Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We stayed home to man the door but it was a surprisingly light crowd this year. Maybe it was the election year politics. Maybe it was people just feeling down about the economy and not wanting to buy costumes. Too bad...but, just in case, I bought Hershey's Dark Chocolate with Almonds so I wouldn't mind munching the leftovers. M&Ms as well. Yumm. Happy Halloween all and to all a good night. Oh wait, was that Santa Claus? Grin. He's getting chocolate too!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Surf Buggy

The little guy is riding in style and Daddy gets to go walking on the beach on a beautiful day rather than stay home and watch the crib. Overall, everybody wins. Looks like fun. I think my Mom would have had a fit and my Dad would have thought it was really cool. Maybe it's a Dad thing.

Simple Roots

Grandma had 11 children. They all sewed for a living. It made ends meet and kept everyone fed. Grandpa bought a chicken once a week. When I was younger my Mom sewed our clothes. She sewed until she was too old to see the thread. I used to help her thread the needle as she got older. Perhaps it was just habit or a need to feel useful. Perhaps it was just getting by.

My other Grandpa was a banker but died young. After he passed away, his wife (Grandma #2) ran a small taro farm. I still have the triton shell she blew to call the workers in from the field. They both died much too soon and were gone long before I was born. I wish I could have known them.

They all worked hard so their children could get through high school. My generation went to college. Some of us attended prestigous private colleges and now have great jobs. I suppose that is the American dream. Parents that worked hard so their children could get ahead.

When I look at the economy today, I worry about how the older generation will make it on fixed incomes with rising medical costs and spiraling inflation. I worry about how our generation will make it and if we'll ever be able to retire or if we'll work until the day we die. I dread the thought of ever being the senior sweeping the floors in McDonald's or the greeter in Walmart. I know I will never be there (not if I can help it anyhow) but, when I look at those workers, I wonder how America, with all her wealth, cannot find enough to thank her seniors with more than a job as a greeter at Walmart.

They say, when they made social security, they never expected people to live past 65. It was a way to sell yet another tax to pay for more government excess. They talk about raising the retirement age to 75. Few companies have pensions now. If your IRA is anything like mine, it just flushed down the toilet with the stock market. Meanwhile, the gap between the rich and the poor in America is growing. They say the gap is wider than ever.

Yet, when I drive through town, I still see an abundance of $1M plus houses with Mercedes parked out front. Oh, not in my neighborhood... Who owns those houses? What do they do for a living? Where do the rest of the people live? How did we get here? Is the American dream still alive and well or is it drifting or even plummeting out of reach? What do you think?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Birthday Flowers

Hawaiian flowers for my birthday. My sister sent them. They remind me of home where Mom grows them in the yard. I think that was really, really sweet of her. Everyone should have a sister that nice! I'm going to try to grow the red ti leaf plant in the greenhouse when they're done.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Surf Contest Judges

If you have to judge anything, judging a surf contest is the way to go. Wow, beautiful weather, nice water, sunshine! What more could you ask for? Well, the judges did have to move the chairs when the tide came up but that's a small price to pay for weather that nice.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Harbor Lights

There's a big beacon light across the San Diego Bay as you look out from Harbor Island. Like a lighthouse, the beacon sweeps round and round in inexorable rhythm, never slowing, never ceasing, not a sound to be heard; there is just the sweep of the cool bluish-white beam as it reflects silently across the water. In the light fog it looks lonely and sad, almost beckoning.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Open Sand

Mission Beach. Not as crowded as it normally would be on a nice hot Saturday. Could it be that the recession has got everyone hunkered down at home? There are quite a few beachfront condos for sale as well. Developers bought up the older homes, knocked them down and put up these fancy, multi-unit condos just in time for the recession. Ow. The beachfront ones are still going for about $1.4M. I've no idea how much money they threw into them. They're pretty though. If only I had money...grin.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What San Diegans Do When It Gets Hot

Surf Contest, Mission Beach. It was just too nice to stay inside and study... So I started off hacking the coral tree down to the main trunk for fire season since it was rubbing on the neighbors house. Not too bad other than the thorns. Not thinking that chopping trees was enough exercise, it was off to the beach to skate the boardwalk. On the tail end of the beach, there was a surf contest in full swing. As you can see, the waves weren't great but they made the best of it. I, of course, had the wrong lens but here you go...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Think Cool

A little picture of me at the base of Meare's Glacier in the Prince Williams Sound. The weather here is still in the 90s. Hot and dry until the beginning of next week when the cool ocean air (hopefully) starts to roll back in. Until then it's fire alerts and shorts. I thought the picture might make me feel a little cooler but the placebo effect is not working.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brutal Hot

The Boardwalk, Mission Beach. Weather's been up around 90F! Wow, Summer in the middle of October. Go figure.

