Monday, May 31, 2010

More Music...It's Too Late

This song has a fairly lame is one of those
songs that don't really have a 'chorus', where there is any
kind of repeating line that you could glean a title from.
It is just a series of verses.

I can't tell you exactly what it is about, but it is not
based on any type of real don't worry...I
have never driven any of my past loves to do anything
drastic! I just thought it had some feeling.

This one is just me, with two acoustic guitars and a bass,
along with some backing vocals and a little piano riff at
the end.

I include the standard disclaimer:

Not professionally recorded, and it might sound better if
you listened with headphones.

Here is the link...if you are so inclined...along with the

It's Too Late

1. And if I close my eyes
I can still see the sun rise
What you've seen and loved, you never forget

And so, when I am old and weak
I'll still see me head against your cheek
And always my sleep will be filled with fret

2. I used to love to watch you sleep
I'd promise our love would always keep
You'd look at me, and foolishly, you'd believe me

But it surely failed, although we tried
And along with you, our good love died
Now I regret that we didn't make up before you left me

3. You know, I keep having these nagging feelings
That it was all my fault that our heartaches' healing
Never took place, and I feel like such a fool

And sometimes, when I am down and low
I almost wish that when you lost control of yourself
That you'd taken me with you

Peace be with you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Eleven

In 1979, I was 23 years old, and working the graveyard shift at
Rainbird Sprinklers.

One of my best buddies, who had already been working at ITT
Cannon Electric for quite some time...(in fact, he still works
there to this day!)...gave me the inside scoop on a job opening
in his department. Could I take the job? I sure could!

I don't remember exactly when in 1979, but I did interview
and get hired. I was working the graveyard shift along with
my buddy Jim. The hours were good...we got a 'shift differential',
which meant we only had to work 7 hours per night. We started
our shift at 12:00 midnight, and got off at 7:00 AM.

ITT Cannon is a pretty big company, they manufacture all sorts
of electronic and hardware components. We worked in the die
cast shop...turning out aluminum electric connectors. It was hot,
dirty, noisy, and potentially dangerous work.

We worked with a machine with two massive dies...two plates
with hollow moldings inside. The plates come together, and you
pour molten aluminum into a piston which then jams the liquid
metal into the mold to form the component. They call this
process injection molding, and it is often done with plastic as well.

We stood all day (or night) next to a large vat of molten had to be around 1200 degrees F to stay liquid.
On top of that, to protect ourselves from the flying bits of
hot metal that would shoot out of the machine, we had to wear
heavy long-sleeved shirts, protective face masks, and thick
asbestos gloves.

To scoop the molten metal, we used regular plain old soup ladles
of various sizes. Reach out, score a spoonful, pour it into a
small slot in a tube, then hit the Big Red Button. A pneumatic
piston would fire, forcing the metal into the molds, at the same
time spraying showers of sparks and hot globules of molten
aluminum upon the unsuspecting workers.

Every few 'shots' we had to lubricate the piston with black grease.
So what you have besides metal rain falling on you is hot black
oil. I still bear a few scars to this day to remind me of this job.

In addition to the heat and the grease and the dirt, there were
very loud fans blowing all the time...not that they did much good
to cool you off. The blowers from the furnaces to keep the metal
hot were even louder than that. We had to wear ear plugs on top
of everything else we had on. I always thought that it was quite
fitting that the address of the place was 666 Dyer Road. It was
just like being in hell.

As tedious and boring as this job was, we did have the occasional
fun...practical jokes including putting various odd things into
your buddy's Ram...the hole where you pour the metal.

If you poured a lot of oil into it, when they made their next
shot, it was pretty cool when black smoke came billowing out of
their machine. Sometimes we put bits of asbestos into it...the
smell was awful. You could drop pieces of smoldering glove in
some hidden part of their work area, and while it smelled bad, it
was not easy to find it.

I heard of some guys putting dead mice in there too, but that
borders on being didn't want that ram to get
stuck on anything when it was slamming the liquid metal through.

There was then a bad recession during the early 80's, and with
the slowdown of business, we began to hear rumors of lay-offs.
My buddy Jim was safe, as he had been there for longer than me.
Sometime during the year 1982, the layoffs finally got to me. I
had set a lifetime record...I had this job for about 3 years!

Peace be with you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Ten

Towards 1978, I left The World's Greatest Toy Store to
work as an insulation installer in new commercial buildings. If
you have ever walked into a large warehouse, factory, or an
'outlet' type of building, and seen the shiny silver strips of
insulation on the ceiling, that is what I was installing.

