Vinny Vidi Vici

Dickens gave us: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The contemporary poet Rob Bass wrote: “Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain.” So true.

Deride me for my informal television-viewing fashion choice or mock me the blinding white translucence of my legs if you must, but more importantly, what these two stills from our livingroom cam catch are my reactions the moment Dodger Charlie Culbserson’s fly ball became the incredible game- and division-winning walk-off homerun in the bottom of the tenth inning Sunday, followed shortly thereafter by the realization that I’ve just heard Vin Scully’s last call of a play at home.

Exuberance. Bereavement.




Speak The Speech I Pray You

Where: Rio Hondo College, Wray Theater, Whittier, California
When: July 13, 2012
What: Rio Hondo College College Police Academy, Class 2012-1 Graduation
Who: Cadet William Campbell, Class President
By: Susan Campbell

You’re welcome for being spared the first 11 minutes of the monologue and just showcasing these last three, which to me are the most important and meaningful part of the whole thing, anyway. Not that the first 11 are garbage, just prologue primarily.

And apologies in advance for the baby sitting directly in front of my wife. Over her mother’s shoulder and facing backward, the infant starts up with some serious and continuous fussing basically directly into the camera’s mic about a minute or so before the end and pretty effectively masks what I say.

In The Annals Of Memorable Birthdays, This Ranks Up There

In my 49-year history (as of yesterday) of birthdays, yesterday’s ranked up there with the most memorable. Not because of any type of celebration or gift (I’m not really into either of those, anyway) — or disaster for that matter, such as my 34th when I went out for lunch from where I was working at the time to go to the nearest ATM and while in route got into a traffic collision that totaled my Honda Civic in front of the mayor’s mansion in Hancock Park, no less. Yes, that’s a birthday to remember, for sure.

No. Yesterday’s birthday was just another day in the almost year-long string of days involving my ongoing public safety training, but this one, coincidentally, involved the entire class singing “Happy Birthday” to me not once, but twice — a feat never before have I experienced.

But first and more importantly and stressfully, the evening also featured another unique aspect: our final written exam, called the “End of Module Proficiency” test, or EOMP. Incorporating some 23 learning domains studied, and tested throughout the past year, there’s a level of anxiety the 90-question, two-hour exam induces — especially for someone of my advanced age whose memory banks can find occasion to be decidedly less sticky than in my younger days.

Thankfully, I managed to recall enough right answers and did not end up having my first exam fail happen on such a personal milestone. Afterwards in the testing room and in an uncharacteristic display of congratulations, our tactical officer and exam proctor announced before the class that it was my birthday and ordered them to sing “Happy Birthday” to me.

The second round came a short while later back in our classroom adjacent the testing room for another session of radar certification class, and  involved a batch of chocolate cookies for the occassion, baked by our instructor.

Backstory: the only reason my birthday was known to her, is that when we began radar instruction a couple weeks ago, she invited us all to stand up and introduce ourselves and include our age. When it came my turn, I said that I would be turning 49 at the end of this month. “What day?” she asked and I told her, wherein she mentioned that she loves to bake and asked if I’d like cookies or cake. Somewhat surprised and embarrassed I asked for the latter.

So there we are at the beginning of class last night and she’s standing there with a plate of chocolate chip cookie goodness ready to distribute.

“I heard you guys sing Happy Birthday next door,” she said, “don’t think you’re not singing it again,” to which some of my classmates rolled their eyes and sighed, giving me just enough time to reach into my bag, turn my camera on and hit record before they obliged (click the link below to hear):

My Classmates Sing Me “Happy Birthday” A Second Time

The cookies were delicious.

Day-After Birthday Surprise!

Yesterday was my Baybee’s birthday, and other then wishing her a happy one that morning, I shamefully had nothing else for her. No card. No gift. No cake. I did suggest we go out for dinner to celebrate this weekend to a local place we’ve been wanting to try, but there was no mistaking I had dropped the ball on this one.

Honestly, I don’t think she minded THAT much. She’s a lot like me in that lower the key any recognition the anniversary of my birth gets the better. It’s really no big deal.

But still. Lower key doesn’t mean no key at all.

In my defense, my schedule is non-birthday conducive. Case in point: when mine rolls around next month I’ll be spending it doing a final exam for the public safety training I’m currently in. Woo. Hoo. But on top of my educational obligations and conflicts, Tuesday’s best laid plans to go out and get her something/anything were knocked askew thanks to a coyote who showed up in our backyard about noon, followed by an afternoon spend worrying where our cat Pumpkin was (all’s well; he came back after about 3.5 hours).

