Thursday, March 31, 2005

My Mexico storage unit in San Vincente

SAN VINCENTE, Nayarit, Mexico - Move over public storage, here's the Mexican answer to high priced storage units.

We rent one half of a bedroom in this home about three miles from Paradise Village, sharing space with several other cruisers who wanted to get things off their boats - usually because the boat is up for sale.

When we stopped by the other day (when this photo was taken) several neighbors came by and said if we provided the paint, they would paint the house. The grafitti on the side of the house apparently says some pretty foul things.

But the price is right $20 per month.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Violinist makes a big splash in PV and on the Net

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Nayarit, Mexico - Most nights, in the small shopping mall next to the marina, we have music of one kind or another. And this young lady played wonderfully for several hours two nights ago, serenading the hundreds of Mexican tourists who have filled the resort for 'Semana Santa,' Holy week.

This morning, when I uploaded the photo, I received 23 hits within the first five minutes it showed up on my photo website, '' - more than the photo of Paris Hilton.

Hard to believe how many music lovers are lurking out there, cruising photo sites.

Today I head out of Paradise and back to Sacramento for a few weeks. I have a pit stop in San Diego to drop off a cable at the rig shop and to have dinner with amigos at the Silver Gate Yacht Club.

And there will be a little politicking, too, as I hope to land a slip for Sabbatical at the Yacht Club - where the rates are about one-third of commercial marinas.

It will be nice to be back in Sacramento zip codes, but dang, I will miss that violin music.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Just turn left at the Whale's tail and you are there

29 March 2005

MARINA VALLARTA, Jalisco, Mexico - There are whales and there are whales but outside the entrance to Marina Vallarta, located mid-way between Paradise Village and the Zona Romantica in downtown Puerto Vallarta is this life-size sculpture, high above the pedestrians and autos.

You can see it for miles as you approach.

We took a sojourn yesterday to Marina Vallarta and a boating supply store called, quite appropriately, Desperado Marine, to find some chemicals and other assorted outrageously expensive stuff for Zephyrus and Sorsha (Ever pay $35 for a gallon of oil?). Sabbatical is out of the supply market until son Dustin (aka 'Polvo') returns from his Baja bash. He's currently at anchor off the beach at Cabo San Lucas waiting for a good weather window to move north and help deliver Serendipity to San Diego. On the ham radio a few minutes ago, I heard that Wednesday they hope to leave.

Next to Desperado Marine is the Opequimar Boatyard, a very modern facility under the watchful eye of the beautiful yard manager Anjelica (pronounced An-hel-eee-ca) who unfortunately was taking her siesta/lunch break when we came by to check on prices for dry storage for Zephyrus. But I'll make another trip by today. Any excuse to visit Anjelica...|

In the meantime I'm closing down my Mexico office and will return to Sacramento and smog this week where writing assignments and mi amigos await. Work on all writing stalled on the tracks but will go better when I have fewer distractions and no boogie board calling to me. But then back in Sacramento, it is kayak season now on the fast-flowing American River which is right out my back gate. With all the rain, the dam keepers (as opposed to the damn keepers) are letting out a vast volume of water, turning the normally placid American into a boiling rage of of a river, complete with rapids. And my kayak just needs a quick clean up, a little wax on the bottom and I'm ready to rock 'n roll on the river.

Could it be? Could it be?

You bet.

Surf's up in Sacramento.



Monday, March 28, 2005

Big melons and assorted produce stories

Check out those melons
Originally uploaded by Brite light photos.
MEZCALES, NAYARIT, Mexico - The fruit stand in Mezcales, a few miles north of Paradise Village Marina has fantastic produce, including this pile of melons.

The local grocery stores have good - and cheap - vegetables and fruit, too. But these outside markets get the stuff right from the fields, sometimes picked within an hour of showing up on the shelves.

The odd thing is that many gringos are leery of buying the fruit from these places, preferring to go into an air-conditioned supermarket, where all the fruit looks like a magazine advertisement (and is sometimes actually shipped in from the U.S. and isdays old).

Go figure that one.

Here vegetables all get soaked in an iodine solution (when you get them back home) to sanitize them. It might not be a bad idea in the states, too, but we somehow trust that the stuff is clean when it comes out of a Safeway.

But there's an irony in that, too.

A lot of the produce in U.S. stores, particularly in California, comes from Mexico.

So there...


