Friday, September 30, 2005

Segue Challenge

" Segue" is an interesting word and concept to me. I first hear it in connection to the Musical Stage. It was used to define a song or number or act to get the singer or actor from one part of a song or script to another "smoothly". Sometimes a "vamp" was employed marking time until the actor or situation was ready for this transition. It comes originally from the Italian, meaning "there follows" from seguire, "to follow", from Latin sequi. It is pronounced \SEG-way; or SAYG-way. It is an intransitive verb, not unlike Bob. To proceed without interruption; to make a smooth transition.

Yesterday, on my lunch "hour" I went up to Oak Glen to get some Apples and some of their famous unfiltered Apple Cider. I just had an urge for it. I also wanted to share it with my fellow workers. I asked when the cider had been prepared. The clerk assured me that it was earlier that very day...very fresh. The sediment hadn't even collected at the bottom. Fine. The last time we had gone up, last season, we had gotten a very old batch and it had started to turn to...vinegar(?) or turpentine(?) It was really bad. Brett was with us and we should've known better. (They should've known better to sell it to us). He took several bottles home and had to throw it away also. We also got some "school-boy red delicious" and some fuji apples. (pictured)

Apple is one of the oldest English words and the first referred to fruit in general. It belongs to the genus Malus (about 25 species) of the family Rosaceae and is the most widely cultivated tree fruit. Apple varieties, of which there are thousands, fall into three broad classes: cider, cooking and dessert. We love the late harvested "Arkansas Blacks" very tart and crisp.

When I was in college, my room mate and I put a gallon jug of apple cider in the back of our closet in the dark to wait for it to ferment. We were then going to "dare" each other to take swigs of it. We waited a long time and checked it periodically. Pretty soon it had developed clumps and globules floating. It was gross. Neither one of us could stomach more than a sip. It had turned to "un-drinkable" pretty fast. We don't know if the lack of light had anything to do with its speed of "segue".

This is my challenge now. Aging has its own rewards and challenges. I'm not getting any younger and I so want to smoothly transition or "segue" into "full retirement". Yes, I realize there is going to be a certain amount of "ferment" or "maturing". Some used to call it "ripening on the vine"...or on the tree. I've long since ripened and dropped off the tree/vine. How do I avoid rotting with all those "clumps" and globules"? Wine usually gets better with age. Apple cider doesn't. Is it just too sweet?

What continuing interests and activities should I continue to proceed with in order to segue uninterrupted into my "dotage"? Increase the hobbies? Follow my "bliss"? Ease off on the "hard labor"? Don't take it so seriously? Seek those "halcyon days"(see previous blog) Got any suggestions? How about a challenge? There must be a "fine line" between "semi-retirement" and "full-blown retirement". Maybe it is more of a gradual slope...a slippery slope. Just like sissifus or sisaphus(?) that Greek guy that was always pushing something up a hill, I might just be a "reverse sissafus" ie. barely keeping ahead of something slipping down the hill. I ramble and digress...ah, that's an idea...increase the rambling and digressing...more ol' sea stories. Yes, that's it. No one is really listening anyway... Bob! (Segue)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Inherit the Wind?

This is still hanging in our office here at home. Our son, Clark, drew it for one of his art classes and we had it framed. It is a facinatingly graphic depiction in colored pencil of the Earth and Its Eco-Systems. Not only does it remind me of him and his talents, it reminds me his love of gardening, and his "throwing clay pots" (earthenware) He has inherited this talent and this love of the earth. He returns to it from time to time for his own peace of mind.

Without too much effort, my memory then stretches to a time when he and I tried out for a local play. ie. "Inherit the Wind" We had to commute to it at night. He was in Jr. Hi. I think. He got one of the main parts - the innocent boy on the stand in the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial" I was put into the "chorus" of towns folk and after one "go around" with the director, I quit. I had met him when I directed his boy in one of my plays. I was "a bit hasty and full of myself" then (maybe I still am) and made a decision I later regretted. I agreed to continue to transport my son to the rehearsals in a distant warehouse, but I refused to be yelled at by that director. It was a "good" experience for the young actor and helped him in his later "theatrical endeavors" (one memorable one "Something's Afoot" at Mt. Sac) I'm sure the theme and philosophy of the play made an impression too.