Went down to campaign HQ to look for more yard signs to replace the one that was stolen right out of my friend's front yard. They were all out. I'm thinking that is because of high demand and not because we're having to replace a bunch of them but you never know. Nasty bigots never do play fair.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hot Weather is Coming Back

Mission Beach. The hot weather is coming back! We've had the oddest weather. A few days of cold followed a few days of very hot, fire prone weather in repetitive cycle. It's making it tough to figure out when to turn off the sprinklers and when to water. The orchids are either bone dry or over-watered. Maybe it is just that time of year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Manning the Phone Bank

I manned the phone bank for no on Proposition 8 on Sunday. When I started calling it was absolutely nerve wracking. Asking someone to vote no was like asking for a date, every single time. For a normally shy guy, that's enough to leave you feeling like a dishrag after 3 hours of calling.

I think I'm pretty good at it and four people changed their minds. In a really close race, that feels like quite an accomplishment. I'm still debating whether I would man the phone bank again. Some people had a lot of fun but I found it somewhat draining, perhaps because I was discussing something that I cared about in a more personal way than most, who relied more tightly on the script. However, I know that I hate it when people call and read a script to me on the phone. I feel like my time is worth more than that. I've always hated listening to someone read a script (they could just mail it to me). I want to know what people really think; so, I figured I owed a little of that in return. Lucky for me, the script and I were in agreement!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Do the Chickens Have it Right or Do We?

Chicken in cage. What a life eh? Sit, eat, sleep, sit, eat, sleep. If you were a chicken, would you rather be free but hungry and always scratching for worms or caged into a job of laying eggs for food? Sound familiar? This little chicken was at one of the booths at the local street fair. No sign of why she was there but she seemed content enough. Telling perhaps?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stand Up and Be Counted

Life has come relatively easy for me. I have awesome parents who love all of us kids till the ends of the Earth. I've done well in school and in business. Oh, sure, it is always easy to look at what more I could be, richer, smarter, more athletic, more, more, more. That's the American way, I suppose. Still, all in all, I've been a pretty lucky little guy.

It's easy to take what I have for granted. After all, it just is. Sure, there was hard work involved but that was then. Now is now. However, I also realize that what I have was built upon the backs of those who sacrificed for me to have the life I have today. My grandparents and parents who toiled long, scrimped and saved that their children and grandchildren might have better lives. The teachers and other signficant people who saw promise and pushed me along. Even so far as our founding fathers who created this great country at great risk to their personal lives.

When we look to the rights of gays and lesbians in this country, it is no different. From the brave souls at Stonewall who risked arrest to protest harassment by the establishment to the many volunteers who spend their lives to push for greater rights, both legally and politically, all of them have stepped up to be counted.

Ironically, those who perished of AIDS, also stepped up and were counted. They did not die in vain. That singular tragic disease did more to push gays and lesbians into visible society than perhaps any other event. There, in the early eighties, when our friends, our celebrities (like Rock Hudson) and those we cared about started to die, that was the point where gays and lesbians suddenly and palpably became acutely visible to society. Even more than that, gays and lesbians were all among us: our relatives, our heros, our friends - the people that we cared about. Perhaps it was that very ability to live in hiding, that fed the disease in the first place.

No matter. Hiding has taken too many. From those who died of AIDS to the children who commit suicide rather than face a world where people hate you for something you can hide but cannot not change. There are few other minorities where people you care about may spout hateful, bigoted thoughts right to your face, not knowing that they knifed you with every word, for they did not know.

It's got to stop somewhere. Enough have died. Enough have suffered. That we are even having the debate over whether gays and lesbians can marry shows great promise and progress. That we are even having the debate, shows how far we have come. That we are having the debate shows how much further we must go.