Saturday, March 26, 2005

It's spring break in Mexico, too, definitely

Golden tans in Mexico
Originally uploaded by Brite light photos.
SAN FRANCISCO, Nayarit, Mexico - The beaches are littered with Southern Californians (and some Mexican families, too) as spring break winds up.

In Mexico, there's a tradition of throwing water at people today, and we have been warned that if we take our truck (actually my son Dustin's truck) around town, well, we are likely to get hit with a bucket of water.

And Easter is a tremendously big holiday in this Catholic nation. There are as many flyers up to announce where to go to Mass as where to go tonight to party.

We have had our share of parties in the past few days with the return of the sailing vessel Zephyrous with Dan and Lorraine aboard. They are ending a six-month sabbatical and (gasp!) are going back to work in a few weeks.

Barring the governor destroying the California Public Employee Retirement System before then, they expect to retire and move back down to their boat and head off into the sunset again next fall.

Sabbatical will likely head off into the great north in a couple of weeks to go to San Diego and a safe berth there.

It will not be Mexico, but there is a place called Ocean Beach there that features a lot of the same and surf as in the picture with today's blog

The photo with this blog was taken last week just north of Sayulita. We're headed back there for an Easter brunch manana.


Friday, March 25, 2005

So what's is a blog without some artwork?

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Nayarit, Mexico - Actually a blog without artwork is exactly what you see here, three days without taking a photo (or having a near photo send to me) has left me artless, though still artful, I hope.

The past days have been a frenzy of getting Sabbatical ready for several potential buyers to look at. I thought we had taken all the junk off the boat, but noooooo... we had more to remove to show how spacious the boat is. If the buyers (potential) look on the dock next to the boat, they will see just how much volume our 48-foot, 15-foot wide vessel really has.

The cleanup, make presentable actions have also made the writing of The Class of '66 stall on the tracks like a frightened deer in the headlights. Writing the book requires a momentum and regular schedule, the second of which you would think would be easy here with no teaching responsibilites and just the boat and recreation.

Not so, not so.

When friends of mine have retired, they always tell me that they are far more busy in retirement than when working. This spring has proven to the case for me.

It could be that later today I will carve out an hour to write about Coach Ed Stupka (who handled football duties at Southwestern Central High School) and my encounter with him 30 years after he was chasing our skinny butts around the practice field. He was a guidance counselor at Sacramento City College and about a foot shorter than I remembered him.

Maybe I'll be able to dredge up a photo of him for the blog - and the book.

'Hit that sled,' Harder! Harder!


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Maybe more information than you want to know

COCOA BEACH, Florida - This blog photo came from Pat Lamont in Florida who spotted this sign.

I really don't want to know what colon hydrotherapy really means. EVER.

In Mexico, we see all kinds of funny signs, because the people write them in English, but really aren't that good at spelling or at understanding idioms.

Idioms, I said, idioms.

On to other duties of the day. But this sign was too good to pass up, oh gentle readers...

Colon hydrotherapy indeed.


Cross-cultural communication and a coatimundi

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Nayarit, Mexico - We were all sitting in Ernesto's restaurant in downtown Puerto Vallarta when a cousin to this animal skittered across the roof, prompting a conversation about language with our Mexican amigo Jesse.

In English, this rodent-like critter is a coatimundi, but in Spanish a mapache, or something very close to that.
We walked through the whole gamut of animal names: gatto/cat, perro/dog, elephante, elephant.
Well, at least we have a few cognates.
We also laughed at the nickname Dustin has picked up: Polvo. Me? I'm Miguelito to most of the staff at the yacht club (Little Mikey).
The fun we had - and continue to have - reminds me of how language learning can be fun and doesn't have to be the terrors we faced in high school and even college when our French teachers would ask us a question or worse - go to the blackboard to write something for the whole class to read.
The damned accent marks have never made much sense to me.
In high school - and this will show up in The Class of '66 - we had pretty poor instruction in foreign languages, some of it almost academic malpractice.
But that's for another day and another posting for the book I should be writing instead of doing this blog.
But, like the fun of the language, this blog is fun to post everyday.
Oh, and Polvo? It means 'dust' in Spanish.
I'll take Miguelito, but Polvo is kind of cute.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto, just California

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - To those people who say that there is no global warming, or that climatic changes are NOT occurring, well, they should step outside of their climate controlled houses and cars and see what's going on in the world.

