Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Music...Moonlight

I like the instrumentation in this song, I just wish it
could be performed by someone who could actually stay
on key when they sing!

This one is just me.

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:


1. The moon was full
The sky was soft and lovely
The air was pure
My soul at ease

I settled down
And felt the wind caress me
I closed my eyes
The night was bright

C. Hard to have an evil thought
When quiet night is what I've got
Taking what is here to take
The insects buzzed as I drank

The silent kiss of nature's light
The silver beams that pierce the night
The perfect calm that feels so right
The silent breeze that cools the night

2. A falling star
The lure of insects singing
A midnight storm
A distant rain

I track the moon
The clouds are shadow dancing
Warm summer night
A cooling breeze



Peace be with you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Nineteen

I started working for Simon-Levi Liquor Distributors in late
1986, the year I turned 30. I became aware of this job because
they had supplied my dad when he was in the restaurant
business all those years ago. I had filled out an application, and
had been hoping to hear from them for some time.

I was a liquor salesman\merchandiser. It wasn't hard sell at all,
I serviced existing accounts at bars, restaurants, liquor stores,
and even in supermarkets (in Southern California, most of the
supermarkets sell hard liquor...not just beer and wine).

Restaurants and bars were pretty easy, normally I would arrive
at each account on the same day of the week at about the same
time, and they would be expecting me, and have the order all
ready to take.

At the markets and liquor stores, it was a little more work, as
I had to try to promote special brands, and try to 'bump' up
their order. But after some of the cold-call, hard-sell
commission-only jobs I had done, it was a relief to be doing

And the best part was, I didn't have to handle the merchandise.
I took the orders, and the liquor was delivered at a later date.
Sometimes at a supermarket if it was a really big order, I would
help them set up a display. You may have seen those big fancy
stacks they build at markets, where they promote the Super Bowl,
or NASCAR, with bottles of beer or liquor all artfully arranged
in boxes. But that was it.

All in all, this was a great job, the pay was fair if not
outstanding, and I was pretty happy doing it. For the first time
in my life, I had a job that did not give me nausea when I thought
about having to go to work! This was the first time I had ever
had a job that made me feel like a real human being...where
when you are meeting someone new, and they ask you what you
do for a living, I did not have to evade the subject.

In fact, I still had this job in early 1988 when I first met
my future bride. Of course, now that I know my bride so well,
I can understand that she is not so shallow that what I did
for a living would affect her feelings for me, but it sure
didn't hurt that I had held the same job for two years!

So in the summer of 1988, we got married, I turned 32 a few
days later, and as we settled down to live in her apartment
in Santa Monica, I began to hear the hellish rumors of a
layoff due to the company going out of business!

Apparently, we were losing lots of our name-brand liquors to
the competition. For example, while we used to handle Bacardi
Rum, Chivas Regal Scotch, and Korbel Champagne, we were
now being relegated to brands like Sheep's Head Scotch...

After the layoff, I was hired briefly with another distributor
outfit called Bohemian, but they dealt only in wine. I was
not as happy there, and just before we moved to the high
desert in Palmdale, California, we learned from my
mother-in-law that the company she worked for was hiring.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mid-term at The Daughter's Camp

The Daughter will be at summer camp for a total of five
weeks this year. She has already completed the first two,
and last week, they had a break before the next three
week session where the parents get to go back out there and

So we drove the 300-odd miles back down to Kerrville to
check up on her. It is about a five hour drive, so we left
on a Thursday afternoon after work, and stopped overnight
in Marble Falls, Texas, rather than making the complete
drive all at once.

(We only had about another 2 hours to go to get to Kerrville,
but we are not allowed to enter the camp until after 12
noon on Friday, so we took our time).

The weather down here in the 'Hill Country' of Texas seems
a whole lot better than it does at DFW. Down here, it was
about ten degrees cooler (only the low 90's), less humid,
and we a pretty nice breeze as well.

These are a couple views of the lake inlet next to the
Hampton Inn, where we stayed:

On Friday morning, there were lots of Turkey Vultures
flying in low circles over us, waiting for the air to get
warm enough to lift them high:

We stopped in Fredericksburg and walked around. This
was a classic old truck that seemed to stop for me just so
I could take a picture:

These are some pictures of a gorgeous Japanese garden next
to the old Nimitz Hotel:

We finally got to camp on Friday afternoon. My bride and The
Daughter went off by themselves, so I snuck away to take
some more pictures:

Water skiing is one of The Daughter's favorite activities:

Finally, we were allowed to extract her from camp
overnight, and then bring her back on Sunday for the
three-week term. I found this beautiful classic Chevy in
the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel:

We get to drive out there one more time on July 10 to pick
her up, and bring her back home.

