Jul 30, 2008

Antics on the road, and I'm barely a Baritone

Yesterday I drove Ben home after a nice, long summer visit. From our home here to his other home, its easily a 5 hour drive. So we packed up the usual accoutrement's: toys, movies and games, and headed south. Of course, between movies and games and whatever else his almost-9-year-old brain can come up with, he has an unending string of questions that need answering. This can make for a rather entertaining ride.

Sadly, though, the ride home is nowhere near as entertaining because I am alone, and generally I don't have a lot of questions that I feel compelled to ask myself. So I am left to watch others as I drive. Its amazing what people do in their vehicles. I think, and this is only a theory, the most people believe that when they are in their vehicle the rest of the world is shut out. They are alone, shielded from view from the rest of humanity. What follows is a small list of observations I have made on various trips to various places that have stuck with me, and I have even gone so far as giving these people titles:

  1. The groomer: The guy with his razor, the woman with her makeup. I hope this doesn't come across as sexist, but I believe the shaver is less dangerous than the make-up artist. Using an electric razor is far easier then applying make-up (at least it seems like it should be, I can't say this from personal experience). But lets be honest, if the guy with his razor crashes he doesn't run too much risk of gouging his eye ball out with a eyelash brush, or whatever its called.

  2. The miner: Yes, I am referring to nose picking. I would not be so presumptuous as to say we all haven't had to do a little mining in our nasal cavities from time to time. After all, we are human and the proverbial booger sometimes has to be expelled. But in the front seat of your car while you are on a crowded highway? What do you plan to do with that thing once it has been extracted? It better not fling towards my car.

  3. The reader: This one always baffles me. Whether its a map, a book or the news paper, how can anyone think they can read and focus on the road? I have actually seen a man reading the paper and shaving while driving. Up until this point, I hadn't even considered the idea that we could combine titles.

  4. The singer: I myself am guilty of this one. I bring the iPod in long trips and have all my play lists easily accessible. And of course, when there is no one to talk to, sometimes singing along with the music is all there is do. I'm not embarrassed. I go all out. It entertains me. Sadly though, there are few songs out there that I can sing with relative ease, as my voice is extremely deep. I would barely qualify as a baritone, were I to have a title. More a bass. In fact, on a good day when I'm warmed up and in good form, I can hit two octaves below middle C (that's not easy).

So there we have it, a small list of the types of people I have seen while traveling the California highways. There is one person, though, who I have saved for last. And my most recent road trip provided the most amazing example of this type of person: The Idiot.

Imagine if you will, a crowded 2 lane highway, with no center divide and a lot of construction. There I sit, two cars back from the flagger who yawns while holding his "Stop" sing. The sun is shining, and its easily 95 degrees outside or higher. I'm sure I was not the only one who was getting impatient with this constant stops and the waiting in the heat. But the flagger seems oblivious to all this as he calmly drinks from a water bottle kept cold in a cooler at his feet. The the pilot car arrives and turns around. From the rear, a large orange sign with bold black letters looks like this:

Most of us have seen this sign, I am sure. So the pilot car begins its run to guide us to the safe side of the construction zone. The first car in line is a blue mini-van with Washington plates. I don't know if they do road work in Washington, or if this person was new to driving. Either way, what followed had my dumbfounded, and laughing hysterically. The pilot car moved to the opposite side of the road to go around a very large, imposing and very in the way truck that was facing us in our lane. The Washingtonian must have decided that the silly pilot car was going to slow and decided to stay in the original lane, and then started to pass the pilot car. I'm surprised I didn't crash while all this was going on because I was watching so intently. With a large truck blocking the Washingtonian, the pilot car leaned on the horn, and screamed an expletive or two, and the Washingtonian quickly fell into line. I can't vouch for what he was thinking, or if he was thinking at all. I do believe at some point he realized the error of his ways, and was quite rattled by it. Because when the pilot car turned off to let us free from our escort, the Washingtonian slammed on his brakes for a brief second and nearly followed the pilot car into a small driveway.

I don't know how some of these things happen, but I'm pretty sure you can't make them up.

Jul 22, 2008

The ugly truth about Racism


The word by itself brings to mind vivid pictures that I think the following words describe pretty accurately: Ugly, Unfair, Biased, Ignorant, Hurtful, Stupid.

I am sure there are many other descriptive adjectives that could fit here as well, but those should paint a fairly good picture. Last night Delia and I watched a program on the History Channel about the origins of Nazi-ism in America. Its roots come from the fact that we as a country support the idea of free speech and deplore the idea that a government can censure the same.

After world war 1 many Germans came to America. These people were looking for the American Dream. Freedom of Everything. You could be who you wanted to be. You could do what wanted to do under the protection of the 1st amendment. But what has that led to?

Now, here in the untied states, under the protection of the United States Government, you can proclaim your belief that one race is superior to another with no fear of retribution. And that belief grows and festers with nothing to put it in check.

