Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Put wind turbines where the wind blows....DUH.

 While I was celebrating my birthday in San Diego last month, I decided to visit an old buddy nearby.

I rented a car and drove to Palm Springs. It's about 135 miles on N.E freeways.

Drive time depended on who you asked. I was told 2 hours; 2.5 hours and three and a half hours.

It took 4 hours. Each way. On a weekday or even on a weekend.

So I mentioned to my buddy Bill, I didn't see any wind turbines until I got to Cathedral City/Palm Springs.

Why so many here?

Duh! They erect them where there is a lot of wind.

When there is pretty steady wind blowing, they put up a bunch of the turbines. Sorry, birds in the neighborhood or unfortunate migratory ones just  passing through.

I had stopped to take some photos of - to me - a strange sight. I noticed some of the 3-prop ones are different sizes and there are some very large 2-bladed ones. I believe the newest ones are much taller with a man standing on top just for scale. But I didn't see any of the giants.

Bill moved to Cathedral City 2 years ago from Encinitas in San Diego North County and bought a very nice, extra wide and fully-furnished home for a great price.

He bought it from a Canadian "snowbird," who had lived in it only during the cold months for 10 years. That's cold months in Canada, eh.

It's situated in a nice, quiet, 55+ community of desert-lovers.  Or, bargain seekers.

Bill pointed out he was very close to a major grocery store, several fast-food places, full restaurants, shops and stores and other amenities. All without the fearsome traffic of Los Angeles!

He took me to his favorite coffee place in Palm Springs and we sipped our brews outside on the cool covered patio. The waitperson snapped our photo and I remember now that I was wearing my Speed Graphic t-shirt.

Bill was very proud of the view he has of the palm trees and mountains.

I agreed it was gorgeous and snapped a few photos from his living room window.

He said the view - and the low price - made buying the home a no-brainer.

He said many snowbirds sell homes here furnished because they have all the stuff they need back at their "real" home.

His came with very nice upscale furniture, all appliances and even pots and pans and glassware.

He bought a Keurig and individual coffees so we started our days with some hot java, fresh fruit, and buttered toast or waffles.

One evening, the day before my actual birthday, we went to a nice nearby Italian restaurant, sipped wine, listened to some Sinatra songs played by a band and ate plates of 3-cheese lasagna. Burp.

Around us were elderly, but not "early bird diners," older. I even saw some empty handicap spaces in the lot.

Coming out into a desert twilight, I noted a scene similar to the SC state flag symbol.

Well, with a full moon instead of a crescent one.

Bill is a fellow newspaper guy, but I worked for two different family-owned papers and I left both while they still were,.

Lucky me.

Bill was blindsided when his Herald Examiner bit the dust on Nov 2, 1989.

But he quickly landed jobs in radio, an aural skill he had honed as a broadcaster overseas with Armed Forces Radio in Austria and in Italy, near Pisa.

When we met, he had settled in as Promotions Director for legendary KFI in L.A. after many years doing promotions and creating on-air special hijinks for KMPC and other properties owned by Gene Autry.

Driving around one afternoon in Palm Springs, he pulled into a shopping center.

He said he wanted to pay a visit to his former boss.

Autry had told his staff he did not want to be called Mr. Autry, just "Call me Cowboy."

Bill said Autry once received a nice note from President Nixon who mentioned: "... and your wonderful horse Trigger."

The letter was immediately trashed at the mention of rival Roy Roger's horse!

Bill is seated on the left of "Cowboy".

(Click on the pictures and links for more details).

Some of you know I am edging up to my 1,000 posting on this blog. This one is number 995 so I'm slowly getting there.

Wow, posted my first tentative brief posting in March 2006, encouraged by  Post and Courier journalist friend Dan Conover.

Thanks, Dan!
It's been a fun ride and I'm still in the saddle.

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Monday, May 28, 2018

A musical interlude...

We interrupt this recap of my Western Trek extended birthday celebration with family.

With a musical note.

It's the second night of Charleston's Spoleto, the city's 41st  annual salute to the arts and music.

Jon Batiste, leader of the Stay Human band, performed outdoors Friday and Saturday night on the campus of the College of Charleston.

I was there on Saturday, a terrific low-humidity, balmy night although an approaching tropical storm had threatened to make the show move indoors.

Jon leads his band on the CBS Late Show With Stephen Colbert.  Unbeknown to most of the audience, Jon's boss Colbert was in the crowd with us.

Colbert is a Charleston native who spends a lot of his free time here in the Holy City

The band this evening was the Dap-Kings, on their third outing with the talented young New Orleans native.

It was the first time I had seen the Dap-Kings without Sharon Jones, it's dynamic and VERY animated leader who sadly died recently.