The real Scopes Trial took place in Tennessee back in 1925, I think. A teacher was "on-trial" for teaching "The Theory of Evolution" in Science class. He lost and had to pay $125. and his reputation. Now, some 70 years later, we have, in the news, a similar trial going on in Pennsylvania, I think. This is about "Intelligent Design" being taught in our Science Classrooms. Here, however, no one is being sued for teaching it or not but a group is wanting a 59-word statement read in the Science classrooms saying that students are directed to the library to read a book about "Creationism" if they want. The Science teachers are refusing to read this statement from their local board and so the administrators are having to read it. The teacher's contention is that it is not Science or even comparible to a "Scientific Theory". It, like the original Scopes Trial, has gotten "Political". ie. "the separation of Church and State" and/or "religious topics in the classroom" Will we ever learn? Is there no agreement about this? No harmony? No compromise or middle ground?

What would Confucius say? Here's another stretch...yes, it is his birthday today and he is still honored in is called "Teachers' Day". He was born nearly 2500 years ago in 551 B.C. His teachings were based on treating other the same way as you treat yourself. He believed that peace and harmony are achieved by avoiding drastic action or wild thinking. He taught wisdom, love, courage, care, respect and unselfishness. The Chinese and many other peoples have followed his doctrines for centuries. Confucius is the Latinized name of Kung-futzu. His "teachings" might even be considered a "religion" by some. Do they even get into Man's origins? Are they even trying to be "Scientific"? ie. empirical testing, data, trial and error? I think not. They do speak to the ecology and balance of the Earth and Its Inhabitants.

I think we do "Inherit the Wind" when we get into this kind of teaching and/or argument. And, like the wind, it changes, is unpredictable and can cause damage. (we had a power outage today in our area because of it) It doesn't help our kids learn how to learn for themselves either. We need to help them "Inherit the Earth" and take care of it. It starts with taking care of themselves and being true to what they believe and learn to love and accept. Bob

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Halcyon Days?

This word has a sense of mystery to me. I've heard it used and not really known what it meant. On a service I subscribe to: www. Word of the Day, it is today's word. Halcyon, pronounced: \HAL-see-uhn\, noun. It derives from Latin (h)alcyon, from Greek halkuon, "a mythical bird, kingfisher." There is a real kingfisher bird that dives and fishes in fresh water, I think. The mythical one was fabled to nest at sea about the time of the winter solstice and calm the waves during incubation.

Now we use the word as an adjective meaning "calm; quiet; peaceful; undisturbed; happy; as, "deep halcyon repose." It is also marked by peace and prosperity; as, "halcyon years".

Now I know the reason for my facination with this word. I'm in those days right now. I've been striving for them my whole life and career. It comes over me most everyday. Somedays, when I'm having to deal with buyer's escrow problems or company policy or employee challenges, it is a distant echo, but it is still there. Yes, there are still concerns for health and family. There always will be. However, I just feel more calm and things just don't disturb me as much as they used to. I can't say that it is a by-product of my meditation. I'm not doing it that regularly. I do it when I feel the need. It is very calming.

It is a common lament that children today grow up too fast, that society is conspiring to deprive them of the "halcyon childhood" they deserve. I can agree with that. It is never more evident than at the local Middle School, Mountain View. I went there yesterday to help with the "tech" of their up coming production of "Fiddler on the Roof". These are kids who are in grades 6, 7, 8. and puberty is just starting to motivate, especially in the girls.