Peace be with you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Eighteen

It was early in 1986, and being pretty new in town, and not
having a stellar work history, I needed to get a job quickly.
I applied as a car salesman, even though I had no experience
doing this. They took me on anyway.

I worked for a Toyota dealer, and our job was to hang around
'The Point'...a small concrete walkway where customers would
first arrive when heading towards the new car lot.

The job was commission-only, and with several of us salesmen
working at the same time, we would take turns approaching

My job was not so much selling, negotiating, or closing as it
was just getting the customer interested enough to go inside,
sit down with a closer, and talk about it. I was the one who
got to take them out on test drives, demonstrate the car, and
find out what their interest level was.

Once I got them to go inside the dealership and talk with a
manager, my part was done...and that was fine with me. I had
done enough sales so far to know that I really wasn't in the
mood to try to talk them into a sale or discuss pricing.

Once the deal was closed, I did get my little commission for
getting things started, I think it was about seventy-five
dollars to me if it turned into a sale. That wasn't really too
bad of a deal, I was able to get a few turns done per week,
the people I worked with were all pretty cool, and I didn't
have to do any hard labor for a change.

I did find out a few things about car dealerships, though.
Amazingly, I learned that they really don't make that much
profit on a new car...whatever they have on the sticker is
what you are going to pay, even with that sticker price, the
profit they make on the car after buying it from the factory
is only a few hundred dollars. That's not a lot of profit when
you are talking about a price tag of 20-40 thousand dollars.

They don't go inside the dealership and start haggling about
the price of the car...what they are discussing is financing.
As you probably know if you have ever bought a car from a
dealer, they are going to make their money on interest, length
of loan, and whatever kind of 'extras' and maintenance
contracts they can load onto the deal.

If I had stuck with the dealer, I could have eventually become
one of these pro 'closers' and made the real money...but I had
no desire to do that, nor did I agree with the morality of it.

So when one of my past buyers offered me a job with his
company as a Real Estate Appraiser, I accepted the offer. It
was normal daytime work, weekends off, and since I had a little
bit of real estate knowledge, I figured this would help me.

After I quit the car salesman job, I found out that this person
had only just started his company, and was still building it up.
He wasn't really in a position to pay anything as yet.
(I guess I should have discussed all this before I jumped in,
but the guy was pretty persuasive with what he promised me).

But it all worked out in the end, because there was a liquor
distribution company I had been trying to get into for some
time, and one day, out of the blue, I finally got a call from

So near the end of 1986, at the age of 30, I secured what was
going to be for me one of the best jobs I have ever had!

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Random Wednesday

I hate going outside to get the mail every day.
It's not GETTING the mail that I don't enjoy, but
the mail itself.

The only mail we get is going to be either bills or
junk mail (except for the odd birthday card, Christmas
cards, etc).

I agree with Harry Potter's nasty little uncle...
"Sunday is great because there is NO POST!"
I would just as soon never get any mail at all.
One of the most distasteful chores that I have to do at
home is taking out the trash. Now mind you, it is not
the physical act of emptying the trash can in the kitchen,
nor do I have to be prodded to always 'take out the trash'
like you always hear about.

No, what I hate is the fact that this house of mine
generates so much trash! The part that bugs me is having
to grab a trash bag, run upstairs, empty all the trash
cans up there and then shag it all back downstairs again.

I cannot for the life of me understand how the trashcan
in our bathroom, The Daughter's bathroom, and the upstairs
office can fill up with so much garbage in just a few days.

It is not me that dumps stuff in them...the things I do
don't create any trash. I throw away an empty toothpaste
tube every so often, or maybe a razor blade.

But sure enough, if I look, there is discarded printer
paper, cellophane wrappers, clothes hangers, clumps of
hair pulled off hairbrushes...(not from MY head, I can
assure you!).

Peace be with you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Did God Create Evolution?

One thing that is interesting to me about God is why He
bothered to create the fantastic diversity of life on this
world. I believe that the plants and animals that exist
today are mainly for our benefit, not only for the pure
enjoyment they give to nature buffs like myself, but also
for us to use as tools, hides, food, work animals, and

Let me also state that it is my own personal belief that
there is no logical reason to separate evolution from
religion...whether living plants and animals evolved from
one thing or another, or whether they were just 'zapped'
into existence as they were, it still all came from God.