So it was that at around 11 a.m. I decided to take Ranger for a walk around the neighborhood. And so it was that about mid-way along that walk I found a decidedly moderne style make-up bureau that someone had kicked to the curb. Not only was it intact and in decent shape and with all its drawers (tongue-and-groove, too; though missing all its drawer pulls — and the mirror that would be mounted on the posts extending above its surface), but more importantly regardless of its condition, I just knew it was something that Susan would have given me the BIG EYES about had she been with us and passed by it. Basically what Susan wants, Susan gets. Seriously, I made the mistake of NOT retrieving the drawerless skeleton of a well-made dresser we didn’t need and while she has stopped reminding me, I’m sure it’s still lingering there in her mind as the one that got away because of me.

Not that we NEED a makeup bureau, or have a place to put it. But that’s not stopped Susan in the slightest during previous discoveries. With the one exception of that dresser I’ve hauled home chairs, tables, trunks, you name it.

And then Ranger was all, “Dude. You totally blew her birthday. This can be her Day-After Birthday Present!”

And I was all, “Dawg! That’s righteous!”

And then we both riffed on our air guitars. Whay!

So Ranger and I hustled back home, I grabbed my keys and hopped in the truck and bippity-bang, boppity-boom the bureau is now sitting in the foyer as seen below, waiting for Susan to come home and find it, replete with a hand-writting “Happy Day-After Birthday!” Card.


My day-of birthday skills certainly need to be honed, but my belated skills have at least saved the day-after.

Love you, Bay-bee!


Los Angeles Left In The Bicycling Dust Again

I just read that the city of Pasadena has opened up its first “bicycle boulevard,” which comes during the same weekend that the city of Glendale unveiled its brand new Trail Safety Patrol Program. The best LA could do is get its mayor to sign a bike parking ordinance — not insignificant, mind you. But still somewhat indicative of a gridlocked metropolis that has its head stuck up a collective tailpipe.

Speaking of Glendale, it was my pleasure this Super Bowl Sunday morning (before heading down with Susan to my friends Arnold and Martha’s place in Newport Coast and cheering on the Ravens to victory) to be one of the first to be of service in a volunteer capacity in the Verdugo Mountains as part of the freshly minted program.

For my first excursion (timelapsed above), I and my fellow volunteers Paul Rabinov and Mark Kobayashi rode up into the Verdugos on a purely magnificent high-definition visibility day via the Beaudry North Motorway from the trailhead to the benches at the intersection of the Brand and Verdugo motorways before coming back to visit Tongva Peak and then heading back down to the trailhead via the Beaudry South Motorway.

It was an absolutely amazing day to be on the trails, introducing ourselves and the patrol to practically everyone we met along the way.

If Los Angeles was even half as open-minded and forward thinking about its open space trails being rightfully accessible to all modes of user instead of patently and institutionally discriminatory against the type I happen to favor then I’d be devoting my time to a trail safety patrol program in that city. But it’s not and it’s a safe bet to say they never will be. So Glendale? I’m all and proudly and bright-yellowly yours.

Glendale Trail Safety Patrol volunteer Mark Kobayahsi. and my smugly satisfied, blindlingly yellow-fied self atop Tongva Peak on such an incredible clear day. Photo by fellow volunteer Paul Rabinov.




Then & Now

Four years separating similar results. The colors of the flag I proudly fly have faded. As is the hope that buoyed me back in 2008. But the sense after yesterday’s election I get is that there’s a fresh determination to put politics aside and work together going forward. Operative word: forward. Let’s hope.

Two Zero Zero

On September 21, I wrote about how it was waaaaay too soon for me to be stepping onto the scale and having it read 200.6. The previous day I’d dropped to a new low at that point of 203 pounds and it was just completely anomalous for me to follow-up the very next weigh-in with another such big drop.

As such I violated my rule of weighing myself one-time-and-one-time-only each day and recording the result whether it was fantastic, depressing or indifferent, and I stepped on the scale again immediately, wherein the numbers read 204.4 — a far more realistic measurement.

I might not have re-weighed that day if it had read 201-something, but because the 200 mark is almost as monumental a milestone as my ultimate diet goal of 190, I wanted the achievement to be legit and inline chronologically with my roughly pound-a-week loss program, not the result of a fluke or the scale’s failing battery.

That’s why, almost four weeks after that September surprise, when I stepped on the scale this morning I just flat out accepted it and figuratively high-fived myself when it read:


Honestly, I can’t pinpoint when I was last 200 pounds. All I remember is that I was sub-200 throughout high school so  it was probably nineteen hundred hellyeah and eighty three-ish for those of you-ish keeping score at home.

As to anyone looking for a more visual quantification, behold below my torso in a relic I’ve never ever before been able to comfortably wear for the 22 years, 6 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days I’ve owned it — a memento from my participation in the Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon that took place on April 1, 1990, in Griffith Park. I kid you not, even on the day of the event my extra-large frame (augmented by an even more extra-large spare tire) was too wide for this slim-fit tee: