Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Rough day coming tomorrow...

...and I'm not looking forward to it.

I have two rather daunting tasks ahead, and I'm not looking forward to either.

The first is to deal with a client I may lose. I have written a monthly column for them for two years, and have never had a problem with either payment or displays of approval on their part.

But they have recently hired a new editor, and she seems either completely disorganized or, for some reaosn I can't fathom, wants to move me out. I haven't gotten a check from them in two months, and communications have been sporadic.

Moreover, the sum they pay was laughable in the beginning, is pathetic now.

Tomorrow, there will be communication, believe me. While the articles I write require little effort as a rule, they are still the product of my skill and experience, and I would like that respected.

I do have a suggestion about the price of my column, too, one that the publisher (who likes my work, and seems a good guy) might actually go for.

Besides, I need the money.

And I will be having lunch with someone who works for my largest client. He is, in fact, my "rabbi" -- if you don't know the term, which seems to have originated in New York City many years ago, it means someone who looks out for your interests within an organization -- there, but his recent duties have prevented him from dealing with me personally.

The subject of our lunchtime talk? Certain people at his company -- they publish several magazines, three of which I write for -- have been less than straight-up with me of late, and my supply of assignments has more-or-less dried up. I can't get phone calls returned, and have not been paid for some recent work.

Freelancing is a glamourous life, no?

All can be straightened out, but these are the kinds of situations I'm not adept at dealing with, having never learned the sort of diplomacy, double-talk and outright b.s.-slinging successful practioners do so well.

What I'm good at is doing the work, not soothing ruffled feathers, bandaging wounded egos or playing salesman. These parts of the game are torture for me.

But I'm hoping to end the day with a pile of new work, and more secure relationships with both clients.

There's also a good possibility that I'll end up minus two good sources of income.

One of the wonderful friends referred to in an earlier post has suggested that the three of us should grab our bindles and hop a frieght train in search of new adventures.

All I can say is: "ask me tomorrow night!"

Met an old friend... the duty-free shop at Munich Airport a few weeks ago. Couldn't resist bringing said friend home with me, since we haven't met for a long time.

Hendrick's is the best gin, bar none, I have ever tasted. You can keep all those fancy gins they serve in bars; this is the aristocrat of the breed!

As soon as the tonic has chilled, we're going to start renewing our acquaintance.

It makes a brilliant martini, too....

I'm seeing a pattern... the responses to my question about relocating.

Two people mentioned their own areas, perhaps secure in the knowledge that finances would keep me out of one and border guards would deny me access to the other.

At least two people seem to be saying that the best place for me is somewhere far, far away where the natives speak an incomprehensible language.

I'm sure that option would have plenty of support in some quarters. In fact, I suspect at least one person will read that suggestion and think: "Hmmmm...why Poland? Why not...Albania? Outer Mongolia? Midway Island?"

I can only imagine the response I might have gotten if Virgin Interplanetary's flights connecting Los Angeles with the Asteroid Belt were available now.

Oh well. Somewhere in the Carolinas still sounds good. But I'm beginning to think that might not be sufficiently far away to suit my fans....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The relocation question...

...has been on my mind for some time, and I'm galvanized into writing about it in large measure by the latest journal entry of my great friend and brother, one Mr H. O'Fly.

Coincidentally, I was listening to the radio last night and heard the host of a talk show -- a Los Angeles native like me -- announcing his imminent departure to a small Colorado town, for reasons eerily close to mine. Except, that is, he is moving with his wife, so will not be starting his new adventure alone....

Be that as it may. If I am totally rational, I can only move to certain areas -- mainly within a 100-mile radius of a few major cities -- and continue with my present work. But I'm not totally rational, and begin to think maybe some small-town newspaper needs an eccentric, opinionated editor. Hell, maybe a small-town hardware store needs a stock boy.

Until recently, I had picked out my next home. I knew, with some effort, I could continue my work there. I liked the area. I liked the ambience. But that possibility has been soured for me for reasons not having anything to do with the place itself. I no longer wish to go there.

So here is what my ideal location would have:

1. Reasonable housing/living costs. I can't imagine being in another place where I go deeper in the hole every month just to survive. Somewhere in the world, people can still live in houses, eat and maybe have occasional fun without draining their resources totally.

2. A nice environment. Not condos and malls as far as the eye can see, but a place that is pedestrian and bicycle friendly, where there is still some sense that the trees weren't brought in recently to decorate yards.

3. An eclectic population. I loved the diversity of Los Angeles for many years, but it has now become something sinister, as certain ethnic groups strive to become dominant, not live with their neighbors. I want to be around reasonably friendly people who don't avert their eyes when you say "hello" on the street. It would be nice if most spoke some understandable form of English, too, though there are certain other languages I wouldn't mind learning.

4. Some access to art and music. Mainly music.

I had other requirements in mind for the new place, but just listing these four has brought me down a bit. I don't know of any place that meets these four needs, much less any of the others.

And I am of two minds about making a big move anyway. I don't know that it can help me resolve my central issues.

But I don't know that it can't, either, which is why I open the discussion up for your input.

So please make suggestions if you have any, and let me know where I might look for a home, a place to live, not just exist.

Don't know what I could offer as a prize for the best suggestion, but I'll try to think of something more substantial than my gratitude.

Monday, May 29, 2006

On the "News At Ten..." wouldn't be a holiday weekend here Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea without someone getting stoned and taking a fall over the cliffs on the seaward side of the park.

When that happens, the cavalry gets called out for sure: every police car in the division, it seems, and half the fire trucks in the county...

Not to mention the fire department's nautical squad...

And a helicopter to winch the idiot up off the rocks and fly his butt to the hospital...

God obviously watches out for fools, drunks and stoners. Apparently, the guy is suffering mainly from cuts and bruises now, plus coming-down symptoms tomorrow, and one whopper of a bill from the city very soon....

Ten random things...

...of which I'm aware this Memorial Day evening....

1. People on the streets;

2. The park, full to overflowing;

3. A cruise ship in the harbor, heading out to Mexico;

4. The smell of outdoor barbecues;

5. Piles of used toilet paper along the path where I walk;

6. Spanish, and nothing else, being spoken in the park;

7. American flags in the breeze;

8. Two parking enforcement vehicles parked on a side street, engines running. Their uniformed occupants are chatting away, have been for over two hours. While on the clock;

9. Hot sunlight, a cloudless sky;

10. Loneliness.

Number Ten is mine.

That wasn’t so difficult... least compared to, say, being trampled by a herd of overweight bison, or assembing the Brooklyn Bridge with common household tools.

Today’s assignment is done. Almost done, anyway. Before I send it editor-ward tomorrow morning, I’ll give it a final read-through and probably make a lot of changes. I'll have to cut a few sentences, too; it's slightly longer than requested. But the words are spelled correctly, and are arranged in a form that at least resembles proper English.

Had to get away from the computer before I could write it, though. I went for a walk to clear my head and try to put the information I needed to impart into some kind of coherent order before starting to tap the keys. It's a beautiful day; I wanted to stay outside.