I did not bring my camera and depended instead on my cell phone camera to capture some of the melodic action.

Times like this, I do miss the telephoto lens on my "real" camera. But, I settled in for an enjoyable show that was about 20 minutes longer than expected.

As usual for concerts here at the Cistern Yard, the sound was precise and the setting beautifully lit.

Even the folding seats seemed more comfortable.

Jon exhorted the audience to stand and dance.

"We don't play music like this for a crowd that's sitting down."

We stood. We clapped in rhythm. We sang along.  And, I am sure, some were dancing.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.) 

I hope many of you were there Saturday or the night before. Here is the City Paper review of the Friday show.

Support live music!

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Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ready for another adventure in the sky?

 Well, when you DO get to San Diego, one of the must-see sights is the world-famed Zoo.

This image evokes thoughts of Monday Morning.

But, we were talking about yet another airline incident that is now firmly lodged in my memory bank.

I flew out of Charleston on United Air Lines with a planned 3-hour layover in Houston.

Thought of using Uber to leave my car at home and go the 5 miles or so to the airport but gave Yellow Cab another chance and was well pleased. It has added many Uber-like features and I could see the blip moving on my phone screen as it moved closer to me. I knew the make of car and even the driver's name. Cool

So I am on my United flight, seated on the aisle, about mid-plane and the two seats next to me are empty.

Looking good for my flight to my stop in Houston.

In fact, the seats remain empty as we take off and I relax, the first leg of my trip has started happily.

Next stop in a few hours will be Houston where I can use my United Club day pass to while away three hours there away from the crowds and perhaps even have a delicious free snack.

Hey, not too shabby.  

I was there for a breakfast of hot coffee, several small sweet rolls, some fresh sliced fruit and a yogurt parfait.

Well, two of the yogurts, because they are healthy. And free.

My relaxing United Club break got even better: I watched the staff take down the morning goodies and set up luncheon tasty fare. 

I was there for two meals!

My luck did not hold as I boarded for the continuation of the rest of the flight to San Diego, first destination on my almost two weeks on vacation.

Again, the two seats were empty on my left as I stretched out in my aisle seat.

I had my fingers crossed, waiting to hear that the door had been secured... when a lady carrying a crying baby came down the aisle and stopped.

I stood, stepped out of the way and she, the baby and its several bags of supplies, settled into the two empty seats.

Hey, not really a problem, I had my trusty earplugs and a very nice sleep mask.

But then the flight attendant asked if the middle seat was occupied and another lady sat to assist with the baby. Not a mother to her daughter, just two ladies traveling alone who sensed some help would be appreciated.

Earplugs in and mask in place, I could still hear the baby as we took off and air pressure caused the young one some inner ear pain.  There was a rustle of activity as a bottle was sought - and found - and the baby soon quieted. I started to relax.

Until the vomiting started. Oh boy.

Projectile vomit by the baby that I tried to dodge within the confines of my seat and my still-fastened safety belt. 
I was fairly successful in avoiding liquid impact but the mom and the helpful lady were not so lucky. 
I unbuckled and stood in the aisle as many diapers were being used to sop up the milky mess.

I edged out of the way to let the drink cart ease past me and I saw a sympathetic look from the flight attendant

Soon, order was restored,  I was re-seated and the attendant tapped my shoulder and asked if I would like a box lunch. I started to say no thanks and she added it was free to atone for the mess I had just shared.

I said "Sure, thank you and could I also have a whiskey and water?"

I opened the box marked Hummus and saw an array of items, and laid them out next to my drink.

As I went through all the food, I offered some to the ladies, the mom holding the now sleeping baby.

We all had a taste or two and I felt good sharing my unexpected largesse.

The best part was, just before we were landing in San Diego, the baby awoke, refreshed and in a good mood. I snapped a pic.

The mother and her new-found friend both admired the photo and we exchanged email addresses so I could send it along as the happy ending of a soggy sudden surprise.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

These days, flying and having an empty seat next to you is a luxury.

Sometimes it happens and that's a good thing.

Other times, all hell can break loose at 30,000 feet.

At least with this incident, I did not have to swab my clothes to remove stains.

And a mother has a cute photo to show her husband.

Seat selection is NOT a science.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

"Flyin' the friendly skies...er, not always!

Oh, sure, once you get to your destination, things are cool.

Sometimes the flight there can get "interesting."

The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City had oversize "art" scattered around its grounds.

And this was taken from a car window when close by parking was non-existent.

I waited for the gent in red to wander into the frame to give some sense of scale.

Imagine just how big the racquet would be!

The "Thinker" was also shot from a double-parked car

My small pocket-sized digital camera with a 25mm to 500mm zoom lens makes this easy to do.