This is not meant to be a dissertation on whether or not Man
descended from the apes, or who Adam and Eve were. Even
though I talk a lot about God and religion, I am not trying
debate creation versus evolution, or whether humans were
created instantaneously or through a slow evolution.

All I am saying here is that evolution appears to be a
beautiful and experimental thing, and for it to happen at
all, it would need the powerful hand of God to control it.

The fossil records that we find often indicate that a life
form has just 'popped' into existence. In fact, even the
verbiage they use in the scientific articles...such and such
animal 'appeared' late in the Jurassic age, and then
'suddenly disappeared'...is telling. The remains that are
found often imply sudden appearance and disappearance of life
forms, with no 'missing links'.

I think I believe more in the 'Macro Evolution' theory...
in which species generally appear to have been created
spontaneously...but undergo smaller changes in their
physiology over a period of time in response to external
environmental factors.

For example, many bark moths of North America have always
been a very light color, which matched the color of the
bark of the trees they land on. Many of these trees in the
Northeast have, unfortunately due to pollution, darkened in
color, causing the light-colored moths to stand out easily,
and making them vulnerable to predators.

Small mutations have occurred where they have darkened their
color, which enables them to blend in to the discolored
trees more easily.

Okay, so why the vast diversity of life on our planet that
has taken billions of years to evolve? Since most of the
living things that have ever existed are now extinct, what's
the purpose of it all?
Why did God create the dinosaurs?

Quite simply, because He can! Remember, we are created in
God's image, which means we are like Him. And what do we
do? We try to create beautiful things...art, movies, music,
We do it because we can, and we are using the small bits of
intelligence and talent that we have inherited from God.

He creates beauty to please Himself...and others...just as
we do...and to give us an insight into what the Nature of
God is like.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Seventeen

Near the end of 1985, after having crashed and burned from
spending all summer working every day in a high-pressure
direct sales job, I found myself in need of another job.

If it hadn't been for me blogging, I never would have tried
to research and remember all of these. And some of the specifics
may not be 100% accurate, such as the exact years that I
had these jobs, but mostly I remember them because I can
recall what movies or songs were out when I held a particular
job, and that always jars the memory.

It is not actually WORKING that I dislike, but the fact that
you HAVE to work, if that makes any sense. Going to work may
be a necessity, but the part that really stresses me is thinking
that I MUST NOT LOSE this job, or I will not easily find
another one.

So when I finally retire, I will sit back, relax, and think
to myself that I don't have to freaking WORRY about trying
to get another job!

Anyway, to continue...the rest of 1985 was a whirlwind of temp
jobs secured through a job placement service. I worked in
various warehouse and light manufacturing jobs, random jobs
involving physical labor, and delivering pre-made sandwiches
to liquor stores.

Also, thanks to my dad teaching me things when I was a kid, I
was able to pick up some various jobs doing carpentry, painting,
and even some wallpaper-hanging.

I did a few sessions for some talented musician friends of mine
in a recording studio, and that made me a few bucks as well.

I then latched on to a more steady type of job in a factory
that manufactured glass lenses. This was decent, low-stress
work during a normal day shift, and I existed right through
the end of the year doing that.

I recall I must have still had this job at the end of 1985,
because they actually passed out hundred-dollar bills to all
the employees for a Christmas bonus! Not only was that very
welcome for me, but it was pretty unusual for a company to do
that for the 'flunky' employees...at least, that has always
been the case in my experience.

However, this job still did not pay very much, and I was not
going to be able to afford to stay in my Orange County apartment
any longer...in fact, I was not going to be able to stay in
Orange County at all. I ended up moving back into the San Gabriel
Valley where I had grown up. Got myself a cheaper little
apartment, and that wasn't too bad, since I knew more people there.

But again, I needed to find a job...

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Sixteen

At the beginning of 1985, I answered an ad in the newspaper
for a position in 'direct sales of steak and seafood products
to the general public'. It sounded intriguing, so I decided
to take a look at it.

We were to load up a van with steak, bacon, and seafood, and
take to the road and try to find random people to buy it from
us. The meat was stored in a large freezer that was inside
the van.

This was to be one of most stressful, challenging, and interesting
jobs I have ever done. There was the potential to make quite
a bit of money, but to do so you had to be 'on' all the time,
much like other sales jobs.