I arrived about 5 minutes early and parked in the back as I did before. The buses were loading and it was after school chaos. Tall and dressed in black, I suppose I was somewhat imposing as I asked to be let in the latched and adult attended gate. It was swarming with kids pushing and shoving and "horse-playing". I was then let in at the desk-blocked door of the drama room. Kids were somewhat lined up there too. I guessed it was the "cast" of Fiddler. The tallest, biggest girl was keeping them out. She let me in as I asked for the drama teacher/director of the production. She was "taking a break" I was told, so I waited. In walks a teacher who introduces herself as being "responsible for Tech". She teaches computers in the next room so it seemed appropriate.
We both didn't really know what we were going to be asked to do, technically. She said she had to go and pick up her kids at other schools and bring them back to wait. The "director" came in and gave the signal to allow the "cast" to "storm in"...which they did. It took quite a while for them to settle down. She let them socialize for awhile and finish their snacks. She told us what we were expected to do in the next hour and a half. She had made a schedule for "tech" and a list of the cast to be "measured for costumes". That was our "tech" assignment. We had tape measures and had to get the head size, waist size, dress length to the floor, arm length from the nape of the neck and the boy's inseam to the floor for the period costumes. She introduced us to two, seemingly older, student girls who were going to "do" it with our help. They had done it before in previous productions and "knew what she wanted". Fine. She then got the cast quiet and "motivated" and "planned" the time with them. She had a confident way with them and explained how important the "blocking" that they were going to do was to the total production ie. like putting together a puzzle, and then someone moves or takes a piece out. How does that make you feel? Lots of explaining and warning of the dire consequences of not cooperating. She then took the large group (50) to the auditorium/multipurpose rm. She got them lined up by character roles ie. "mamas", "papas", "daughters" "sons" There was some confusions but soon they were gone and she called back that she would send back "groups" to be measured with the "student costume manager girls". This happened right away...however, they all seemed come at once. They were not "calm" but just being what kids, this age, are...interactive and noisy. The tech teacher would go and call out a name to be measure and wouldn't be heard the first or second time. She called to her own kids to "tell the kids to get out from behind the scenery". Toward the end, I suggested we just ask for all those who hadn't been measured. I usually wrote down the measurements while she measured - mostly girls. I volunteered not to measure them but to do the few boys we had. One was rather reluctant to put the end of the measuring tape up in his crotch to get the length of the inseam. I wasn't about to do it. One had those "low-rider" shorts and I had to explain to him that the period costumes of men in Russia had pants that rode higher in the crotch and went to the floor. He seemed to understand. When we finished all 50 or so...several absent... I offered to help consolidate the two lists developed into one. The tech teacher said she had it handled. It was "halcyon" problem. I decided to take my leave and thanked her etc. I had to walk out to the front and walk all the way around because they had locked us in. Probably a wise thing to do these days. All the doors automatically lock when you go out of them and someone has to come and let you in. This is also a good idea. It probably helps keep the "halcyon days" intact for these wonderfully lively and enthusiastic youngsters. Ahhh youth! Bob

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sundance Elementary

I thought I would try to go back to what I used to do as a teacher. Last year it took me about three months to get approved as a volunteer at our local school district. It was quite a screening process including a local doctor's office and a nurse taking a blood test. It also included a screening by the local police department. About a month before school was out I was approved and went to help the "music"/ librarian teacher. She let me present a couple of books to a couple of classes. Her music teaching classes were not at the times that I could volunteer. They had a "chorus" that was composed of all ages and was preparing for specific assemblies and shows. The program was well in place and not needing my help or suggestions.

This school year I thought I'd start again and volunteer in a classroom of a kid I knew of. That teacher already had a "student teacher" and although she took my name, didn't call me back or need me. So I called the Principal and asked if she could help place me in a classroom with a teacher who really needed my abilities and experience. She called back with a volunteer teacher who has the Special Ed. class of 12 students. I agreed.

I showed up 15 minutes early and signed in. I didn't have my own special page because I hadn't reapplied for this school year. The principal was right there and asked if I had been tested. "Yes," I said, "last school year". She said I would have to fill out at yellow form. She took me down to the classroom to meet the teacher. She was talking with the district psychologist and preparing for a new child to come that day. She was listening to her orchestra's new CD. She is looking forward to touring with them to Lithuania this year.

I was assigned to one boy student who she said was having trouble doing anything or responding to class instructions. I spotted him as they came in. He had all the latest book bags and cartoon logo stuff. He had to be told to put it in the cupboard with the other's stuff. They lined up to go out to the all-school opening and flag salute. He was last in line. He was not introduced to me or me to him. He kind of caught on when I followed him. We got back to the classroom, the teacher told them what they were going to do today, how the schedule had changed and they had "team" to go to. Again he wasn't all that focused on her or what was required. He was very quite though and small. We then were escourted all the way to the other side of the school to another first grade class for "team". Kids lined up in the hall from several different rooms. The all were highly praised for walking and lining up in the halls and being "zipped and flipped". That meant, mouth zipped or closed and arms folded in front or "flipped" so they wouldn't touch each other. My guy had his in his pockets but he talked to no one. I didn't want to stand in the kid's line so I went to the other side of the hall to stand and he came over and stood next to me. We were escourted in by the teacher who was expecting an aide. There were probably around 15 to 20 kids on the "carpet". He sat in the back and did try to get more involved by raising his hand to answer the questions for the group. I think he was called on once. There were having a lesson on the letter H and the vowel "short i" . The teacher had a poem for them to read along with her as she pointed and then she asked for replacement words/ideas. She then sent them to desks, not their own, to cut up 10 printed consonants and the one vowel "i" in paper squares. They were to arrange them spelling out words she told them. My boy didn't have a clue. I used a little pen light I had brought to focus his attention on the letters and sound them out. He liked the pen light and wanted to turn it off and on to use it. I tried to connect the light to the sounds the letters said and then blend them into words by the way we focused the light. He got the hang of it but wasn't familiar with going left to right in that blending.
They then went back and sang a song about the classroom to "London Bridges" and she had pictures and bigger sight words of three subjects or nouns in the song. They were then told to go back and print the bigger word they chose at the top of the blank sheet of paper and draw a picture of it below. He chose "school" but couldn't write the letters. We picked them out from the guide on the desk with pen light and helped him form them in order, left to right on the page top. He was able to do the two "o's". He then started to draw the students, stick bodies, of the "school". I asked about the building and drew the roof and walls for him. He filled in the window and door when asked where they would be. We then asked for trees, bushes. He woudn't try a car so made one with the eraser and drew him in it. He like that. He then went over to a special table to color it in. I followed. I suggested another song to the teacher to the tune of Row your boat. She asked me to write down the words. I did and in Spanish too. We then escourted the boy, alone, back to his regular class and he showed his work to his teacher and was proud of it. They were all exercising. So I gave him the pen light and told him I'd see him next week.