I work in an environment where racism is real and alive. Up until this point I have never really made a public show of my employment, except for vague references and innuendos. Now, feeling the way I do about things, I feel the time has come to be a little more specific. I work in a correctional institution. And there, in the facility, racism is alive and well. A white guy can not mix freely with a black guy without fear of being punished. I won't go into all the intricacies of it all, but its ugly. Its hurtful to people. Its a sad, realistic view of the nation as a whole.

Look at the southern states, were the "Rebel Flag" is displayed on flag poles over the American Flag. Where there are certain areas where people of color are not welcome and areas where white people won't go because the colored folk frequent them.

Where have we gone wrong? Why has this idea been allowed to take root and cement itself in the very fabric of "freedom" that we so dearly embrace?

About 5 years ago I made the choice to date a Hispanic woman. In certain circles I would have been looked at as a "Traitor to my Race."

I myself look at myself as a human being, and my wife, as the same human being. I don't get the idea Racism. I can't understand how one person can look at another as being inferior simply because of skin color. My wife was once referred to as being "one shade lighter than a nigger." The person who made this comment I would classify as being the basest of people, with no education and a history of drug use, violence, and prison time. But in the end, it still makes real the idea that racism is alive and well in America.

I love this country. I love the freedoms afforded to me by those who were willing to fight for it. But do I hold my own prejudices in my own heart? Do I hate the uneducated? Do I hate ignorant? Do I deplore their use of the constitution, that gives me the same freedoms to hate them, that gives them the freedom to hate others? Yes.

Certain freedoms were granted with an intent. But the founding fathers intent was a constitution that would be forever binding, one that could adapt to new eras and new ideas and still hold the same truths to be true.

I hate them for taking advantage of that, and taking those privileges and twisting them to their own diabolical ideas.

I love my wife. I love other people. No matter what their nationality, no matter what the color of their skin.

People are people. And we should all be able to get along.

Jul 19, 2008

Experiments in Photography

It was quite some time ago that I was wanting a hobby. I have had numerous ideas over the last couple of months that all seemed to have made their way to back of my brain as other things have come up. But lately, as stated in a recent post, I have started to enjoy photography and video editing. Sadly, thus far, my implementation of this idea has been slow going. Mainly, there are two factors that have been slowing me down. First off, I have a nine year old boy here at the house. And while I am not complaining about him being here, it does tend to make the idea of focusing on a hobby a little difficult. Second, I have a lack of equipment. I want a video camera, and I want a better still camera. These are both lofty goals, as I tend to have expensive taste. I have certain things in mind that I want to be able to accomplish, so I'll take it one step at a time.

For now, though, I have our camera that we own. Its nothing fancy, more of the point and click variety. But one of the things I was looking for when I bought it was a nice feature set at a decent price. So it has a decent set of options to it, and its time I learned them and put the camera to use at its full potential.

My first subjects? Flowers. They are readily available in the park behind the house and at the zoo. One of the features of our little Canon is setting it to take close up detail shots. A this setting you can focus on objects at extremely close range and not end up having it all blurry. What follows is a few examples of things I have found that turned out all right:
For being a complete armature, I think these are not that bad. I like the clover the best. There is something about the way it looks that simply appeals to me. Not to mention I like the bright color green there. Delia found the manual for the Canon so I can actually figure out what the other settings do. I'll have more on that as I go.
As for editing of photos and video, so far I have limited myself to free downloads thanks to Cnet's The first program I tried was called Video Caster. A very simple program, not a lot of options. The second was Microsoft's Photo Story 3. A little more involved, but I have yet to really play with all of the features yet. One minor irritation: I can't seem to get it to time the amount of photos to match a given song. I can't see a reason why it would not be able to do this.
So my hobby hunt seems to have ended. Now comes the practical application of photography. At some point I'll have myself a video camera, and I'll get into the the whole movie making aspect as well. So, thanks for tuning in. I'll have more on this later.

Jul 17, 2008

What happened to summer?

I'm sitting here at 2 in the afternoon freezing my rear end off.  I realize this is an odd statement to make in the middle of July, but its freaking cold here.  Often times I tout the mild weather we have here in Eureka.  It rarely reaches 80 degrees, it rains a lot, and the winter months are full of fog and more rain.  I like the wheather here.  I like that it is never really hot.  But does it have to be 57 today?  Lets take a look around at some of the other areas of interest in my life and see what the temperatures there are:
  1. My sister lives in Arizona, Chandler to be exact.  There in the middle of the desert: 104 degrees.  Pretty dang hot in my humble opinion.
  2. My folks, living in Vacaville, CA: 84 degrees.  Not bad.  I could function in that kind of heat, although I think it borders pretty close on uncomfortably hot.
  3. Ocho Rios, Jamaica, is a nice 84 degrees, although I'm sure the humidity makes it ten times worse.
Ok, so there are a few places of interest to me, that generally hae much warmer weather.  Today the boy and I were planning on going for a walk into the park and then the zoo.  But now it seems we might not be going anywhere, as it is pretty cold outside.

Who would have though that summer could be so cold?

Jul 15, 2008

A small education worth getting.

Anyone who lives in Humboldt County is pretty well forced to know at least some small portion of two different subjects: the lumber industry and the effect it has on rivers and streams in this county. 