The head-clearing part didn’t really work, of course. There were intrusive thoughts of other matters, far more important to me personally than the subject of the article, that clamored for attention. They would not go away when ordered to do so.

But what the hell. The job is done. The next two articles will be easier, even though for reasons beyond my control I can’t start one of them until Wednesday and have to turn it in on Friday.

And now...nothing. I am not driving anywhere. I have heard there isn't an open parking space within two miles of here -- park- and beach-goers have taken them all -- and I don't really want to go through the hassle of finding one.

I'm not in the mood to be out among 'em, anyway.

But what the hell. The job is done.

My day... a work day, not a holiday, though I do hope to get out to a local Memorial Day observance this afternoon.

I'll be writing an article today, one of three I have to churn out this week.

Not easy. The editors have allocated roughly half the space/word count I asked for. That means distilling an overabundance of information into a very tiny space. The paradox is that it takes far more effort to pull of this act of compression, yet magazines also pay less for a shorter article.

But, while my thoughts are elsewhere today, I can do it.

Like all reporters, I make my living by chronicling what other people have done. Unlike most newspaper reporters, the bulk of my work relates to the successes, occasionally the triumphs, of others, not their mistakes, losses, defeats. That's one of the reasons I like what I do.

But there are times when I wish I could report on my successes, my victories.

If/when such events occur again, I have a place to do it. Right here.

And rest assured I will.

I pray it happens soon.

In the meantime, my regular reportorial duties await....

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I have two friends.

In a time of darkness, they have tried to bring light to me. In a time when I feel my trust has been violated in a very basic way, they have proven to be trustworthy. They have cared, and I need that. They have been loyal and supportive, and I need that as well.

Without them, I would be completely lost.


Thank you.

And thank you.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

B. U. I.

In plain English, Blogging Under the Influence.

I don't recommend it. Always have a Designated Blogger on hand.

I thought perhaps my current state of, shall we say, lessened inhibition, would let me cut loose and write about what's on my mind. Not working.

At least I am typing very carefully, so as not to slur my words.

And it occurs to me -- being a placid, amiable drunk -- that I don't really want to burden strangers with my woes. I'm not the kind who bangs the bartender's ear with tales of misery.

As is so often the case, Frank Sinatra sang it, and I'm feeling it now:

It's quarter to three,
There's no one in the place except you and me,
So, set 'em up, Joe,
I've got a little story I think you should know,
We're drinking, my friend,
To the end of a brief episode,
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road.
I got the routine,
Put another nickel in the machine,
Feelin' so bad,
Can't you make the music easy and sad,
Could tell you a lot,
But you've got to be true to your code,
Make it one for my baby
And one more for the road.
You'd never know it,
But, buddy, I'm a kind of poet
And I've got a lotta things I'd like to say.
And when I'm gloomy,
Won't you listen to me,
'til it's talked away.
Well, that's how it goes
And Joe, I know you're gettin' anxious to close,
Thanks for the cheer,
I hope you didn't mind my bending your ear,
But this torch that I've found,
Has gotta be drowned or it soon might explode,
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road
The long, so long, road....

I'm listening to Frank's great album, Only the Lonely. I've never understood it better....

And another, from the same album....

Hey drink up, all you people, order anything you see
Have fun, you happy people
The drink, and the laugh's, on me
Try to think, that love's not around,
Still it's uncomfortably near.
My ol' heart ain't gainin' any ground
Because my angel eyes ain't here.
Angel eyes, that old devil sent
They glow unbearably bright.
Need I say that my love's misspent,
Misspent with angel eyes tonight.
So drink up all of you people,
Order anything you see,
Have fun you happy people
The drink, and the laugh's, on me
Pardon me, but I gotta run
The fact's uncommonly clear
I gottta find who's now the number one
And why my angel eyes ain't here,
'scuse me, while I disappear.....

Goodnight, my small blonde friend.

You have forgotten me, but I cannot forget you. Not tonight, not ever.

And that, friends and strangers, is the reason for this little exercise in B.U.I.

Memorial Day

Though I will not express myself as well as others can, I feel the need to say something about Memorial Day.

I had friends who died in Viet Nam, and friends who came back with scars both physical and mental. Members of my family and people I knew fought in World War II and in Korea. I've known a few folks who have served in Iraq, including one friend who is there now.

Memeorial Day is their day.

It is also the day to honor untold millions like them who have served this Nation in all the combat situations they were sent into over the years, the centuries. Whether they lost their lives, were injured or came through unmarked in any way, they offered themselves up for us, put themselves on the line in defense of their land.

Because of them, we are a free country. Because of them, others in the world have been saved from tyrrany. And when they could not prevent the inevitable, our men and women in uniform still gave their all.

I am angered when I hear some speak piously about sacrifice when they themselves avoided sacrifice. That might include me; I never served in the military.

But at least I have nothing high-minded to say, would not dare insult our military by saying anything more than the following words:

I pray for those who have fallen, that they are at peace. I pray for those who have suffered and for those now in harm's way. May God be with you all, keep you safe while you are away, bring you home.

I, and every other American, owe you a debt that cannot be repaid. We remember, on Memorial Day and every day.

Thank you.

Short Hiatus.

I won't be writing here for a while.

Maybe a long while.

I've run out of words.

UPDATE: Can't stay away!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Red-eyed... part because I never did get back to sleep after the 0415 wake-up call this morning.

I went down to LAX -- soon to be renamed North Tijuana International Airport -- to meet my friends. Their flight arrived 90 minutes late. They were both sick, both dispirited.

I was dispirited, too. I've recorded my emotions about coming through the airport after a long trip before; being on the waiting side of the rail hit me just as hard. In the two hours I stood there, I watched joyful reunions as passengers from five flights were met.

The last time anyone who cared about me -- as opposed to being paid to meet me -- was waiting for me at an airport was...almost six years ago. And that was one of the very few times it has happened.

Be that as it may. I handled my friends' luggage, got them home. I got the sense that they appreciated it, though both were in advanced states of zombie-hood.

And now, here I am. Tired, Sad. Lonely.

Just another night in the life....

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sense and senselessness

So Ken Lay is found guilty of all kinds of criminal charges for his actions while running Enron. His associate, Jeffrey Skilling, has been found guilt of charges as well.

That makes sense. Enron, like many companies in this day and age that produce nothing, but make fortunes from the efforts of others, deserved to fall. Those who ran it deserve the same fate.

And yet, the U.S. Senate is poised to perpetrate a fraud on the American people that makes Enron's operators look like the proprietors of a lemonade stand. They are going to give special rights, rights no citizen has, to those who came to this country illegally; they are going to forgive felonies -- which posessing fake Social Security cards (which many illegals have) happens to be -- and ignore both the laws of the antion and the wishes of their consituents.

Why aren't they going to jail for aiding and abetting the commission of crimes?

The Justice Department swooped down on the offices of a Respresentative who was caught on tape taking a $100,000 bribe, and Congress is howling about the "unfairness" and "unconstitutionality" of the search.