I went back to the office to sign out and the principal was there again. She said there was another kindergarten teacher wanting me to help her. How long can you stay? I hesitated. I was done today. I told her what I did. and said I'd see her next week. I left. I took a picture of the front name of the school but I can't get it to down load on to this blog. (help Trev)

My main impression so far is the amount of time and attention given to "proper behavior" being quiet, walking in lines and lining up straight. It is all done in a very positive, reminding way. I guess a group of the boys who hadn't been able to "behave" at recess out on the playground last week several times so they were going to spend recess "in the class" this week...using the classroom as a "punishment" place. I wasn't there long enough to get any "deeper" impressions at this time. I will do my best to help kids and teachers the way I was helped so many times when I taught. Bob

Thursday, September 22, 2005

First Day of Fall

Autumn or Fall is regarded as the third season of the year, from the descending or autumnal equinox to the winter solstice, approximately September 21 to December 21. Chaucer first used the autumn c. 1374, which is derived from Latin autumnus/auctumnus. The use of fall to mean autumn in North American English come from the phrase "fall of the leaf" and it came into use by 1545 for this time of year when the leaves fall from the trees. The term autumn is still preferred in British English.

This beautiful tiffany lamp shade is from my "secret place" that no one has guessed yet. It certainly reminds me of fall leaves. It has to be lit for its full impact. Much like me.

I love this season and time of year. It is usually a "feeling" you can sense in the air. There is a change in the ambient light too. The temperatures start to cool off and there is a crispness in the air. We usually make a trip up to Oak Glen and get apples and apple juice...none better. This time we ate at Law's, the oldest restaurant up there. I think the sign says "from 1953" We used to bring the boys up there for lunch and the other stores and tourist treats. Great apple pie a la mode with warm cinnamon sauce. Mmmmm! I can remember sitting there when it was starting to snow, giant flakes on the sycamore branches just outside the windows that overlook the street. We went down the old western route and it has completely changed ie. thousands of homes and a golf course where the chicken ranches used to be.

Los Rios Ranch has been sold/bought by one of the dominant families up there. It is just not the same. I hear there is a feud between two family branches over recreational usage of the area. One part has been staging reinactments of the Civil War with the crowds and noise it brings. The other branch is suing for disturbance of the peace and inappropriate land usage around the apple orchards. Cider Barrell gourmet restaurant didn't make it either. Big forsale signs. Too bad.

The U-Pick Raspberry area has been left to "seed"? We used to go up annually and pick all we could pick and eat and then bring them back to freeze for raspberries year-'round. Haven't done that recently. One of the last times, we were picking with an elderly couple nearby(strangers to us). She suddenly had a heart attack or stroke and we laid her down between the raspberry bush rows and ran to call 911. They finally got there. The husband didn't seem too concerned. He kept picking berries. It sort of spoiled our day.

There are church retreat camps up there too. I spent a full day at Camp YOLIGWA (don't ask me to remember what this acronym means-something religious) practicing for an up-coming Barbershop Contest Concert. How intense and fun it all was. We thought it was so "important" at the time.

Yes, Fall has fond memories...getting back to school, new kids, lesson plans, auditions for Xmas plays and programs etc. Fiddler on the Roof debuted on Broadway on this day in 1964. I'm helping with a musical that is over 40 years's that for "staying power". A theme of hope and new life not unlike Fall's theme. Bob

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Modern Monoliths?

We just spent yesterday going between these two "man-made" monoliths. I'll bet they are more recognizable than many ancient ones. The one on the left, Disneyland's Matterhorn holds some memories for us. We haven't stood in line at its base lately. They used to have "mountain climbers" climbing it daily. Mr. Moore, a Claremont music teacher, did that as a part-time job and got our family in free one time. He was quite a guy. I first taught with him at Oakmont. He also moonlit as a professional basoonist and did comercials. He had the first and only jazz band in Claremont schools. Tinkerbell used to "fly" from its peak on a wire across her teeth. We took the bobsleds many times in, over and thru this landmark from the "swiss chalet" at the base. Fun memories.