You may have been 'pitched' a sale like this yourself. We took
the van out to residential neighborhoods, and basically just
asked everyone we saw if they wanted to buy some steak. Now,
like most sales jobs, there was a gimmick...you had to make up
some kind of story that explains why you are selling it this way,
and convince them that normally you sell from a regular store.

Sometimes I went out on my own, and sometimes we went out in
pairs. We would cruise slowly up and down residential streets,
and every person we saw, whether they were walking the dog,
going out to the mailbox, or watering the lawn...we were required
to yell out to them..."Hey, you want some steak? Do you like

Mostly they would say No, not interested, or ignore you, flip you
off, or politely decline. Once in a while they would allow you to
stop, open up the freezer, and show them the wares.

Now, our stuff WAS quality stuff, it came from a reputable packing
house, and although it was not really very cheap, it was good
quality. The biggest problem was how to go about this without
appearing to be a stalker\burglar\shady character\ etc.
I am very surprised that as long as I did this...almost a whole
year...I never had the cops called on me.

How much did we make? I remember I worked every single day
during the summer of 1985, seven days a week, and I had to in
order to play the odds. Some days I made almost nothing, some
days I made a hundred bucks, in very rare good luck days, I would
make a lot more. Over-all, though, it turned out that I made a
wage good enough to pay my rent, eat pretty well, and buy gasoline.

Between about May-August 1985, I didn't take a single day off...
not Saturday, not Sunday, nothing.

Now, the problem with this was, we quickly ran out of 'fresh'
territory. There were a small fleet of vans operating out of
the main office, and we initially all tried to work close to home...
Orange County, California. This stopped working once all our
potential customers had already seen all of us before. I was one
of the first ones to break out and expand my horizons.

During that long summer, I drove all over Southern California,
and when I was by myself, I always had my camera with me.

Here I am at age 29, in front of my van, and inside the freezer:

And HERE are some of the areas I worked, chasing a dollar:

A street in Beverly Hills, and a very nice home in Burbank:

Interesting trees in Culver City (West LA):

By the Santa Monica airport...how can one 'fly quietly'?

This is Lakewood. I know the picture is very blurry, but
I like it because it shows the massive trees lining the street,
forming a soft cool tunnel. Lakewood was one of my very
favorite areas to work, because there were line after line of
long parallel streets with this inviting greenery. You could
easily spend a whole day here, driving up one street, and then
down the next one. The people that lived here were very nice.

If I was having a good day and sold out, I would knock off early,
and then just drive around taking pictures. This is Dana Point:

Mission Viejo was not conducive to selling meat, but I still
took some photos:

This is Redondo Beach:

As you can imagine, after doing this all summer, and exhausting
all the areas I was willing to drive to, I began to burn out.
Finally, towards the end of summer, when they sent me out with
another individual, if we had a bad morning, we would both end
up at bars and billiard halls drinking and shooting pool.

I had a good run, a very hard but interesting summer, but it was
time to end it. As I sit here today thinking about all this, I
can't believe I went through that. No way could I imagine doing
that kind of work today, but, you know, that was 25 years ago...

Peace be with you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More Music...Hold Me

This was written during a period when my bride was doing
a lot of traveling for work. The bachelor life is fine for
a day or two once in a while, but not on an on-going basis.

Lucky for me, she doesn't really do much traveling
any more.

This is just me by myself.

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:

Hold Me

1. Can't wait until it's dark, my baby
To tell you how much I love you
You sprinkle my life with your spice

My heart is quaking when I'm near you
Can't shake away this feeling for you
You're my gift, you are my wife

2. Don't like it when you travel, baby
But I know at times you have to
But it makes this house get so big

I can't take it like I used to
All alone before I knew you
And now you're here, and I'm okay

C. You put me to bed, and all night you hold me
My cares fall down when you hold me
We fluff the bed, and trap us within it
And I hold you, and then you hold me

3. And now I want to make you happy
Do for you whatever you want to
If I make you smile, then I'm okay

And if you want, I can love you
Holding you, it can't get better
And now you're here, and I'm okay



Peace be with you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Fifteen

I worked as a roofer starting in late 1984, slopping hot tar
on roofs of commercial buildings, or doing small leak repairs
with just a smaller amount of a cold tarry substance called
'mastic'. You might think that this kind of work paid a lot
of money, but it really didn't. It was seasonal, with lots
of slow times, and when it rained, we could not work at all.

(It really doesn't rain much in California, but like the old
song says...when it DOES rain, it rains a lot).