The weather in Mexico along the coast has been downright weird, and then I read about the tornado that ripped through South San Francisco.

And although most Americans could care less about what happens in places like, say, the islands of Oceania, the people there are watching the water levels go up and up every year as the polar ice caps melt.

Their nations are literally being washed away by the ocean.


In the meantime, and I mean MEAN-TIME, the guvenator in California is now taking out after another group of relatively defenseless - Medi-Cal recipients. He wants to seize their assets the moment they die so the state can grab the petty cash they might have. All this so his Bel-Aire buddies don't have to look at a tiny tax hike.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is hell bent to balance the California budget, on the backs of the state's poorest (and weakest) citizens. He's proving to be not the 'Last Action Hero,' but the 'Last Action Bully.'

Which leads to some writing on The Class of '66 today, with a section on bullies and how we discovered, bullies bleed too, if you punched them hard enough.

From afar, it looks like the guvenator is bleeding from the punches the California nurses landed. He has more coming.


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sayulita: A great surfing beach and bare butts

Bare butt in the water
Originally uploaded by Brite light photos.
SAYULITA, Nayarit, Mexico - The surfing at Sayulita is legendary, and it was memorable for me Saturday when I slammed my toe into a boulder out off the beach, raising a welt - and a holler. Rocks! What the hell kind of beach has rocks!?!?!?!?

The water is different than in Banderas Bay, though it is just about 15 or 20 miles away. It's a lot cleaner and, somehow, seemed a lot warmer.

Whatever, it was a nice change to be able to see the bottom, even if I didn't watch carefully enough to save my toe from a crunch.

The main difference between Sayulita and Paradise Village, however, is the age of the people on the beach. Paradise Village tends more towards middle-aged, Sayulita is a young people's beach. Our 24-year-old son Dustin found it quite intriguing. (So did I, but I had to be a lot more covert when the bikini-clad twenty-somethings walked by.)

There were lots of young families, too, such as the dad and daughter in the photo with the blog. She loved the surf and ran around whenever he let go of her hand. She reminded me of the Coppertone billboard ads - except her little bare butt didn't have any tan lines at all.

Sabbatical's crew took the day off - though I did three boat projects before 9:30 a.m. It's not a real work day unless you work until noon.

Tomorrow is back to the two writing deadlines I have facing me like a banshee on steroids. And, of course, 'The Class of 66' is there, too, which fell by the wayside the past few days while I finished up one project whose deadline (today) loomed.

The deadline for that project is June 2006 - but not for the draft, for the finished project. Watch out Richard Russo, this one could slip right past you on the NYT bestseller lists.

If I ever get it finished...


Saturday, March 19, 2005

Tabasco's artwork & militant teachers' unions

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, Mexico - The artwork on the sterns of the vessels here in Paradise Village range from the mundane to the exotic. This stern on the huge sailing vessel Tabasco is a good example.

Another boat, California Girl, slipped out of the harbor this morning before I got a chance to get a shot of his artwork which decorates not only the stern, but the sides of the vessel.

On a less happy note, it seems like teachers all over the state of California have had it with the governor and their school boards who won't give them a raise.

In the case of the governor, he's spending millions of dollars to implement what he calls 'merit pay,' a thinly disguised effort to get rid of teachers unions and perhaps end public education as we know it. What does he care? His kids aren't headed to public schools every morning.

The teachers are cranky with their boards because while the boards are pleading poverty (and no money for teacher pay) they are still handing out raises to administrators.

So the teachers are working to contract - doing exactly what their contract calls for. And that doesn't include supervising afterschool clubs and groups, precisely the kind of activity that makes most junior high school and high school days tolerable for the students.

You say you want a revolution? I think it's coming.


Friday, March 18, 2005

Profligate slips out of Paradise Village, unnoticed

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA - The infamous sailing vessel Profligate slipped out of Paradise Village Marina a couple of days ago, heading across the Sea of Cortez (which Mexicans call the Gulf of California because mentions of Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez are in extremely bad form). It's on its way back to San Francisco, a long haul to be sure.

Profligate is owned by Richard Spindler, publisher of Latitude 38, a famous sailing rag for which this blogger has written tons of articles in the past.

The boat leaving, and the end of the Banderas Bay Regatta, mark the beginning of a mass exodus from Puerto Vallarta to the Sea of Cortez (Whoops! Gulf of California) and Mazatlan. The prices for marinas berthing are cheap in Mazatlan and the Sea of... Gulf of California is a great sailing destination for the summer months, provided you can handle the incredible heat.