In fact, my cousins and I did not even go into the Nelson Museum that day.

Years ago I took a visiting Missouri farmer inside and he was amazed!

"WOW," he enthused, "you could pack a lotta hay in here!"

But this tale is about the flight getting to KC from San Diego on Southwest Airlines.

Let's set the picture: when I boarded I was seated in the third row between two rather "large" sisters who were returning from a professional bowling tournament. The one on the aisle laughed and said her sister preferred the window seat.

I faced a nearly four-hour flight with my arms crossed in front of my chest as the ladies each had laid claim to the armrests. Sigh.

The flight attendant placed my requested cup of coffee on the tray I was able to pull down.
Then somebody "bumped" the tray and the full cup of hot coffee - with cream and sugar - poured into my lap!

That lady that had famously sued McDonald's had it right - coffee-in-your-lap is VERY hot. And it goes everywhere as it quickly soaks down to your skin.

No, I did NOT pause to take any pictures.

I was in pain and VERY embarrassed. The attendant was there, as small napkins were being passed to me. A few tiny little paper napkins. The calm airline employee encouraged me to undo my seatbelt, squeeze myself out to the aisle and follow her forward to the lavatory.

Painfully aware of my soggy status, I stood at the open door and she handed me a can of soda water and several large Kotex. "Sorry, we don't have any sponges, but go inside, apply the soda to the female napkin and you should be able to remove most of the coffee stain from your khaki trousers."

She obviously had done this before even if it was new to me.

As I sponged the soda, I could see improvement in my splattered stained crotch. More soda, more applications and I started to feel this might NOT be the end of the world.

As I exited the lav - and the entire plane now could see I obviously had had an accident - I smiled when I saw the aisle seat now was empty as the aisle-sister had moved over to be next to her sister.

YAY! It was almost worth the embarrassment to now sit and relax in blissful expanded comfort.

I thanked the flight attendant and asked for a bloody Mary.

She set it down, smiled as she told me to be careful and said: "It's on us, try to relax."

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for sharing an airborne embarrassing moment.

Hope it never happens to you!

As a careful coffee drinker, I tend to wear khaki pants now.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Just a boy and his Dad...

Close to my birthday, I was in San Diego. My son Chris (right) surprised me on a day we spent together when he suggested a stop at the beach by Del Mar.

I thought he had a typical beach umbrella but noted he tilted it back and anchored both sides.

We settled in, popped open our lunch and dined in the shade of a pretty cool cabana.

This was our beach stop as we enjoyed him having a day off while I was visiting.

We had already stopped at the Torrey Pines GliderPort and watched people leap into the air and soar over the rugged edge of a 300-foot drop to the beach.

Working for the paper here in San Diego back in the 1960s, I was aware of this aerial sport but never had actually come to this spot to watch take-offs and soft landings.

I watched an older crowd gather to hug an even older lady when she alit after a tandem flight, during which, she was securely attached to an experienced instructor/pilot.


My son asked if I wanted to do that adventure and I declined. Instead, we sat on a bench and watched the other daredevils.

We came down to the beach and found a parking space.

It was a Wednesday and there were ample open areas.

We hoisted our gear and walked along the rocky edge of the highway until we came to stairs down to the pebbly sand.

Charleston has the "other coastal ocean" but this was the one where the sun actually would sink slowly into the sea in the west.

 Chris took me to the La Jolla Cove that I, of course,  remembered from living here.

He explained the carefully designed Children's Beach was protected by a man-made curving shelter that one could walk out on.

The area had parking, restrooms, water fountains and other amenities.... but it had become overrun with seals.

Yep, they lounged everywhere and the public was advised to admire them from afar.

Very good advice!

It looked to me like they were all asleep, some rustling like having a bad dream or heartburn.

Mainly they appeared comatose.

The smaller, younger seals showed some activity but maybe Wednesday was "hump day" for all of them and they were chillin'.

Easy to fall asleep when you're clumsy, overweight and lying in the sun. Uh, I guess. We're talking about seals, right?

I had a great day with my son!

We live on opposite coasts and try to stay in touch and visit each other.

Thanks for spending a bit of time with a son and his dad.

The bonus of this trip was to extend my birthday celebration with as much family as possible.

It worked out pretty darn well.

And, lots of cake, blowing out candles and ice cream. Burp.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Stick around, I am approaching my 1,000th blog posting and this trip may very well tip me over the top.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Goin' To Kansas City, oh yeah...

 I had lived in the Kansas City, Missouri area for a few years, back in the 1970s, so I "sorta" knew my way around.

I flew in on a Sunday early afternoon and had planned to spend the night at an all-suite hotel* near MCI.

