Sunday, December 25, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Started a new Christmas tradition this morning. Went hiking up and down the bluffs on the east side of town. Started before the sun came up while there were still a few stars in the sky. Listened to the sound of water and birds chirping as I hiked along my merry way. Left my IPOD at home because I didn't want alot of noise this morning. Just wanted to hear the small still voice inside that is often drowned out by the hustle and bustle of day to day living. The highlight of the hike was when I reached the top of the bluff at the end of the hike. The crisp winter breeze was brushing against my face and beard. It felt good. As the wind blew and rustled the tops of the nearby palm trees I watched the sun that had just risen disappear in a shroud of fog. It was was peaceful....and I felt touched by the deep magic of Christmas.....Blast from the past....I don't really have very many fond memories of Christmas growing up as a child. Not sure all the reasons why. Suspect it had a lot to do with the fact that our family was very poor, particularly after my father died and left my mom with no financial security. It's difficult maintaining hope when you are living on the edge of life financially year after year. Don't remember getting into Christmas until after my two sons were born. Loved playing the role of Santa in the family. For years I bought almost all the Christmas gifts for the family and was the primary inititator of most of the other Christmas related activities. Some of my fondest memories of Christmas include taking my two sons and wife to see Christmas lights. Still remember the joy on the faces of my two sons as we saw Barney the Dinosaur wearing a Santa hat as he waved and passed out candy canes. My two sons were very reticent as we approached Santa's newest helper to get our candy canes but their fear melted away when Barney spoke those magic words... Merry Christmas.... I also remember how excited my two sons were the year they got their first bikes for Christmas. The bikes were covered with Gargoyle toys I had purchased from Burger King. My children loved the Disney cartoon so I helped to feed their developing imaginations by purchasing the entire gargoyle collection and placing them strategically on the bikes....As a Christian I also greatly appreciated the religious aspect of the holiday which included attending candle light services and hearing the Christmas story year after year but it was the role of Santa to my children that I think enjoyed the most about this special time of year.

Finding meaning in Christmas...People look and find meaning in Christmas in many places. Many people turn to the commercial aspects of Christmas and find joy and excitement in buying and receiving Christmas gifts. While I personally don't like going to shopping malls during this time of the year I do understand the adrenaline rush one may get from finding just the right gift for someone they love and I always appreciate getting thoughtful gifts from others. Many people find meaning in their religion and the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus. It is recorded in the Gospels that an angel told Joseph that the son that Mary was going to bear would "save his people from their sins". Alot of folks associate Christmas with God's forgiveness and the hope of eternal life. Jesus is the "reason for the season" and their display of nativity scenes in their houses point to this hope and faith....Some folks find their joy in what I call Christmas nostalgia.... Watching Rudolph the Reindeer for the umpteeth time......listening to oldie but goody Christmas music....decorating the tree with ornaments from their childhood....keeping family rituals, year after year....these are all signs of Christmas nostalgia.....No matter how or where we find our peace and joy at Christmas time we almost all enjoy the family aspect of Christmas. We all generally come together or at least call our loved ones on Christmas day and Christmas helps to remind us that family is important and potentially meaningful even though we may struggle at times in our relationships with those we love during the rest of the year.....I confess it has been difficult to find meaning and hope at times during the Christmas holiday season over the last couple of years. Since my divorce I have not been in the same place at Christmas time any two years in a row and I generally don't see my two sons until late in the afternoon on Christmas day....I also no longer associate with Christmas with the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It's not that I no longer believe in eternal life or the love and forgiveness of God...because I do....It's just that I don't think it has anything to do with Jesus being born of a virgin or being crucified. These stories "point" to the hope of eternal life and the reality of God's love...and....for that they can be appreciated but from where I stand God has always been forgiving and loving long before the Christmas story became a popular belief and tradition of much of the Western world.....Although my life has become turned upside down in many respects over the past three or four years I am still touched by the "deep magic" of Christmas. I still enjoy playing Santa to my two sons even though they no longer live with me or believe in the pot belly, jolly fellow. I still greatly enjoy having my two sons help me decorate the Christmas tree during Thanksgiving week-end. I still go out and look at Christmas lights even though my two sons no longer are interested in going. I still love the Christmas story even though I no longer believe in it's historical literacy. It's the meaning behind the myth that counts....Yesterday my mom and I watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas special. It was beautiful...I was touched. Later we watched various musicians perform a variety of different Christmas favorites from a 15th century church in Scotland. Again I was touched. This morning I was moved by the peace and quiet of watching the sun rise before the fogged rolled in and closed the door to sunshine until later this afternoon..... Right now my mom is listening to country music. Why?....I don't know, but it makes her feel happy and joyful and if there is anything I can do to make my soon to be 91 year old mom feel joyful on Christmas day than I am going to do it....even if it means listening to country music on Christmas morning...yikes....the Lord does work in mysterious ways and what touches us and moves us during this special time of the year varies from one person to can only be explained as the "deep magic" of Christmas which gives hope, faith, and peace to all who have ears to hear and a heart open to the mysterious workings of the Spirit of God who moves to and fro amongst us all.....Merry Christmas to all......

Friday, December 23, 2005

First Impressions of Kong

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Went to see King Kong on my birthday the other day. These are my first impressions but probably not a conclusive review because, like the LOTR, this film is a visual feast that deserves a repeat viewing. This film had a little bit of everything for everyone, humor, action, love story, and even a touch of the bizarre. Found the beginning of the movie a bit too long and not particularly strong but understand Jackson was trying to develop the characters and be faithful to the 1933 version of Kong. Didn't much care for the portrayal of the natives on Skull Island. They were bizarre, to say the least, and since the film gives no background of their weirdness the viewer is left to his or her imagination. Maybe that's the point but just didn't find them particularly appealing but maybe if I had to share an island with a great ape and dinosaurs I would turn out more than a bit weird myself...anyway...the rest of the movie was fantastic. Kong is incredible and Jackson and his legion of artisans have again raised the bar on the relationship between imagination and modern technology. The action sequences between Kong and the various inhabitants of the Lost World are just amazing. Especially got off on the action sequences featuring the various insects. Gross is an appropiate description of what happens to the crew who find their way to the bottom of the jungle where the insects rule and I personally appreciate Jackson's indulging the audience with a bit of "bad taste". I found it fun but suspect some members of the audience were simply too grossed out to appreciate Jacksons wicked humor..... The relationship that develops between Kong and Naomi Watts is the centerpiece of the movie and here is where the Jackson star shines brightest. Kong and Watts are simply poetry in motion and I think it is an incredible feat by the Jackson and crew to get the audience to actually care about what happens to a creature who we all know is nothing more than a computer image. Jackson went to great lengths to humanize the Great Ape and the techicians who created Kong flexed their herculean muscles in creating the best CGI character to date...Kong Rules!!!....and.... the proof in the pudding is that the audience actually cares about what happens to Kong at the end... and... nobody wants to see Kong die because he has captured a bit of our hearts and a part of us dies as Kong free falls from the top of the Empire State building.....Don't know how this film will be remembered in the annuals of film history but Jackson deserves alot of credit for bringing Kong back to life for a new generation of young folks who grew up with little or no knowlege of the "true King" of the jungle....

Sunday, December 18, 2005

King Kong

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Well, the anticipation of seeing King Kong is growing and confess I am tempted to go see the film before my birthday. Maybe I'll slip out late tonight and check it out and not tell anyone....Hmmm?....Very tempting....very tempting indeed....I don't have too much to say about the film that I didn't already say over at Pomoxian, my discussion group stomping grounds of the last few years. If you want to read what I have to say follow the link....

If you want a more extensive peek from someone who has actually seen the film check out what Harry Knowles of Aint it Cool website has said
I love reading Harry Knowles reviews. He speaks with such great passion and is a true lover of movies and doesn't pull any punches....check it out.....

Kong may not be the epic of the Lord of the Rings but it is modern classic in it's own right. The 1933 version is not something I confess I am particularly interested in watching again. I have this aversion about very old black and white films. Nothing personal or related to modern superiority complex. Just chalk it up to being a product of a modern man stuck in a worm hole....nothing more, nothing less....Do anticipate the film for another reason as I implied in my Pomoxian musings. I greatly admire the work, imagination, and passion of filmaker Peter Jackson. I have now watched countless hours of interviews of him over the years and he is in a different category of filmakers, IMHO. He appears to be an "average Joe" who is sincerely grateful and humble for what he does which is refreshing when you consider so many directors appear to be operating in their own little worlds they have created. Might have something to do with growing up in New Zealand which is far, far removed from the influence of Hollywood. Whatever the case, I immensely appreciate the heart, soul, and labor of love Jackson puts into his work and look forward to his films in the future. God bless the only director who looks, walks, and sounds like a hobbit.....

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Kicking off the Season

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Well, I finally made it to this day. Today marks the beginning of a twenty three day holiday and I don't have to report back to work until January the ninth. I hope to get some rest and relaxation during this time but things will be a bit hectic around here because I have to juggle much of my time with my two sons, my mom, and my girlfriend. My sons are going to be spending about ten days with me this year so it will be somewhat of a challenge to keep them busy. Not sure exactly what we will be doing but I will think of something. Creativity is one of my strong points. I will be picking my mom up next week and she will be spending about a week with me. I look forward to seeing her but because of her age, she is over 90, she will require alot of attention and assistance. After my mom leaves I will be taking my sons down to my girlfriends parents for about four days before I bring them back to start the new school year. At that point I will have about a week to myself at which time I intend to travel a bit and get some serious exercise hiking and mountain biking riding. Generally I take off for a week and head to the hills, desert, or beach but this year I am going to have to hang around for three days because I want to see if my beloved USC football team will make history and win their third national championship.

One of the things I enjoy about the holidays and time off is the change of rythum and the freedom to establish the pace of life on my terms. I love my job but I do not always enjoy the hectic pace of work. During the school year I often feel like a rat in a cage who is on one of those wheels that is spinning faster and faster with each passing day of the semester. Many people thrive on the adrenaline rush one gets from frantically bustling about meeting this deadline or that but I do not. I do not like the stress or the loss of self awareness that is often associated with trying to live life at light speed and keep up with the modern pace of life. Stress is a killer, literally, and I am convinced that loss of self awareness leads to all kinds of potential problems on numerous fronts. One of my goals this upcoming holiday season is to concentrate on living in the moment and slow down. The holidays can be challenging because of all the activities associated with Christmas but I have already finished all my Christmas shopping so I am ready to make a serious go of slowing down and pacing my self on my terms and not the terms of the holiday season or the workplace. We'll see what happens in the days and weeks to come. I am pretty determined this year to explore where this may lead and hopefully I will gain some new perspective and lifestyle changes that will carry over into the work place when I go start back to work.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Good news all the way around for the USC faithful and rag tag fanatic fans like yours truly. Reggie won the Heisman in a landside vote and Pete Carroll announced he was not going to interview or entertain any offers by the NFL. No surprise on the landside results. Reggie Bush is one of the most eletrifying college football players to come along in a long, long time. Its not just the numbers, as impressive as they are, almost nine yards a carry, but it's the way he goes about doing his business. I've watched the Fresno State and UCLA games twice now, thanks to Tivo, and I am here to report from the mountain top that there is an entire college careers worth of highlights in just those two games...and... Here's a scary thought. If Pete Carroll hadn't basically pulled the plug on Bush in the second half I honestly think he could have rushed for almost five hundred yards in that game. Remember, he had almost 250 by the first half alone. I'm talking rushing yards, not "all purpose" yards. It will be interesting to see what he does in the Rose Bowl game against Texas. Texas has a good defense and it will be almost impossible to live up to the legendary status he now enjoys but if Reggie "Superman" Bush does have a great game than I think he will given immediate demi-god status and be rushed to Mount Olympus to join Heracules and the rest of the gods....

I think Pete Carroll has made a wise decision to stay at USC. Just hope he can keep his promise. Many others have not. Suspect some organization out there, maybe Houston, will offer him the moon and we will see. Carroll is a great college coach and he would be nuts, IMHO, opinion to leave. Carrol has not just rejuvenated a once proud college football program but he has created a juggernaut that, if they win the Rose Bowl, will be remembered as the greatest college football team of the modern era. If you think I am blowing smoke here are the facts..."The Trojans haven't lost a game since Sept. 27, 2003, and it took three overtime periods at Cal to do it. Since Oct. 6, 2002, USC is 45-1. Freaks. In those 45 victories, only five were decided by less than a touchdown...and... USC has beaten the last 16 ranked opponents it has faced. Since the 34-game streak began, the Trojans have beaten Notre Dame, Arizona State and UCLA three times apiece, Cal twice, and Michigan, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Oregon once. They've done it despite injuries, early defections to the NFL, graduation, and coaching departures"....I haven't had this much fun watching sports since Magic Johnson arrived in L.A. back in the 80's and introduced the world to showtime. Showtime is back in L.A. and we USC fan"actics" are loving the new version starring Reggie Bush and the rest of the "men of Troy"....

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Greatest Ever?

