Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the Year, Goodbye 2007

I guess everyone needs to post an "end-of-2007" comment. Well, plumbing problems have been the lead story. At the house, the thermal coupler went out--always on a weekend--didn't get our usual people and had to pay WAY too much. Then the septic reached its "time to be pumped" point, again on a day they charge extra... but my mother found a really good guy with a family business. Turns out his kin live in that house just up the road that used to have the two friendly dogs. We always wondered why those dogs just vanished... turns out they had dug their way out of the yard and been found dead on the property. So horribly sad. Never leave animals outside unattended. Really sad. The black one would always get excited and run back and forth when I drove by, so we always said "there's my dog!"

Also, here at the apartment the shower is now backing up, etc. Endless plumbing problems. I think the ones at the house are now fixed (many many $ later), but here at the apartment still ongoing.

It is VERY windy today, and I went over to visit the willow trees on campus. I love to watch them dance in the wind. This photo is not from today, but it's of a wind dance from earlier in the year.

My roommate's mother is here from Korea. Her father will also come over soon, and then they're all going off to Las Vegas!

I don't have any "top ten" lists for the year. Can't think of any music or film that made a big impact on me. I just keep watching Roddy McDowall in "Legend of Hell House" over and over!

Had some good visitors this past year:

Mayumi was here twice, and that was cool! We had fun both times. She's been way too generous with the Ultraman gifts (her sister too!)

It was great to see Shari this year, and TWICE no less!

Also, it was wonderful to see Sharon and to watch her perform. Great stuff! And she's sooooooooooo small!!! (Mayumi had wasted away as well. I used to be able to do that... Shari is small too.)

Meanwhile, I am getting WAY too plump and blubbery. Yikes!

Keep eating veggie! Be kind to animals, of course...

My new term is "sunlight sinister" to mean it looks all bright and bouncy, but really there is a dark side. I use the Bee Gees' "New York Mining Disaster" song to illustrate that point. (It sounds all 60s harmony pop, but it's a tragic tale!) My "subculture" designation for this next year (which I made up, and now watch it will be stolen!) is Sunshine Goth. I could never ever be one of those vampire types, as I have no interest in vampires for starters, and the whole subculture seems to attract a LOT of "large" girls. I do love Gothic architecture and horror stories, but also the sun and bright colors and psychedelic music, so to balance my "grim" view of life with the outward "lively" style, I came up with Sunshine Goth. Lopex said I could NOT have Bee Gees in a Goth lifestyle, so this was my way to pull it off! No, I will not start dressing in all black. I do wear a lot of black with other colors (except for days when I go all black and introduce myself as Johnny Cash)--green remains my main color.

Oh yeah, my other big change is to move away from PURPLE this next year.

The loss of my beloved Mr. Lyrical back in March remains so devastating and painful. I miss him so much.

Shari and I went to Malibu for the sunset. It was either the actual Solstice or the day before or after, not quite sure, but I got this postcard-like photo. That's just a rock there, not some form of marine animal!

Thanks for reading. See you in 2008 !

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa Barbara and stuff

Woden's Day December 19, 2007. This would've been Phil Ochs' 67th birthday. Looks like it's gonna rain--as it did for nearly 24 hours Monday night to Tuesday night. Yesterday was finally my last day of work for the year, so now I need to get all the things done that have been piling up and waiting for me.

This past Saturday, Lopex, Terry, and I went up to Santa Barbara. Terry is a nice Japanese boy who I'd been studying with. He and a friend from school are gonna take Amtrack across America for the next few weeks. Hope it stays on the tracks! We went to the Mission, Sambo's (yes, an actual 50-year-old Little Black Sambo's!), the beach--where there were pelicans--and then up and down State Street, the city's main shopping area. The weather was quite good, fairly warm and very sunny. Wow! What shocked me most? All the white people. Yes, white people. Loads of them. Whole groups together. When do I ever see large numbers of white people? Young ones! Not just the handful of elderly sad ones you see in Los Angeles, but whole posses of young white people, mostly tall, slim and genuinely blonde! Wow! I reckon 75% of the people I saw that day were slim and white. Terry was really surprised and excited. That was how he had imagined all of California to be. I told him, gee, it's like the '50s up here! Quite surreal. Mind, Santa Barbara has its share of homeless people, but only one (a white lady!) actually asked us for money. Lopex says that SB police do not allow them to ask directly like that. Saw a few cool older homes as well. Of course my camera's batteries died on me. I have a serious problem with generating disruptions to the ElectroMagneticField and often kill batteries or make other equipment malfunction. You might think I'm joking, but I'm not.