In the meantime, here in Puerto Vallarta, one glance at the beach makes it obvious that it is spring break and soon the resort will fill up with Mexican tourists, too, making for better volleyball matches.

In the midst of all this, 'Sabbatical' will take one last Banderas Bay cruise before the ship heads north to San Diego around May 1 under the command of Captain Dustin Fox.

It will be good to be back in San Diego, even though today it is raining like hell there, the weatherman says.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

El Capitan de Sorsha heading out for the final race

PARADISE VILLAGE - The days are back to normal and, predictably, Admiral Fox's America West flight has been delayed, giving me just enough time to put up a quick blog.

As serious as Captain Curt looks here, he was all smiles two hours later when he took first in class at the Banderas Bay Regatta.

Sabbatical is ship-shape for Admiral Fox's visit today, even including the bathrooms (both!)

We hope to take the ship out of the slip at least once or twice during her inspection tour, but some mechanical issues might keep us dockbound until the middle of next week.

Among the parts? We need to clean up the winches (so we can fly a jib) and the anchor is off being sandblasted so it will look beautiful when we slap some special paint on it. Gray paint, of course.

Off to the aeropuerto and then start the St. Patrick's Day celebrations!

Green beer, green tacos and green margaritas.



Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Be glad these birds can't fly and Regatta roundup

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Estado de Nayarit, Mexico - When you wander around the hotel grounds on the way to the beach here, you are likely to run into one of these wandering ostriches, which aren't all that friendly if you get too close.

And frequently they drop a load (such as in the photo), which makes the Paradise Village staff oh-so-happy.

The birds are a neat addition to the small zoo which has tigers, black panthers and even a puma. The tigers are the most impressive. They are HUGE and make the panthers and puma look tiny by comparison. The animals have all been rescued - or born in captivity - and are treated at least as well as such animals would be in the states. Probably better.

The Banderas Bay Regatta is officially over and the boat on which I crewed, 'Sorsha' is the official winner of Fleet 4 the race. At the awards ceremony, we tossed our captain in the pool (part of a sailor baptism ritual for winning) and discovered that the navy blue cotton pants he was wearing were so new, that they bled blue dye in the swimming pool. He looked like he was swimming in a pool where someone had hooked up a Tidy Bowl container.

The party was the usual riot of good food and fun. And, somehow, our table was the last one to leave, taking our hint when the waiter lifted our margarita glasses up to take away the tablecloth.

Besides extremely sore muscles, the first mate gave me a neat key chain and we all received very classy crew hats for participating.

The last day of racing was a disappointment - no wind! We had just enough of a breeze to start the race, but at 5 p.m. the Race Committee called things off. If they hadn't, we would not have finished until well after they were taking the tablecloths off the tables at the party.

Today's motto on Sabbatical is 'No Mas Fiestas' - at least until St. Patrick's Day (tomorrow) when Admiral Fox arrives.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Let's race La Nina next year

BANDERAS BAY - This replica of La Nina (one of the three boats Columbus crossed the Atlantic in) is not entered in the Banderas Bay Regatta, which is is too bad. With racing rules and corrected time, they might just win! Of course it would take them several days to probably make one circuit of the race course.

For the past two days this blogger has been cranking and grinding on 'Sorsha' and, no doubt thanks to the good cranking and grinding, we are in first place, with only one more day's worth of racing to go.

But the bad news is that it is raining today and the forecast is for flukey winds and maybe even a line squall roaring through the bay.

That will make life very interesting.

Wednesday marks the return to normalcy here: back to the daily writing schedule, the laundry, and boat projects to get Sabbatical ready to go north in May.

And Thursday, St. Patrick's Day, Adm. Fox will arrive for an inspection tour and vacation from her teaching duties. The boat will be ship-shape, spic 'n span, etc...

The writing has been sadly neglected (neglected sadly?) but will still be there tomorrow morning when the rooster across the channel makes his morning call.

Back to Sorsha and a run (sail) for the roses...


Monday, March 14, 2005

Banderas Bay Race heading into Day Two

BANDERAS BAY - The racing is over for the first day of the Banderas Bay Regatta and the boat on which this blogger is crewing - a 50-foot Columbia called 'Sorsha' - took first place in our division in the first day of racing.