Stop the hate. Vote no on Proposition 8 and stand up and be counted.

Serious Air

Kite surfing at Mission Beach. This guy was getting serious air time while kite surfing at mission beach yesterday. Wow. That's got to be a total rush being up in the air like that. You'd almost think that kite would fly away with him in tow, almost as if he were attached to a big, fluffy ballon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ah Factor

Sonoran Poppy or Matilija Poppy, Romneya coulteri. If you have never seen a Sonoran Poppy, you are missing out! These fragrant flowers are the size of a dinner platter, all brilliant, crinkly white with glowing yellow-orange tassels for pollen and the yellow stigma rising up like some russian dome over it all. Wow... I saw these growing wild at Mission Trails Park during the Summer and had to snap a picture. I've loved these for years and keep saying that one day, just one day I'm going to buy some at the nursery for my yard (note that they are taller than a person so you do have to be careful where you plant them).

Oh, and for today's decadance... I just had some warmed King's Hawaiian Sweetbread with a scoop of mango ice cream inside. Yummmm...

I didn't feel like studying yet. It is Friday night after all so maybe a little of my awful poetry to amuse our gentle readers (or scare them off...).

Brilliant, crinkly, white platters,
Yellow tassles waving in the breeze,
Pollen greats the tireless honeybee,
Reward for fearless travel from afar,
Each plays their part in next year's blossom,
Life renews each day a newborn start.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Had a Bad Day?

These two gorillas are having a bad day. The argument seems to have something to do with possession of that little piece of straw that the larger gorilla has. Either way, that looks like the "stink eye" if I've ever seen it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hats and Habits off to Father Geoff

Okay, this post is to the lovely Ms. Birdie and to Martin for telling me about Father Geoff and to Father Geoff for having the moral conviction to speak his mind, possibly at the cost of his career. So many gays and lesbians live in the closet, afraid to step out into the open and speak up for themselves for fear of losing their jobs and their loved ones. For fear of being ostracized, for fear of being assaulted (yes, it does happen), for fear of not fitting in. Father Geoff spoke up as a Catholic Priest to stand up against proposition 8 and the bigotry and discrimination that it perpetuates. Hats off to you Father G. Hats off.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Black Skimmer

Black Skimmer, Rynchops niger. Every now and then you see something that just amazes you. Something that you could stare at for hours and not even notice. These Black Skimmers are like that. They are so unusual and yet beautiful in a daring and bold sort of way. They remind me of the planes that scoop water to put out fires as they run their beaks just under the surface looking for the schools of small fish just below. I've only seen these once but oh what a sight.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is Prop 8 about Kids?

I was reading a blog post where blogger-Jeff says that prop. 8 is about allowing children the right to choose heterosexual parents. Unfortunately, children generally don't choose their parents, particularly when they're products of a natural childbirth versus an adoption (where sometimtes they have a choice). However, if we look at what children get to choose we just end up with more questions such as: Can single people adopt children? Does a child have a right to parents that plan for his/her well being? Does a child have a right to parents of means that can support him/her? Does a child have a right to choose his/her own religion and not be forced into the religion of his/her parents? Overall, if we all truly cared about child welfare, there would be mandatory classes and certification required before people could have children. Most parents do the best they know how but we can do so much better. I have seen abused, neglected children and they have always been products of unhappy heterosexual marriages. In fact, studies suggest that kids with gay or lesbian parents are better adjusted and better cared for on the average, likely because gays and lesbians can't just have sex and have children (i.e., there are no accidents) but rather have to plan for them and truly want them.

Of course blogger Jeff is totally missing the point about proposition 8 and reasons for or against denying/allowing gay marriage. In adoptions, social services investigates and educates parents long and hard before they let them adopt to make sure they are qualified. Gay marriage doesn't miraculously let gays and lesbians adopt willy nilly. Gay marriage allows committed gay and lesbian couples access to civil rights and responsibilities such as hospital visitation, inheritance rights, joint filing of taxes and other secular rights and responsibilities. I suspect that gay marriage will encourage more responsible long term relationships and productive engagement in society by gays and lesbians. It will also, ironically, result in them being subject to the same marriage tax penalty which means they will pay more taxes into society. What's not to want (for the rest of society)?