Lopex was very delighted indeed for we discovered she had been a contest winner! Second place and two honorable mentions in a doll magazine for three "travel" photos she'd done of her Blythe dolls. Happy to say I was there for all three of them. You can check that out here if you'd like.

My former coworker and now good friend Susan had heart surgery yesterday. I can't explain the details well, but she had to be awake for it while the doctor sent her heart into "convulsions" or similar. Good news is he thinks he solved the problem, and she was even able to call me from her home last evening to tell me she was back! Amazing how far medical science has come.

Doctor in the House, a series of books that was then made into films, was also made into a British comedy in the early 70s. I hadn't seen it since I guess the late 70s--maybe as recently as 1981, but no later... a show I loved and missed. Found a man in Canada selling sets on Ebay--got one, and as I discovered the cable had gone out last night, put two discs in as I ate my pasta. A bit different than I remember, but still the same old great show and terrific characters. Wonderful blast from the past. Looking forward to watching more. In the days before VHS (and of course DVD!) I had feared I'd never see the show again. Wonderful treat.

Winter Solstice is coming soon. I'm not even sure of the exact time. I manage to miss these things every year, along with any rare meteor showers or other natural phenomena of note.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Decemberrrrr 7, 2007. Pearl Harbor was a set-up. FDR knew in advance. He wanted to get the USA into the war. Great link HERE. Random News: Danielle was able to come back to work, following her post-surgery recovery period. Happy to see her on campus. Sharon's tour continues--a couple more shows to go. Check out THE ROPES.
Was very happy to see her on the L.A. stop. She got to meet Mansour too! I'm fat again. My efforts to LOSE weight resulted in me gaining 2 lbs. Way to go! Still have another week (or more) to go with my two schools. We think it's cold here, but what we call cold is much milder than most places at the moment. Saw and met two of Sugarcult, a rock band from Santa Barbara, on campus just before Thanksgiving. Shout out to Shari because they are her friends. My plan to travel around SoCal every other weekend and take photos of "the rotting corpse of greater Los Angeles" seems to have been abandoned. Have eaten out a few times lately. Always costs too much and never really satisfies. Had some major rain out in the desert, so I hope to dig dig dig in my softened up holes-in-progress in the yard tomorrow, despite the 50 degree temp. Yes, I am digging to China. Hey, I know people there now!

Had a nasty run-in (or assault by?) a freakazoid Starbucks employee this past week. Stay OUT of Starbucks! The CEO donates profits to israel, too. Despite there being NO valid reason to foolishly attack Iran (and I have Iranian friends, so HANDS OFF!), the zionist-neocons are still pushing for it. Did you know that President Kennedy had wanted inspections of israel's nuclear facilities and to put an end to the Federal Reserve? Then he was killed... hmmm. There's lots of info about that on the web, but search for yourself. See how lazy I've become! Thanks for reading. Donate to no-kill shelters this holiday.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Post-Veteran's Day

Hello. Today is Tiw's Day, November 13, 2007.
Veteran's Day is always sad because most wars were pointless or for evil ends. I spent the long weekend with my mother. She went to the eye doctor, and for a while her heartbeat was way too high, so we kept taking her pulse and worrying. Luckily, she spoke with her doctor, and decongestants seem to have been the problem. Things are better now. Danielle is also out of the hospital, so that's another good thing.
It was wonderfully warm out on the desert, but I didn't accomplish much of anything. DID take Lactaid and eat a whole half gallon of REAL ice cream, which I am opposed to on moral and health grounds... but mint chocolate chip called to me!
The cats could care less about me. Well, KB puts up with me, and Squirt runs for her life if I even look at her. Gee, cats...
An old episode of Cheers is on, where Nick tries to attract Diane after Loretta leaves him. What a well-written show that was.
It was about 90 degrees today! Of course I had to work, but it was hard to get back into the swing of things after just one extra day off. Too many students were absent as well.
Had stopped watching my stocks (I only have a few...) because the dollar is so weak, but during the time I wasn't looking, it hit my target! And then it came back down... so I missed my chance to sell. My stock is in a Japanese company, so I hope it will go back up despite our sad little play money dollar falling daily.
One amazing thing happened: my car insurance company called me the other day and said that they can no longer punish us by zip code, so my rate went down over $500 a year, and I should be getting a refund for the amount I overpaid recently! It's STILL expensive, but less. Less is good!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Creepy Ventura County Drive