The insulation came in big rolls, it was a metal foil backing on
heavy cardboard-like paper. It unrolled into strips about 10
feet long and 2 feet wide, and we had to place the insulation
on the ceiling and slap it into place with a staple hammer.

Most of these buildings have a pretty standard pattern of 2 by
4's on the ceiling that are about 2 feet apart, and the
insulation was stapled onto the boards that way. You might be
wondering how we got UP there to do this...since the ceilings
might be anywhere from 15-60 feet up...

We had to build scaffolding...which was actually pretty easy.
Kind of like working with a big erector set, built from the
floor up. Section by section, with wooden planks to walk on.

We were paid pretty well, I believe it was like $8.00 per
bay...a 'bay' was ten strips. So we could hang around 10 bays
per day on a slow day, and make 80 bucks. Of course, we were
not paid at all if we were not hanging insulation...which meant
that if we got to a new job site and had to build the scaffolding,
we weren't making any money until we climbed up there and
started hammering.

The scaffolds were on four wheels...and to move it all from
place to place, which you had to do to keep getting into the new
areas to work, you had to grab onto something on the ceiling,
and use your legs to push the scaffold farther on down the line.
If am explaining this correctly, and you are able to picture this,
you can see that if not done carefully, this could be pretty

If you pushed the scaffold too hard, you ran the risk of it
getting away from you and scooting out from under you, and you
would be left with nothing to stand on.

This never happened to me, but I was on the ground once, and
my co-worker was about 50 feet up pushing his scaffold, when
the wheels got hung up on a piece of wood, and the whole thing
tipped over! Very luckily, there were almost always large metal
pipes in the ceiling you could hang on to, and he was able to grab
one while the scaffold fell, and he was then left dangling 50 feet
in the air, hanging onto the pipe.

Had I not been there to wheel MY scaffold underneath him...or
had he not been near the pipe, this could have ended very badly.

You can imagine how critical it was to have a perfectly clean
floor before starting so the wheels were able to roll freely.
But, all in a day's work, I guess.

I am having a hard time remembering exactly why I left that job.
I know I worked there the entire year of 1977 (a recent record
of only ONE job that year), and even part of 1978! I know the
boss\owner used to do a lot of drinking, and on Friday nights we
had to hang around the office and wait for him to calculate and
issue paychecks...while we put back a few six-packs.

For whatever reason, though, I recall that next I found myself
working in the Rainbird sprinkler factory. I worked the
graveyard shift...overnight, which, was 11:00 PM till 7:00 the
next morning. I drilled holes in the various sprinklers, it was
boring mechanical work.

I didn't mind the shift, I have worked all the shifts in my
life, but I prefer the overnight over the 'swing' shift, which
was late afternoon until around midnight.

I think I worked at Rainbird from sometime in 1978 to 1979.
And after THAT....well, that is for Part Eleven...

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Nine

It was late fall in 1977-I was now 21 years old.
One the one hand, as I think back, I was quite the loser...
Imagine that most of the people who were my age were
probably at least half-way through college, pursuing an
academic career...and here I was working in the stockroom
at Toys R Us.

But I also think that on another level, who am I to question my
economic status in life? I may think that in comparison to the
general population I was several levels below the norm, but I
was eating every day. I wasn't making much money, but I had 3
roomies, and with 4 of us pooling our money, we could pay rent
and utilities.

I have to compare my life with someone who sleeps in a
cardboard box every night, or goes hungry every day. But be that
as it may, if I am going to compare my working career with my
peers, I did consider myself as being inferior...and to a certain
extent I still do today...since, as you will find if you continue to
read my upcoming posts, this pattern of hopping from job to job
has continued all my life. You ain't seen nothin' yet!

But, I digress. The job itself was not bad. I worked weekends
and late hours, it was the busy Christmas season. I worked in
the stock room receiving shipments from the warehouse. We
unloaded the semi's, stacked the merchandise on the second-
level mezzanine, and then assembled many of the floor displays.

We built the bicycles and other odd toys, and then carried them
out to the floor. Occasionally, I was called out to the cash
registers to work checkout when it got real busy, so I got some
of that experience as well.

We had a good time when it was not real busy. The upstairs
mezzanine, as you may know, is normally just a second floor
storage area with a pretty cheap plywood floor. This area was
above the normal sales floor, so if we made a lot of noise while
doing our bicycle races up there, customers shopping on the
sales floor could hear it, and would look up quizzically!