The Mid-Continent International name made this city different - instead of a standard abbreviation like CHS for Charleston, this airport got its name from its location - in the middle of the country.

It was also the hub for TWA, Trans World Airlines when I had lived there.

I was promoting the beauty and attractions of KC such as its wide boulevards and beautiful fountains and I worked for the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

My role was to get tourists to come and another fellow headed a team to get conventions to come and fill the new Center that had just opened.

One of the tourism standout highlights was the World War 1 Memorial and Museum just about mid-town, close to the Crown Center, known for its famously-worded greeting cards for all occasions.

The view from the top of the Memorial Tower was a place I had often taken visitors to look down on the skyline.

Quite frankly, in all the years I had promoted the attractions, I had never been inside the multi-level museum floors at the base of the tower.

I was staying with my cousin Ellen who lives in KC and her younger sister Diana who had come down from Chicago to spend some time with me on this part of my family-visit and extended birthday celebration.

We roamed around, dining and sightseeing - especially around the famed Country Club Plaza, the true heart of the city.

There was no golf course at this country club but fountains were everywhere.

The two ladies and I and stepped into the small elevator to ride to the top of the 217- foot tall structure.

Strong wind and a great view!

The entrance to the Museum and Memorial had you cross a glass bridge., looking down on a vast field of red poppys.

Growing up in Charleston, I  remember seeing current veterans selling paper flowers to tuck in your lapel to remember the 19 million who died in the Great War.

As we were parking near the Plaza, I saw what I thought might be a food truck.

If it were, the food offering would be severely limited.

Boiled, parched or salted from the Planter's Peanut promotional vehicle.

I even noticed the shape of the rear-view mirrors.

We parked and strolled over to the Plaza for a leisurely lunch and then set out to view the wind-whipped fountains, a major symbol of the city.

Standing upwind, I was able to keep my camera dry and took a posed shot of the ladies by the largest Nichols Fountain in the flower-filled area.

After that photo which required full color, I set the camera for some black and white likenesses.

This stop was nearing the end of my journey.

I made this trip to see my children, see their children and even their children.

These are the four young boys who are my Great-Grandsons and I had not met them yet.

The oldest was just 3 years old and lived in Columbia, Missouri and Bonner Springs, Kansas.

A mere 28 miles from the airport.

My grandson Matt had suggested he would drive his wife and two boys in from Columbia and we would all meet at his brother Michael's house just across the line in Kansas.

I had thought a suite in a hotel would be adequate. DUH.

I was pleasantly surprised by Mike's roomy house and vast yard as everyone had space to run and play.

This had all happened Sunday when I first landed in Kansas City and was staying at the nearby hotel.

We all love our Smartphones with their ability to GPS us to any place we needed.

Suffice to say, my phone failed at a crucial junction and I drove North instead of South and arrived hours later than we all had expected.

I apologized as I ate some food they had grilled earlier and it was delicious.

It was wonderful meeting and seeing all of these midwestern kinfolks!

More about this family gathering of mine in later blog postings.

Thanks for tagging along on this cross-country adventure.

It was coming to an end of almost two weeks of flying and driving and I enjoyed every minute!

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Suits me to a "T"....

Everywhere we look, there are signs.

Or ads.

Or messages.

And billboards.

Or names and team symbols on colorful jerseys.

80-inch flat screen television sets.

And, yes, beer names and labels.

This sign was in the ladies room at a new brewery that just opened in the Park Circle area.

The owner pointed it out to me when we chatted about Commonhouse Aleworks, the newest craft brewery in the area.

It's a sign of the times when a plea for help is not only solicited in a potentially dire situation, but assistance is offered.

They had other helpful reminders that were posted sort of tongue-in-cheek but this one was a serious attempt to help.

I did not check to see if a similar offer was posted in the men's room.

I did like the variation on Employee sanitation rules and a friendly suggestion to all of us.

We all see signs everywhere. I just happen to have a camera to capture them to share.

I now use my phone cam as a visual memo pad.

I was at a meeting, jotting down names on the attendance list when - DUH - I remembered, took out my phone and snapped a photo of the list.

At another meeting, shortly after I retired in 2004, I handed a printed card to an attendee.

He snapped a photo of it and then sent HIS electronic "card" to my phone.

I felt so old-fashioned!

I stopped by MUNCLE, one of my favorite new breweries, and saw they now offered their Belgium brews in tall cans (32 ounces).

That is called a Crawler (as in can) as opposed to a 64-ounce glass Growler which is a glass jug.

At least, in this case, the label is applied as another step.

The Crawler is a good way to take home two pints of a beer you like.

The rest of this posting is a variety of signs I've seen and snapped. Enjoy

Thanks for stopping by.

I'm packing for a several-weeks trip out West. Will post again when I get back.

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