Remember, Marriage is about committed couples living stable, productive lives together. Children are a product of some marriages but many couples choose to never have children. I suspect most gay couples will think long and hard before taking on such a great responsibility, especially considering the ongoing discrimination in American society against gay and lesbian couples.

Overall, I think gay marriage offers both fiscal and social benefits for society in the form of more stable, productive couples contributing taxes and resources. If you believe likewise, vote no on 8.

Holy Andes Mints!

Stanhopea Ronsard. Holy Andes Mints Batman! Stanhopea flowers are totally cool. They look like alien space ships and bloom out of the bottom of the pot (pendant). Each Stanhopea species is pollinated by a unique South American bee species! No bee and the species goes extinct. This particular cross smells like Chocolate Mint, inherited from the Stanhopea occulata parent which you can clearly see via the cool red spots. Only downside is that they only last for a few days. This snapshot was taken yesterday and the flowers are still going strong!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Do the Dogs have it Right?

The lies and demagoguery of the presidential election are getting me down. I saw these two dogs at the town fair the other day and wondered if the dogs are on to something! A quick sniff and a doggie kiss and everyone gets along just fine. Well, most of the time, anyhow.

There's a sucker born every minute

The lies and rumors are flying in the presidential campaign not to mention the pro-proposition 8 campaign. The campaigns are feeding off of petty, irrational fears. Some of them include people calling Obama a terrorist, an Arab and other clearly ridiculous things as well as the prop. 8 promoters putting ads on the air claiming that elementary school kids are going to be taught about gay marriage in school.

I asked myself how is it that the American population can be so gullible and so easily mislead? Don't we have one of the largest literacy rates in the world? Don't we pride ourselves on education and involvement? At least on casual observation, the Bush campaign won two terms on fears of Arabs and fears of gays so clearly the fear tactic works. The rhetoric always seems to show up just before a presidential election (go figure). All this while, the administration has involved us in wars and policies that have left us in the most pathetic financial state in decades. What gives? Why does the common worker vote for people that prey upon their petty fears while gutting their livelihoods and creating policies for the rich? A good friend told me he voted for Bush because Bush was a good, God-fearing man like himself. Perhaps, although, if actions speak louder than words, I suspect my good friend fell victim to the same deplorable batch of lies.

Ah, but I digress. The question was, "are we any smarter today than people were over 100 years ago?" I looked up the source of the phrase, "there's a sucker born every minute," for comparison's sake. Apparently, the phrase arose when Hannum angrily accused BT Barnum of showing off a fake stone giant [yes, a giant miraculously turned to stone], ironically believing his own stone giant was real. Both were huge hoaxes, apparently fooling clergy and scientists alike (go figure). You can read it yourself at:

I will end this not with a definition. Our friends at Mirriam Webster list the following preferred definition for demagoguery: a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power. The origins are Greek. My friends, this has been going on for a long, long time.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No on Prop 8

I try to keep the blog non-political, however, I'm making an exception just this once. While marriage may not be for everyone, the right to marry should be, as it provides significant state and federal rights and responsibilities such as visitation rights, inheritance and property rights and differing tax treatment (ironically a tax penalty but hey, if people want to pay more taxes...).

Apparently, the Mormon Church has been raising significant funds out of Utah and manning yes on 8 phone banks. The yes on 8 voters are pulling ahead in the polls, working to ban marriage for gays and lesbians through a California constitutional amendment. I saw one of these ads the other night where they claimed that kindergartens were going to be teaching kids about gay marriage; lets get serious here...nobody is teaching kindergarten kids about marriage (finger painting maybe...). Unfortunately, people believe these fabrications and the right wing machinery, through these and other fabrications, are stirring up conservatives in droves. They did it for Bush and now they're doing it for Proposition 8. How ironic that there happens to be a presidential election at the same time.

Perhaps it is just me but there is nothing more irritating than having a bunch of out-of-state ultra-conservatives throw a bunch of money, resources and lies at a campaign that affects the lives and rights of Californians. It's turned into a big media battle which means funds are required to keep the no on 8 campaign alive. There are no guarantees either way. However, if you're willing to help keep prop 8 out of the California constitution:

1. Please vote NO on Proposition 8
2. Donate if you can:

Apparently, the no on 8 campaign gets more of your donation if you call so, if you prefer, Equality CA can be reached at (415) 252-8132.

Much thanks and my apologies for the politics in our normally peaceful, loving blog...

Catching Some Air

Always thought that kite surfing looked like fun! This guy was doing jumps up into the air on his board. He would pull down on the kite and up he would go!

Friday, October 10, 2008


When the weather turns cold,
The sunbathers retire to the mall,
Leaving long strands of lonely sand,
To me and to the birds.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Fish and Chips and Margaret

The hotel I stayed in while I was in Chicago had a little pub downstairs that had very reasonably priced fish and chips. I also discovered that they, for a teensy bit more, would make the fish and chips out of halibut. I was pretty much sold on the whole experience. I managed to sit in various spots in the restaurant and experienced their miscellaneous British decor. One of the more memorable tables I sat at had the Baroness Thatcher, a.k.a. Margaret Thatcher, waiving her steely finger at the room. It was incentive to eat my vegetables. Grin. I didn't recognize the very serious looking man in the suit but I'd guess he's a British politician of sorts as well. I'm not sure that either of them helped the digestion but it was kind of fun.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Owl of Truth

The Chicago Library has the most amazing roofline! I stared at it for a while and finally decided I had to have a picture of it. It is powerful with its abstract wings and flares. It to beckon to you or perhaps threatens to pounce upon you with mighty steel talons. Only one problem. I couldn't figure out what it was! At first I thought it was the flame of truth. Then a gargoyle. Then both - imagine a flaming gargoyle! Finally, I asked a passerby and, lo and behold, I was told that the creatures on the ridgeline of the library are owls! In all fairness, the owls on the corners of the building look more owl-like but the one in the middle, while a bit cryptic, is magnificent!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Party Time!

My neighbor was celebrating her 40th. I decided that it was a fine time to try taking a picture without a flash just for fun to see if it came out. This was taken at ASA 1600 and, while not perfect since people do move after all, it captures a little of the milling about that was going on. Of course there were more pictures taken with a flash as well but, what the party, stays at the party. Grin.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Spots for Days

Cattleya Waianae Leopard hybrid. This little guy also followed me home. The flowers are as hard as wax, have a wonderful sweet smell and the coolest polka dots! As you may have guessed, my favorite part of the orchid show is not the show itself but rather the sales area... Go figure.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Taking Home Stragglers

Paphiopedilum henryanum 'Arnie's Big Boy'. These orchids are native to Southeast Asia and grow in leaf littler under trees.

Today was the last day of the orchid show. Having enterred an orchid in the show, against my better judgment, I had to go back to pick it up, walking the gauntlett of show vendors with really cool orchids and end of show specials. This one followed me home. It's bigger flowered than most and fun with it's lime green, pink and polka dots. I hope you like it too.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Orchid Show Time!!

Dendrobium victoria-reginae. This is a large, dark clone that I bought at the orchid show this weeked. Ah, the orchid-mania... It's pretty though, isn't it?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mmmm Chocolate...

Cattleya Chocolate Drop 'Volcano Queen'. Ironic that people often name orchids after food, isn't it? Is it because they are both thoroughly delicious? Or are they just two things that catch our attention: beauty for the eye versus art for the palate? This is still one of the deepest, glossiest red Cattleyas around after many years. I don't know if you can eat it...probably so...but it is certainly "eye candy." Wow. The original cross was created by the Kodama's in Hawaii back in the 70's and is still being propagated and selling strong. The most famous cultivar was variety Kodama. The pictured cultivar was a sport off of a meristem of variety Kodama, possibly a tetraploid.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Oh to Be Talented

Singer at a Chicago Street fair. I can't tell you who is he. I enjoyed listening to him and, perhaps wondered what it would be like to be a guitar player/singer. We can't all be good at everything but still it would be fun. I suppose I should finish law school first... One thing at a time. One thing at a time.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Stellar's Sea Eagle

Stellar's Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus pelagicus. He's looking hungrily on. I don't think I look like a fish, little less a Siberian fish. Still, he looks a little hungry.