I guess they, and their illegal-alien pals, can break any law they want. They are the protected classes.

"Ordinary" crooks like Lay and Skilling are the small fish who get caught in the net. And you and I are the chumps who end up paying for the crooks' misdeeds, be they the greed-driven malfeasance of the day-to-day criminal or the treasonous criminality of of the Legislative and Executive branches of the government.

It's 5:30... the morning. I've been awake since 4:15.

The phone rang at 4:15. It's not easy to be pleasant when someone drags you from sleep at that hour. That's the time when emergency calls come in, when disaster has struck and you have to deal with whatever crisis is at hand while the brain is in a sleep-induced fog. Makes the heart race.

I would have managed a nicer response if it had been the call I wanted to get, need to get, from the one person who is welcome to call any day, any hour, but hasn't called. Yet.

Instead, it was my two friends who have been in Europe for the past three weeks. They need someone to pick them up at the airport. Tonight. Thirteen hours from now. They're not real swell about figuring out the time difference between Milan and Los Angeles.

It was especially irritating because they were calling from a car, and the background noise made it impossible to hear them. Hope my shouting didn't wake any neighbors.

I was having a nice dream that was shattered by the ringing of the phone, and that made me even more angry. These days, dreams are just about the only places where I get any pleasure.

I guess I'll be taking a nap this afternoon. Can't go back to sleep now.

And yes, I will pick them up tonight. My temper -- and pulse rate -- may even be back to normal by then.

Coffee. Must have coffee.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Visual metaphor...

Sometimes, after you've crawled over obstacles and made your way past all the breaks in the road, you reach a step that's too much for you to manage....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The story of my day.

"May I speak to ---- ------, please?"

"May I tell him who's calling?

"--- -------."

"Hold a moment, please."

(long, long pause)

"I'm sorry, ---- isn't available. Would you like his voice mail?"

No, dear, I would not like his voice mail. I called to talk to him. Just like I called to talk to six other motorscooters at various companies with which, one way or another, I do business. A couple, I called twice.

And I would have very much appreciated hearing from at least one of them today.

Just as I would have appreciated replies to the unanswered emails I've sent out since last Friday. Some, granted, were simple enquiries that I can live without answers to if necessary, though I'd like to have them. And then there was the crucial one....

Oh, I did get emails today. In response to heartfelt emails from me, my two Senators -- the wacked-out liberal and the wacked-out ultra-liberal -- sent me statements that were beyond laughable. Both pushed the needle on the b.s. meter into the red zone. One, who never met an illegal alien she didn't like -- or a moderate or conservative idea she does like, tried to shore up her nonexistent border-security credentails.

The other, author of the infamous "Orange Card" amnesty plan that got laughed out of the Senate today, assured me she's very concerned about the impact of illegal immigration; in fact, she is speaking out strongly against tunnels under the border.

Instead of lying, why not tell the truth and send a reply along the lines of "I know you, and most other Californians, are tired of paying billions in expenses caused by illegal immigration and are tired of watching wages being lowered, jobs lost and hospitals and schools being pushed into chaos, but I don't give a damn! Learn Spanish fast, sucker!

I can respect a straightforward fool much more than a lying fool.

This evening, hoping against hope that a vital call might come through, I violated normal policy and picked up the phone even when the caller ID said it was from a blocked number. That got me five calls soliciting my vote on various issues in the upcoming state election. None of which represented the way I will vote....

So it's been that kind of day.

A dead loss.

Why is this man not smiling?

Not sure why...

...but I feel like re-posting a photo that once appeared in my previous journal.

I wish I had this sign, which I saw in Birmingham, UK...

And it seemed such a stable, unemotional kind of property, too!

Just for the heck of it...

...a photo taken near where I live of container ships in the channel passing "sunken city," an area that collpased after a 1933 earthquake, leaving only chunks of an old road behind....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Two images from outside...

...because the sun came out and I had to get away from the desk for a while.

Brown pelicans were gliding above the ocean...

And a helicopter flew into the sun....

It was a beautiful afternoon....

Lens test!

Yes, the last piece of the lens puzzle -- the Dreaded Adapter Ring -- arrived this morning. So now, I have all I need to go out and shoot some new photos!

Except for time, that is. Work will keep me close to the desk today, aided (as can be seen in the pics) by the late arrival of the rain promised for last night, though that can end as quickly as it began.

So I stuck the camera out my front door to see what effect the new glassaware has on it. This first picture is with the camera's lens, set to a "normal" focal length (unchanged, mainly, for the second and third shots)...

Adding the "wide" lens brought this result...

And this is what the "telephoto" does....

The one thing I hadn't figured on was that the camera, adapter and lenses won't fit in my handy carrying pouch. The maker, of course, has a bag for that. For a slight additional cost, of course.

Fortunately, pack rat that I am, I hadn't thrown (or given) away a neat little padded bag I got on a press trip some ten years ago, even though I could conceive of no good use for it. Until now. Dusted off, it proved to be the ideal size for camera and lenses, plus spare batteries and memory chip.

Can't wait to put these goodies to a real test!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sunday night...

...and a warm, cloudy day with rain threatening has turned into a chilly cloudy night with rain threatening.

Up to an inch of the wet stuff is forecast, along with possible thunderstorms. I don't believe a word of it. Southern California storms are what people in places that have real weather call "heavy dew."

I came within an inch of buying myself another toy today. This time, I was looking at Yamaha electronic pianos and found a few real bargains. Despite having some extra spondulicks in my pocket, I finally chickened out. That's what you do when you've lived on a tight budget for so many years.

Besides, there are some just-in-case situations for which I want to keep some money around. One never knows....

The week ahead will involve more writing assignments (which I don't mind) and the latest chapter in the search for new, stable, trustworthy clients (which I do mind). At the best of times, I'm not the greatest salesman for myself -- unless the person I'm selling myself to is already predisposed to hire me, as has been true of some editors -- and these are not necessarily the best of times.

Have to book my flights and arrange some while-I'm-there wheels for my trip back East in two weeks. I'm still of two minds about going; I'll enjoy it, and I fully intend to work some contacts to find about about job/relocation possibilities, but I have plenty on my mind without the distractions.

Besides, two days of standing in the (probably) hot sun wearing a tie and blazer can be pretty draining (so to speak). I may have to look into a lightweight blazer (do they make 'em out of linen?) and one of those snazzy straw hats the high-falutin' guys wear back there.

Of course there was one year when I went back to do this gig and ended up standing around outdoors in a steady rain, ankle-deep in mud....

Still, this will be my first trip to that area in five years -- a sad side-story I won't go into -- and I've been promised a warm welcome-back. Hot meals, too.

It isn't where I'd like to be two weekends from now, but so few places are.

In the meantime, a new week is on the horizon. I'm not making any predictions; if a few things go as I'd like, it could be a good one. Or even a great one.

For now, let's leave it at that.

You MUST...

...go here and, when you get there, click on the little red speaker icons to hear the pronunications.

Be sure to listen to both of them!

Don't do this at work, though. Unless you have headphones.