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It doesn't get any better than this if you are a USC football fan. USC routs UCLA, goes undefeated, and is now heading to the National Championship game which will be played in USC's own back yard the Rose Bowl. Iv'e been following USC football for a long time now and I go way back to the 60's when O.J. was weaving and juking his way past helpless defenders to college football legendary fame and a Heisman Trophy...While yesterday's game lacked the emotional satisfaction and intensity of the Notre Dame game earlier in the year it was a great joy to watch the game nontheless. My satisfaction came not from watching SC beat up on their crosstown arch rival cousin UCLA, (I actually root for UCLA when they aren't playing USC,) but from watching one of the greatest college football teams of all time. I've said this before but it bears repeating, Reggie Bush is the greatest college football player I have ever seen. It's like watching Michael Jordan in a football uniform. He is such a joy to watch because each time he touches the ball you can't help but anticipate that he is going to rip off one of those classic Reggie Bush eletrifying touchdown runs that have become a regular feature of ESPN Sportscenter...and.... the rest of the USC offense ain't too bad either... Not only is Reggie Bush the greatest player I have seen in my years of watching college football but the USC offense is the greatest offense I have ever seen. Every player on the USC offense is a potential NFL recruit. The wide recievers, the tight end, the "other" running back Lindale White, last years Heisman Trophy winner quarterback, and, last but not least, the best offensive line in the country. They haven't been stopped nor slowed down for over three years now and I don't anticipate it is going to happen in the championship game either.....speaking of the championship game with Texas....Haven't seen Texas play much this year but can't imagine them beating USC, especially when one considers Pete Carroll has a month to prepare and the beleaguered, often criticized defense, has a month to get healthy. I'm not predicting a rout like last years debacle but I honestly suspect Texas won't know what hit em when USC's offense unleases it's numerous weapons of mass destruction. Texas appears to have a fine and maybe even a great team but they have never encountered the kind of pro style offense of USC nor the assembly of pro prospects at every position, including Superman at tailback and last years Heisman Trophy winner who actually has better statistics this year. The conference Texas plays in just doesn't have any teams like USC....On defense....I think USC matches up well with Texas. They are going to blitz often and Vince Young is not going to have time to throw up those long down the field lollypops to wide open recievers that one often sees on a regular basis in the Big Twelve conference because the Pac Ten conference knows how to play pass defense. While Young appears to be a legitimate Heisman candidate I anticipate he is going to struggle in this big game. Carroll will mix up his blitze packages and Young isn't going to get the time to run around like he does against most teams... I predict it will be a competive game until the second half before USC pulls away with their third national championship. Texas will come prepared and their balance allow them to be competitive but at the end of the day the only team that can beat USC is USC....or.....maybe the New England Patriots.....

Sunday, November 27, 2005

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Happy Holidays

Woke up this morning at the crack of dawn and headed off to the gym to sweat and get the heart beating after spending the last three days eating too much food and laying around. Got home and made my two sons breakfast before we headed off to get a Christmas tree. Normally I spend way too much time agnozing over getting the perfect tree but this year I picked out a five to six foot Noble Fir tree in record time of less than five minutes. Raced over to the cash register, headed out the door, and shoved the tree in the trunk of the car and boogied home. Spent the next couple of hours decorating the tree and the house while listening to my favorite Christmas album, Christmas with the Cambridge Singers.

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After yesterday's series of bad news reports on the homefront and legal front I wasn't sure I would be up for doing the Christmas thing today but pulled myself together long enough to get the job done and am glad I did. Just something about decorating the tree and listening to Christmas music. As a kid growing up I really don't have any fond memories of Christmas so I guess I feel like I am making up for lost time as an adult. Love giving Christmas gifts to others even though I admit I hate going Christmas shopping, in general. Over the years I have developed a strategy which includes staying away from any major retail store during the week-ends and other peak times. I generally will make a series of short shopping trips during the middle of the week and will try to go over to the coast one day before Christmas and visit the small shops where I will look for some unique and exotic gifts. I figure if I am going to spend the money on gifts than I might as well try to find some things out of the ordinary. This year will probably be short and sweet regarding buying for my two sons. They both want an IPOD and I will probably get them one and therefore only have to make one shopping trip for them...Well it's getting late and need to head off to bead. Have a long day in front of me tomorrow so I need to get to bed on time.....Happy holidays....

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Kicking off the Holiday Season

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Just got back from Sacramento a couple of hours ago and thought I would take the advise of a friend and update my blog. It's been a hectic month on numerous fronts and haven't updated my blog because I decided to spend my precious computer time interacting with others instead. I enjoy blogging but enjoy interacting with others more....Had an interesting Thanksgiving vacation. Visited my uncle and mom in Sacramento and took a trip to Placerville last night to see the Christmas lights. Placerville is a old mining town from the Gold Rush days which has transformed itself into a robust tourist town these days. Last night thousands of folks from the area gathered on main street to see the lighting of the Christmas tree and ride an old stagecoach up and down main street. The ambiance was nice and the night was crisp and just perfect for the beginning of the Christmas season.....Spent most of today in Old Sacramento. Went to a way cool Railroad train musuem. See pics above and below. Pleasantly surprised because neither the magnitude of the museum or the quality was evident by looking at the outside of the building. Later we went to downtown Sacramento and I took some pictures of the capitol building. All in all it's was a good trip. Tomorrow am going to put up the Christmas tree if I can generate the motivation. Came back to town to a series of problems. I think my clutch is going out on my car and my heater in the house doesn't add insult to injury....Recieved an unsatisfactory court ruling in the mail. Am really pissed off because I recieved some bad counsel from my lawyer and have become totally disallusioned with the court system and lawyers in general. Honestly no longer feel the court system has anything to do with justice anymore and feel it's just one more institution in this country that needs to be reformed from the bottom up. Tried for over two months to settle with the other party outside of court but as they say, it takes two to tango. Just really frustrated right now because I honestly don't know what to do. Have tried everything I know from my end of things. Need to really regroup and come to some kind of acceptance of my current situation. Not easy to do but don't want to become consumed with anger or frustration because that's like entering a black hole....Christmas season is officially here and hope that we can all find some kind of peace and joy this year. Early news stories don't offer much hope. All the crazies fighting and standing in lines for hours just to get some new gadget. Can't help feeling like our society is unraveling at the seams. Not a very cheerful holiday thought to end with but I don't feel too cheery myself right now and that's just the way it is sometimes.....

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Happy Halloween

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When I was growing up as a kid Halloween was one of my favorite holidays but for nearly 30 years I really didn’t pay too much attention to this “pagan” holiday. Halloween has once again become one of my favorite holidays. What is there not to like about Halloween? Oh, I could do with a bit less of the blood and gore that is associated with the holiday but there is so much else to love about this fall holiday. There are the pumpkins, the annual Charlie Brown Halloween special, the orange and black colors, the references to ghouls and goblins, the costume parties, the cute little kids that come to your door who can barely say twic or tweet, the haunted houses, the ghost stories, and lets not forget the candy galore.