The Pacific Lumber Company (refered to as PalCo from here on out) used o be a multi-million dollar industry.  Between the various types of lumber that can be found in Humboldt, and red wood, PalCo was a giant, employing enough people to actually fill a town on its own. 

Eventually, this industry became more widely regulated by the government.  Wih regulation comes change, and eventually PalCo began to reforrest the land it was cutting.  There is a huge long story here, one that I don't care to get into. But it suffices me to say that one of the things the lumber industry had taken into consideration is the effect of lumber milling on local streams and rivers.  The direct effect on streams and rivers affected the fish in those rivers, mainly trout, steelhead and salmon.  So policies were put into place and action taken to make the industry more friendly to the environment and the various species in that environment.  to help people understand this more readily, PalCo built a Fishery Exhibit.  This exhibit is in the news now (which is the only reason I even learned about it) because Palco is in the middle of bankruptc hearings.  Now, this display, which cost nearly 5 million to make and is still kept up, has an uncertain future.  So Ben and I took an excursion to see this facility and learn what we could from it. 

What follows is a little of the photos I took while there.  The rest of the Photos from this exhibit can be found by clicking here.

If you ever have the oppotunity, I suggest you check this display out.  Its worth the drive to Scotia.

Jul 14, 2008


With the recent trip to Disneyland and the zoo, there are far more pictures than I am still prepared to deal with. Having said that, it seems easier to produce a slide show of the events. What follows is a montage of pictures from Disneyland and California Adventure. The pictures from the San Diego Zoo will be on the Flickr page, although I do not know i I intend to make s show of that one yet.

So enjoy. We sure did.

Jul 12, 2008

The boys and Darth

The boys found Darth Vadar standing aroung at the lego store.

A little bit of catching up to do....

Ok, it feels like I haven't been able to post for quite some time, and a lot has happened in the last week. What follows is a brief synopsis of the last week's events:

When last I posted, I was complaining about having to shave while on vacation. Dennis and I figured not shaving was our little rebellion, a way of sticking to the man, and in the end our respective spouses acquiesced to our requests. Now, having said that, my wife so tactfully pointed out that my goatee was very characteristic of a 12 year old. Even under her brutal assault, I still maintained my determination to stick to the man, and kept the goatee neatly trimmed all week.

The trip down was uneventful. it was a suburban with 4 adults and 4 kids. We were a little crowded but otherwise we got down there with no issues.

The happiest place on earth was generally happy. All of the adults generally kept our cool. There were times when tempers were a little short, but no feelings were hurt (that I know of) and over all there were no complaints. The parks were fairly crowded, but we made use of the fast pass feature and generally didn't have to wait longer than about 20 minutes for most rides.

The San Diego was a nice zoo. Its rather large and there is quite a diversity of animal species. It was a nice, slow paced walk. The kids really enjoyed it all together.

Then we drove home. An all nighter. We got home in about 14 hours, which we thought wasn't that bad.

So, having said all that, I'll be making some individual posts about various aspects of the trip over the next couple fo days. the first will be tonight, when I get home. I am intending on making a slide show of the trip, and the pictures from Disneyland have been posted to Flickr. Check it out as you can.

Thanks for tuning in.

Jul 4, 2008

Facial hair, and a lack thereof...

I have to shave. Its required at work. Apparently there is some sort of OSHA regulation that says if you work in a an environment where a Self Contained Breathing Apperatus could be used you can not have facial hair. A mustache is ok, but goatees and beards are out of the question.

By it self, this rule really isn't that bad. I mean, I have been shaving since I was 16 or 17. I have never had a beard, and I don't think I would even want one. But a goatee might be nice.

Sadly, even at a time like now, when I am on vacation, a goatee (what I would consider one of those luxeries only afforded to one who is on vacation; where the rules of work no longer apply, even if only for a brief time) is generally denied me.

Why? I would guess it has to do with genes. DNA, maybe? But the sad fact is, even when I don't shave for a week it barely looks like I have a little shadow to my face. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that my facial hair is fairly blonde in color. So even after a week of not shaving, the results are nothing to really write home about.

So here I sit, over a week off in total, and I packed my razor in my suitcase. Not because "The Man" tells me I have to shave, but really because I tend to look rather rediculous if I don't.

Jul 3, 2008

Miscellaneous Randomness

So, it appears I have found a hobby, of sorts. Video and editing. My biggest problem is a lack of a video camera. So I am using my still pic camera (which takes small video clips) and my phone, which also takes video but the resolution is not spectacular. But such is life I guess. At least, after a few months, I finally have a plan and a goal. So until then, I have been playing with youtube. There is not a lot of editing done here, as I am new to all this, but I am facinated by it all. I want a camera. I want editing software. And I want to be the king of random home movies.

You can see, from the resolution issues I am in need of a real camera. So we have some vacations planned here in the near future, but after that I hope to have a camera purchased by Christmas. In the meantime, I'm going to make do with what I have and do my best to learn a thing or two about this whole thing.

Thanks for tuning in.
Related Posts with Thumbnails