Oh, yeah. Don't do this if you are easily offended.

I'll bet that last line made you want to click the link right this second....

All I can say is: day-yum!

The lenses...

...have arrived!

But not the oh-so-essential adapter ring. Of course.

I didn't know FedEx Ground service delivered on Sunday. Unless they dropped it at some other apartment yesterday and that person finally got around to bringin' 'em to my doorstep today.

I'm looking forward to some digi-cam fun tomorrow....

A black & white kind of day...

...overcast, humid, with rain perhaps headed here from the south....

I went for a walk, and took the camera with me. Nothing much to see today.

There are plenty of cats to see, of course...

Sometimes a vintage Chevy like this one shows up, too. It's for sale; too bad I can't afford it....

And there are always other cats....

Strange interlude.

So I was sitting here, alone on a Saturday night....

In the midst of a woolgathering kind of evening, with old and memorable music pouring out of my headphones, I began to hear from people.

First was a friend from far, far away who wanted to check in. Then, my adored adopted daughter, who was in rare form. Actually, any conversation with her is memorable....

And then, a girl with whom I hadn't talked in many months (more than a year, now that I think about it) chose tonight to renew our acquaintance. Among other things, she wanted me to know she's now, after putting it off for too long, going for her PhD. In astrophysics. We had a nice chat, and I understood far more of her conversation than I expected....

A frighteningly smart lady, that one. Cute as the proverbial button, too.

And now, it's almost time to listen to Ian Punnett, who's subbing for the inimitable Art Bell. If my Memphis Snake Doctors CD -- which features my talented brother, HarpO'Fly -- finishes before Ian takes to the air.

Not a perfect night, but one full of laughs and surprises.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ain't technology wonderful!

Just for laughs, I thought I'd check on the progress of my new lenses -- and adapter rings, of course -- from manufacturer's warehouse to me.

Went to the website, made my way -- with difficulty, since it's not well laid out -- to the "my account" page, clicked on "past orders" and found the shipping numbers. Clicking on them was not reassuring.

The lenses are "on a delivery truck" which must be parked somewhere. It never showed up here today. The ring is at the carrier's "shipping center." The shipping center is in (I think) Memphis.

If I wasn't waiting somewhat impatiently for the stupid things, it'd be interesting to watch their progress: two small packages, making their way ever-so-slooooowly from the East Coast to here, from pick-up to airport to Memphis to truck to airplane to airport to truck to local package center to delivery truck.

Bar codes and computers are amazing, aren't they?

I do wonder, just a little, why a Japanese company has its warehouse back East....

Logic tells me I might see both packages here on Monday.

I want 'em. I'm eager to start playing with the new lenses. I have a list of things I want to shoot that I've been waiting on because the camera's built-in zoom lens isn't quite zoomy enough.

Still, when all is said and done, I think I ended up saving almost $10 by not buying them from a local camera store!

What a bargain!


Some malignant computer out there laid the comment bomb on me yesterday and today.

A zillion -- okay, more like 80 altogether -- messages saying things like "very interesting site. bookmarked." and all that kind of mindless stuff. Nothing offensive.

Wait. I am offended. It's like having someone spill beer on your floor and then walk away; you have to clean it up.

I don't know what cheap thrill people get from spamming, but I'm not going to let them get their cyber-jollies here.

If I'm going to have mindless comments, I want them to come from humans, thank you very much.

So on goes comment verification, that fun little gizmo where you have to prove you're a real person by looking at and copying down a series of meaningless letters before your comment is accepted.

Take that, anonymous comment-bomber!

Friday, May 19, 2006

My Word!

...and the word is...


Today is the birthday of my beloved adopted daughter! I made up that word especially for her, and was more than a little pleased to see it gracing her blog today....

I have given her full rights to said word, dedicated it to her. It's now officially a "Whatsername Word." I don't want to see anyone using it without giving proper credit to her!

I'm not going to get all weepy and setimental about her. Not now, anyway. Just know that she has made me smile when I needed a smile, has been a friend when I needed a friend and is, in general, exactly what I would have wanted my daughter to be if I had had one.

You are the epitome of superbishness, dear Whatsername.

Your adopted daddy is thinking of you, loves you, and wishes you all the best, now and always.

Happy birthday!

The fine print...

...will always get you.

Last week, I ordered two lenses for my digital camera. After finding that their prices were as good -- or better -- than from any camera store, I got them straight from the manufacturer.

They will likely arrive today.


What the company website did not mention, at least on any page I visited, was that the long and wide-angle lenses both require an adapter if they are to be attached to the camera.

So when you buy the TXSD-209RX-M22 and WPSRF-7689QM-F02 lenses, you also have to buy the WTF-29906-SOB9 adapter unit. Which is an extra 20 scoots.

I would have known this if I had read Page 132 of the camera's manual. I didn't.

Add another $19 to get this stupid little ring shipped by overnight service, because I want to use the new trinkets ASAP. Which brings the total for accessories I've bought up to a truly insane sum.

For another $200 or so, I could have bought a new camera, a much better one.

But it would surely have needed accessories, too.

Everyone tries to nickle-and-dime you to death, let me tell you....

PSEUDO-PARENTHETICAL AFTERTHOUGHT: The lenses didn't arrive today, and a communication from the manufacturer tells me I don't get overnight shipping on the adapter...they waited too long to process the order.

Oh well. They knocked $2.00 off the shipping charge, anyway.

Maybe all three items will arrive Monday. Then I can start having some fun with my expensive little toys without making a run to the 99-cent store for silver tape....

Thursday, May 18, 2006

If your hamster's tired...

...fear not! There was another flyer in the bottom of my bag when I got home from Petco today....

Unfortunately, there are no contests for lazy red cats at Petco.

They should hold a sleeping contest. My little guy would win...easily!

Just when you're sure you've seen it all...

...there's always a surprise lurking!

And I'm not talking about "American Idol's" William Hung being crowned king of the Artichoke Festival in "The Artichoke Center Of The World," Castroville, California.

I went to Petco today to stock up on overpriced "health" cat food and, when I got home, found this flyer in my bag:

No doubt this sweet friend is even now prepping an entry....

What's shakin'..., at least according to this map, California. As of this moment, there have been 351 earthquakes here in the past week. Most of 'em small, of course, but a couple have been large enough to rattle a few dishes.

I admit it: I look at this map every day. After all, I live in a seismic playground, a few hundred feet away from an area that collapsed into the ocean many years ago in large part due to an earthquake.

Yeah, I'd know about the Big One -- assuming it struck in my general area -- long before it made the map. I'd probably be too busy trying to swim to spend any time on the 'net if that happened, anyway.

That's not why I want to leave. I've ridden out any number of Pretty Big Earthquakes here and haven't suffered any lasting effects. In fact, the only direct damage I've ever suffered from a shaker was a soaked carpet when the pool at a house I was renting sent a small tidal wave house-ward.

If and when I do get to wherever it is I end up going, I'm sure I'll still check the map regularly. You can take the boy out of California, but you can't take California out of the boy.