According to the Jiffy Lube sign round the corner, it's only 86 degrees at 1 pm, but it feels much hotter. I just paid a small fortune for gas: $3.24! Late October - November-December is the heaviest time of the year for bills. Car insurance (nearly $2,000 a year, and it's nothing fancy), property taxes, Blue Cross, post office box renewal, DMV fees, Auto Club membership, plus the usual rent, credit card, utilities, etc. It's quite a whallop.

In the heat of the dying autumn I get restless too. This is the first weekend in quite a stretch that I haven't gone home. Instead I'm here in Northridge and SHOULD be cleaning, sorting, studying, correcting papers, etc. But like I said, I get restless. So I got on the road about 9:30 this morning to drive up into Ventura County. I headed for Moorpark as I'd only ever passed through once before, and that is where my dear friend Danielle lives. She should be home from the hospital next week and I'd like to go visit her at home. Thought I should check it out in advance.

Well, the 118 freeway up through Simi Valley is colorless except for the mega huge rock outcroppings along the side. Reminds me of Joshua Tree and I'd
love to take photos, only I'm driving on the freeway at the time. All new-ish residences packed into Simi alongside the rocks which used to be used as western movie ranches, where they filmed serials that my dad was nostalgic about, where Chatsworth and Simi meet. As you leave Simi, the freeway becomes more like a highway and narrows down to two lanes and you start to get that "hicksville" feeling.

In my case, I got that CREEPY feeling. This morning's Moorpark and thereabouts outing gave me the creeps! Admittedly, if you don't know your way around a new place, you can be a little "out of your element," but heading into Moorpark I felt trapped. It gave me an overwhelming sensation of being trapped and that sudden panic of "can't breathe!" My coworker Monika, whose parents are Dutch, lives out there too and just loves it. The place has 36,000 people and she reckons it is a wonderful small town, surrounded by a lovely greenbelt, with convenient shopping and neighborly people. Danielle always makes it sound very "whitebread" as they say (hate that term).

From my drive-by today, it seemed mostly Hispanic. The Mexican, etc. population may well be long-time residents or kin of long-time residents because many were lined up in front of a liquor store as day laborers in an area where even a "cheap" condo now starts at $300,000. I don't see how working people can afford it. They must've gotten in at an earlier time. The place is a mix of half-rotting, maybe-hundred-year-old remnants and modern gated "communities" that are "now selling" according to the signs. Plus the usual style of California homes are there, all pushed right up against their neighbors. There are lots of trees, but few of them look healthy. Of course, fires have swept through more than once. In fact, a small army of fire trucks drove through, lights flashing, while I was driving in the area. Motorcycles too--whole clubs of motorcycle riders seem to fill the place. Danielle makes it sound like true suburbia, Monika makes it sound like a nice small town, and now I shall claim it's a claustrophobic, ugly corridor on the way up to the more farm land-ish parts of Ventura County.

As I drove on out of Moorpark and toward Fillmore, where fireworks are legal (??), I passed through the actual VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH. I kid you not. I'm not sure how much was carved out simply to make room for the narrow road, how much is an actual rock quarry, and how much is burn area, but it is desolate and looks like the Forbidden Zone or Mars. Some of it is actually RED. I wonder if that was from the flame retardant the fire crews drop? I wanted to take pictures of actual hell, but nowhere to stop. On the way back through I did manage to pull onto the shoulder a couple times. Some fools had carved their names into the sand-rocks. That's like asking for it. Oddly, up around the corner two school buses from Pasadena College were parked, and about twenty students were out staring at the area. Kids, this is Deathville.

Photos appear here now.

What drives me crazy EVERYWHERE I go exploring, is that there is always someone RIGHT on my bumper who wants me to go faster, faster. I am always slowing someone down and there is no chance for me to just pull over, stop, get out, take photos, etc. I can barely enjoy looking around
because I'm caught on this racetrack. Grr grr.

