on a regular basis.

It was just unbelievable that someone could drown in the car because we had really heavy rain and they got caught in a wall of water or something. You’re in class with someone or you see them on campus and then they are gone basically because of mother nature. It was hard to take in.

There had been a popular boy a couple years earlier who I didn’t know at all and he died in a car mishap. I guess he and some friends were riding in the back of a pickup truck and he had been sitting on the tailgate, which was down. Then the driver decided to drive in reverse and they hit a bump and he fell out and was run over. This was tragic, but it seemed like it could have been avoided if people had used better judgement.

If you’re driving in your car and a wall of water comes along and overtakes you and the car, that’s so unavoidable. The only way would be to have not been out driving in the first place. And it’s so surreal in a way because that water is gone in a few minutes or maybe hours at the most. I don’t recall that exact part of it. It just seems like a phantom method or something. The danger comes upon you and then it’s gone.

How could this be? She was a normal person and was simply driving in the rain. We would never see her at a dance again or in math class or P.E. She was gone. And that place where she died would be dry very soon after the rainy season. It seemed so hard to believe and yet she was gone.

Our family had had something of our own problem with rain either that year or the year before. It seems like we had two very wet winters in a row in the early 1980s.

There had been some construction at the top of the hill on the end of our street, Fruitvale. This was the same end of the street where I came down on a skateboard a few years before and ended up going to the hospital with three broken fingers and needed stitches on my face. I had been lucky to not break my neck. Really. I landed on my face and right hand after hitting a pothole and flying through the air.

This year there were three or four houses built on that hill and there had been no landscaping. Keep in mind, too, that these were big lots that these houses were on. Maybe there was a tiny bit of landscaping, but it was incredibly minimal. When the rains came a whole lot of soil flowed down and into the creek that ran through our back yard right next to our house. The creek ran the length of our property and that meant that there was an enormous amount of dirt that had filled this creek. With the creek full of topsoil, the water that kept coming from the rain that kept coming down day after day started to fill our backyard to the east of the house and eventually the water got so high one day that it threatened the foundation of one of the additions on the house.

Our house had been built in the 1800’s. That’s right. The original portion was adobe and had been completed by an old woman and a Native American in the late 1800’s. Sometime around 1940 or so the southern portion had been added on. We had a swamp cooler there in the kitchen/dining room area that was wonderful during the summer and absolutely no use during this incredibly rainy season. The room was two levels with the kitchen being on the same level as the original house and the dining room about a foot below it. We had steps outside to the east leading up about four or five feet to the back door of the house.

So the flooding was quite significant to reach the back door of the house and it seems like we got a few inches of water in that room. It was pretty scary and we were simply fortunate that the rain let up at some point and then the water started to recede. There was a lot of damage and my dad ended up suing the homeowners and the builder. I remember seeing some of the paperwork. Actually, it was the transcript of some testimony that my dad had given in court. I don’t think my dad had ever sued anyone before. I don’t think he was a big fan of lawsuits. He just didn’t think he had any other choice as the people up the street didn’t think that their dirt didn’t have anything to do with our flooding.

My dad would have to help my aunt with a lawsuit a few years later after she and my uncle were hit by a public bus while they crossed the street in a crosswalk. My uncle died and my aunt was badly hurt and I’ve never been happy with the result. I would have thought that my aunt could get enough money to live in California where she lived. She was disabled and lost her husband and ended up moving to Texas where she could afford to live with the settlement money. This was a serious tragedy and truly damaged my aunt’s body. It just seemed fair that she would be able to afford to live in the town where she had lived prior to the accident which killed her husband.

That’s a story for another time.

Ex

Getting Down To It

Today I was distracted by the Williams.edu website.

Frequent readers will probably know that I volunteer with a group called Reality Changers. We help students become the first generation in their family to go to college. My student – the one I tutor – is nearing his senior year. I recommended that he take a look at Williams.edu to see if there’s a fit for him. He’s a strong student in Japanese and that’s one of the majors that Williams College offers. It’s old and academically prestigious.