But I'd like to stay in touch from a distance. Probably the only thing that hasn't changed for the worse during my many years here is earthquakes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I wish I was a politician... I could spew any tripe that wandered through my mind and it would not only get lots of attention from the press, but would actually convince some gullible people out there that I know what I'm talking about.

Could you manage to say that you're not advocating amnesty when you say people who have broken our laws should get a preferred place on the "path to citizenship?" Could you write, much less speak up in favor of, a "comprehensive immigration bill" that threatens to add more than 100 million people, most well below the poverty level, to our population over the next 20 years? Could you ignore the impending job losses, increased taxes and other hazards your constituents will face as a result of such idiocy?

And could you possibly take a call from Mexico's el Presidente and assure him you'll open the borders to his people and that you don't mean to put any obstacles in his citizens' way when the slimy creep's own government treats illegal immigrants (not to mention the poor citizens who choose to stay in his country) with brutality?

I couldn't. I don't think you could, either.

But George Bush can. So can John McCain. Not to mention Arlen Specter, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and a host of buffoons like them who have made a good thing for themselves out of talking out of both sides of their over-large mouths. And not just on immigration; they are so insulated, so selfish, that they'll sell ordinary citizens out for anything that gives them personal or political advantage.

Nothing new about that. Ted Kennedy is a master of the art, has been perfecting his specious, sanctimonious act for years, and the chumps of Massachusetts have been eating it up for years.

Actually, that's not why I'd like to be a politician. It's the perks. And the fact that I wouldn't have to show up for work very often.

I really don't want to sell anyone out. Well, maybe some people, such as those outside the country who wish us harm.

In fact, I'd much rather do some nice things for people: help them keep their jobs, stay healthy, drive on nice roads, not be pushed down by a heavy tax burden. All those things are possible, you know.

But boy, it would be fun to know that I could say any damn thing I want, pass any ridiculous bill I want with the help of the other fools in Congress, funnel wealth to my buds, get monuments built to myself, live in unwarranted luxury and still look like a "statesman."

It'd be kind of like living in Pee-Wee Herman's playhouse, only without the funny music.

Decision made...

...after a lot of thought and some wise counsel from someone I trust.

If I laid it out in detail, it might sound suspiciously like a cop-out, because what I have decided is what I will do when the time is right, while also deciding now is not the time for me to initiate any action on my own.

Not easy, not at all.

But so very necessary.

Work can now proceed on all but one of the smaller decisions, and it is proceeding.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I have to make one.

Actually, I have to make several, but only one is crucial.

It's as if I'm walking across a field of balloons wearing spiked golf shoes. I'm doing my best to tread very carefully, don't trust either my instincts or judgement. I know what I think is the right thing to do, the best thing to do, know what the ideal outcome would be, but I am far from certain anyone else affected by my decision would agree.

Avoiding it is not an option.

But the feeling that whatever I decide to do will be the wrong thing at the wrong time is inescapable.

Once I make up my mind about the one important decision, the others will be laughably simple.

Or they won't mean a thing.

Somehow, all my years of various experiences dealing with people have not prepared me for this.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What "they" won't tell you

If you're one of those people who feels sympathetic to the illegal-alien "plan" being put forth by George Bush and too damn many members of our out-of-touch Congress, let me suggest that you go here and read what some of the effects of their amnesty plan will be.

Yes, I understand that Bush claims "we are a nation of laws" in his useless speech tonight, and that what he is proposing is not amnesty for years of illegal activity. But if we actually intended to enforce the laws we have, we would be taking steps to send a minimum of 12 million people out of the country right away, so they could apply for residency like everyone else who has waited years to come to the USA legally.

Instead, we will send the National Guard to the border to wash the Border Patrol's vehicles while they try to stem the endless flood. And the Guard forces will be gone from the border as soon as Bush can manage it. Like right after the November elections.

And we'll establish a "guest-worker" program and requirements for the transformation of illegals into "legal" residents that are unenforceable and ripe for abuse.

Does any sane person actually believe that any of Bush's ideas -- never mind the even more bizarre Senate bill being considered -- is even remotely workable?

The sad truth is our so-called "public servants" are dancing to the tune of employers looking for cheap (slave) labor and a Mexican jefe who wants to send his poorest citizens northward and keep the southward flow of dollars going.

And, thanks to the generous provisions of the Senate's idea of "comprehensive immigration reform" -- which means "let 'em all in and let 'em all vote" -- not only will our population grow at an unsustainable rate, but our welfare systems will be stretched beyond supportability and the rule of law will have been rendered meaningless.

We have always been a "nation of immigrants." That is one of our unique strengths. But becoming a "nation of illegal immigrants" may well destroy us as a society and as a nation.

NOT-SO-PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Having just watched Bush deliver his "speech," I am now firmly convinced that as long as this man remains in office, and as long as Dianne Feinstein, Ted Kennedy, John McCain, Harry Reid and others who buy into the insanity of "comprehensive immigration reform" have any authority at all, we are doomed. None of what these people are saying even comes close to making sense. We might as well kiss the United States goodbye. It's over.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day... every woman who has brought new life into the world, who has nurtured, cared for and raised her children well...

And, of course, very special Mother's Day wishes go to one particular someone, to whom I wish I could have have brought flowers and breakfast in bed, whose chores I wish I could have done, so that she could spend this day being adored, appreciated and loved by her wonderful children. And by me....

You are in my heart, today as always....

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mr Scribbler's Orphanage!

Since my former journal-home (hereinafter referred to as UrinalSpace) seems to have suffered some sort of terminal cyber-meltdown, all refugees from there are welcome to use the comments section of this post to send out distress messages, announce their replacement sites or simply wander around peeping piteously...

Or you can go here to do the same in a more organized forum!

I'll be passing out thin blankets and cups of tepid, watery gruel ASAP!

PARENTHETICAL UPDATE-Y STUFF: Dagnabit, people! If you do have journals elsewhere, or are starting them, will you please leave a message so I can find all y'all? I want to read you, too, you know....

Friday, May 12, 2006


...and there are few springtime delights like a rose in bloom....

No good reason....

...for posting this picture, except that I wouldn't mind being back there right now....

Thursday, May 11, 2006

My strange world.... a place of dislocation.

Last Friday night, I heard explosions as I lay in a bed in Munich. I got up, looked out the window, and saw fireworks in the distance. The next night, lying in my bed back home, I heard explosions. They were gunshots: Some wacked-out dude was cruising the streets firing a full-auto pistol out his window.

When the police finally collared him, they found he was some kind of aerospace worker who had lost his job and went over the edge. At his apartment they found 20 additional weapons and 10,000 rounds of ammo.

Ahhh, home, the place "Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea!"

So tonight, I'm sitting here in my office-space, sipping Bushmills and listening to Rammstein in my headphones. It's loud enough to drown out the beer-drinking fool in my building who insists on standing outside for hours while his boombox rattles week ago tonight, I was drinking beer, listening to people around me rattling away in German and eating spargel....

If I had one of those "my mood" indicators on here, it would be wavering between "woolgathering" and "surly."

