Friday, July 30, 2010

More Music...Belong

Okay, this song is a bit many of mine are.
Maybe TOO long, perhaps we really don't need that last verse.

In fact, Ray and I used to joke that on verse 4, the line should be "One more
VERSE I want you to hear".

This is one of those songs that I really wish I could hear if it was recorded professionally
by REAL musicians, because I tried to add little bits of what I call 'spice' into it.
Since it is so long, I didn't want it to get boring.

So the instrumentation changes just a little bit with each verse. I also concede that I may
not be quite on key during the high parts of the singing.

I did this with my buddy Ray (any time you hear screaming lead electric guitar,
that is your clue it is NOT me that is playing it. I am not that good).

The swelling electric guitar that you hear right at the BEGINNING is actually
the very same guitar track that is playing as lead at the very END of the song.

So Ray is doing electric guitar, I am doing bass, drums, vocals, and I think there
may be little dashes of piano in there somewhere...

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:

Belong (Stay With Me)

1. One love, be mine for all time
Something seems so far away to say be mine
I can't stand to be alone at night

2. When I wake up in the morning
Be next to me
Don't be afraid, you know you're all I want to see
Put your love in me, girl, all I am is yours
Stay with me, don't be alone

C. Stay with me
You don't have to go tonight
I need to hear your words tonight
I need to have you here tonight

Can't you see I need to belong to you
Belong, belong, belong

3. You're a star, and I'm a moth
Mindless, I am, to a fault
When you flash your teeth
Your smile is glitter
If you look at me you touch a nerve


4. One more heart, and a wandering tear
One more song I want you to hear
What I do for you, I do for myself
If you could read my mind, you'd know how I felt

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Random Wednesday

Sometimes when I am at work or at a party, I like to pretend
that I am an actor in a movie delivering my lines. You
should try it sometimes, it is kind of fun.

Say you are at some kind of social gathering, or talking to
your neighbor, you know, just normal conversation. Imagine in
your mind the setting and the mood of the scene, the genre of
the movie you might be in, what the director might be looking
for, and maybe even the background music.

As you are speaking, and listening to the other person, picture
that they are reciting lines from a script, and when you are
talking, pay close attention to your mannerisms, gestures, and
the inflection of your voice.

Slow down, think about what you are going to say, and then
speak your part. For example:

I am saying: "Yeah, Bob, I understand that teenagers these
days can be real tough to figure out..."

In my mind, I am thinking about the various ways I could speak
this line...I could do it in a sombre mode with lots of
sympathy, using very low and concerned tones...
Or I could make it very upbeat and lively, to try to get him
to not take it so seriously.

Then, when Bob replies, "But all I am asking him to do is mow
the lawn, I don't think that is too much to ask."

In your mind, critique the way he is delivering his line...
is he being too whiney, is he using the correct inflection?

Try to get your own timing correct as you picture the script
in your head, and prepare to recite your next part.

I guess sometimes I have too much time on my hands...

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Blog is like a Book with no Table of Contents

Ok, now that I have been blogging for about nine months, I
think I am qualified to make a few statements about this
interesting past-time.

The good part:
Writing a blog is like writing a book. You are writing it
chapter by chapter. Often, however, there may not be a plot
to this book, just like life.

The bad part:
If you have been blogging for some time, and acquire a new
follower, this new person is probably making their decision
to follow you based on one or two recent posts. While it is
good to have a new follower, due to the complexity of
reading past posts, this person may not actually see any of
your older writings.

If you are like me, since you are writing stuff with the
intent of people actually reading it, you must admit to at
least a smattering of ego...and you would like them to read
your older material as well.

It is like picking up a new book, opening it right in the
middle, and starting to read it right there, without going
back and checking out the earlier chapters.

Now, when I am perusing blogs that I like, I try to take
the time to focus on one blog every so often, and really
read back into time, to see what I have been missing. I try
to start at the beginning of the blog, and follow the

In reality, however, this is difficult...not solely because
it takes some time...something we all have a shortage
of...but also because it is not easy to do in the Blogger
format of newest-to-oldest posts. And expanding and looking
at the links on the page for past posts is not very easy

What I would like to see is something like a Table Of
Contents...In which you can look at each post as a chapter
in a book, chronologically listed, and maybe a quick
description of each one.

I would like to thank Mr. Pat Tillet for pointing out to me
that this is possible with Blogspot...and showing me how to
do it. By simply putting a small link at the top of your
blog, you can direct your readers to a specific subject,
and if they click on it, they are taken to a separate page
where you can set this up in any format you choose.

Mr. Pat has done that with his page, and it allows me to
easily and quickly zoom in on his various subject matter,
such as his poetry, his experiences in the military, etc. I
love it because now when I go to his blog, I can see how it
is laid out all at once, and read the stuff of my choosing.

I have done it on my blog as well, now, with separate tabs
for my work history, music, family life, etc.
(I know labels do a similar thing, but this is still way
more intuitive, since you can really lay it out like a
table of contents).

So if you like my blog because of my odd humor, but
recognize that my music sucks, then you can go and just
read the stuff you like, and ignore the rest!

I know this is a long post, but if anyone has cared enough
to read to this part, I would love it for you to do
something like this on YOUR blog. I would love to be able
to go to your blog and have you point out to me YOUR
favorite posts...the ones you have written that YOU like
the best!

I will even help you do it if you want, just email me or
Pat if you need help.

Peace be with you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-three

During 1992, I started working as a shipping-receiving clerk
at a company called Art Craft Embroidery. This company was
owned by the husband of a friend my bride knew from work. I
started working there with the understanding that it would
be temporary, as they were getting ready to transfer the
operation to Las Vegas.

They didn't manufacture any clothes, but they did have racks
and racks of automated computer-controlled embroidery machines
that would create pictures, text, and logos on shirts and caps
using colored thread.

They had some pretty big contracts with companies like Disney,
Universal Studios, and various record companies.

When shipments of clothing came in I would receive it, count
it, and store it in preparation for the work to be done on them.
I would also take care of shipping completed orders out again,
as well as doing general inventory tracking, and helping with
moving boxes of merchandise around to wherever it needed to go.

The company was located in Burbank, but they were gradually
transferring the operation to Las Vegas. I recall that I made
one trip out to Vegas during 1993 to help them get set up. Then,
since I did not plan to move out there, I was all done with
the company.

This was the year that I turned 37.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Wednesday

I hate talking on the phone. I do nothing but talk on
the phone at work, and that has been my job for the past
10 years or so. I spend between 1500 and 1800 hours
on the phone every year for work alone, and let me tell
you, it is not just time spent exchanging pleasantries.

I am not a cell phone hound, and I never answer the phone
when I am at home.
Unless either someone has died, or I have won the lottery,
don't call me.
I love the smell of 2-stroke engine exhaust...the kind
of engines on many motorcycles, motorboats, minibikes...
it reminds me of fun things like camping and fishing.
Luckily, I have never used a 2-stroke lawnmower, so these
memories are not corrupted.

Diesel is ok too, if not too concentrated or dirty. It
reminds me of many carnivals and amusement parks I have
gone to when I was younger, they always used diesel engines
to power these rides.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Memories of Past Desert Trips

Some of my best memories from my 20's was going out camping
in the desert with my old buddies. I don't really have to
go into a whole lot of detail about it in this post, since
when I first started blogging late last year I did a pretty
long post about going to the desert called Leon's Grave,
which can be seen if you click this link.

This was the Mojave Desert, California, just north of good
old Victorville. We went on many trips in the summers
between about 1976 and 1987. I am just posting a mish-mash
of pictures over the years...and I realize it may not mean
much to anyone reading this, but it means a lot to me, so I
am compelled to post them.