There were also slight gaps in on the floor, which would
translate to a gap in the ceiling for the customers. These gaps
were small enough to not be noticeable, but just wide enough for
us to slip little things through them to annoy the shoppers

I am referring to the thin yellow nylon straps that are used to
tie boxes together on pallets...we would slip them through the
cracks, and the shopper would suddenly see this yellow
snake-looking thing dropping down out of the ceiling above them,
only to be yanked back up again when they tried to investigate.

I then found out from a friend of my dad that there was an
opening in a construction company, and at the beginning of 1978,
I began working as an insulation installer. Part Ten will begin
with this job.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Crashing The Pool

We live in a great neighborhood. It is fairly safe, we have
wonderful neighbors, and we all get along pretty well.
(Of course, while WE don't have a pool, it helps that
several of our neighbors do).

Often, during the summer, we have what we like to call
'Tony Driveway Parties', which means we all get lawn chairs
and our beverages of choice, and then hang out on Tony's
driveway. This is convenient for me, since Tony lives right
next door, and the commute is pretty docile.

(The linked picture above is gleaned from this post about
raking leaves).

Several years ago, a few of us were engaged in one of these
recreational events in Tony's driveway. Earlier in the
day, Robert and Trish from across the street had invited is
to come over and go swimming on July 4, which happened to
be the next day. "Just come on over around 2," they said.

So on the night of July 3rd, as we sat there intelligently
discussing important political events (which people tend to
do when upgrading from Coors Lite to Shiner Bock), and
midnight came and went, we realized it was now July 4.

So around two AM on the Fourth, we decided it was time to
go swimming. After all, the invitation did not specify AM
or PM, so being slightly less than 100% sober, we were free
to interpret the instructions in any manner we saw fit.

I did not instigate this, I am a follower. We could see
that the TV was on inside Robert and Trish's house, so we
knew they were up.

Tony suddenly gets what he believes is a good idea:

Tony & Lisa entering through the gate:

They carefully set down their glass beverage containers far
away from the pool. (I think this is what is meant by
'drinking responsibly'):

Tony jumps in. Funny how he looks like a stick figure even
though he is in mid-air:

Instead, however, they made a phone call, and we had some
other unexpected guests arrive:

Grapevine's Finest come outside, along with Trish and
Robert, and we all have a real good laugh...ha ha ha.
Now, don't you just wish you lived on MY street? You
would be amused and entertained like this every day.

Trish and Lisa are probably discussing how lucky it is that
we were not skinny-dipping.

Anyway, I will have you know, that being the gentlemen that
we are, Tony and I BOTH sent Trish flowers the next day as
an apology.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Music...Life of Luxury

Best buddy Ray is with me on this one.
We tried to make it a sort of 60's style, stealing riffs
from different songs. When you are not a paid professional
or making any money at it, you can do that and not get into
any legal trouble.

Ray is doing the bass and all the electric guitars, and I
am doing the piano, drums, and vocals.

I include the standard disclaimer:

Not professionally recorded, and it might sound better if
you listened with headphones.

The link and the lyrics appear below:

Life of Luxury

I just want to live a life of luxury
Makin' lots of money
And spend it with the time I've got...

1. I've been working hard since I was twelve years old
And I ain't got much to show
I bought a car, a new guitar, a piano
And a place I call my own

It may not sound like much to you
But it means quite a lot to me
I don't want to sound like a greedy boy
But I want to have a spending spree

2. If I only had all the money I need
I wouldn't have to work no more
I could have the time to do as I please
And life wouldn't be such a chore

And if somebody were to say to me
That money can't buy happiness
Well, I wish that he could try me
'Cause the free time it could buy me
Would make my life such bliss

C. Luxury, luxury
I just want to live a life of luxury

Peace be with you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Eight

1977...the year I turned 21.
I was no longer working at McMahan's Furniture, as it turned out
they only needed my help for the busy summer season. So what
was my next step? Hmm...pick up the want ads again...what could
I do?

Ah ha! Here is some help wanted for a carpet cleaner, let's put
that notch into my belt! So in the summer of 1977, I started
working for A-1 Carpet Cleaning.

I was paired with another gentleman who had a Chevy El Camino,
which was perfect for loading the heavy equipment that we had
to haul around. It was daytime work, but also included Saturdays
and Sundays, which made sense since that is when a lot of
people were home to have their carpets cleaned.