I'm all too conscious of how some of what I say here is received by some people. To confess that one is not totally self-sufficient is to confess weakness. Humans, like fish, tend to cut the weak from their schools as they swim along.

Not being weak myself, I do not wish to be seen as weak.

There is, I think, a difference between being weak and being vulnerable.

We've been conditioned in our time -- though I don't buy it -- to reject the "no man is an island" philosophy and instead claim that we "can do it all," without help of any kind. We are conditioned to believe we must weather the storms of life alone, lest others think less of us, lest we see ourselves as somehow lacking.

Yes, there are things we must do alone. It is neither possible nor even desirable to ask others to open every door for us.

But there are voids in life that can only be filled by others, and we ignore that at great peril to our souls.

Just as we ignore the damage we can do to others by concentrating entirely on our own needs.

I freely admit that there is an empty space in my life, one not filled by travel, by my work -- which is of a creative nature and which, if I may toot my own horn, I do rather well -- or by anything I can do on my own. Hobbies, which I also have, don't fill it; neither do my friends, wonderful as they are.

The void is painfully apparent when I unpack my bags after a journey, when I turn off the computer after finishing an article, when the hobbies are packed away and my friends go home.

My need -- the element that will fill the void -- is simply expressed: I need to love, and be loved. Not the love of a place, an object, a job, but a person.

I need a companion, lover, friend.

I need a woman who touches me softly, wordlessly, when I'm tired, who smiles when I succeed, is quietly supportive when I fail, who trusts that I will get up when I fall, who smiles and laughs with me when we are happy, who will take all I can give, and give all she can...I need a woman who sings to me....

I need a woman whose burdens I can lighten, to whom I can bring joy with my attentions, my concern for her happiness. I need a woman whose successes I can share, whose fears I can soothe away.

I know her name. I know what she looks like, sounds like. I know where she is, this magical, adorable woman.

While there may be others who could partially fill the void in my soul, I have met only one in my long life who is the exact fit for the missing piece of the picture puzzle that is me. She exists, this imprefectly perfect goddess, but she is not here.

I am sad, even a bit angry, that the best of me remains unused, unappreciated.

And I am slightly afraid, too. Afraid of a future in which the ultimate gift God has given each of us, the rare and exquisite ability to love and be loved, goes unused.

Call me weak, if you like. I am merely admitting the truth.

In two weeks, I travel again. And yet again, not long after that. In a few months, if all goes well, I'll embark on the longest, most fascinating journey I've yet been offered.

And yet, I worry about one final journey that I do not wish to take alone, one last accomplishment so far denied me. It will, more than anything I have done or will do on my own, define me in my own eyes as a success or failure.

If you find it odd that I am willing to stand naked before you in this manner, willing to risk your ridicule, imagine how I feel having revealed so much more to the one who remains silent, for whom I have risked so much more, the one who knows her worth to me, knows the power she wields over me.

Conversely, If all of this is incomprehensible to you, chalk it up to my excessive indulgence in a good 14 year-old scotch while listening to angry German techno-rock music.

Help wanted!

Just read my horoscope -- kinda late in the day, but what the heck -- and if it's correct (insert insane laughter here) I am in dire need of some help....

Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19
Your soul is hungry for more than the usual mediocrity. You want big answers, real solutions and deep insight. Seek out those who understand you. It's time to bond with likeminded folks to satisfy this need.

I can attest to the accuracy of sentences one, two and four.

Any volunteers willing to lend a hand?

Keeping the lips zipped... foreign to my very nature. Even so, this seems a time to be doing just that. At least about the Big Issues.

It's not that I have nothing to complain about. The world as I know it seems to be crumbling, and enduring the changes in silence will only hasten the collapse.

Consider this: our government is bending over backward to coddle law-breakers and throw the borders wide open in the illegal-alien situation. The president and a majority of Senators and Representatives are ignoring the wishes and needs of the citizens who put them in their cushy billets in favor of ensuring themselves a supply of new voters with reason to be grateful to them (which ordinary Americans definitely are not), as well as lots of financial support from those companies salivating over an endless stream of fresh low-wage "workers" to exploit.

Or think about my home state, where a judge is ready to throw out the state-mandated high school exit exam because having to demonstrate a basic proficiency in math and English somehow "discriminates" against minorities.

There are plenty of other irritants grating on me, too. We, as Americans, and human beings in general -- don't want those of you in other countries to feel left out -- have become idiots.

But I'm not going to weigh in with my opinions right now.

The reason is simple: my own life is such an unhappy mess that I can't be as rational as I'd like about The Big Picture.

What makes this particularly galling is that a single change in my situation would turn things completely around. No, it wouldn't solve all my problems; rather, it would give me the energy and desire to straighten what's bent and fix what's broken.

I have the strength, and the skill, to do any damn thing I want or need to do.

But even the most powerful engine is useless when it has no fuel.

That's where I am.

I know what fuel I need, know the source for it. But I can't go get it.

To so extent, that's my own fault; my desire to be a gentleman, to avoid adding strain to anyone else's life, has rendered me inert when perhaps I should not be.

Am I my own worst enemy? Are those pieces of my character I consider most admirable contributing to my downfall? Possibly so.

At some point, I may have to put all my remaining chips on the table and place my final Big Bet. If the ball drops in the right slot, I'm gold; if not, how much worse could things be?

I see that day coming. In some ways, it frightens me. But I see fewer and fewer alternatives.

With all that in mind, I think it's easy to see why I'm not writing letters to my Congresscrooks or signing up for any kind of civic/political involvements.

In the end, I am more important to me than anything -- or anyone -- else. When my own mental/spiritual house is in order, then I can put energy into making the world a better place for everytone else.

And I will. When that happens.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hidden treasures....

Warning: If you're not interested in cars -- especially classic cars -- you'll be bored to tears by this entry....

Earlier, I mentioned the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Car enthusiasts know M-B has had a museum for years (since the mid-1920s, in fact) and some know the company is about to open a brand-new enlarged museum with a few days.

What most people don't know is that the 150 or so cars and trucks on public display represent only a fraction of the collection Mercedes-Benz has amassed. Many more are stashed away in three -- or four, depending on who you talk to -- nondescript warehouses.

Ten years ago, I was able to visit three of those warehouses. Last week, I returned and was able to see two. For anyone who is attracted to cars, these stashes are a treasure trove, beyond monetary value.

The company has spent years gathering in cars to add to those they have kept from the beginning. Among them are all but one of the dozens of racing cars built in the M-B factories in the 1930s and 1950s, classics dating back to the pre-Mercedes-Benz days when Daimler and Benz were separate companies, trucks and buses of all descriptions, interesting prototype cars and "everyday" M-Bs from every era.

Seeing them is an occasion of sensory overload. I ran my camera out of batteries shooting in these dark buildings, and present a few of my favorites here.

This is one of the first cars to bear the "Mercedes" name before it was joined up in a hyphenate with Benz. The original "Mercedes" was the daughter of one Emil Jellinek, daughter of the Austrian Benz dealer, who informed Benz he could sell a large number of cars if they were named after his female child....