This is a map showing the approximate location of our
campground. Today, it is mostly built up and developed:

1977: Me with my guitar (I always brought my guitar)
and a shot of cloud shadows on the plain:

1978: Some buddies looking at a coming storm, and me
overlooking the plain:

1979: Hood surfing!! (using a hood from an old VW bug):

And me holding my friend Jack, observing as someone tries
to tune my guitar:

At night, I upgraded to Budweiser, and decided to annoy my
buddy Jeff:

Here is a bunch from 1985:
Any tent needing instructions is too complicated for me:

A series of zoom-ins of our campsite taken from a rocky

I am always impressed by females who can shoot:

Star trails taken by putting my camera on a tripod and
leaving it there for several hours. This was during the
days of film cameras, obviously, so I had to wait about a
week to see if it even came out. I was quite surprised that
it did!

1986: A classic teepee.

1987: My bud James on the left (who got me the job at ITT)
and me on the right. This was one of our last trips.

I will never forget those days.

Peace be with you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-two

In 1991 I began working at an answering service place, they
were fairly well-known in the Valley, I think this was in
Canoga Park, and the company was called 800-Direct.

'Answering service' is a pretty generic term, what we really
did was answer the phones in response to various ads that
played on TV, or took orders from magazines.

If you ever were watching TV in the middle of the night, and
saw one of those info-mercials come up where they say "Call
Now and have your credit card ready!"...I was the person
who may have taken that call! Our phones were hooked up to a
computer, and when someone called in, they went through the
computer, and a message would pop up on our screen giving us a
ready-made script to read that was tailor-made depending on
what phone number they called.

Our script would have us say, for example:
"Thank you for calling to order the Franklin Mint Coin, may I
take your order?"
"Thank you for calling to donate to Care International..."
"Thank you for ordering such-and-such CD or movie..."
You get the point.
Then we would collect their name, address, credit card number,

I worked the week-ends and the overnight shift. On a slow night,
we would be sitting around reading, when suddenly all the
phones would light up. We would nod to each other, saying,
"Yep, they must have just ran one of the ads on TV!"

We also got calls from people ordering stuff from magazines...
Joseph A. Bank, Barnes & Noble, What On Earth, Cracker Barrel,
Crabtree & Evelyn etc., as well as turning on certain cable
channels for their TV's.

Once in a while I got a call from someone well-known or someone
who was semi-famous...I talked to Gil Garcetti, who was the DA of
LA at the time, and we knew him pretty well from the local news.

I also talked to Alex Trebeck's sister...she was quite a hoot
as I recall. A very nice woman, we had a great chat.

Here is a little hint...these catalogue ordering places make
a large portion of their profits on what they charge you for
'shipping and handling'. For a plastic gizmo that weighs a
few ounces, they could charge you ten bucks for 'shipping',
when in reality, the fastest first-class you can possibly get
at the post office would only cost you about a buck.

Getting a 'free life-time supply' of Sham-Wow still makes them probably only costs them a dollar or two to make and
send you a new rag, and since they say 'Just pay Shipping and
Handling', they can charge you ten dollars, and they still make
a profit.

Not that you can do anything about this, but it kind of annoys
me that they can just randomly 'make up' anything they want to
so they can charge you a fee for something.

I left this job somewhere in 1992 to work for someone my bride
knew who had his own clothing embroidery factory. But this gig
at 800-Direct will be re-visited a few years later, as we
shall see. Isn't the anticipation just KILLING you?

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Music...Your Love

If you have read any of my posts regarding my very diverse
employment record, you can imagine how lucky it is for me
that my bride has not lost faith in me at times.
This was inspired by my appreciation of her love for me.

It is just me playing on this one.

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:

Your Love

1. Bear with me baby
I never meant for things to go this way
I promise, baby
Things will be so much better than today
As we go through this life together
Learnin' 'bout each other and never, never
Never doin' each other wrong

C. And it's your love that makes me strong
Carries me through when things go wrong
Makes my love for you grow stronger every day
How can I find the words to tell you?
If I could make them up, I'd surely tell you
Can you read my heart?
But you must know anyway

2. I love you, baby
I never thought that life could be as good as this
My pretty baby
Your love has given me a life of bliss
You keep my soul pure and my heart clean
You're the sweetest thing I've ever seen
Can you read my heart?
But you must know anyway



Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Back to Kerrville again...picking up The Daughter after
her five weeks in summer camp.

When we were in Kerrville retrieving The Daughter from
summer camp this weekend, I noticed an old Veteran's
building that was being torn down. It seems like they
are taking a long time to do it, but it looks really cool.

It actually reminds me of a building that has been damaged
from an earthquake or a bomb...

These shattered windows amazed me with their coolness:

Peace be with you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-one

After being laid off from Familian in 1991, I was again on
the prowl for a new job. My patient, newly-married bride was
now forced to see me go through a succession of crappy,
low-paying no-future jobs all in the year 1991:

I did out-bound telephone solicitation calls for our local
newspaper. That was not pleasant at better for me
than it is for you to get the call at dinner.

I worked for a time as an office manager for a 25-year-old 'kid'
who owned an auto window-tinting shop in Chatsworth.
I think his dad had set him up in business, and I was the one who
answered his phones, helped with his accounting, supervised the
lads who were working on the cars, and scheduled his appointments.

This kid must have had some pretty good connections, because
he had service contracts with all the major new car dealers in
the area, and it was pretty cool when we got to go to the dealers
and drive the new cars back to his shop to do the tinting.

He even did a few Rolls Royces...and I learned that the proper
way to refer to these cars was not by calling them a 'Rolls',
but as a 'Royce'.

But it was a temporary minimum wage gig, and silly me, I took on
another Sales type job during that year! I sold adjustable beds...
not the well-known Craftmatic, but a brand called Celebrity Choice.

These were very expensive beds, running into several thousand
dollars, and were sold by going directly to home owners who had
requested that we come out to them. It was difficult, hard-sell
work, but the commission was fairly nice on a sale. Still, you really
had to work hard mentally, and I was going out to work on
evenings and weekends, almost every day. It was not what I
wanted to be doing while still a newlywed.

Next I took a job at an answering service.
This was 'flunky work' as well, but interesting enough to warrant
its own post, so this will be described in my next exciting episode!

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty

I was laid off from Simon-Levi Liquor Distributors after
a nearly 3 year run. My bride and I had purchased a home
in Palmdale...the housing prices in the Valley were just
too rich for us, and we found that new houses in the high
desert were more within our budget.

My mother-in-law had been working as an accountant for a
plumbing-supply company for most of her adult life, and
she determined that she could probably get me in as a
warehouse worker\counter person. So I started working at
Familian Pipe and Supply in early 1989. Gotta love Nepotism!

I ended up working there for about 2 years before getting laid
off due to a company slowdown. I worked in various capacities,
such as counter-person, warehouse worker, receiving, and
towards the end, as delivery, sales and purchasing.

They had several branches in Southern California, and I started
out working in Van Nuys in the main warehouse. I learned all
about the different types of pipe fittings...copper, steel, PVC, ABS,
and cast iron. I became knowledgeable about the various tools and
accessories of the trade, the lingo, and was able to make recommendations
to plumbers as to what size water heater to install, and what style toilet a
customer might be happy with.

I worked the counter waiting on plumbers and contractors who
came in to buy pipe fittings, pipe, toilets, tubs, faucets, etc. I
worked the late afternoon shift (commonly called the 'swing' shift).
Later in the evenings I would help load up the trucks for delivery
of big- ticket items to various job sites.

I recall I was also on their incoming help phone lines to take
orders over the phone for contractors calling in.

Sometimes we had to unload full semi trailers full of boxed toilets,
which was the worst part of the job. Inside the trailers in the
middle of summer, it was HOT and dusty...running back and
forth inside of them while lugging toilets from the trailer to
stacked pallets outside was some of the most distasteful work I
have ever done.

But aside from that, it was decent work, and the people I
worked with were all great. My hope was to someday work my
way into the classy showroom where I could be involved in the
sales of high-end tub and shower enclosures, and fancy
expensive faucet fixtures. This never happened, as I kept
getting shifted around to different branches to forestall the
pending layoffs.

As time went on they transferred me to a smaller outlet in
Chatsworth which dealt mainly in plumbing supplies only, not so
much the water-heaters and bathtubs. It was while working for
this branch that I got involved in some outside sales. I went
through the phonebook, contacted plumbers in the area, and tried
to drum up some business that way.

I also became a delivery-driver several days a week, loading
up the pipes, toilets, and aluminum flashing, and then delivering
it to new construction sites in a bobtail truck.

Finally, I got sent to the North Hollywood branch, where I
was doing mainly paperwork, keeping track of purchasing
orders. It was a nice change to have normal office work for a while.

Then, I was laid off on February 5, 1991.
(As we get into the more recent past, I am able to come up with more
exact dates for some of this stuff).

I was now 34 years old, and being unemployed was a lot
scarier now that I had a wife and a mortgage...thankfully, my
bride is a lot smarter than me, has a college education, and has
always had the same steady job at GTE (now, Verizon).

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

We Have Some Late-Night Fun

As some of you may know from this post, my neighbors and I
are pretty wacky, fun-loving folk. Just because we are old
doesn't mean we don't know how to have fun. You probably
wish that you had neighbors just like me.

As the above-mentioned post illustrates, we like to have
fun with Robert and Trish across the street...I don't know
why this is, I think it may be just chance they just happen
to be absent whenever Tony gets one of his good ideas.

Some time after the July 4'th incident referenced above,
Tony suddenly realized that it has been many years since he
has TP'd anyone. I think these are the kind of revelations
that sometimes occur to people when they are under the
intelligence-enhancing effects of malted beverages.

I am pretty sure that this is the reason that Prohibition
was repealed...people probably understood that without the
stimulating effects of alcohol, original ideas in this
country began to dry up.

I know this is not the intended use of toilet paper, but
since Robert's truck was just sitting there all alone, it
was just begging for some attention. I did not instigate
this, nor did I condone their actions. I am merely The
Press, documenting the events:

The finished product:

Phil, Eileen, and Tony. Note that Tony appears to be
getting quite a kick out of this:

In case anyone was left wondering who the culprit or
culprits were, we left this bit of tantalizing evidence:

Peace be with you.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Digital Art...Misc Stuff

Since I don't have anything else ready to go today, I
thought I would dump a few more of these digital pictures
on you. This is just a mish-mash of random stuff that I was
not able to categorize.

This first one is called The Warehouse, and it was one of
the first things I ever tried to create. Notice how large
the size of the little candies you know, these
things are pretty small, but after I finished this, I
realized the apparent scale of them is pretty big.
Oh, well...
(Don't forget to click to enlarge, blah blah blah...)

This is Joe's Burgers...I tried to create a little city:

This is two versions of Joe's Diner, one without fog, and
one with fog:

This last one is pretty interesting. It is supposed to be
someone wielding a screwdriver on a live circuit board,
which isn't normally a very good idea.

Notice the flame where the tip of the screwdriver is
touching the board. I also tried to make little sparks
coming off the screwdriver, but it does not look very

The hand in the picture is my actual hand.

If you look through the window where the van is, the real
scene BEHIND the van is the actual view of the house across
the street from our house. This is what we really see
looking out the window. (Minus the virtual van, of course).

The font of the lettering on the van that says 'Joe's
Computer Repair' is in Comic Sans MS...which is my favorite
font. I use it on everything.

Peace be with you.