Now THIS job was work...many of the homes we went into were
not air conditioned, and we had to move all the furniture before
cleaning, and then move it back again. We used the steam
cleaning process, which I am told is better than shampooing, but
is also sweatier work, due to the hot steam cascading around you
while working.

In S. California, late summer is the hottest time of the year,
and I am not a big fan of doing this kind of work in hot
weather. I think I lost a lot of weight at this job.

I recall that the movie Star Wars had come out that summer, so
I know this had to have been 1977. My carpet cleaning partner
and I were both huge fans. We used to entertain ourselves by
reciting dialogue from the movie. We got a kick out of those
little paper cups they used to have for coffee that say 'Solo'
on them. (Han Solo...get it?).

Fall came, business was slow, no more work. I did a brief stint
as a department store Santa Clause...I think they paid seven
bucks an hour...and did I work for it! It was hot sweaty work...
with all the padding that I had to wear. In addition, the fake
beard plastered to my face was MIGHTY uncomfortable!

Yes, I did have a few little kids with wet pants sitting on my
lap. I had photos taken with some kids that I knew, I wish I
could find those pictures today. I was not able to bear doing this
for more than a few weeks.

With the Christmas season coming on though, I knew there was one
place where I could get work...

Can you say career reversal?

Peace be with you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Seven

My older sister's husband at the time had a delivery job at a
local California furniture outlet, McMahan's Furniture.
We are still in 1976, I had just turned 20, so it must have been
during the summer.

So this past brother-in-law told me that there was an opening
with the company, and he could probably put in a good word for
me. He did warn me that it was hard physical work, we would be
loading furniture for delivery onto a truck, and then going out
and delivering it to customers.

This was to be what I considered my first 'real' job...a
legitimate steady job with a well-known company, making a
decent wage for hard work. It was pretty nice being able to
work with my brother-in-law, he was only a few years older
than myself, and we got along well.

We delivered sofas, beds, various tables, easy chairs and the
like. Once we were finished with all the deliveries, we could
call it a day. When we got back to the warehouse at the end of
the day, we would go over the invoices for the next day and
load everything for that day before going home. That way we
could come in the next morning and relax with coffee and maps
before going out on the route, and not be burned out right at
the beginning of our day.

This was pretty hard physical work, and even though I was a
very young person, on a hot day you could really feel it. I
was able to carry a loveseat all by myself by hoisting it over
my head and balancing it there while walking. Easy chairs, the
same thing. A long sofa did require two of us to carry it.

I remember that a delivery on the ground floor was always easy...
carrying stuff up a flight or two of stairs was real work, as
you can imagine. But it was good work...I was never afraid of
physical labor...unless it was hot.

To pass the time while driving, we would have little contests
where we would have to guess the title of a song on the radio
within the first few seconds of it coming on. In those days,
we listened to KLOS and KMET in LA...and such memories they

And now I notice that I was up to six separate jobs for the year
1976 alone...

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award!

The generous and fantastic Miss Betty M has kindly bestowed a
Versatile Blogger award on me.

The really amazing part is that someone who has over 600
followers, and probably follows hundreds as well not only takes
the time to READ my blog, but actually sends an award.

The rules for "The Versatile Blogger" award are:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.

Thank you, Betty, I don't know how you do it!

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

1. My favorite time of the week is late Friday night
2. My LEAST favorite time of the week is early Monday morning
3. I could happily subsist on a diet of cheese, bread, and wine
4. Eggs prepared in all ways are my very favorite food
5. I love sleeping...I always have cool dreams, and I
6. My favorite type of vacation includes hot sun, blue ocean,
white sand, and beer
7. I often thank God that I was born in THIS country, in THIS
period of time in history.

3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers
recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!

I'll have to be honest...I don't follow a lot of blogs, mostly
because I am fairly new to this, and also because I want to
be able to keep up with my favorite blogs very regularly...
my time is pretty limited, so I don't normally just list
a ton of people that I don't have any intention of reading

But here are a few of my newest favorite people:

Ashley over at
Beyond Passing Time

My buddy Jimmy and his gang at
Jimmy's Opinion

Dr. Susie Q, dentist:
Life According to Dr. Susie Q

Katherine, who is a young and very talented photographer:
Those Blissful Moments

4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know
about the award.

Thanks, and Peace be with you!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More Music...Distorted Images

The lyrics were written by my best friend and co-conspirator
Ray. He says it is about someone that is slowly going crazy
and knows it. I think they really just sound cool and moody,
and don't really have to mean anything.

We then kind of put the music together bit by bit as we were
recording it. It is supposed to have a sort of Moody Blues-
Pink Floyd-weird Beatles backward stuff feel to it.

At the very beginning, you hear what sounds like a deep
Big Ben sort of clanging bell. This is actually the sound
from one of those little alarm clocks with the two tiny bells on
top...with the tape slowed wwwaaaaayyyyy down.
Originally the bell clanged about 12 times...but the song is
long enough as it is, so in this version I chopped it off so
you only hear a few of them before the backwards guitar comes in.


Listen to it when you are not sober, as this is the state
we were in while recording this, if you get my drift.
I think we did this in one night, sometime after midnite.

Ray is playing the electric guitars and bass.
I am playing the piano and drums, and doing the vocals and
engineering all the weird effects.

It's weird, but all just for fun.

Do I still need to remind you that none of this is recorded

The link and the lyrics appear below:

Distorted Images

1. The terror is coming
And you will know when it happens
The terror is coming
And you will not show it
And all others are blinded
But you, who rejoice the new night

2. The terror is coming
And you do not fear
The terror is coming
The end is now in sight

And he has reaped his glory
He has shown his might
But you do not fear
'Cause the end is now in sight

3. The light of the darkness
Burns off the dew in my mind.
The morning of dull insanity
Breaks through the edges of the night

Peace be with you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ian's Monkey Monday Minute!

Like so many have said....this could be any one of our kids...


Questions for Ian's Monkey
Monday Minute!

Have you ever peed in the shower/bath/pool?
Bath, never.
Shower...have done it, but I aim straight for the drain.

What is your biggest pet peeve?
People on the freeway driving 10 MPH below the speed
limit when there is no traffic, and no reason for them to
be so slow.

What's the story behind your blog title?
I guess because what fun I have in life is just a shadow
of things to come.

What is your definition of success?
As Bob Dylan said:
"A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to
bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do."

If you were famous, what would you want to be famous for?
Being a good husband and father.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Six

It was still 1976, and I landed a job with the Atlas Fire
Extinguisher Company. I needed to take a swift training course,
and then was required to take a test in order to get licensed.

It actually was not an unpleasant job...I got to drive a company
van, and it was out-fitted with lots of cool mechanical
equipment. I was also pretty much left on my own, so I didn't
have any bosses breathing down my neck.

It was the first of many jobs I had where driving was involved.
Whether it was servicing something, selling something, or
delivering something, I was to have lots of jobs that entailed
being a driver.

This job with Atlas was a semi-sales job, in that I would show
up at the office every morning, and they would hand me a stack
old invoices for various business around LA County. Technically,
these business were required by law to have their fire
extinguishers checked, tested, and re-filled every year, but the
sales part of the job was actually getting them to do it.

So I would just drive around and talk to the managers or people
in charge of each business, and try to get them to spend the 20
bucks to have their units tested.

It was fun when I got to do the CO2 units, because they had to
be completely discharged. Those are the ones with the big
funnels on them:

And when you fire them off, you get this huge foggy cloud that
fills the entire parking lot with cool smoky-looking gas. Ah
yes, very cool.

Occasionally I would make a sale as well, and I would get a
pretty good commission from this. It was also nights and
weekends off. I think, had the owner of the company not
absconded with the profits, thus shutting down the company,
I would have stayed there for a while. But it was not to be...
I found myself unemployed.

Peace be with you.

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Five

The year was 1976. I had lost my potential career job at
Rockwell. Time to search for something else.

The only way I knew to look for a job was the want ads in the
newspapers. And pretty much the only jobs that you could get
without being actually experienced in anything was a sales job.

So, off I go getting interviews. They always tease you with
lines about 'Management Opportunity' in the ads, making you
thing it is some high-class operation. But all it really means
is that you could possibly be such a great salesperson that you
could some day open your own office.

Sales is a tough row to hoe. They have all these motivational
meetings in the morning, telling you great you are, and how much
money you can make. The money part is true...if you are a good
enough salesperson, you can make a ton of money regardless of
what you are selling.

Most of these sales jobs blend into one long nightmare for
me...I know there was one where I was trying to sell food
packages to homeowners. These things are around today even,
where you buy massive amounts of bulk food, and it gets
delivered right to your door.