Fillmore seemed to be a small crossroads of a community, again Latino, and onwards I went to Santa Paula. The highway to Santa Paula is lined with fields and rented plots of tree farms and other crops I presume. Actual farm land! There are also a few Victorian-era homes right at the roadside, mostly in lesser condition and well-hidden behind trees. Those were mega cool and spooky and I managed to pull over onto the shoulder and attempt a few photos. Not the best photos, nor did I manage to get one of the spookier places, due to it being behind trees, and everyone behind me going 65 mph, all racing who knows where, but definitely in a big hurry.

In Santa Paula itself, I was the only white person to be seen, and the place is how I picture Mexico to be in parts. Wikipedia says the town is 90% Hispanic. Found this one museum, "the old oil building" or such, from 1890. [See the official site here] I parked on the street and got pix but didn't go in. A few dilapidated older homes were handy to photograph as well. I walked across a couple streets, despite not having put on any sunblock this morning. I'm sure I got burned. It was hot out there and I could feel the sun damaging my face further. There was a woman pushing her baby along, all the while jabbering away in Spanish on
her cell phone, older men sitting on benches, the main street has that angular parking of yesteryear, most the businesses were food or clothes, and all signs in Spanish. Lots of children about and even boys in the park in one of those skateboard "pits"--what do you call that? Concrete that goes down in and forms a bowl so guys can try skateboarding up and down its walls...I wanna call it a "pipe"--I dunno! I felt like a total foreigner and it was hot, so back on the freeway (highway) I got.

I managed to stop on the shoulder a couple times for photos, including this older building, painted red, that is a girls' schoolhouse.
Near that schoolhouse was also an older building turned garden center, and I pulled in to photograph the home. This other car was also in the driveway and they got out and began picking fruit off a tree in the yard! Sure, help yourselves! It was NOT one of those "pay and pick" places either. I don't know what the fruit was, but I got a photo so Lopex can I.D. it for me (as I am confident she can; I am clueless about trees, plants, fruits, flowers... but I like weeping willows. I was surprised to find one in a crowded suburban yard when I first entered Moorpark. Got a pic!)

When I got back into Moorpark, the 118 sign went both ways, and I couldn't recall which way I'd turned. Of course, I made the wrong choice, and maybe five miles down the unfamiliar road of yet more potted palm trees for sale, I turned back, doing a U across a highway of speeding trucks (well, I waited for an opening!) There were many, many dead wild animals in the road. Poor babies. Every other sign announces a place called Grimes Canyon Road. For my non-California friends, Ventura County is north of Los Angeles County, and where I am in Northridge is not far from the county line. Ventura is smaller, greener, more farmland, more fires (more dry trees to burn).... Don't confuse Ventura County with the pleasant beach community of Ventura itself. That is, of course, on the coast, and the places I went this morning are inland.

I returned to Northridge feeling very out-of-place as I can't speak much Spanish, saddened about the dead animals, angry about all the people constantly on my tail, curious about the old houses, worried about my sun-damaged skin, and unhappy about the dry trees, strong winds, price of homes, narrow stretch of highway, and life in general. Surely I forgot some comments I had in my head as I drove... I will post photos on my now-PRO (hey!) Flickr account and link them here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hallow Eve

'Tis Halloween Eve and I've created yet another website. Actually, I plan to replace Heliothunder with this one, as I've been paying for that ad-free site but rarely use it. Seems too wasteful (should've seemed wasteful ages ago...)

Lately I've been finding no-kill animal shelters, with a focus on cats, to donate to. Also, SLOWLY getting the bedroom in this apartment cleaned out, which means taking more stuff home to pile up in that giant mountain of stuff that used to be our small living room.

My friend Danielle's surgery has been rescheduled for tomorrow. Fingers crossed. This is her second surgery as the first one didn't go so well, and now she's been waiting at UCLA for them to fit her into their schedule.

Of course the horrid fires around SoCal were in international news. Lopex' family home was threatened at one point, but things turned out OK. Whew!

I think this free Google blogsite is a bit easier to deal with, so POSSIBLY I will update it more often. Not sure how the photos work. I might deal with my photos separately.

If YOU have a blog, or this inspires you to get one, please do send me the address.

As always, every New Year I swear I'm gonna keep in better touch with my friends. Let's make this the year..... (promises, promises).