One of the great "Silver Arrow" racing cars of the 1930s, the W125 Mercedes-Benz got more than 500 horsepower from its supercharged engine, but rode on tires narrower than those on a modern VW Golf and had brakes that were, by modern standards, pathetic. It took a special kind of driver to master one of these beasts....

This is a 500K, the legendary supercharged Mercedes-Benz sportscar of the late 1930s. It is fast, beautifully built and just plain gorgeous. It's my second-favorite of all Mercedes-Benz automobiles....

And this is where the 500K's driver and fortunate passenger spent their on-the-road time....

This may look like a 300SL "Gullwing," but it isn't. It's a 300SLR Coupe, one of two built, that mated the chassis, engine and lower body of the all-conquering 300SLR open racing car with the roof and doors of a standard 300SL. Though it has a full interior, it is far faster than any regular 300SL, and far louder. It was conceived by and became the personal daily transport of M-B racing team director Rudi Uhlenhaut. This is the one Mercedes I covet most....

Finally, from the 1970s, one of the C111 "research" cars built by Mercedes-Benz to test the Wankel rotary engine. Less than a dozen of these mid-engine coupes were built; the last few were fitted with high-performance diesel engines, even more streamlined bodies and set a number of world speed records....

These cars were only the tip of the iceberg. Cars of all eras, from the 1920s (and before) to just a few years ago, live in these warehouses. Touring cars, trucks, racers...some as common as 190E sedans, others unique oddities. All of them ready to start up and take for a drive....


Monday, May 08, 2006


Und zo, finally, with work complete and a whole afternoon/evening staring us in the face, it was time to get out and explore Munich.

At least as much of it as was within walking distance, anyway.

The closest area of interest to the hotel -- ten minutes on foot -- was the Marienplatz, which was thronged with people on a Friday afternoon. It's a pedestrian-only area, lined with shops, stalls and open-air cafes. Before settling in at one for a weissbier or two (two, it was), I grabbed this picture...

Here, you can see more of the Marienplatz, with one of the plaster lions that dotted the area. The Loewe is, apparently, a symbol of Munich, and in honor of the upcoming World Cup, a variety of lions, decorated by local artists, had been placed around the city. This poor one seemed to have hurt his leg, poor guy...

This church, complete with a gilt statue of God-Knows-Who in front, dominates the Marienplatz. The cafe we picked was right in front of it; no worries about mixing beer and religion here! I took a picture of a colleague standing in front of the church, not realizing until I got home and looked at the photo full-screen that a young girl standing behind him was making some kind of gesture that looked as if she either meant to pat him on the butt or pick his pocket...

Vegetable stands (like this one) and restaurants alike were proudly proclaiming the availability of spargel. It's the season after all, and I ate more than my share of it. Sausages, too, neither of which appears on my diet at home very often...

Another church, older than the one in the photo above by the looks of it, sported signs like this, admonishing passers-by to not stand too close in times of bad weather, lest they be conked on the noggin by falling bricks...

Our farewell dinner, replete with plenty of beer, sausages and -- yes! -- spargel, took place in a nice restaurant near the Marienplatz. Another good excuse to walk! Munich was quieter at 11:00 at night, but the trams were still running, and there were plenty of people around...

I'm still dithering about posting a few more photos that I find fascinating, but which may offer a little too much of a clue to my identity. We'll see....

In the meantime, I'm missing lovely München and environs, and wishing I'd had more time to explore the countryside and gather trinkets. I need to go back soon, preferably to share it with someone whose lovely presence was sorely missed this time....


I love driving at what might best be called "elevated" speeds, and I'm fairly skilled at it. That's one of the reasons I love going to Germany: some sections of the famous autobahn system are still speed-limit-free during daylight hours when the weather is good.

Yes, even if you happen to be driving something like this Mercedes-Benz T80 (a monster powered by an aircraft engine. It was built just before World War II to establish a new world speed record somewhere up around 500 km/h, but never had a chance to show its stuff) you are free to drive as quickly as common sense and conditions allow...
(photo courtesy some nameless guy with a camera)

Sadly, this has become less of a pleasure as the years have gone by. Sure, given a suitably rapid car -- in my case, capable of something over 250 km/h -- one can pelt along like Rudi Caracciola in his prime, but the overall skill level of those one shares the road with seems to have declined in Germany as it has here in the USA.

Once upon a time, no driver in, say, a VW Golf diesel would think of wandering into the fast lane to pass an even slower car or truck without looking in his mirrors first. Not so now. Thank goodness brakes are better these days; they need to be.

Part of this I attribute to a wave of political correctness that has washed over Germany. Used to be that a driver who was overtaking quickly could flash the headlights to warn drivers ahead that he -- or she -- was in full flight-mode. No longer. That's considered a sign of incipient road rage now, and is strengst verboten. You can still turn the lights on in daylight and leave 'em on, but that doesn't add up to much since anyone can do that, no matter how fast or slow they happen to be going.

It should be noted that when there are posted speed limits, they are enforced ruthlessly, as are prohibitions on following another car too closely and other elements of inattentive or clumsy driving. I'm all for that, wish such things drew such official attention here at home.

I will say it's still one of life's pleasure to blur the scenery along the autobahnen. I find it relaxing, in fact; you're concentrating, of course, looking a long way down the road, always keeping potential disasters in mind, but it's not very much of a strain. Unless, that is, you have to worry about wandering minds in the cars ahead. Even then, it's more of a challenge than a cause for anger.

For all the times I've been fortunate to enjoy the sensations of b-to-the-w autobahn travel, I've never been King Of The Hill. Even while running absolutely flat-out in one of the confections placed in my none-too-tender care last week -- I'll estimate I was running at roughly 275-280 km/h, not having had time to glance down at the speedometer -- I shot a look into the mirror at one point to see a small speck behind me growing rapidly into a large Porsche that was booming along at something near 300....

I changed lanes and let him by. I'm polite like that.

Fortunately, I didn't have to drive right away when I got home. The adjustment back to 55 mph can be a jarring experience!

To a circuitous route....

After one last night in my miniature hotel room in Stuttgart, I found myself being taken south to Munich. First stop, Munich's flughafen where, in one area, three classic aircraft are on permanent display. While I was there, the three-engine Fokker passenger plane -- which looks oddly like a low-wing version of the Ford Tri-motor, and sat near a Constellation and a DC-3 -- had a Mercedes-Benz 170D of the same vintage parked close by. This was one of the first passenger cars with a Diesel engine...

Then we were on the road, first a stretch of autobahn -- always a fun experience! -- and then onto secondary roads that led into Alpine foothills. The small towns of Bavaria are charming, to say the least; this was either St Quirin or Tegernsee; don't remember which...

Sadly, I had little time to savor the beauty of the Alps except through a car window. It might be just as well that our stops were brief; I'd still be there if the decision had been left to me...

Too soon, we had to make our way into Munich and the hotel, which is a converted post office adjacent to the main railway station...