While at Reality Changers on Monday I asked him if he thought he could work harder than he works now in college. He works really, really hard now and usually goes to sleep about 4 am at least twice a week. He said that he definitely intended on working harder in college. I didn’t work as hard as he does in high school and definitely not as hard as he intends when I was in college. He’ll probably end up with a 4.1 or higher GPA and that’s probably enough to get admitted to Williams assuming all the other things fall into place. He’s a soccer player, too, and participates in extracurricular activities.

In my opinion, it’s just a shame when a student who has potential and has shown the willingness to work hard misses an opportunity simply because he or she didn’t know it existed. So I make sure to tell academically inclined students about Williams. If you know a great student who intends on working hard at their education after high school, I recommend that you at least tell them about Williams.

When I was in high school I didn’t have much knowledge about all the educational opportunities out there and my dad said that I was going to community college. I found that somewhat discouraging, but didn’t have enough freedom to say how I felt about it. I didn’t realize that I had more choices than simply accepting it. I recognize that community college can be a great place to start, but if you have the drive and you have the ability, why not explore the options. It’s hard for me to believe that I didn’t know more about how to stand up for myself in that situation, but that was a long time ago and in many, many ways I feel like a different person now.

My wife just came in to relax beside me and I don’t think she realized how much I was treasuring this time to be alone with the opportunity to write. I do like my alone time and I’m not sure that she has quite the same need for solitude. I can hear her breathing at times and shuffling the pages of whatever she’s reading.

Our room is cooler than the rest of the house and I find that absolutely wonderful. That’s especially true when it starts to get hotter as it is today. Our walls are a dark pastel-ly purple and the ceiling is bright white. Definitely have something approaching bohemian tendencies with the color in our room. There’s not really anything on the walls and we like it that way. They feel like a blank canvas to me or maybe an easy place to rest my eyes as I’m lost in thought.

We have horizontal blinds and that let’s me keep the light down. She had to turn on a lamp when she came into the room. I don’t mind it being a little dark. In fact, she probably considers it pretty dark and I see it as similar to just after dawn. Now she has turned off the light and turned on her side. I think she wants to take a nap, but I’m determined to finish this before I leave the room or more probably, join her.

Earlier we got the chance to go to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and to my surprise she was content to sit with me on a bench overlooking the beach. We watched some birds in the ocean air. I couldn’t remember the last time that I followed a bird or a group of birds with my eyes for several minutes until they landed. It can be very relaxing. We both agreed that we would like to live there and I said that I was probably several books away from affording that. I think it probably costs around $2 Million to live there in a 2000 square foot house with probably the same amount of land we have here in San Marcos, which isn’t much.

We enjoyed the breeze and I was thinking that I don’t think there’s any way to replicate it.

I was remembering Edward G. Robinson in Soylent Green as he commits suicide with the help of the state. He’s watching a movie that shows beautiful views of nature that don’t exist anymore in the world of that film. They give him something to drink that takes him out of this world after it puts him to sleep and Charlton Heston’s character is heartbroken when he finds out and it’s too late to do anything about it.

But it would take better technology than a movie to capture the feel and smell of the breeze and the sun beating down not too hot. That doesn’t even take into account the gorgeous view of the ocean itself. Maybe there will be a market for it. Actually, I think there is a market for it if you get far enough away from the ocean. It’s just that we don’t have holodeck technology like they have on Star Trek The Next Generation and later shows.

This reminds me that I don’t think we will advance technology in many areas as fast as people expect. I wouldn’t mind being pleasantly surprised. Back in the 1950’s they thought we would have hover cars by now. I don’t mean a couple which my son pointed out that we do actually have. I mean widespread use of hovercars – so widespread that they are the primary mode of transportation like plain old automobiles are today. At least in the U.S. and several countries.

THAT reminds me that I don’t even know how many cars there are in the world and how widespread their use is in different countries. My guess is that there are plenty of countries who use cars appoximately at the same level as we do, but there are many countries that use more rapid transit, more communal transportation than we do.

Still, will we really be using Google glasses that much in 10 or 20 years? Is it possible that they will be a fad? Do you really want to wear glasses all the time that connect you to the internet so you can let people know where you are at all times? Do you really want to have information popping up in your field of view semi-constantly? I’m sure I could use it for a while, but won’t good old everyday life without the interactivity of the glasses be calling us? Also, I’m concerned that it will rapidly become a way for more advertisements to be shoved in front of us. I want less advertising personally, not more. I like pieces of land with nothing on it but nature.

How many people agree or disagree with me, I wonder.

Ex

April Showers Soon?

April showers bring May flowers, right? I think it might be interesting to find out how much that has changed with climate change.

We do have a great impact on the Earth. It’s not hard to see if you are willing to look. But let’s not look at the typical stuff.

I remember seeing a study (not sure if that’s the proper term here) that showed the impact that mankind has had on the oceans since the advent of science. Approximately 500 years is the timeframe we’re talking about. It started out with a video showing a wide variety of undersea life from the early 1960’s. I believe it was footage from Jacques Cousteau. When you compare that with today it’s astonishing how little is left.

There are lots of people who take vacations or do scientific work in beautiful places with beautiful undersea landscapes and it’s not hyperbole to use the word beautiful at all. Yet compared with 50 years ago it’s almost like an undersea desert as about 80 or 90% of the undersea vegetation is gone. We don’t notice it because it’s so vast in comparison with land and I think there’s that feeling that this is an enchanting alien place. We don’t live there so it’s exotic and we’re grateful when we encounter the foreign beauty of this truly vast place.

So if 50 years ago we had 10x undersea vegetation, today we have somewhere around x. Some would say we have x/2 or 1/2 times x. Please bear with me on the algebra. Consider a pie with 10 slices 50 years ago. Today we have probably 1 slice or less. And I haven’t even mentioned the animal life at all, but you probably know that animals do eat vegetation in some cases. If the undersea animals have less to eat that necessarily means that there will be fewer of them in the long run.

Here’s something incredibly huge though: If you compare the amount of undersea vegetation from 50 years ago versus 500 years ago at the dawn of what we call science, it’s very much bleaker.

If we had 1000x around the year 1512, then we had 10x in 1962 and approximately 1x or x today. We don’t live 500 years, so we don’t notice. But let that sink in (and let’s say that I’m off by a factor of 5! – that’s still a devastating loss) – 1000 of something became 1 of something in the last 500 years, except multiplied millions of times! The oceans were literally teaming with fish and animals and vegetation 500 years ago and in 1962 you would have been heartbroken if you had seen the change over the 450 years or so. Again, you wouldn’t notice because you don’t live that long. But even with as little as we had left in the ocean 50 years ago, when we compare it to today that’s even more devastating. And it looks like the change is accelerating.

If I’m not being as clear as I could be just think about changes you’ve seen in the area where you live. If the area where you live hasn’t changed much, think about something you’ve noticed big changes in over your lifetime.

My life in San Diego County (mostly) has helped me see incredible change in this area. When I was a child there was a huge billboard on the side of the freeway that said, “Encinitas, Flower Capital of the World”. I don’t know if it was absolutely true that Encinitas was the flower capital, but I guarantee that it was one of the biggest flower growing towns for it’s size anywhere. There were greenhouses everywhere and my parents grew carnations in our large backyard. Later my dad grew roses just a couple miles across the freeway to the east. There were avocado trees in abundance and lots and lots and lots of flowers being grown there. If you have bought a poinsettia in many parts of the Unites States during the last 40 years or so, chances are pretty good that it came from Ecke’s in Encinitas, California.

Most of the greenhouses -90?- are gone now. Most of the avocados -80%?- are grown elsewhere. There are a lot more houses than there used to be, just like a lot of places in the USA. Big, big changes have come.

We notice this change because we live through it and we live with it. In the 1980’s I don’t recall having Saturday traffic on Interstate 5 in North San Diego County. Now we’ve had it for a couple decades, but people who didn’t live here before have no idea that you used to be able to take a nice long drive on the freeway going north or south and your travel would be “smooth sailing” as long as there wasn’t an accident. It’s rare to have a Saturday without traffic after about 10 am on Interstate 5.

Those who have lived here noticed the change and those who are newer to the area have no idea what it used to be like here. Just like under the ocean, except that no humans of whom I’m aware make there home below the ocean permanently. So, not being native to the ocean world, we miss things like huge changes that would be obvious to the naked eye if we were residents of the ocean floor or thereabouts.

So the first problem is that we don’t even notice. But you can look at old Jacques Cousteau videos and make some comparisons. You can look at some scientific data. We’ve been pretty good at measuring things, but most people find that stuff boring. So another problem is not caring enough to notice or want to notice.

And today we have people who are AGAINST people simply making reports of scientific measurements. They accuse those of doing the measuring of having an left-wing agenda.

Here’s a basic problem with that thinking: if I am measuring something and I report the findings, I’m simply doing that. I’m not the one judging the findings in most cases. That sort of thinking and evaluating is left to others.

How can a measurement that is merely a description be considered political? I mean, outside of totalitarian and despotic states?

If you measure my height and find that I’m not quite six feet two inches and I used to be six feet too inches, all you did is measure. If I get upset because I’m used to being 6’2″ and I accuse you of having an agenda to make me look bad, aren’t I just being a big baby? Maybe I have shrunk just a little. There’s nothing wrong with your measuring tape. There was nothing wrong with the measurement when I was at my peak. I just prefer to think of myself as 6’2″. In the good ol’ USA I have the right to think of myself as 6’2″ and caucasian. I can even think of myself as coming from another planet or that an alien speaks through me and I send his messages out on Twitter.

But having the right to think a certain way or to think a certain thing does not make that thing objectively true. And wishing I were still 6’2″ when I’m probably 6 1 3/4″ now is just a wish. It’s not objective measurement.

Let’s stop pretending that objective measurements are anything other than what they are – descriptions of reality.

You have a right to not think that way, but let’s not make laws based on that type of thinking.

What Did Your Parents Do?

My parents grew flowers for many years. In 1968 we moved from Encinitas, just a couple blocks from the beach to a community within Encinitas a few miles away called Leucadia. My parents cut down the avocado trees in the backyard not too long after the move and I started taking the bus to kindergarten. My mom used to walk me the two blocks to the bus stop most days. I do seem to remember walking without her at least part of the way at some point. I guess maybe she went back to the house after she saw other kids at the stop. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I remember counting to a thousand while I was waiting. Even at that age I liked numbers.

We lived there until the summer of 1976. My mom, sister and I went on vacation to Chicago and Indiana to visit relatives and when we came back my dad and older brother had moved us to Valley Center, but that’s a different story.

Leucadia was pretty neat for a little kid back then. Even today they have bumper stickers that say, “Keep Leucadia Funky” and I wouldn’t mind moving back there. Maybe in about five years we’ll be able to afford it. Interesting that we can’t afford to live where I did when I was little. I guess that’s true for a lot of people these days, but that’s another story, too.

In kindergarten I met a couple friends who would be friends for years. Years later one of them, Terri, would be the first girl to give me a real kiss. My family was unusual for the area because my dad grew up a poor country boy in Illinois and many of his habits stayed with him.

After planting carnations where the avocado trees used to be, we also raised rabbits and chickens. Both for food. My friend, Terri, was horrified that we would butcher the rabbits. She only saw it once that I remember. Lots of people were surfers in our neighborhood and my older brother was no exception, but I don’t think anyone else had rabbit for dinner. No. It doesn’t taste like chicken. The year before we moved I raised a pig. Again, my father’s influence as he was in Future Farmers of America and that was a big deal. That and little league for us. Although he didn’t play baseball. He was a three-sport athlete. His favorite was basketball. He was a star of his little school in Toulon, Illinois. But the school was so small that if you wanted to play basketball you had to go out for football. THAT’S a small school. I got the idea that track or cross-country running was a close second to basketball.

My older brothers and I all played baseball and I liked bowling and swimming, too.

I don’t remember how long my parents grew carnations, but I do remember that by the time we left in 1976 we were growing vegetables in a huge garden in the backyard. We also had a really big hill (for a backyard) where we grew strawberries at least two summers in a row.

There were only three houses on Patty Lane where we lived. It was an L-shaped street and we lived at the end of it. Today there are four houses on that street as they subdivided my parent’s property after we sold it in 1976. My guess is that both residences there are worth around $2 Million combined. My parents sold it for something like $52,500 after buying it for $39,000 in 1968. They thought they did well at the time.

We had one of the first Subarus sold in the United States. It was REALLY small. Maybe about the size of one of those mini-coopers today, though taller I think. My dad was really scrunched up driving it, but I think it was just under $2,000 when he bought it in the late 1960s. My mom drove a big maroon station wagon and my little sister who was probably four when we bought the Subaru, asked if it would be as big as the station wagon when it grew up.

I had very little knowledge of the war going on at that age, but as I started watching more television I eventually saw something that people don’t believe happened on TV. I remember seeing it in the early 1970s. It changed everything and I saw it on the news which I’m pretty sure was live or delayed very little. A South Vietnamese general actually shot someone in the head right on camera and that really got people’s attention. I’ve told many people that I saw this and most think that I made it up or remembered someone telling me about it, but let me tell you that a kid remembers something like that.

Our neighborhood was peaceful except for a neighbor who was eventually taken away to a mental hospital. And, unlike today, you didn’t see much violence on TV except for news coverage of the Vietnam War. But seeing something so up close and personal is astounding in such a relatively peaceful atmosphere. I am a little tired and I guess I’m saying that it was different back then.

Now kids play video games with violence from a very young age in many cases and experts say that by the time they are 18, most kids have seen over 25,000 acts of serious violence on television, video games, the internet, etc…

Back then most of my “violence” came from Bugs Bunny and we didn’t see it as violence at the time. Except for the news. We watched Walter Cronkite as most people did. It’s interesting that my dad, who was pretty conservative in many ways, didn’t seem to have a problem with Cronkite, who was fairly liberal.

What many younger people don’t appreciate is that the news made a real, concerted effort to be as close to objective as possible. I think Walter Cronkite cried a little when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but other than that I don’t remember him showing that much deep emotion. He read the news. But he did have the background as a newsman that so many today don’t have.

So many today are simply readers of the news.

I remember when the networks (and there were only three at the time) decided that the news needed to make a profit.

If there was ever an indictment of strict capitalism, the news attempting to make a profit seems to me to be a big one.

I don’t think I’m looking back with rose-colored glasses at the news. Honestly.

When you had more people honestly attempting to be so close to objective in their reporting, it seemed to be of a higher quality. Also, without the profit motive so directly involved, there were a lot more important stories covered. Not much fluff, certainly not in the national and international news.

More educated and thoughtful reporters and anchors and many of today’s “news” people wouldn’t even be able to get a job back then as they are/would be unqualified to do the job.

You also wouldn’t see something like Fox News where they clearly have a conservative axe to grind and when push comes to shove, they are very similar to being an arm of the Republican Party. You might like that. That I don’t doesn’t change the truth of it.

I agree with Keith Olbermann that it’s really Faux News.

And simply calling it “Fair & Balanced” doesn’t mean that it is. You might debate that with me, but one sad thing is that there are people so young that they don’t even realize that Fox can simply claim that without it being true. Many younger people think that IF they say that it must be true, right?

Amazing. I never thought I would look back so fondly on the 1970’s.

This Is Still An Exercise

Some of you know that I am involved in writing every day no matter what comes out. This exercise is from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. And here it is. Today I’m in the second day of a cleanse and I’m wondering how that may affect my output. I don’t know where this will lead. I just keep thinking and typing with very little time in between. You can do this, too. If you feel stuck creatively this is a great way to get unstuck. I think it helps you with patience, too. You need to do it every day for 30 days. Recently I started learning Tai Chi from YouTube and I like that. I can see how that will take patience as well.

Patience is something I’ve been thinking about for a while and it’s not easy to learn when you want to go at 100 miles an hour or even 50 or 30! Tai Chi is what may be required to finally get me on a more permanent road to consistent health. I don’t like routine, but I may have to have more of that in my life. So…where to go from here.

I took karate for a little less than a year in high school and the beginning moves of Tai Chi remind me of a kata. Though it looks like all the moves of Tai Chi could be quite long when strung together. I don’t know if the uncomfortableness in my back is from the Tai Chi or something else. Time will tell. Patience.

