Don’t Start Packing Just Yet

It’s being reported that astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that they believe may be potentially habitable with “earth-like temperatures” although the red dwarf it closely orbits is smaller and dimmer and not as hot as our sun.


“The planet is just the right size, might have water in liquid form, and in galactic terms is relatively nearby at 120 trillion miles away.”

That’s at least a day’s hike out. In galactic terms.

Little Losses, Little Wins

Sometimes you just gotta cut your losses.. You look back regretably knowing you got up waaaay early enough this morning to either bike or mass-transit your way into work like you wanted to do and promised to do, yet instead you got snared by various timesucking diversions and now you’re looking at the clock and its 7:45 and you come to the harsh realization that the only way you’re going to get to your gig on time is to drive… even though you despise doing that not just because you know that the 101 to the 110 southbound through downtown is a parking lot and because you detest getting another mile closer to the 100,000 mile mark on your truck’s odometer. Instead you’re pissed because you had made a deal with your better self and here’s yet another example of your inability to keep your end of the bargain.

Sure, you still could. The devil in you says the option’s there to scramble and get in the saddle or on the bus and fuck it be upwards of a half-hour late (or more). But you don’t succumb to that temptation. Instead now the goal of being at your desk at the stroke of 9 a.m. as you should be becomes something of a consolation prize. A redemption. A chance to take some of the bitterness out of the sour feeling that comes from letting yourself down even on such a small scale, all things considered.

And so you’re in your truck and out of the garage at 8:10, and you crawl across the 101 passing the public tennis courts on Glendale being played upon and wish you could be playing too. Then you creep with the slow flow spilling out of the bottleneck after joining the 110 and pick up a little speed south of downtown where you occasional watch your odometer tick of 99,617, 18, 19, 20 miles and then you get on the transition to the 105 and find that whatever agency in charge of doing it has finally and mercifully removed the decaying carcass of the pitbull dead on the shoulder since the previous Thursday and after exiting to surface streets you climb up to the fourth level and park in the massive garage and drape your ID badge around your neck and say good morning to the security guard and ride the elevator to the 7th floor and sit down in your cubicle at 8:58 a.m.

You’re pleased. And sad.

One Of My Favorite Places In The World


It may look like I know what I’m doing but truth is I don’t play the guitar. Three years after getting this acoustic I know a few chords and the four-notes of the theme music to Monday Night Football and a simple version of the famous part of Beethoven’s 9th and not much else and usually end up just goofing around for awhile wondering why it’s physically impossible for me to transition smoothly between the G, E, C and D7 chords. I’m passably good with the first three, but the C to G7… Gah!

Despite those frustrations I still like to pluck and strum and pretend and one of my favorite places to do so is out on the front porch in the late afternoon with birds flying around and people walking up and down the street and the sun dropping down toward the Micheltorena ridge to the west and its rays filtering through the rustling leaves of neighbor’s big tree whose limbs reach far across the frontyard.

Ever since the time change a few weekends ago I’ve been wanting to take advantage of the lengthened day, but work or chores or laziness has conspired to keep me from it until finally yesterday afternoon after some backyard work was complete I looked out the front window and found conditions ideal for me to grab up my geetar and have a seat.

On The Contrary

The news is that E. Howard Hunt died yesterday at 88. In today’s obit in the L.A. Times the headline proclaims him the “mastermind” behind the break-in of the Washington, D.C. offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in 1972.

Maybe I’m in the minority or it’s such a trifflingly banal point or both, but personally I’ve always thought the term “mastermind” has been incorrectly used… that it should be a descriptive reserved only in reference to someone who is successful in planning or directing a project — criminal or not — and not at all for anyone who isn’t, such as Hunt who wasn’t. Being the mastermind of a bungled caper isn’t being a mastermind at all, otherwise it wouldn’t have been botched and he wouldn’t have been arrested, charged, tried, convicted and incarcerated for almost three years

For better or worse I consider L. Ron Hubbard a mastermind. Definitely for better the same goes for NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz who coordinated the team that saw to the rescue of the crew of Apollo 13. But Charles Manson or the Enron gang or basically anyone made to pay for their transgressions? Nope. No masterminds there.

Weight Loss Pays

How’s this for an odd job: See my wonderful wife Susan works for a company that does all sorts of presentations for trials and such. She hears of a lawyer representing a client paralyzed in an auto accident who is looking for a male between 6′ and 210 pounds and 6’4″ and 230 pounds to serve as a body double for a video/photo session demonstrating an aspect of the vehicle’s restraint system.

So since I fall well within those parameters (currently I’m 6’2″ and 217), Susan calls me yesterday to see if I’m interested in the stand-in gig. I say sure and when she gets home she gives me the where and when: today at 2 p.m. at a facility in the San Gabriel Valley that specializes in the storage and presentation of large-item evidence.

I arrive about a half-hour early and by 2 p.m. all the interested parties are there and introduced and not very much long after that we’re taken through a door where I see the vehicle — a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder and I learn that the accident was a solo crash back in 2001 up somewhere off Highway 395 in the region of Lone Pine. A bad one. Apparently the vehicle rolled several times, ejecting the driver. The roof is crushed in and it’s hard to imagine the 6’4″ 230-pound client being ejected out of the driver’s side window, whose opening had been severely misshapen and minimized in the collapse of the truck’s roof. Horrible. It’s almost as hard to imagine how he survived.

The argument the client’s lawyers are making is that the seatbelt failed. And after the legal team onsite does some prelim examinations and observations and discussions my job is to climb in behind the Pathfinder’s wheel and go through several iterations of pulling the seatbelt across and latching it, all the while being photographed and video’d for evidence to be presented in court.

Beyond the strangeness of getting into a totaled vehicle whose last occupant is now a paraplegic, it was eerie for two more reasons. First, I wouldn’t have been able to sit in the driver’s seat if there hadn’t been a sunroof. The roof had caved so bad in the rollovers that my head was sticking two-thirds out of it once I got situated. Second, it’s a 1997 Nissan truck whose dashboard is practically identical to my 1997 Nissan truck. So it was very weird seeing a destroyed version of the same speedometer, tachometer, climate controls, stereo, ashtray and such.

Then there were the personal aspects. A Tim McGraw cassette still stuck out of the deck and there was a BofA ATM receipt showing a balance of $467 in the bank. It left me thinking how lives can be so drastically and dramatically changed in an instant.

Anyway, I did as I was directed and the cameras clicked and rolled and by 4 p.m. I was cut loose with a thank you and a nice check for stand-in services rendered.

I drove home very carefully. Tried to look at the dash as little as possible.

Expending A Few Rounds

So today afforded me the opportunity to meet up with Sean Bonner and Michael Baffico and several other firearm loving sonofaguns at the Los Angeles Gun Club on 6th Street east of Alameda where we put a fair amount of lead through a bunch of paper. I started with a Smith & Wesson 9mm that failed on me so I turned it in and switched to some Croatian-made niner that I liked a lot. But the high point among all the cordite and gunfire residue was the opportunity to fire off a World War II-era Russian Mosin 7.62 bolt-action rifle:


Many thanks to the carbine’s owner Michael Pusateri of Cruftbox for not only allowing me to go a few rounds with it but also for capturing me on video shooting the thing both left and right-shouldered.

Segundo Thoughts

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.