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I love Halloween. It’s a fun holiday. Much simpler and less stressful than Christmas. You don’t have to worry about what to buy or run around town fighting hoards of other folks in search of the perfect present. All you need to do is boogie on down to the store and buy some candy for the kiddies and if you don’t want to participate in the passing out of candy tradition you can opt out and go out for dinner or a movie. I love watching old monster classics during this time of the year, the Wolfman, the Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon….and….some recent cult favorites which include The Army of Darkness, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and American Werewolf in London. I also love dressing up. Been looking for the right costume for years now. The last couple of years I have been running around in a stupid looking Viking helmet and carrying a cheap plastic battle ax but this year I will be sporting my new Hobbit outfit which comes complete with cape and authentic reproduction sword named sting. There is just something about dressing up for the day and running around looking and acting stupid. It’s good for the soul.

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We need Halloween as individuals and as a nation. We need to let our hair down from time to time and Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to do so without the threat of losing all our dignity. Our society has become so serious and stressful on numerous fronts these days and Halloween provides an outlet, at least for one day, to release a bit of personal and national angst. Personally I think they should make Halloween a national holiday and I think everyone should be forced to dress up for the day, including the president. I wonder what costume would look good on George Bush?.....Hmmm???.....If my little Halloween promo hasn’t convinced you of the merits of taking the time join the antics of the ghosts and goblins of your local neighborhood than for your sake and the sake of the country take some time to chill on Halloween night at least make an attempt to join the rest of us crazies in spirit if not in action…..

Saturday, October 22, 2005

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A New Beginning

"We're living a rhythm that goes snap-snap-snap all the time----and it's there all the time, even when we don't notice it. Unconciously, like a poison ingested by our bodies in a deceptively sweet syrup, we have entrained with with a faster rhythm. It controls the way we walk, the way we speak, the way we respond to intimates and strangers, the way we don't relax....For the past hundred years or so, Western society has set an overly fast rhythm, a rhythm that varies only in that it is continually getting faster, urging us to do more, produce more, learn more. All our machines are geared to the acceleration of an already too-frantic speed. Computers, faxes, voice mail, E-mail, the Internet, cell phones: These are handy for business and sometimes convenient, but they each add to the speed of the rhythm around us constantly increasingly the pressure-----allowing us little time for reflection, and none for feelings"......Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D.

Rhythm.....the rhythms of the body......since I quit teaching summer school over the past couple of years I have become increasingly self aware of the rhythms of my own body and the effects of living at "frantic speed" because unlike most folks I now actually have enough time off to experience a significant change in my body's rhythm due to the radical change of the pace of my life which occurs during the summer......Some observations......For the past two years I have ended the school year with a significant amount of back pain which has required multiple visits to chiropractors, doctors, and even a series of visits to a local acupuncturist. While each visit brought some temporarily relief it wasn't until two or three weeks after I stopped seeing the various doctors that the pain eventually subsided or went away completely.....armchair amateur medical self analysis......I have concluded that the pain subsided, in large part, because of the dramatic change of pace of life and the increased amount of exercise I get as I romp around on vacation each summer.....more observations.....every school year I start off the year in high spirits because my body, mind, and spirit has had time to rest and adjust to what I believe is the a more natural rhythm of life but by this time each year I begin to feel my body, mind, spirit, and soul breaking down as the stress mounts and the pace races faster and faster due to grading papers, meetings, lesson planning, and the additional pressures of meeting both state and federal educational standards. Since the school year has started I have probably gained some ten pounds and am at the point where I feel like I am on a run away train and I can't get off. Know the feeling? Feel the pain?
This yearI am determined, more than ever, to do something about the situation I find myself in. I have already made some minor changes which include cutting back on running around on the week-ends and staying at home more during the fall. I have also decided to revisit Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D.'s excellent book "Timeshifting" and integrate some spiritual/meditative/psychological exercises and insights which I will talk more about in the days and weeks to follow......Points of frustration.....While I am optimistic that a person can change significantly inside and out I am also reminded by reality that we all to one degree or another live in a society and individual subcultures that don't seem too concerned about the unatural rhythms of life and frantic pace of life that prevent us from taking a hard look at ourselves, our society and the increasing stress related to the crash course we are all on. In other words, our challenge is more than individual because much of what I have identified is instutionalized on numerous fronts, IMHO......At this point I don't have many answers or suggestions for myself or the society at large but I suspect as individuals we may need to begin by slowing down and learning to live in the moment. I'll have more to say later but for now I'll leave with these thoughts from Stephan Rechtschaffen......"To be aware of time, we must develop new attitudes and new skills. This involves focusing on one thing at a time., learning to slow down and notice---really experience----our physical and emotional states. It involves reacquainting ourselves with our senses, our friends, our spouses, our children, and just what it is to be in this moment....If you feel your life rushing by, as though you can't keep up ieth all your obligations nad the demands upon you.....just stop! Begin with jsut a moment. Allow yourself to be aware and to feel in this moment. "

Saturday, October 15, 2005

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The Greatest Game Ever?

Today I witnessed one of the greatest games in college football history and like the players on both sides I am emotionally drained and at a loss for words. The game ended hours ago but I can still hear the sound of the frenzied Notre Dame faithful ringing in my ears and when I close my eyes I can see Reggie Bush racing past the Notre Dame defenders lunging helplessly as the Heisman front runner streaks past them on his way to end zone. Apparenlty not even Touchdown Jesus was a match for Reggie Bush the human lightening bolt who struck not once, or twice, but three different times... Notre Dame played a hell of game and they have nothing to be ashamed of but I am equally proud of the Men of Troy who exhibited a level of poise, determination, and courage seldom seen in the annals of sports history. This was a tough loss for the Irish and their fans and when Matt Leinart rolled off the would be tacklers and backed his way into the end zone with three seconds left I think I heard the collected groans of Rockne, Montana, Ara, and Rudy. In the end there were really no winners or losers although I confess that is easy to say since my team won but this is really how I feel. When the game ended I sprung out of my seat but I didn't really feel any deep sense of satisfaction or joy but rather I felt like someone who just walked away from a serious car accident unscathed.....USC was fortunate but not lucky. In the end they chose to put it all on the line rather than play it safe which is one of the reasons they have now won 39 of their last forty games. Norte Dame played a great game and was an inspiration to watch but at the end of the day they fell a bit short, not because the luck of the Irish deserted them, or Touchdown Jesus fell asleep at the wheel, but, because USC has a stallion named Reggie and a quarterback named Matt Lionheart......

Trojan Pride

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Touchdown Jesus

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Touchdown Jesus verses Zeus

In approximately four and a half hours from now the Men of Troy will take the field in South Bend Indiana and do battle with their long time rivals the rejuvinated Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Notre Dame has much to gain and little to lose from this game from my perspective. If they win this will no doubt go down as one of the greatest victories in the history of Notre Dame football...but....if they lose, even if they lose bad, the pundits will simply attribute it to USC living up to all the hype and expectations given them at the beginning of the season......I make no predictions about this game because college sports, imo, is much more fickle and unpredictable than pro sports. I won't be too suprised if USC loses and I won't be surprised if they blow Notre Dame off the field. Norte Dame has the kind of offense that could give the Trojans trouble.....but beware.....because the USC offense is so good the defense is underated..... and..... Pete Carrol is one of the best defensive coodinators in the country. Just ask any Oklahoma Sooner fan or anyone who saw the second half of the games at Oregon and Arizona State this past month. It's hard for me to imagine Notre Dame winning this game because I can't fathom anyone stopping what is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, offenses in the history of college football. I have been following college football for a long time and no one has ever had three potential heisman candidates in the same backfield. Niether has there been such a balanced attack. Two backs averaging over 100 yards a game and a quarterback throwing for over 300 yards a game....unheard of....and.....did I mention a great stable of wide recievers and maybe the best offensive line in the country?.....and.....Reggie Bush......Reggie Bush, imo, is the best player in the country, hands down. He's a future hall of famer, if he doesn't get hurt, who I think is on the level with the likes of Marshall Falk and Tomlinson. He has electifying speed and is a tough runner who isn't afraid to attempt to run over and through anyone who stands in his path. Do I sound like a homer?..... I have been a USC fan since the days of O.J. Simpson and the annual New Year's Rose Bowl clashes of USC and Michigan/Ohio State. Later today I'll put on my rally back to back National Champion hat and hang out with a couple of friends and we will yell and scream for the Men of Troy....and....hopefully with the help of the Gods they will prevail.....I hate these David and Goliath games, because, over the years David has slew his fair share of Giants and today there is no bigger Giant to slay than the Men of Troy. May the God's be with my Men of Troy and hopefully on this day Zeus will cancel out the power and prayers of "Touchdown Jesus" and the hoards of Irish Catholics who will no doubt be rubbing their Rosemary beads with a degree of passion that hasn't been seen in the Midwest since the days of O.J. May the best team win and may the losers both players and fan alike remember that that at the end of the day it is only a game......

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Hotter than........

It was hotter than the ........dickens......yesterday.....97 to be exact....fall is one of my favorite times of the year because it marks the end of the relentless heat that begans in May and usually doesn't end until late September or sometime in October. It wouldn't be so bad around here if it were hot a day here or there. Anybody can handle a hundred degree day once in awhile but it's the month after month after month of 90-100 degree days and 70 degree nights that gets to me. The heat drains me....makes me lethargic.....and prevents me from going outside and getting the exercise I need and enjoy. I've been relegated to the gym for the most part since May and can't wait to get outside again and tear it up on the bike path or the local hiking trails......Relief in sight....As I sit here and type this morning the windchimes outside my front door are making sweet music. It is windy outside and that means a change is in the air. This is not simply wishful or delusional thinking on my part. According to all the weather models a "cold front" is headed my way and should arrive by early afternoon. All the local forecasters predict it will only get to about 72-74 degrees today which translates into a 20 drop in temperature from yesterday which is extremely rare for this part of the country. Good bye summer...Hellooooooooo.......fall......We've been eagerly waiting your arrival. Pumpkins, the changing of the color of the leaves, Halloween decorations, cool mornings, the sound of local high school football games on Friday nights, the disappearance of the bug population, and a rain shower from time to time.....These are the sights and sounds we have been anticipating for some time now. Put away the sprinklers, lawnmowers, short pants, lemonade, sun tan lotion, beach towels, and sun glasses. It's time to go into hibernation.....Today marks the beginning of fall and the end of summer. I feel much better just thinking about it. Later today I'll hop on my bike and allow the cool breeze to massage my face and lift my spirit. Today is the beginning of a new day and a new season. I love fall. I love the holiday season which is just around the corner....and....I love saying goodbye to summer.....

Saturday, October 01, 2005

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Friday, September 30, 2005

Flower Power

Just sitting here at the keyboard listening to my new Time Life 60's Gold three disc set I bought yesterday and can't help thinking how the times have indeed changed and how cynical, stressful, depressing, and anxious we have become as a nation. Don't mean to sound critical or judmental because I personally believe we have alot of good reasons to currently feel the way we do. Forgive me but listening to many of the songs of the sixties just makes me long for the past. Now mind you, I am not one to be tripping on nostalgia or believing there was a ever a golden past but I can't help feeling we have lost something significant over the years. Don't want to ever return to the past, not that it is possible, but wouldn't mind just a little taste of the optimism, simplicity, and passion that is expressed in the "flower power" music of the past......Seems from my vantage point that we may have become the victims of the pursuit of an American dream that isn't what it is cracked up to be. We seldom stop to smell the roses because we seldom have the time and when we do stop for a brief moment we are more apt to pace back and forth like a wild animal in a cage. .....We are somewhat conscious that are soul is need of something but most of us don't know where to turn most of the time. Were on board of a train that is going non stop to only God knows where but many of us now suspect it ain't a place of peace, prosperity, or heaven on earth. We need a "soul" market correction.....real bad...but......putting the bottom line first isn't the answer....we've been there and done can't buy happiness and we all know that.....We also need real reform on numerous fronts. .....but religious or political ideology isn't the answer, IMHO. ....because.....that's part of the problem and not the solution......some folks seem to think if we just a stick to our religious or political guns long enough we will eventually enter the promise land....don't know about you but I think we are headed further and further into the wilderness.....and......think we have wondered so far into the desert that we have now lost sight of the promise land. Our leaders assure us that we haven't....just stay the course...and.....continue to persevere......yeh right......Perseverence is overated in my book, especially when the ship is obviously sinking.......Personally, I think it is time to jump ship and swim for land before we get any further out to sea......A few seem to be jumping ship but like rats the vast majority of us won't move until the water is drowning us.......Concede I may just be projecting alot of my personal angst onto the rest of the poor souls who inhabit the same space as I but also don't believe my personal angst is simply the figment of my imagination or circumstances. My life ain't all that bad. Have as much job security as can be obtained in the current situation, a refridgerator full of food, a couple of good friends, and more than I need.....So what do we need?.... The hour is late but our flower power ancestors of the 60's are rooting us on. ....Life is formost a journey and we all are on a journey both as individuals and as a nation. Some folks would like us to think we are in reach of the promise land if we just stay the course but I say they are looking at a mirage in the desert. The desert if full of them.....It is time......It is time to "turn, turn, turn", "This is the Magic Moment", "Do you believe in Magic?", It is time to "Get Together", because "What the World Needs now is Love"........not....more....... bottom lines, tax breaks, soldiers in Iraq, politicians who can't relate to the average Joe American, political and religious idealogues, education reforms that don't work, megachurches, oil companies, ........fill in the blank......What we do need is more White Wizards, hobbits who are willing to leave the Shire, Courageous dwarfs, wise Elves, and at least two brave souls who are willing to venture into Mordor