"Howling Wolf Rock"...or whatever it is called is now the monolith in the newer Disneyland Land California Adventure. It doesn't hold many memories yet. We like what's happening below and around a great, cooling waterfall and water ride (we are too old to take) and the Sonoma Winery Restaurant. We've eaten there twice and love it. In its shadow is "California Soarin'" -Our new favorite ride We've taken it at least four times. We get a "fast-pass" come back later and go the the front of the line. This time we were waiting for the next "flight" and down the empty wait lane come a special "guided tour guide" and the movie star Geoffrey Rush(sp.?) and his family. I think he is the one who played the evil pirate captain in Disney's "Pirates of the Carribbean" and probably the sequel. We smiled knowingly at each other and Betty and I were respectfully quiet about our inside knowledge. He went directly ahead of us in line and was first in. He sat in the first seat, first row, center. We sat seven or eight seats down in the center-center spot. On the way out we were close enough behind to hear his questions and conversation with the Disney guide...technical questions about the screen and projection (back) of the IMAX facility. Very interesting.

We stayed for the parade on mainstreet, waited an hour. During that time there was a double rainbow near the matterhorn. Our pictures weren't that great. The parade at night is better.

Now, by way of comparison, I'd like to mention two ancient monolithic sites. Here again, one we've visited and hold memories, the other, we just read about but would love to visit.

When we were in England and Wales with a choir tour, we had an opportunity, in between tours to take the bus to see Stonehenge in southwestern England near Salisbury. You park on the opposite side of the highway, hit the tourist shop, lunch and then go through the underpass to the monoliths. They are roped off and you can't get very & grafitti. Of course you wonder how they got there...probably not unlike Disney's Matterhorn and Wolf...with extreme efforts of workmen and architects etc. You wonder why they were erected...maybe for the same reasons, allowing for time, cultures and beliefs. I've read several books, mostly fiction, about the origins of Stonehenge ie. Arthurian, Masonic, Astrologic etc. Most memorable on that trip was our stop in Bath, Eng. where we had a look at the Roman ones and passed on actually drinking the yukky spring water "taking the waters" as so many have. We chose to have "tea" at a local shop and commenorate Betty's Birthday...much more fun.

No where on that trip was Avebury, England mentioned. It, evidently, is a old, small, quiet town near Salisbury that has the largest stone circle in Europe and the largest man-made prehistoric mound called Silbury Hill. These stones date from around 2600 B.C. Here is a great example of the effect of marketing or the lack of it...most likely on purpose. Many of the stones are missing or haphazardly left to deteriorate. Originally there were more than 100 stones each weighing more than 40 tons. Twice as big as Stonehenge. They were not preseved as well. If we ever go back to that area, I'd like to visit this site and learn more about it...and partake in the local "traditions" When we sang at the Istedfad in Wales we were previledged to stay in a lovely home of some local English Choral Singing Supporters. They had your typical "Privet Drive" home only it was three-storied. We watched teletubbies with their grandchildren, had an English breakfast and left them 'frig magnets" from America. They loved them and promised to visit us if ever in California, U.S.A. They were so typically English and made fun of the Welsh whose music they go to hear every season because they are so near.

These are "authentic memories" and they don't feel "stuffed" at all. Bob

Friday, September 16, 2005

Stuffed Memories

Alan Alda is one of my favorite actors. He has written a his memoirs in "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed". I couldn't wait to read it so I bought the audio book CD's. I played it in my car and found I was not paying attention to my driving it was so facinating.

Of course, we all watched him on "MASH" as "Hawkeye" and then on "Scientific American Frontiers". He has also written, produced and starred in many movies. I've seen most of them. I heard him speak, live, at a Science Teacher Convention. On his way out he walked right by me. I could've asked for an, I'm not that kind of a crazed fan. I just have admired his work and his gift of expression, both spoken and written.

