Archive for December, 2006


I’m going to try not to comment much on the images I’ll include in this collection of morning snaps, but I feel the need to remark about the light here.

This vase of dried flowers sits on a bookcase at the back of the livingroom, an area of the house that doesn’t get anything in the way of direct sunlight during most of the fall, winter and spring. The rays captured here warmly illuminating the scene certainly had a long way to go to get to earth, but to shine on this little nook they had to bounce off the window glass from a house about a half-mile across the gulch on the hillside that’s topped by Micheltorena Street and come back here.

Needless to say, as the sun rises there’s only a limited amount of time before the angle of deflection changes and these petit fleurs are once again unilluminated. It’s one of this houses many momentary miracles.

Maybe something was trying to tell me my time  at my temp gig this morning was fleeting but I was only listening subconsciously. Either way, for the 2.5 weeks I’d been working in El Segundo, each time I’d park in the employee parking structure I kept on promising myself I’d drive up to the highest level and get shots from the north and south sides.

Well, this morning I did it — and a good thing, too, because by this afternoon I was told my services were no longer needed (see earlier post below for the boring details).

The two shots I got aren’t all that interesting but they provide a low-flying bird’s-eye view of a seldom seen side of LAX to the north of the structure  and an even more unseen expanse to the south, like so:


[click here for maxified version on Flickr]


[click here for maxified version on Flickr]

Well, it was a short tenure to be sure. My temp gig in El Segundo dried up today. Situations beyond my supervisor’s control necessitated cutting me loose two weeks earlier than had been contracted. The alternative was to have me sitting around and getting paid for doing nothing. In theory I have nothing against such a situation, but in practice it does go against my principles. Plus it’s pretty boring.

My hasty exit certainly didn’t come as a surprise. With the projects I’d been given this week it was clear they were just monotonous time-occupying tasks cobbled together in order for me to at least be doing something… anything. One mind-numbing operation involved me cataloging search results, any duplicates along with link successes/faiures of some 1000-plus keywords. That took the better part of three days, and in the end was so meaningless that when I handed in the 50-plus pager that meticulously documented what I’d found for every single keyword and phrase, my supervisor thumbed through it and handed it back to me trying to figure out what I should do next. And what I was charged with doing next was even more inconsequential.

The supervisor — a very nice person tasked with keeping too many plates spinning in the air — expressed regret at the present “lack of available resources” and hoped that inter-divisional ducks would be better aligned properly enough to allow me to be brought back sometime in January and finish what I hadn’t even really gotten a chance to start. I told her if I was available I’d very much be game for that.


[click image for larger version]

I’m fuzzy about dates when anything happened while I was in high school. I wanna say the Palm Springs trip with my volunteer Big Brother Lloyd Miller took place in the summer of 1980 — in fact now that I think about it I’m as certain as I can be in part because I was 16 and had my learner’s permit and on the drive down was sooooo hoping Lloyd would pull his spiff 1979 Cadillac Seville over and let me take the wheel for a bit down the 10 Freeway, but he didn’t and I was too chicken to ask.

I do know without a doubt that Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” was topping the charts because you couldn’t not hear it on the radio. In fact, whenever I hear that song now instead of being transported to some seaside, I’m instead taken back to poolside of the desert condo we were staying in with not a boat anywhere nearby and the sun dancing on the water and the extreme heat and the sweat and the luxury as Cross via a nearby transistor radio chirped about where his paradise could be found.

I’d found mine, too.

On our way to go get breakfast the next morning, we were traveling down some side road bordered by a tall stucco’d wall on the other side of which was a private golf course. It was Lloyd who noticed the helicopter hovering over the course and I had no idea why he suddenly pulled off the road onto the dirt shoulder, pulling up tight against the wall.

Hopping out he answered my quizical look with “You wanna see a president?” Dutifully and still clueless I clambered across the seat and out the driver’s side door. Lloyd was already climbing up onto the Seville’s trunk. “I think Gerald Ford is golfing on the other side of this wall!” he said conspiratorially to my still dumbstruck expression.

So I climbed up, too, and together we stood up poking our heads over the top of the wall. Sure enough about 100 feet away there was Former President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, standing on a green bent over his putter.

The next thing we noticed was the large number of secret service agents stationed in a perimeter around the president. They noticed us as well and did not take at all kindly to our univited proximity. In fact in a sudden burst of radio chatter static, the ones closest to the president interrupted his concentration by positioning themselves between us and him (and the hole), and as Ford stood up to see what all the commotion was about, the agents closest to us started coming even closer. Quickly.

I’d like to say that I or Lloyd yelled out “Hello Mr. President!” or “Have fun golfing President Ford!” and that he smiled and waved, but what happened was Lloyd grabbed my shoulder and pulled me down and said “Time to go!” and we hopped off the trunk dove back into the Caddy and we went. Fast and clean leaving behind several agents straddling the top of the wall and eating our dust.

I tell that story not just because Gerald Ford died yesterday or because that’s the closest I’ve ever been to one of this nation’s leaders, but also because he is and always will be one of my favorite presidents — and here’s why: Because at one of the most disenchanting and most disheartening and most disgraceful times in this country’s history he stood up unelected and all alone in front of the beat-up country that had little confidence in him and even less in its political processes and said he we were down but we were not out. He said he believed our country had never been stronger.

“Our Constitution works,” he said, upon taking the oath of office on August 9, 1974. “Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men.”

Then with quiet dignity and strength and leadership he showed us he was right.

One of the first things he did was give Richard Nixon a get-out-of-jail-free card. Sure, initially I thought that was a bad call. I was angry with what I thought was a major-league backroom-brokered chickenshit cop out. I wanted blood. The country did. But Ford said it’s time to look forward, not back. It took awhile, but later I came around to agree with his choice, or at least his reason for it: that it was time for the country to move on.

We did and now he has too. Rest in peace, President Ford. You were one of this nation’s greatest and finest public servants.

The complete text of Ford’s swearing-in speech appears after the jump.