Early in 1985, while I was still technically 'working' for
the roofing company, I really wasn't, as they began to find
enough work for me less often.

I finally took a job as a medical courier, where I was to
deliver audio recordings of medical procedures to different
offices of people who would then transcribe them. This work
was more steady, but it was also sedentary, as I was doing
nothing but driving all day. I had to use my own car, but
since they paid for all the gasoline, it was worth it to me.

I was driving a pretty nice 10-year-old Buick LeSabre...which,
by the way I had purchased because the real estate people
told me I had to get so I could have a comfortable car to
drive people around in when showing houses.

It did not get very good mileage, but gas was a lot cheaper
then, and they were paying for it. Still, I was burning a tank
of gas per day. I soon got VERY tired of driving. And even though
I really never had much luck in any of the sales jobs I had
tried, I decided to give it another try...I was now going to
be a MEAT salesmen!

Peace be with you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Fourteen

I turned 28 in 1984, and had been working in the produce
warehouse for more than a year, getting caught up with my
finances quite nicely.

I had my real estate license, and was working out of a local
Century 21 office during the daytime, while still working my
'real' job at night. But this was not going to be easy...

They assigned me a territory...known as my 'farm' that I could
work, and try to get people to put their houses up for sale.

My farm was in the city of Fountain Valley within the borders
of Beach Blvd to the west, Magnolia to the east, Talbert to the
north, and Ellis to the south. It was a really great area, only
a few miles from the ocean, and upper-middle class housing.

It was pavement-pounding...knock on every door in the
neighborhood, try to get someone to answer, and just let them
know you are available in case they had a need to buy or sell
their house.

I began to get a little deflated when I realized that to really
make this a career, you have to accept that you are going to
spend a few years getting people acquainted with you...you
have to become familiar with them, and they have to get
comfortable with you.

So I was working my night job, walking the streets during the
daytime, and doing open houses on Saturdays and Sundays. And
soon I began to get some not so nice letters that I was infringing
on someone else's territory...stepping on the toes of another
real estate agent that had probably been working this farm for
a few years.

Now, nobody legally 'owns' a territory, they had no legal right
to prohibit me from trying to work it, but I had to admit that
I could see why someone would be upset. Not that I would have
handled things this way if the situation were reversed, I
guess I don't have the moral 'guts' to behave this way towards
someone else.

And then, just as I suspected would happen, Smith's Food King
closed their last store, and I no longer had my 'real' job. When
I lucked into finding an opening at another construction company,
I really had no choice but to take it if I intended to continue
eating. And it was to be a day shift job, so in the fall of 1984,
I got a job as a roofer. Obviously, I never did sell a house.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dropping off The Daughter at Summer Camp

So last Sunday we made the drive down to Kerrville, Texas
to bring The Daughter to summer camp. Last year she went
for 3 weeks, and that was not long enough, she did not want
to come home. So this year, she will be gone for FIVE weeks.

Since she will no longer pose willingly for photographs any
more, the only way to get a pic of her is to try to 'sneak'
one in. She was riding in the front seat during the drive,
and I sat in the back seat. I was able to steal this photo
of her reflection in the side-view mirror.

It looks funky because not only is it just a reflection of
her, you can also see the air-conditioning vent reflected
as well, causing the odd background:

I guess this part of Texas is called the 'Hill Country':

We arrived at camp, and I was unleashed with my camera.
This is the path leading towards the creek:

The water-skiing boat, and the steps descending into the

The girls have to hike up these steps to get to their cabins:

This is a cast-off molting from a Cicada:

A Turkey Vulture, and the First Aid house:

The fence by the archery range, and a spider having lunch:

Finally, I believe this is some kind of fly-catcher:

Camp is good for her, she also does horseback riding,
shooting, tennis, and hiking. Otherwise, she would be
spending all summer sitting in her room stuck on the laptop.

When I was a kid, things were very different. My mom was
home, and most of my friends lived right on my same street,
and their mom's were home too. We just played outside all
day, rode bikes, played ball, or went swimming.

Today, if The Daughter and her friends are home, they
always have to be DRIVEN somewhere...to the movies,
bowling alley, arcades, etc. And while this is all fine and good,
they feel like they have to be going to one of these places
every day...and during the daytime AND the evening.

Now, I went to movies and stuff with my friends too during
the summer, but we sure couldn't afford to go every day
like they think they are entitled to today.

It is good to get her 'unplugged' for a few weeks.
The house is quiet, I miss her already.

Peace be with you.