I'm not going to spoil it for you by telling you all about it. If you want to borrow it or buy your own that's fine. What is so facinating about his life to me, he's alittle older than me, is his totally unique up-bringing and early childhood and education. I could never have guessed what he lived through and overcame. (and took in stride) His father was a famous "leading man" and "straight man" in the comic world of burlesque and he was on the "road" with him, watching from backstage. He was "home schooled" at first and then had problems in the regular catholic schools. He had polio and survived an archaically painful treatment. His only companion quite often was his dog, "Rapsody". He lovingly fed him some left-over chinese food and it killed the dog hideously. He and his dad went to bury the dog but couldn't. His dad suggested they get it stuffed. They had no pictures for the taxidermist to copy facial expressions. It came back looking kind of scary and not at all like their beloved pet. It spoiled his fond memories of his faithful companion. It was then he realized that you just couldn't preserve some memories no matter how hard you tried. Memories tend to change as you recall them or they just aren't accompanied by the same feelings.

He continues with this theme and has some very insightful realizations about his life and how it has turned out so far. It is starting to dawn on me too that this is true for me. One of the original purposes of the blog was to help me "preserve my life and my memories" and the more I try, the more I get that "stuffed" feeling. It isn't all glowing and pleasant, although I'd like to think that it was. Lots of times, in the recounting and telling, it gets enhanced or selectively edited to project the point I think I want to make. I'm realizing that I'm just "stuffing my dog". I must reexamine my reasons for blogging and bobbing through my life. To be continued...BOB!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"If I were a rich man..."

Ya ga da ga da ga da ga dah! All day long I'd biddy!" You guessed it. I'm back at it. One of my favorite musicals: "Fiddler On the Roof" And I've agreed to "consult" on a local production at a middle school. We have an initial planning meeting coming up with the supporting parents' group. It could be alot of fun...and alot of work.

My initial question of course is: Can 6th, 7th and 8th graders (11, 12, & 13 yr. olds) handle the vocal requirements of such a musical? Maybe the chorus, ensemble numbers but the solos? Maybe they want to do scenes from "Fiddler..." Maybe a non-musical version? Then, how many weeks do they have to rehearse and practice the numbers, the blocking etc.? Then, what kind of sets and costumes will be considered? There are a host of other concerns when you take on such a project, especially with younger students. I recently saw a wonderful production of it by a Mormon Stake in Laguna Niguel. It was full scale, all ages, full families and well done.

I can remember when we tried to do "West Side Story" in a summer school/playhouse project in Claremont. We eventually settled for almost no scenery, costumes from home, and big choreographed numbers for the chorus. We had a music director, a choreographer and me, a director. It was "successful" within those limited perameters. Usually Middle Schools are on such tight schedules ie. 50 min. hrs., 5 min. passing. 30 min. lunch. etc. Any real productive stagecrafts, rehearsals has to be done in a "drama club" afterschool, say two to three days a week. This is what we did at El Roble Jr. Hi. when we did "Babes in Toyland" and "Snoopy". I was constantly taking kids home in my van after "Drama Club" which was a big "no no" I must've been crazy, or driven or just oblivious to the risk and liability.
I can't get that involved this time as a "consultant". Maybe an hour a week, we'll see.

You know, I truly am "a rich man" when you come to think of what opportunities I have and have had. Working with young people who are having "fun" has always been a joy for me. I was always amazed that I got paid for doing what I did for so many years with kids. I wasn't richly rewarded, monetarily, but I sure was rewarded in other ways. Performing and helping others to perform the arts is still a thrilling prospect. I just have to be careful not to "over do" or over commit to more than I can handle while working full time selling homes. The last time I was "on the stage" so to speak was in a Sun Lakes Drama Club production of an Agatha Christie Murder Mystery. I had a bit part and was one of the "usual suspects". It was fun. I got an award from the group for being the one "most missing" from rehearsals because I was still selling home at Sun Lakes. Oh well...the show must go on...break a leg! Bob!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Craftsman Lamp

Isn't this a beautiful light fixture? Can you guess where it resides and what it illuminates? It is a real object but it represents to me some wishful thinking and goal-setting. Yes, it is an "object de arte" and meant to be; but it is also very functional and practical. That is part of its appeal for me. It sets a mood with its warm colors and bold shapes. The shapes depicted, to me, seem to be opening up, peeling back to show more light and a beacon emerging above. That is all part of its fascination for me.

It is part of the decor in a place that is modern example of the "Craftsman Architectural Design". To me it is very masculine in shapes, and the positive/negative handling of space. The stained glass does remind me of church window glass. The colors, shapes and the lines are more modern though. It is old fashioned and yet, for me, futuristic. It is where I'd like to be someday.