The idea of Tai Chi is interesting to me – that we can do these basic moves to strenghten our bodies a little at a time and become very, very healthy. I can’t help noticing how many times I’ve written Tai Chi here today and we haven’t even reached the 10 minute mark. If you are wondering if this will get better, I don’t know. I really don’t know what’s going to come out. That’s the way the exercise works. Keep going.

A little over 3 months ago I started reading the 23rd Psalm every day and then I got to the point where I have it memorized. So I now recite it mentally most days. Did you know it takes 45 seconds to read it? 45 seconds a day. By day 66 I had it memorized. I check back occasionally to see that I’ve still got it right. I decided on the NIV version. Don’t know what that is? Google It. Here it is:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You annoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love with follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

45 seconds a day. You can check it. I expect it’s correct. I don’t have time right now as I’m still in the middle of this exercise. I could be talking about The Tubes next or bowling or cookies or just about anything. It is freeing to do this. The important thing is to not judge it and just keep going. I don’t do much editing, except in my head and I do correct most spelling errors if it doesn’t take me too long. No set rules.

The original method involved a paper and pencil and not much else. Blah Blah Blah is ok, too.

I wonder how much we miss because we judge ourselves and others too harshly. People can shut down their creativity because of the judgements they run into.
Let’s not do that.

Today the sermon at SBPC was about the Holy Spirit and how creative He is. I had forgotten some of the passages and perhaps not heard others.
Did you know the biblical account has the Holy Spirit involved in the second sentence of the bible? I guess I knew that, but it had never been pointed out so explicitly before.
Or I hadn’t been paying attention…

So it’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve got a little quiet time with my wife taking a nap and our son gone to a friend’s house. I guess we have to make time in the time we have
available to get done the things we want to get done. That goes for writing just like anything else. Boy, my fingers are really moving along this keyboard. Little did I know
in seventh grade how much these lessons would help. I know many people who have never had typing and do this two fingers at a time. My old supervisor & friends, Dave, is still
a two-finger typer. He goes pretty fast with those fingers. But, this is second nature to me. Did you know that they originally designed the keyboard around human capabilities?
They couldn’t have the expert typists go too fast so they designed the keyboard with that in mind. If you went too fast, those old mechanical hammers(?) would get tangled up with
each other.

When I was in seventh grade I was using an old typewriter at home that did just that. I remember using whiteout and ever before that – special tape you inserted to mostly erase
the letter you just typed and if it got too looking too “corrected”, you had to start the whole thing over. It was amazing when we got an electric typewriter and then an electronic
one. I guess that’s just the way my family was. My mom was using a sewing machine in the 1970s that was foot-powered! She pumped a – can’t think of the word right now – oh, pedal.
She pumped a pedal with her foot and that powered her sewing machine.

My dad loaded his own shotgun shells in the garage with a device you attached to a workbench. It attached with a vise-like apparatus that was part of the machine. You loaded the wadding and the shot into the shell and hand-cranked it shut. He taught my brothers and I to do this and it was fun once you got the hang of it. I didn’t realize until much later that my dad was a semi-survivalist. We didn’t even live out in the country when we did this. My cousin said when she told people about how we butchered a flock of chickens on a weekend, they would inevitably ask her where we grew up. Encinitas, California! (Technically, Leucadia, which is part of Encinitas.) Two miles from the ocean – maybe less.

My mom had sewed all kinds of things for me ever since I could remember. She even sewed me a Spiderman costume when I was about 4 yrs. old. I was not as appreciative as she would
have hoped as it didn’t look like what I saw on the cartoon on TV. I told her maybe I could be Tarzan instead. She was not happy about that and I did go to Halloween as Spiderman.

That was when we lived even closer to the ocean and had no idea how fortunate we were. We could walk to the beach in minutes when I was very small and it’s only in recent years that
I found out that when I was a baby and the years preceding my birth, people believed that living near the ocean was for poor people. I kid you not. Ask someone old enough to know.
Amazing what that judgement cost people. If you had bought a house on the beach in 1962 for say, $30,000 or maybe even less, it would be worth at least $2 million today. That’s in San Diego County, but I’ll bet there are similar stories around the United States.

I guess I’ve reached about the end of my time. Let’s not judge our creativity too harshly. It could cost us dearly. Besides, you can edit it later.
Don’t edit yourself out of your masterpiece!