We will over look the fact that several of the boats in our division dropped out due to mechanical problems. It was still nice to take a first.

The racing was more hard work than I imagined. Instead of simply taking videos (which was what my job was supposed to be) the captain needed me to work on one of the winches. In sailing terms, it's called being a 'grinder' and grind I did - so much that this morning my shoulders feel like I've been lifting weights for a week.

Saturday's pre-race activities included a parade in which we sang 'Margaritaville' as we went by the reviewing stand. That was the last slow moment for the next three hours.

The day before the actual start of the regatta, the Vallarta Yacht Club held a dinghy race with five Optimist dinghies the club purchased for use for a soon-to-be launched youth program. But the guys who raced were anything but youthful and almost dumped the little boats racing around the harbor.

In the photo with this blog you can see the leader of the pack taking off in his boat, or at least trying not to flip it at the dock.

Well, it's off to the races....


Saturday, March 12, 2005

Better look over your shoulder

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Nayarit, Mexico - The surf was up and up and up so much yesterday that boats coming in the channel were surfing as effectively as the people on the boogie boards. And swimmers had to keep an eye out behind them or risk getting dumped on by a ton or so of water.

The same surf made life even in the marina a rock 'n roll affairs with squeaking lines and fenders and enough motion on some docks to make people wonder if they were on the inside of a slow agitating washing machine.

Predictably, the wind that has blown so hard to a week has stopped this morning and Banderas Bay looks like a lake - a tranquil lake best suited for water skiing, not the 60-boat fleet that will take off tomorrow morning as part of a three-day regatta.

If that happens, we will call this year's regatta The Big Drift.


Friday, March 11, 2005

A beachfront Buddha in Puerto Vallarta

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, Nayarit, Mexico - OK, so it isn't exactly a replica of the holy man of much of Asia and other parts of the world. But it is still quite surprising to run into it on the beach at Puerto Vallarta where a family spends much of its vacation every year building these sand sculptures.

Last year they built a horse - not a pony - a horse - and it was life size. They've also built crocodiles and lots of sculptures of people.

And it's all pretty amusing to people wandering down the beach.

The surf was high enough today that Buddha will not be standing tomorrow. After all, things built in sand are, well, built in sand. But the dad in the family said he and his crew will be back out on the beach again, working against the time and tide that threaten their artwork.

I suggested a Bo Derek sculpture, but the idea didn't get much traction with the rest of his family.

I'll try to arrive early enough in the morning to influence the artists. I heard some loose talk about an elephant or maybe the Eiffel Tower.

I still think a monument to Bo Derek would be better.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

The State of the State of California

PARADISE VILLAGE MARINA, NUEVO VALLARTA, ESTADO de NAYARIT - It's a long, long way from California to here, but the news of California seeps like incessant Sacramento rains that get into garages and basements, a slithering, slippery thing you don't want to deal with, but find it under your door anyway.

I just had the extreme misfortune of seeing Newt Gingrich on Fox News, who was talking about how successful his Contract With America was (just before the Congress blew his ass out out the door), and it reminded me of how short the attention span is of most Americans.

Me, too. I'm trying to remember where I ate dinner earlier tonight. Hmnmm.. Uh-oh. I didn't. Better get out of the bar and back to Sabbatical.

But the pix of the guvenator is here because this guy, this movie star/actor-as-governor/bully is, in a clumsy Terminator/True Lies way destroying the state of California. Not by design, he probably want the place to be better (at least for wealthly Republicans) but he is as ham-handed as a high school freshman on his first visit to the local drive-in movie.

The nurses are on his case (justifiably) the school teachers think he should be, well, terminated, in fact its hard to think of a constituency (except for those wealty Republicans) who think what he's doing is good.

So why aren't they complaining?

Well, because he's a hero, after all. He's saved soldiers, children, even planets (his worst movie, ever...) and how can you condemn a hero?

Just watch. The Guvenator is not a hero in real life. Just an aging 57-year-old guy with a media savvy wife who made a lot of dough off his biceps and a sliver of acting ability.

The role of governor the State of California is his biggest role ever. So far, no academy award, though.

And none in the wings.

With luck, he won't be back.


Oh for a boogie board in San Francisco!

SAN FRANCISCO - A walloping big storm in the northwest has sent record waves into San Francisco Bay and out along the coast, people are seeing sights like the photo with this blog.