Friday, September 16, 2005

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I think I'm Cracking up

Do you have the time
to listen to me whine
About nothing and everything
all at once
I am one of those
Melodramatic fools
Neurotic to the bone
No doubt about it

Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I'm cracking up

It's been one of those weeks.....on numerous fronts......Work has been hectic.....Spent an entire day in barely keeping my sanity trying to keep up with the lastest techno toys. Earlier last week I learned how to download an operate an MP3 player. This week I was fiddling around with a DVD burner and trying to coordinate all the hook ups to my new satellite dish and HD T.V. Can't believe how complicated and confusing it's all gotten. It's just too much for the average Hobbit/Joe who works eight to ten hours a day. Even the folks who sell the toys aren't often sure how everything works. Love the fruits of technology but in all honesty am growing a bit impatient and disallusioned regarding what it takes to keep up with it all. Consider myself generally literate regarding the world of technology but it seems to be getting more difficult to keep up with it all....hell....I can't even keep track with all the remote controls anymore. Must be at least eight or nine laying around here.
Never was mechanically inclined growing up which probably explains my frustration when it comes to putting things together and hooking things up....on the bright amazed at how much and how far I have come over the years regarding technology. Now know how to operate webpage design, blogs, digital camera's, DVD's, MP'3's, computers, DVR's, and HD T.V.'s. I guess in the long run it is always good to learn new skills but this week my patience, manhood, and self esteem were sorely tested to the max. Still haven't figured out how to burn DVD off television so I can get a copy that will work on my DVD machine at school. Am chomping at the bit to learn in order to begin a DVD library at work. Just hope I don't "crack up" at some point down the road. If I don't figure it out soon I may just pay someone to come out and hook everything up right. It's amazing to watch the serious techno geeks at work. They make it all look so simple......Last but not least.....Worse part of it all are the manuels that come with the various machines. Each one has to be at least a hundred pages. Last week the satellite installers left me with three different manuels for the three different machines they left behind. Spent all afternoon just trying to figure out the rudimentary basics.....In the end got no one to blame or curse at but myself. It was a conscious choice on my part to upgrade my toys. Just hope the industry begins to stream line it all in the years to come or we may all short circuit and crack up.....

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Strange Days

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Is this all there is?

I've been sitting with these thoughts and feelings for awhile now and truth be known this is something that never really goes away but reappears from time to time and most of the time I suspect I just push it into my subconcious where it remains until it gains the motivation and strength to claw its way back to my consciousness .... Recently I catch myself asking, is this all there is? Getting up and going to work, eating, sleeping, spending time with family, friends, and loved ones, going on vacation each summer, and occasionally reading a good book from time to time? Feel like something is missing or is wrong. Sometimes I even wonder if I am just playing games with myself. It's hard to put a finger on anything concrete. Part of me, my realistic, intellectual side suggests that my feelings are due in large part to the season of life and the circumstances I find myself in. I have two sons in high school, I drive almost two hours back and forth to work each day, and living on my own I have to cook, clean, do laundry, run my own errands, etc. etc., without very little help and most folks in my situation would probably feel the same Jungian, pop psychology, self aware ego suggests my soul is crying out for me to listen to my heart, take some risks, and don't be afraid to make some significant changes. Maybe even explore doing some things that would be considered rediculous or beyond the scope of common sense by the majority. These kind of thoughts pass through my stream of conscious from time and while I generally don't act upon them, most of time, they always find a way to pop in and out of my head on a semi-regular basis.......

Over the past year and particularly the past couple of months I have made some significant changes and have taken some risks. I have moved to a new school and did recently purchase a significant amount of new furniture in an effort to improve my depressing living situation. I have also made some recent changes that include joining a book club, getting to bed earlier, and learning to say no to requests for my time from others. As important as these changes have been I still feel something is missing. Either not sure what it is at the moment or perhaps lack the courage/motivation to confront the reality before me???......As I look into my future in the years to come I also struggle with the choices before me and oftentimes many of the choices don't seem too appealing. ....and....wonder if I just need a different perspective on the realities of my life or am I unable, at this time, to grasp or see alternatives that are yet to be revealed.....Part of me says that what I feel are simply a reflection of the times we live in. Rising cost of living, war, natural disasters, and an ever increasing micro managment at work are enough to depress even the most well adjusted individual......Whatever is going on it will probably become clearer in the weeks and months to come, because that's the way life seems to operate. It's seems to be the way universe operates. Sometimes I kinda wish I wasn't so sensitive to what is going on inside. Most folks appear to just suck it up and go on with life. But lack of self awareness isn't particularly appealing to me either. Side effects are potentially dangerous to self and others. I guess all we can do is chug on, batten down the hatches when we need to, and pay attention to our souls and our hearts. Life is a marathon, life is hard, and these are in many ways difficult and strange times we live in......

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

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Some things I don't understand

Just sitting here at the computer after watching yet another series of news stories on the hurricane Katrina tradegy and I confess I am numbed emotionally by what I have seen and heard over the past eight days. I have been following the story closely because I have attempted to integrate the story into all my classes at school as often as I can. As I watch and listen I can understand the wide range of emotions being expressed with great passion on all sides. I can understand the anger by victims and certain segments of the general population. I can understand the criticism's by those who feel more should have been done. I can understand the outrage of the Mayor of New Orleans. I can understand the frustration of those outside of New Orleans in places like Mississippi who feel they have been ignored and shortchanged. I can understand the actions of those who did not get out of New Orleans for one reason or another. I can understand the utter helplessness of some local governments officials and support staff who are working around the clock to do everything they can in what has been described as a living hell on earth. I can understand the loss of hope and utter fear of those left with nothing and I can understand why some people just refuse to leave their homes.....but......there are some things I cannot understand.....I cannot understand why some national cable news stations continue to talk and talk about the looters and the damage that was done to the business community. Didn't these people represent the extreme minority of the folks left behind? Most folks were held up in the Super Dome. As I tried to explain to my psychology class people often do extreme things when they are faced with extreme circumstances. I am not surprised at all. Don't condone it but shit happens when people are living on the edge and I think we all can agree that this disaster pushed alot of folks over the edge......I cannot understand why some talk show hosts continue to critisize the folks who stayed behind. Maybe if some of these folks had a place to go and a way to get there more would have left.....I cannot understand how anyone with any kind of conscious would want to profit from this disaster. Apparently a significant number of hotels located just out of the direct path of Katrina were jacking up the price to stay in their hotels. No wonder so many folks may have felt the need to stay behind. They couldn't afford to stay in the hotels....and we all know about the gas companies....shame on you......They couldn't wait to jack up the gas prices in my neck of the woods 50 cents before you could shake a stick. They raised prices quicker than adequate help arrived in New Orleans. Just proves, I guess, that the corporations are more organized than the government. No wonder they have become so rich.....I cannot understand why some talk show hosts want to blame to welfare system for the disaster. One host yesterday asserted that the reason many folks did not get out is because they were expecting the government to bail them out which is a lesson they learned from being on welfare....What is the world coming to????....but.....worst of all.....I cannot understand why the people housed in the Superdome and the Convention Center did not get food, water, and other necessities quicker. I can understand the difficulty and extreme challenge involved in the ongoing rescue effort to get people out of their homes and certain parts of the city but tens of thousands of people were crammed together for the whole world to see for days with little or no help and this I just don't understand????????

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rockin at the Gym

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What's Up?

Been doing a bit of pondering, working out at the gym, reading, and of course alot of work. Things have started well at my new school. Really like my new schedule and the kids seem to be responding very positively to my lessons. I am teaching two economics classes, one psych and two world history classes. Really love the psych class. Feel like I was born to teach psychology. Gives me an opportunity to share alot of things I have been processing for years and currently don't have an outlet for. Don't care much for teaching econ. The California framework is extremely abstract and academic. One would think they wanted us to create future economists or Wall Street pundits based on the curriculum. It's a tough go teaching to kids who don't care or can't follow the ponderings of academia but I generally try to emphasize the stuff I think the kids need and can understand and just kind of brush over the more esoteric economic concepts. Never was one to follow the letter of the law but do generally follow the spirit when it comes to my job which keeps me just "barely", at times, just above water and under the radar with the administration......Reading.....Am currently reading Karen Armstrong's autobiography "The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness. Am really enjoying the book so far. She picks up her story just after spending seven years in a Jesuit run convent. What an oppressive place to spend one's life. Thought my religious background was oppressive and controlling. Nothing compared to what she had to go through. Although I can't relate to the Catholic background of, Armstrong the nun, I can relate to the nature of her experiences as it relates to issues of dogma, indoctrination, and a subculture that most often sees the world as a bad place on it's way to hell. Alot of similarities with Protestant fundamentalism.....The Gym.....Been tearing it up at the gym the past two weeks and to be honest I am dumbfounded????....Have had the best workouts in years. Can't figure out why??? Was having numerous problems with back and knees earlier this summer but am now performing like someone on steroids. Maybe it's the music I listen to. Have been listening to Green Day's American Idiot the last three workouts. Doesn't get any better than listening to Green Day while riding the bike at 90 plus RPM's at level 10 and 11. Maybe someone should market Green Day's music as a subsitute to all of those expensive health drinks and pills the serious gym rats like to digest on a regular basis. Haven't performed this well since before I broke my back seven years ago. Whatever the reason I am going to try to enjoy it as long as I can before I tweek my back or a knee again.....Ponderings.....Have been thinking about my future from time to time and everything seems quite blurry for the most part. Just have strong premonition I don't want to continue to live in Bakersfield the rest of my life and as soon as I can I want to get out. If my two sons and girlfriend didn't live here I would probably move. The town is becoming another California big city with all the big city problems of pollution, traffic, and boring strip malls.....Do have a bit more clarity regarding the upcoming year. Am going to try to establish my roots locally. Have joined a book club where a group of us are going to read Brian Mclaren's book "A New Kind of Christian". Am really looking forward to this new adventure. It's been a desert for me the past four years locally regarding talking about religion and other things that are dear to my heart. Still don't know what I am going to do about church. Just don't feel much motivation to attend services. Can't even remember the last time I was touched, moved, or inspired by a church service. Probably when I was active in a local pomo leaning house church about three years ago. Perfer small intimate groups over the big productions. Big productions don't do anything for me except during the holidays.......Am going to travel less during the school year and spend more time on the domestic front. Am very satisfied with what I have done with the house this summer because it feels like my house now in many ways. It's been tough living here at my mom's house for the past three years in but do feel alot better about it now since I decorated much of the house to my liking.....Well.....that's what's up for now in my world......Bilbo's World......

Thursday, August 18, 2005

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March of the Penguins

Went to see what all the hoopla was about regarding this film. Nice to see and somewhat surprised that a National Geographic/French production hit the mainstream film circuit, especially in my neck of the woods where blockbusters, summer sequels, and low brow comedy films generally rule the day. Really, really, enjoyed the film, especially the narration by Morgan Freeman, the soundtrack and the amazing story of the ongoing propagation of the emperor penguin species. Some of the photo shots seemed a bit below quality standards which leads me to suspect that they may have been obtained from other filmakers in the past but the wonderful story and the incredible scenes of penguins marching from the ocean to their birthing grounds more than compensated for any lack of professionalism on the photography front. There were a significant number of tender moments between the baby and it's parents and even a few romantic moments were captured between the penguins during the mating ritual in the coldest place on earth. Hard to imagine any living thing could even think about love making in such brutal conditions let alone actually do anything. Cudos for the penguins because somehow they amazingly keep the life cycle of their race going and have apparently done so now for thousands of years. In the end, big thumbs up and hope the industry pays attention to the potential pay off of such efforts. I am really getting tired of one summer sequel after another and it was really a pleasant surprise to see something so majestic given an opportunity on the big screen. Hopefully we will see more in the future.......

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Back to work

While the vast majority of folks and students are still on summer vacation I actually went back to work on Monday. Our school district starts earlier than the rest of the schools in the state and classes actually began on Monday morning....Lucky me..... Seriously, I really can't complain because I have been off for nine weeks which is much longer than the rest of my working comrades.... This year I transferred to Caesar Chavez High which is entering only it's third year of existence. It's a state of the art of high school and has a beautiful campus but it takes forever to walk from one side of the campus to the other. I told one of the administators that if they didn't get me my own personal golf cart than I was going to bring my mountain bike to school and rip back and forth across campus running over anybody that gets in my way and that includes administrators. I really don't intend to bring my mountain bike but it would be nice if the campus wasn't so huge. It has the feel of a Junior college, it's that big.

I woke up Monday morning on the first day of school at four thirty in the morning because I was somewhat anxious about going to work. I now have second thoughts about going to the new high school, in large part, because it is apparently much more regimented and there is a lot of emphasis on rules, particularly keeping the dress code. Let's just say that conformity and keeping dress codes are not my particular cup of tea. It also grieves me because I feel that education is quickly losing it's "soul" during the lastest round of education reforms. All anyone talks about anymore is improving the test scores and almost every teacher who teaches a core subject is now teaching to the various tests we have to administer on a regular basis. Teaching to tests is not what I got into education for and it saddens me to see the educational powers that be drag everyone down this road. It also grieves my soul because alot of important aspects of the educational experience is now being lost or repressed during the ever increasing testing frenzy that is now at the forefront of the education culture. Can't remember that last time we had a good motivational speaker or any discussion or emphasis on the importance of creativity, creating lifetime learners, distilling a love for learning, or the other things that are near and dear to my heart. It's all about testing, standards, and conformity.......Well, I could talk about this topic for hours but I better move towards closure. I'll make the best of it and hope I can stay under the radar screen which is becoming increasingly difficult to do because over the years I have gradually become more and more eccentric and willing to stand near the edge of the abyss when it comes to how I do my job. Reminds me that there is often a fine line between those on the edge and those who take pride in being normal and sometimes it doesn't take much to trigger events that may send a person over the edge. Since I have went over the edge in my life on more than one occasion I now think I understand some of the dynamics of our soul's persistent attempts to satisfy it's deepest desires. Of course, some people are better than others at repressing the souls cry to be satisfied but a deprived soul cannot or will not be denied indefinetly. .....Need to wrap this up because I have to get up at the crack of dawn to work on worksheets and curriculum. Fun, fun, fun.....One positive note. I am teaching psychology again after five years of being deprived and that should give me an opportunity to teach a subject that is not driven by tests. Should be alot of fun for both me and the students.....Fallen asleep at the key board so I better go now....Over and out......

My new home

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Some more vacation pics

I appreciate all of the positive responses to my earlier vacation pics. I actually took more than 400 pictures but didn't want to post too many considering many of you are working hard and just trying to stay out of the heat and I didn't want to make you more folks are all grown ups and I figure you can censure my website for awhile if it causes you too much pain....enjoy......

A walk through the ferns

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A contemplative moment

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Lilly Pads on the coast

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Spiral Stair case

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Blowing sand

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Sand Sculptures

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Trash can art

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A view from above

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Redwood Highway

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My Son's Aura

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Stain Glass Window

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Victorian House in Astoria

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Some more Seagulls

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Inside a Victorian Home

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Friday, August 12, 2005

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Bakersfield: Bastion of Conservatism

For some time now I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I live in a very conservative city but now I finally have the proof to back up my frequent assertions. Apparently a study was done recently to identify the ten most conservative and liberal cities in the U.S. and Bakerfield was ranked the most conservative city in California and number eight in the nation. That's right, number eight. Provo Utah came out number one some other cities included Colorado Springs, Plaino and Lubbuck Texas, and Orange County.....So how does this make me feel? Well....on one level I just remind myself that conservatives are people just like everyone else with just different warts. I have many conservative friends and they all are loving people, in many ways and I certainly don't want to demonize my fellow brethren....but....on another level....I admit I am growing tired of the constant liberal bashing that is the most popular sport in my neck of the woods. It's become a real bore and there is in my opinion very little serious thought or consideration given to any ideas by liberals. It's just assumed around here by the vast majority that liberals are to be feared and are anti-God/America, which is unfortunate, IMO, because I think some of their ideas/proposals should at least be taken into consideration, if for no other reason than they are serious minded people just like many of their conservative counterparts.

It's a shame the culture wars have come to the place where many good folks appear to regulary succumb to the temptation to demonize those on the other side of the political isle. Our political winner take all system doesn't help because it only galvanizes and energizes those in the minority to get revenge with the powers that be.....People on both sides of the political isle seem to recognize that we need reform on numerous fronts in this country but I am afraid their idea of reform is too short sided and thus ineffective for the most part because a significant amount of the reform efforts are based on eliminating or tharting the proposals of the "other side" thus we often end up with proposals that reflect more a committment to an ideology rather than helping the people who need help the most. Just my take on things. Kind of got off the subject of Bakersfield. I've lived here my whole life and really don't know any other living environment other than conservative. Just the way it is. Just wish folks around here would engage what they apparently fear most instead of dismissing it out of hand without any serious consideration.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A few highlights

Whenever you go on an extended trip to so many beautiful places it is often difficult to pick a favorite spot or experience but I am going to give it a go anyway. Ever been to a place that was so magical/enchanting you didn't want to leave? Ever have an experience so intense you wish you had the power to suspend time and space? On this trip standing at the top of the Astoria Column over looking the Columbia River as she spilled her 18 million gallons a second into the Pacific Ocean was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Astoria Column is a one hundred and twenty five foot tall column decorated and dedicated to the history of Astoria and includes some 14 scenes, many, which include references to the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Astoria Column sits upon a hill located approxiately 600 feet above the town of Astoria. On the day we visited there was no fog or clouds to be seen anywhere and not only could I see the mighty Columbia but I could see several snow capped mountains of Washington in the distance, the Pacific Ocean and the town of Astoria below. By the way, Astoria is the oldest permanent settlement west of the Mississippi. The flowers were in full bloom and all the views were breathtaking, spellbinding, and full of life. I didn't want to leave but since I currently lack the ability to suspend time and space I finally made my way back down the hill to town and the next adventure.

Another highlight....One morning I took a quick jaunt over to the beach in the morning which was located near our campsite and I saw what must of been a hundred or so seagulls hangin out near where the ocean waves met the beach. As one young girl approched the seagulls they all in unison hovered above for ten seconds or so and than landed again a couple of feet away. It was a magnificent and rare site indeed, something I have never seen before. I quickly ran back to camp to get my camera and for the next 15 to 20 minutes proceeded to take one picture after another. It felt like something right out of National Geographic... Two days later we witnessed hundreds of Pelicans swarming and diving into the bay near our campground. I suspect some large quanties of small fish were in the area which must of precipated to seagull and pelican behavior during our stay.

Final highlight..... Each year the travel channel usually does a program on the top ten beaches in the world and Cannon Beach in Oregon often makes their top ten list and after spending the day in Cannon Beach I can see why. Cannon beach streches for miles and is littered with rocks and one really, really, big rock which is said to be the third largest in the world of it's kind. Cannon beach is also a beautiful tourist town which apparently draws tourist from all over the U.S. We spent the day walking around the town before finally heading down to the beach where I walked in the water for awhile. Again, the weather was perfect. Clear skies, and a gentle breeze. A bit on the crowded side but beauty has a way of always drawing attention to herself. ....Anyway....that's just some of the highlights. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that just spending time with my two sons and girlfriend was probably the top highlight of all. It's great to have family, friends, and people who love you and you love them........

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Astoria Column Close-up

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Astoria Column

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