No tiny rooms here! The Sofitel is resolutely modern inside; even a bit kinky, with the big-enough-for-two bathtub separated from the bed by a large window. Another thing that made me wiah I hadn't been alone there...

Finally, and apropos of nothing at all, I have to say the Bavarian Red Cross has the coolest ambulance I've ever seen!

There was ample time for some out-and-about in Munich, but that must wait until the next entry....

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A short stay in Stuttgart...

...of less than two days meant not much time to be out and about. Which was okay by me, as I find the town's architecture heavy-handed and dreary whether new or reconstructed/old.

Still, the Koenigstrasse, a street transformed into a giant pedestrian mall, was a delight on a sunny day. There's a park on one side where sun-worshippers gather (to the right of the bandshell in the photo), and outdoor cafes a-plenty for those tired of shopping...

This church is one of the more graceful buildings I saw in the area, though it obviously lacks the delicacy of Italian and French counterparts. The clock still worked, however...

The most interesting building -- at least among those I saw -- was the Mercedes-Benz Museum (designed by a Dutch architect!) in the nearby district of Stuttgart-Unterturkheim. Newly completed, it will open to the public later this month...

But my hotel room afforded a spectacular view. The spire on the hilltop is a TV antenna tower; similar structures are found in most German towns....

The view was compensation for a tiny, though reasonably comfortable, room. I wish I could have gotten a photo of the circular shower stall; it was so cramped that any movement while in it was almost certain to shut off the water tap...

Not the most exciting start to a trip, though there were some interesting moments during "working" hours which I might proide a sample or two from later.

The pictures get much more interesting tomorrow, when we'll be off to Munich!

Not quite ready... plow through the piles of touristy-type photos I took in Germany and set up a travelogue. Give me time, though; I will get on with it soon.

The snag is my current mood, which has been growing progressively more gloomy in the hours since my return to home base. It would seem that my previously posted request to not be forgotten has fallen on deaf ears. Or blind eyes, if you want to be more literal.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not referring to those of you who visited and left comments, of course....

I will, however, spare you the rant that leads naturally from my current mood. Let’s just put it like this: loneliness sucks. It really, really does.

Oh, I did take a stab at getting some photos cropped and resized to put up here. I really did. I looked at the city views, the Alpine vistas and all the rest – including a few from the working portion of the trip, which could be too revelatory about my “real” self but are too cool to leave out – but looking at them this morning brought back the same thought that was running through my head when I took them:

”I can’t wait to show these to ----.”.

Well, ---- doesn’t seem to be interested. Not in my wanderings, not in me.

And that hurts, let me tell you.

It’s possible that there are extenuating circumstances. In fact, I know there are. But I also fear they are to some degree a smokescreen. If ---- had wanted to welcome me home, or let me know I still exist, I suspect she’d have found a way.

I hope I’m wrong about that, hope it’s simply been impossible for her to send a message. That’s what I want to believe.

I’ll get over it. Enough, at least, to go ahead and tell the story to anyone else who’s interested.

May not be today, though.

Sorry about that. At least you can take some consolation in knowing that you don't have to sit here with me in person and listen to me moaning about it.

For now, I'll leave you with a picture of my favorite highway sign from the trip....

Saturday, May 06, 2006


The clock tells me it’s 7:21 on Saturday night, but my body insists that it’s 4:21 on Sunday morning.

A long trip, and mostly a very good one. The weather in Germany couldn’t have been better; nor could the hospitality of our hosts have been improved upon.

But there were moments when it all went sour for me. Too many of them. Too many moments when I seemed out of synch with those around me, was blind to the pleasures right in front of me.

The sad side of the trip was summed up by my arrival back here: I walked up the ramp leading from the customs/immigration area, tired, carrying too many bags, just as I have so many times before. I looked up at the railing where people waiting to meet arriving passengers stand – I’ve been there many times as well – and saw the expectation, the joy of reunion, on their faces.

No one was waiting for me.

I came home to my empty, quiet place. No one there, either. And checked mailbox, voicemail, email. None of them had the message I so need to hear.

Suddenly, the whole thing seemed a total waste of time.

Still, I took pictures, and will share some with a few stories in the days to come.

But for now, jet lag – and affection-lag – have me in their grip.

So I wish you all guten abend.

UPDATE, THE NEXT MORNING: I woke up at 5:00 am, and why not? The internal clock told me it was the middle of the afternoon, and anyone who sleeps in that long is just lazy. Or hung over? But I am readjusting. I think. I'll know tomorrow....

Monday, May 01, 2006

Don't forget me....

In a few hours, I’ll be in the air, on my way to Germany. Laptop-less as always, so I doubt I’ll be updating from there. It’s safe to assume that a six-day silence will descend on this space.

I’m looking forward to the trip, which will be fun and make me a few dollars. It’ll get me away from here, too, which at the moment is a Very Good Thing.

But I’m also not looking forward to it, for reasons that should be apparent to some readers.... Simply put, that extra 6000 or so mile-wide gulf between me and the place where my heart resides is more than a little painful to think about. I’m too far away when I’m here.

There are few things in life more painful to contemplate than being forgotten. I speak from experience. Being "out of sight, out of mind" is hell; I pray that's not my fate.

Don’t forget me.

I have not forgotten you. Nor will I. Ever.

And I will be back.

So take care of you, and think of me, as I will be thinking of you.

Random ruminations

My back hurts.

Maybe it was all that floor-scrubbing last night. Or the carrying of seven large piles of trash down to the dumpster. Or could it have been the emergency midnight rebuild of my previously reliable Hoover that chose a critical time to crap out?

No matter.

Fortified by aspirin and coffee, I'm contemplating the hour's-worth of work I have to do this morning before I leave. Trivia. I have it handled.

One moment of personal anger this morning: I use "google alerts" to tell me when my name -- the real one, that is -- appears on the 'net. This morning's version tells me that, once again, I've been ripped off by a website that is using material I wrote for a magazine -- which, legally, bought only first-publication rights to my articles -- without paying me for it. Damn.

I've had a chance to scan the news, and am again both amused and horrified. In honor of the "Day Without Illegals," The Los Angeles Times is giving us a "Day Without Editorials." Damn, I knew something good would come out of this! Now, if the New York Times would follow suit, and keep it up for a few years....

I hope the voters -- those who vote legally, that is -- are paying attention to who among the politicos are supporting the lunacy of giving in to the mob. If this series of protests by and for people who have broken the law and advocate the further Balkanization of our society achieves its goal, we are one step closer to anarchy.

As happens all too often, my horoscope taunts me. It's a good thing I don't believe in the astrology stuff. Of course I wish I could believe in it, wish it could be accurate:

Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19
Someone makes you a romantic offer you just can't refuse. And why should you? This offer is pretty darned fantastic. Questioning your luck will just put unnecessary doubts in your head. Move!

After 2:45, this will also be a "Day Without Mr Scribbler." As will Tuesday through Saturday. When I get back, expect pictures and stories. If anything interesting happens, that is.

And that, for now, is all I have to say.