And yes, more than a few lunatic surfers are out there.

In Puerto Vallarta, the waves are not particularly big inside the bay, but outside the reports are these big rollers have come down all the way from Seattle to make going north an issue. Not many boats are out and about right now, except those hardy souls trying to get into Banderas Bay for the Banderas Bay Regatta which starts Saturday and ends Monday.

If the wind blows like it has the past week, it will be a wild and dangerous race.

The wind has suggested another episode for 'The Class of 66' - the conversion of ski boaters to sailors as well as the tales of the tiny Lakewood Yacht Club where the people running the place (perhaps unwisely) turned loose teenage boys to run the races and (the best part) fire the cannon to start the race.

KABOOM went the cannon and so did the sail that was right in front of the committee boat. Burn baby burn...


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A long way from San Diego, but the adventure continues

PUERTO VALLARTA, Estado de Nayarit -
On the way to old Mexico, I came through San Diego where, at Lindbergh Field, there's The Spirit of St. Louis hanging up in the air, the very plane that Charles Lindbergh, aka Lucky Lindy, flew across the Atlantic to make history.

His name came up today with a bunch of pilots here in Mexico, all of whom talk the talk about flying small aircraft - like the one that I flew with Jim Riordan. And all of them knew about the side-slip maneuver I experienced. Lots of fun for all of us to talk about, less for me to experience.

But the plane in San Diego is a reminder of years ago daring do and how brave people were trying to get find new horizons, to boldly go where no man had gone before.

Good motto, harder in practice for most people to follow.

Today's writing on 'The Class of 66' focused on the sinking of a boat and also the destruction of a building, the first accomplished by another boat, the second by a 63 Chevy launched through the front window. It was a growing up version of daring-do, or dumb-do, maybe...

What adventures we have had. What adventures lie ahead.

But that's for manana.


Great White sharks and HST the younger

PUERTO VALLARTA, Estado de Nayarit - There are really two HSTs I was reminded this morning. The late Hunter S. Thompson and Harry S. Truman, the late president of the United States. While the latter initials aren't household conversation these days, they were in my house in the early 1950s when I remember first hearing the word 'damned.'

In this case, it was 'that damned Truman.'

History, as it so often does, has rehabilitated Harry S. Truman and now the plain-speaking haberdasher from Missouri is revered in most political circles. But that's not all that surprising. Good God, even the other HST said he would have voted for Richard Nixon in the last election if that was the only alternative to George W.

The Great White in the photo with this blog has been chomping on his aquarium mates (See today for the full story), but it reminded me that one of HST the younger's best books is called 'The Great Shark Hunt.' His most hilarious book, out of print unfortunately but still available some places, is called 'The Curse of Lono.' Read 'The Curse' and flying in commecial airliners will never be quite the same.

On to The Class of 66 this morning. The madcap days of racing around Lake Chautaqua are on tap for today's episode, an episode that will include the epic tale of the sinking of a boat - by ramming it with another inboard.

Good thing there were no Great Whites with great appetites there.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

What is Paris Hilton doing on this website?

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico, Estado de Nayarit - The computer system is slow these days, bogged down, by God knows what, except that loading photos and posting blog copy isn't simple, it's a ordeal.

So when I ran across a story about Paris Hilton basically bombing as host of Saturday Night Live a month ago (a dream of mine, hosting, not bombing), her storybook photo called out to me.

In the amount of time I had it up on the 'flickr' photo site - and moved to write this blog - (about 30 seconds) seven people had already hit upon the picture and downloaded to their computers. What they propose to do with the pix, I am not going to speculate on.

The drafting of 'The Class of 66' took a big turn Tuesday when I settled on a way to rack up the words without worrying so much about form and format and outlining. Did HST outlline? Never.

But for now, the words will keep pouring out to be moulded into the book later, when names like George Updahl, Dave Carlson, Linda Anderson, Sally Smith and John Schultz make more sense to me than the do now, except when flying out of my keyboard.

But look at that picture of Paris Hilton! Gawd! Where was she was Hunter S. Thompson needed her?



When looking back is a good idea

Clouds? What clouds?
Originally uploaded by Brite light photos.
LAKEWOOD, NY - It was Satchel Paige who warned not to look back, because, he said, 'they might be gaining on you."