It represents both work and leisure plans and goals for me in the near future. No, Frank Lloyd Wright has nothing to do with it...although this lamp would probably look good in one of his memorable creations. It is in Southern California, within driving distance from my present home and, hopefully, in the next two years even closer. I've watched and chased grandchildren around it, tried to read by it and maybe I'll even be selling homes with its twin nearby. In my imagination it is perfect for "The Dells" ie. "a small wooded valley" That's my proposed name for where it would be just right. Quite "amusing" to me. ie. (from the root: "muse" a source of inspiration, greek mythology, any of the nine daughters of Zeus, each of whom presided over a different art or science.) I can't wait to see what it inspires. Bob

Monday, September 05, 2005


This is a picture of my latest toy/gadget. I got it as a belated birthday gift from my buddies at work. They must some how know how much of a "gadget guy" I am. The photo isn't that great because it is actually a picture of the box it came in. The real object is mounted in my office and it glows with "curiosity" for all my clients and buyers. Mike, my "Super Host", bought it in Vegas at the Discovery Store. Lainie went in with him on it; so appropriate in several ways.

Yes, it is a clock. It is called "T I X" the Clock. It is about a foot long and 3-4 inches deep and wide. It is digital and lights up with constant and flashing display of the changing time. I makes no sound. It can be set to change every second with a different configuration or every 4 seconds or once a minute. I've got it set at every 4 seconds. It has 4 display areas of place value. ie. from the left reading right, like a digital readout, it has the tens, the ones(units) in hours, no colon to separate the hours from minutes; then the tens and ones of the minutes. The tens of the hours place only has 3 possible lit-up dots or squares in red...for 10, 20, or 30. The ones of the hours has nine dots in green, 3 x3. The tens of the minutes place has six places for blue dots/squares 2 x3. The ones place of the minutes of course has nine places in red, 3 x 3. These all are changing every 4 seconds and are challenging anyone to read the time as fast as they can.

You know the "teacher" in me loves this sort of thing. I would've used it in my classroom in all kinds of ways, not the least of which would be: "whoever reads it first, gets to line up first for recess". Yep, this is the sort of thing I liked to do. It is mesmerizing in my office. I certainly makes me more aware of the passage of time...which is sometimes not a good thing. Yes, if I'm not busy, the day can drag. Then I put on my little radio to drown out the "musak" we have to play.

It is also, I realize, a somewhat subtle reminder - unintentional - that my time "T I X" relentlessly toward "full retirement". Yes, I think the "end" of the work-a-day discipline is "in sight". I won't say when. I've got too many "escrows" to cash in on. I'd be foolish to cut out on them. As long as I am able to "sell" and do the job required, and as long as I feel "healthy" and vibrant/vigorous when I go to work...looking forward to the challenges and escrow problems, I'm there! That could be awhile yet...(I hope)...

I was noticing in my daily "What Happened on this Day in History" service I get by email: "3114 B.C.E. from this day was reckoned the Mayan Long Count end-of-the-world date: December 21, 2012" So...that will be my projected retirement plan, as of now. Boy, I hope I make it. That's alot of clock watching. ;-) BOB!

Saturday, September 03, 2005


I'm assuming that this is a representation of the International Maritime Distress Flag for Hurricane. I've seen it on the news lately with all the coverage of Katrina and the Gulf Tragedy. I think ships and ports fly a series of two or more for an extreme situations. Flags are often used to send a message or a warning. They, I suppose, had their origins when men could make colorful cloth. I'm sure they were widely used during medieval times for heraldic logos and signs on castles and shields. Mostly then I think they were used at festivals and celebrations. Then when we took to the sea, from the highest yardarm and mast for national identification and weather conditions. Nothing new here. Where am I going with this?

Well, yesterday I had a chance again to see "the colors" of different jockeys and horse owners and trainers at Del Mar. This time we were invited to the top of the stands, the 6th floor, to an exclusive Turf Club Restaurant called "IL Palio". Quite a contrast from my last visit. When we had "a day at the races" with our son Brooks, we sat in the stands and ran up and down the steps to the snack area to make our last minute bets. This time Pardee Home Loans hosted their 4th Annual Day at the Races for all their loan reps. and me. I'm called a "loyal partner". Boy! Talk about no expense spared. Buffet and drinks throughout the day from the first race at 3:30 to the last at about 7:30. Jackets were required. Dressy dresses too. We had our own parimutuel betting booth. Waiters and waitresses were so efficient that while you were away betting or looking at the current odds (with binoculars) they cleared your unfinished plates without a word. They were in tuxes. You were so far removed from the track and the "action" that they had TV screens and PA's to bring you the last minute call by Trevor Denman, "And away they go!". You kind of felt out of it and maybe that was the purpose..."above it all". Several went down where the horses had their pre-parade and watched the energy, skittishness, and wild-eyed tension before the races. I don't think it really helped in picking a winner.

What was most impressive was the parade of colors or "silks" that the horse and jockey wore. Some were easier to spot from that distance. I remember the fun and excitement Betty and I had at our first races at Santa Anita. We brought folding chairs right down by the rail and the "winner's circle". There you could see and smell the weigh-in and weigh out and really get into the pagentry and color of each entry. We sometimes picked winners by color for high energy or the dappled gray horse because it "went well" with its owners stable colors. This was not a "science" but an "art". We never did it for the money. Quite the contrary here, at the top of the mark, at IL Palio. Money was being spent and wagered big time.

I'm sure they named this high class restaurant after the annual event at the Piazza del Campo, in Siena, Tuscany, Italy. It is a wild and frantic 90 second race around the town center with horses and not always riders dashing at break-neck speed and sharp turns. (a horse can win for its "contrade" without a rider who may have been unseated) It dates from the Middle Ages and is a "no rules" event. It can be, what would appear to us, a disaster; and still be a success to the participants and residents of the 17 contrade, or city wards who try to win or cause others to lose at any cost...yes bribery is allowed. What is so striking to me is the colorful banners and pagentry that the whole city displays. We were there a few years back on the very day of the race. We were warned to stay away from the town center (piazza) at or after a certain hour or be trapped with thousands of crazy, screaming Tuscans and their Palio. Yes, IL Palio means the "embroidered cloth" or banner given as a prize for which they all strive year after year. (not to be confused with "Palo", the name of another restaurant on the Disney Magic Ship named for the "pole" used to push the boats in Venice) The contrade have the jockeys and horses wear their colors and designs with great pride, even in defeat. IL Bruco, the tortoise, hasn't won since 1956. Other names are the: wave, she-wolf, goose, shell, porcupine, dragon, owl, snail, panther, eagle, caterpillar, unicorn, ram, giraffe, forest and tower. They were selling the silks and I was particularly tempted by the unicorn banner.

There is such comaraderie and hospitality during this time that everyone is considered part of the city and event. The official motivation was "thanks to the Madonna" in the 11th Century. 50-foot long banquet tables are set up where huge bowls of pasta, gigantic platters of meat and legendary sides of vegetable are eaten a few nights before by more than 25000 Sienese, bitter rivals but, at the same time, loyal friends. Now you can see why Del Mar Track named their best restaurant after IL Palio. There is betting going on, and deal-making of all kinds.

The banners and flags are missing in Del Mar's version. It is very formal and sedate. It is too far removed from the action for any real excitement. The infrequent winners do celebrate a bit, but mostly from having imbibed more than moderately. TV's were on in the background and between races updates were shown of the National Disaster and "disgrace" as they are now calling it. Yes, the real disaster was revealing its ugly head...our nations indifference to the plight of all those victims of the hurricane who didn't or couldn't heed the warning banner above and the call for mandatory evacuation. The red and black colors of the flag are there for a reason and they will always remind me of the tragedies on-going in the midst of indifference and aloofness to our brother's needs. A lesson learned; hopefully not too late for the greater L.A. area. BOB!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

BOB! Your Life Preserver (Not)

I would be greatly remiss if I didn't reallign and redefine my Blogsite theme ie. that all one needs to do and all those victims needed to do was BOB! Yes, my name, used as a verb, wouldn't have worked literally or figuratively. One assumes that if bobbing will save or preserve your life that you eventually have something or someone to grab on to that floats or that can help you to help yourself. This cannot and will not happen unless we, as a nation, come together and be that "Life Preserver" that is so desperately needed.

All the experts are saying contribute cash or donate by credit card. The Red Cross or the Salvation Army have the best record for helping. The number is: 1-800-HELP NOW

Much later we can sort out the details and blame ie. Why and How could this be allowed to happen? Was there not adequate preparation on a larger scale? The "Big Easy" was too easy and not using much foresight when they ignored the meaning of "below sea level". In order to preserve the "public good" let alone "life" mistakes like this should not be allowed to start or continue and once there, should be planned for. We should talk in "earthquake country". How ready are we for the big one? Let's see how well we "Bob".

My feeling is that this should also reallign our National priorities. Maybe it would be best to take care of our own problems instead of "shoving our form of democracy and freedom" down some other country's culture and religion. We can't help anyone if we can't help ourselves. As they say before we take off on an airplane, "Secure your own oxygen mask before helping the child or someone else next to you." We can't show someone how to "Bob" and flow with the ups and downs of circumstances if we don't first secure our own well being and safety.

Enough of this preaching for now. No, I don't even want to get into some other's opinions I've heard recently, "This is God punishing us for being such an evil nation." Ridiculous! Bob