I hardly sold any of these during the months I worked for them,
but as I recall, the commission for one sale was several hundred
dollars, so I think I did all right. But it was not my bag.

I found another sales gig soon after where I was going to sell
cassette decks door to door. Keep in mind that in 1976, a cool
high-tech cassette player was a pretty big-ticket item. 8-track
tapes were going out of style, and cassette was the next big
thing technology-wise.

This was a hard-sell job, I don't recall that I sold anything.
Time to move on, I next secured a job servicing Fire
Extinguishers...I was already beginning to see how my life was
going to go! Part 6 will outline this job.

Until then, peace be with you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Random Wednesday

Am I the only one who thinks that the 'Burger King Guy'
is creepy?

Am I the only one who 'rotates' toilet paper like you do
with food? (You know, how you put the oldest stuff in front,
and the new stuff in the back).

I doubt if toilet paper 'goes bad', or becomes un-usable
over a period of time. In fact, toilet paper is one of the
few commodities that doesn't 'go bad' UNTIL it is used...
As many are aware, IHOP (which is pretty much my favorite
place to go for breakfast) often has discounts for Senior
Citizens, which for them is age 55 and older. For me, that
will be in slightly over one more year. Yes, I can dig it,
who doesn't like discounts:

But I do find it somewhat amusing that when I was 21 I got
carded to buy beer, and now I will be carded to buy

Peace be with you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

More Music...Follow Me

The lyrics are not really anything special, but I wanted
to toss this out there as it was one of my early attempts
to create a song in stereo. However, the stereo won't be
readily apparent unless you listen with headphones...the
way all music should be heard anyway, in my opinion.

It is me playing everything this time.

I include the standard disclaimer:

Not professionally recorded, and it might sound better if
you listened with headphones.

The link and the lyrics appear below:

Follow Me

1. I've had it with these ups and downs
With these grins and frowns
And these run-arounds

I'm going where it is always fine
Where she's always mine
And the bestest wine

C. Follow me, go ahead
Fail, you won't, it's in your head
Make yourself do all you can
Let yourself be who you are

2. Don't quit tryin' 'till your all done dying'
Pay yourself respect
And do what you must

I don't know no, 'cause it's not a word
No is not a word that I have heard


Peace be with you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Old Grapevine Railyard

I really love living in my quiet little town. It is more urban
than I would prefer, and I won't be living here forever, but it is
not a bad place to be. We have a quaint old downtown, with lots
of photo ops.

So on a clear sunny day last spring, I went to our old...but
still active...railyard. I love old trains, they make such
great subjects to photograph.

I wish I could get inside this old caboose, but it is locked:

The old Grapevine mill across from the tracks:

An old locomotive inside the roundhouse, which I was allowed to
enter to take these pictures:

A not-quite-so-old locomotive that is no longer being used:

And a more modern diesel loco that does most of the work:

I don't believe this old tanker is used anymore:

And this is a real working turntable that was built in 1927:

Thanks for taking the time to look!

Peace be with you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Digital Art...Scenic Places

All right, it is the weekend, and I was browsing a few
more of the digital art creations I have muddled with
over the years. I don't have a lot of time to do this
anymore, but once in a while I will complete a project
I have been working on.

These are a few from what I call The Scenic Collection.

This one is kind of like the place I imagine myself living
in someday...a quaint little house right next to a lake,
and my own little garden in the back.
(Don't forget to click it to enlarge).

A deserted beach, and a very gloomy forest:

A road that leads to some kind of cool city, and a log cabin:

Finally, this is supposed to be a prehistoric scene. This
one took a lot of work, because I tried to make it into a
panoramic. You can't really tell here, because when you
upload these pictures to blogspot, it seems to reduce the
resolution quite a bit. The original is a huge file, if I
printed it out, it would probably be on a banner that was
about 2 feet wide:

To get a better idea, this image is an original-size crop
from the left side of the image where the smoke from the
fire is:

And finally, if you happened to have a pair of those funky
red-blue 3-D glasses laying around, you could see what I
attempted to create as 3-D. The image took almost 24 hours
to render when I was done:

Peace be with you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Four

I was 19 in 1976, and sometime during that year, I decided it
was time to leave my manufacturing job and try to get something
more permanent. The details are pretty fuzzy, because we are
talking around 34 years ago, and frankly, the succession of my
jobs over my life is a blur.

But somehow, I was able to land a job with Rockwell, which if I
had stuck with, could have ended up for me a real career!

I seem to recall that I was on some sort of assembly line,
soldering parts for circuit boards. I had never done this sort of
work before, but with a little training it was not hard to
master it.

I am just realizing at this moment that this is the first time I
have even thought about this job in more years than I can I am trying to recall the many
decades ago, it is hard. Thank you Blogspot for making me do
this, another great reason to blog, whether I get any readers or
comments or not!

So, here are my thoughts on this job:

1. I remember it was boring, and I did not like doing it.
2. I don't recall how long I had this job, but it was not very
long, no more than a few months at the most.
3. I also don't recall if I quit, or was fired due to any
performance issues.

The more I think about this, the more I can kick I
was, a young kid not quite 20 years old, getting into a solid
company on the ground floor. I now realize that whatever this
boring assembly job was, I could have applied myself, gotten
some kind of education related to that field, and probably would
have moved up pretty quickly. This memory, and what could
have been is quite painful to me now!

Wait till you see Part Five, and the downturn my working life
took as a result of me somehow throwing away this great

The expression 'If I had known then what I know now' has never
applied to anyone more than it does to me right now.

And you know, I try to tell this to The Daughter...just like my
dad tried to tell me when I was a kid. And I just didn't listen.
The Daughter doesn't listen either, nor can I expect her to.

It just pains me that that if I can't get through to her, and
she ends up with a miserable working life, there is nothing I
can do about it.

Now, being born in 1956, I had just barely missed the draft, but
I did almost enlist in the Navy several times. Perhaps that is
something I should have done, who knows where that may have
led me?

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Shopping with The Daughter

Last week I was assigned the task of taking The Daughter
shopping to get some new clothes. I am usually not the preferred
parent to undertake clothes shopping expeditions, but it needed
to be done, and my bride was already engaged in some other
endeavor, so I guess I got lucky.

However, since we were going to do this at Target, one of our
favorite places to shop, I didn't mind it too much. At least
there would be lots of things I could browse for while she was
shopping, I didn't expect to be too bored.

We arrived at our destination (which, lucky for us, is only a
few blocks away), and we proceeded to shop. First, I had to
make sure her cell phone was charged, as she would be calling
me when it was time for me to fulfill my part of the arrangement
(pay for her stuff).

The Daughter: OK, I'll be a while, I have to find some white
shorts with an awesome belt, and try stuff on. You go in the car
and wait. I will call you when I am done.
Me: Why can't I just walk around the store and look at stuff I
The Daughter: No, because you will embarrass me.
Me: How can I embarrass you if I am not around you?
The Daughter: Because there are lots of people that I know that
come into this store, and I don't want them to see you.
Me: Tell you what, I will just wait right over there...
(referring to the cool benches they have at Target by the
changing rooms.)

Being a camera hound, I had to take some shots of them, as
they are so abstract:

After assuring her I will not be seen, I leave to browse the
store. I spend some time looking at the TV's and electronic
stuff. They have DVD players, burners, and printers. They have
2 Gig USB drives for 30 bucks! I first got a 250 Meg thumb
drive several years ago for $70.00!! They also have blank DVD's.
I could probably pick up a few of those.

Why is it that even if you already HAVE a DVD burner or a TV,
you still like to look at the ones at the store? The one thing
that Target does not carry is computers. I wish they did.

*****A Slight Digression*****

During the Halloween and Christmas seasons, when The
Daughter was pre-teen and sweet, we used to go around
and turn on all the noisy decoration displays. You know
how they have, for example, the motorized coffins, and
when you press the button all the lights and noise come
on? Or if it was Christmas, you turn on all the noisy
Christmas displays that play music.

I like when the seasons overlap, so we would run through all the
aisles and hit all the buttons to turn everything on. We would
then dash away, listening to an animatronic cacophony of music,
jangling bells, groaning zombies, and Ho Ho Ho's from Santa,
all blaring out from the aisles. We used to have such fun

She used to be my little buddy. We would tell everyone that
I was Big Fart, and she was my sidekick, Little Toot. If I
mentioned that today, she would think it was dumb.


Next I went over to look at office supplies. I don't know why I
like to browse the office supplies area. I could go to Staples
and look around all day. It's not that I need any more binders,
folders, pens, or tape.

I wander back to The Daughter to see how she is making out.
She is trying on sunglasses. That was not on the itinerary.

She tells me she is trying to find a pair of white shorts
with an awesome belt. "Why don't you just ask someone?"
I ask her. She gives me a look of puzzlement. I look around
and find one of the Red Shirts that work there.

I ask her, "Excuse me, but do you guys have any white shorts
with an awesome belt?"

"Padre!" The Daughter exclaims. (You may recall that she is
still in the phase where she calls us Madre and Padre). "I told
you to go wait in the car!"

I find my way over to the garden center. I could probably hang
out here for a while. I find a nice quiet oasis where I can lay
down and maybe rest for a bit:

Just as I start getting sleepy, my cell phone rings. The
Daughter is ready for me now. I perform my fatherly duty of
paying for her purchases.

Now she must endure the ride home with me...she will be forced
to be in my presence during the five minute drive home.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

More Music...Ramblin' Guy

I guess I am feeling rather bold these days, so I am going
to try to put another one of my tunes out there.

My long-time friend since around second grade, Ray often
played with me on many of these songs. In this one, he is
playing the lead guitar riff and the bass, while I am doing
the rhythm guitar, drums, and vocals.

We actually performed this song live once in a coffee shop
in Orange County, California, and some people actually kind
of liked it!

I include the standard disclaimer:

Not professionally recorded, and it might sound better if
you listened with headphones.

The Link appears below, as well as the lyrics:

Ramblin' Guy

1. Well, I packed my bags for a trip up North
To see one half of this state
If I get to where I'm goin', then my glee will be a-flowin'
'Cause I know I won't have to wait

2. Well, the train is late, and the plane is great
And the crowds don't turn me on
And the car abounds with all kinds of sounds
And the taxi's just leadin' me on

C. 'Cause I'm travelin' 'cross the USA
Can't get enough of this land I say
Ramblin' through the States by land and sea
I can't get enough, and I can't let it be

3. Well, I stepped aboard a 747
'Cause the driver got me there before
The people looked at me, and I could see
That I better not close that door

4. If we crash, dive, burn, or go down too fast
Then that'll be the end of this flight
And no one will be there to really give a care
And that'll be the cause of my plight


Peace be with you.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Three

In 1974, I was in kind of a bind.
I had just graduated high school, and my secure place of
employment for the past six years was no more. It was time to
grow up and make some decisions.

I had been an animal lover ever since I was a kid, so I always
assumed that I would end up being a veterinarian. The problem
with this was, I had never really excelled in school. I was a C
average, and the subject of math...which was never my strong one of the most important things you had to take to
go into any kind of doctorate field.

I was not able to find anything else interesting to me, and then
there was the subject of how to pay for college even if I wanted
to go. I wasn't going to get any scholarships with a 2.8 grade
point average. It was becoming obvious that I wasn't

In retrospect, I probably would have been happier as some kind
of field naturalist, where I could combine my love of nature and
outdoors with my interest in wildlife and biology. Had I
realized then that my life would have ended up as a series of
low-paying, boring, and insecure jobs, you can bet I would have
done a lot better in school.

It turned out, in my senior year of high school, that the father
of one of my best friends...who had his own car wash
business...needed some extra help on weekends. Since I knew
that my current place of employment was about to end, and my
friend also worked there, I jumped at the chance.

It was not unpleasant work, being at the end of the line and
drying the cars as they came off the line, and on top of the
normal pay we would get tips from the customers. It was
actually quite enjoyable when the weather was nice.

Cars were not very high tech in 1974, so the good thing about
working in the car wash was that we could sample first-hand
the newest cars (and the oldest ones too), and see how well
they hold up.

We got to drive them all...(if only the 50 feet or so from the
end of the tunnel where they come out, and over to the drying
area)...and for that brief drive I could determine if the car
was comfortable or not.

This gig lasted about a year, and since I was now out of high
school, and not going to college, it was time to find full-time
work. I managed to find a job in a little manufacturing plant
not far from my house that fabricated decorative molding for
the walls of motor homes. I was making $3.65 per hour, the
most money I had ever made yet!

It was a steady 40 hour per week job, my first real job.
Now, a majority of the time I worked the night shift, and
often on Saturdays as well. Little did I realize at the time
that this was going to be a trend for me...about half of the
jobs I have had in my life involved working nights, week-ends,
and holidays.

I have worked so many Christmases in my day that it no
longer seems 'odd'. Which is a shame. It takes away the
'specialness' of the day once you get too accustomed to it.
At my present job, I no longer have to do this. It sure feels
good to actually have a day off on Christmas these days!

Peace be with you.