But how do you write without looking back, as in 'The Class of 66' that Gonzo and I are struggling with? (Who is Gonzo? It's the mad (as in looney, not angry) writer side of me who helps me pump out thousands of words in short order for some types of writing.) Last night watching 'The Maltese Falcon,' it was a Gonzo night of remembering those days in Lakewood when we ran like wild dogs and rarely got caught doing all the things I'm flashing on as I dredge up the memories. Not all of them are good, but all vivid.

But I'm getting off point. Another cup of tea will help. Maybe.

In the photo with this blog, the cruisers heading out of the Paradise Village Marina are about to encounter a maelstrom that will rock their boat, but in these near dawn hours, it seemed so tranquil. Plus they don't see the wallop that's behind them.

Someone told me recently that you can't know where you are going unless you know where you've been. That's either an incredible, meaningful aphorism or complete crap. This morning I can't remember what I had for dinner last night, let alone events of 40 years ago, when we ran like wild dogs and rarely got caught.

What does that mean for what I'll write today?


Monday, March 07, 2005

A Gonzo high school reunion in 2006

JAMESTOWN, NY - The 'Class of 66' of Southwestern High School on Hunt Road here is plotting a blowout reunion for 2006.

In the photo here, Jim and Pam Carr are shown with the Gonzo blogger/journalist/author himself. It was taken about 18 months ago, but we all look much younger now.

And what a trip we've been on for the last 18 months! The Carrs now live in Phoenix, after several years of struggling with the evil cold weather in Novi, Michigan. The Gonzo blogger has been living part of the time in Mexico (where life is divided between writing, surfing and margaritas) Sacramento (where the teaching job and the money is) and Valois, New York (where the Schwartz summer home on Seneca Lake is).

But the 40th reunion! What a chance for the miscreants to re-establish all the silly high school pecking order rituals (and laugh at them) while swilling our Mylanta (it will be the 40th after all).

At the 20th reunion, this blogger made the mistake of reading too much Norman Mailer and, as happens, took on the Mailer persona after a few cocktails at some country club(?). A grim memory.

Could that have really been 20 years ago? Could it really have been 40 years (almost) since we walked across that stage and went careening out to Lake Erie for a party (after going to the official graduation party at Moonbrook Country Club where we were entertained by Dana Bolles' rock band).

Forty years?



Sunday, March 06, 2005

Springtime, the governor and 'The Class of 66'

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The mornings are wet, but the days beautiful as springtime takes over the calendar in Sacramento. While northern climes are still wondering when the next big snowstorm is going to dump all over them, Sacramento gardeners are figuring out what to plant - and considering putting the plants in the ground now. (Too early guys, sorry.)

On the political landscape, the Guvenator appears to have lost his first major battle, with the state's nurses. He signed an executive order putting on hold a new state law that would have increased the staffing levels in hospitals. But a court has overruled him. Of course the hospitals have pretty deep pockets to keep appealing the ruling (gotten a hospital bill lately?), so the victory could be short-lived.

But in the meantime, the newpapers are full of 'Is-the-governor-in-trouble' stories today, a sign that the thin movie-star patina is showing signs of cracking and Arnold Schwarzenegger may start being judged as a politician and Republican, not a movie star.

We can hope. We can hope.

Also in the meantime, the redrafting of 'The Class of 66' starts officially Monday evening with a kickoff margarita and a full-dive into the pool, using the writing techniques of Dr. Gonzo himself.

May the farce be with me.


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Samantha reads Einstein biography

5 March 2005

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. - Ok, so maybe supergranddaughter Samantha is not reading a biography of Albert Einstein, it's a bio of Margaret Thatcher. Samantha is more likely to go into politics than science anyway - she has a way with words.

This photo, from her visit several nights ago, is a classic pose for the little book lover who reads way beyond her seven years and even occasionally reads this blog.

She will be tickled to see her picture here again. A few weeks ago, during The Great Pond Debacle (in which I sacrificed a half dozen fish), she was featured as we released the poor piscines into the water, only to have them go belly up within an hour.

Perhaps we need to drain that little pond, clean out the probably toxic debris, and then introduce some fresh water and a new colony of fish.

In the meantime, I'll see what Samanatha thinks about the Life of Margaret Thatcher when I see her next.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Feeling powerless? Watch "High Noon" with Gary Cooper

3 March 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The big news around Sacramento today (well, the University anyway) is whether to change the name of the University from California State University, Sacramento, to Sacramento State University, a name that a university 'branding committee' (Yee-Haw!) came up with after several months of surveys, discussions and thumb sucking.
But like so many college efforts, there are lots of folks who weren't paying any attention (or who maybe didn't think it was such a big deal) until we got to the cusp of decision.

And now, NOW, it is to be the cause celeb of the campus, with a big debate in the Faculty Senate, a show-down vote, and probably the sound of the theme from 'High Noon' playing in the background. (Ah! The explanation for the photo with the blog!)

'High Noon' is one of my favorite movies, and not just because Gary Cooper runs away with Grace Kelly at the end, or because he pounds nicely on Lloyd Bridges in one scene, or because he throws his badge down in the dust, a nod to my own dislike of unearned authority. No, it's a favorite movie because the Coop has to stand up to someone/something he's terribly frightened of and, with precious little help, wins against long odds. It's such an American dream story. I play the movie whenever I know I'm going in to face a tough foe. Just the music ('Oh don't forsake me oh my darling') can get my blood up for battle.

The victories around the University are usually much less dramatic, mostly the kind of bureaucratic compromise that is so deadly dull it will put you to sleep - even as you read a blog like this! But the issue of the name of the University has become a big deal because the University faculty and students and staff feel so powerless. The school budget is cut, the governor proposes sinking the faculty retirement plan, reports say the whole of higher education is going down the toilet in a swoosh of 'special interests,' as our body builder-movie star-turned-politician labels anyone who doesn't agree with him.

So the faculty students and staff choose to fight this battle, this tiny sliver because it's the one battle where they actually can get a lick or two in before going down to what they know will be a defeat.

That's kind of an American dream story, too.

American statesman John C. Calhoun once said, 'I would rather be right than be president.' One of his opponents - a quicker wit than Calhoun - said it was unlikely he would achieve either.

On to a viewing of 'High Noon' before the Faculty Senate debate.


The biggest of waves, the best of the surfers

Maverick competition, originally uploaded by Brite light photos.

2 March 2005

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. - The surfers are out in force challenging the waves and generally having a ball along the California coast.
This is an AP photo shot today of the competition. Full coverage and lots of photos of the event are available at

When the waves are big, you are at Maverick

Surfing at Maverick, originally uploaded by Brite light photos.

2 March 2005

CALIFORNIA COAST, South of San Francisco - The Pacific Ocean has been stirred up big time for the past few days, generating wild waves that would have even given Hunter S. Thompson pause to think about.

This photo, borrowed from a Bay Area newspaper, is a file shot because no photographer has the brass to be on there on the water right now. The waves are too damned big. The spot is called Maverick and people come from all over the world to risk their skinny necks dodging rocks - and sharks - to surf there.

In the meantime, the ugliest of political waves are being made in Sacramento. Our governor is launching initiatives to destroy the pension system and make sure that anyone thinking about going into the teaching profession finds another state to work in.

He's the terminator all right - but he's going to terminate the state before he's done.

I never thought Nevada would look like a good place to live.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The most looney of Californians

1 March 2005

LAKE DAVIS, Calif. - The Calif. Department of Fish and Game is about to poison this lake, again, after having tried to rid it of a fish they fear more than the budget cuts of Arnold Schwarzenegger - the Northern Pike.

In the photo with this blog, you see a female swelled with eggs, caught by the anglers of the DFG. Since they started a program to get rid of the fish in the late 1990s, they have drained the lake, poisoned it, spent $15 million (much of it on lawsuits) and killed about 50,000 pike.

The problem is the pike are pretty hardy and if fact there are now more than 100,000 of the buggers swimming happily around waiting for springtime and mating season. And the problem for the DFG is that the pike like to eat trout fingerlings. Every spring the DFG seeds the lake with thousands of trout to boost the fishery and pull in trout fisherman. But, well, the pike are waiting and have a wonderful spring feed right after the tiny trout are dropped in the water.

The DFG apparently isn't smart enough to figure out that promoting fishing for the Northern Pike - considered a great game fish everywhere else in the country but California - might get rid of them more quickly than dynamite or poison.

The DFG has managed to demonize the fish to the point where the public thinks it's a good idea to poison their own water supply.

Californians pride themselves on their dedication to the environment. But in this case, they need to eradicate the Department of Fish and Game and let the damned Northern Pike go its own way.

The full story, published in the Sacramento Bee, can be read at: