Showing posts from June, 2004

Stupid Human Trick

Last Sunday night we were driving home via Highway 101. We were just north of Prunedale when suddenly traffic came to a dramatic slowdown. I had to slam the brakes to keep from rear-ending the guy in front, as did the guy in front to keep from hitting the guy ahead of him, and so on. When I had an opportunity to get into the left lane and pass whatever it was, I was dumbfounded. A medium sized car had a large load of small diameter tree trunks lashed to its roof! [Insert Looney Tunes theme here.] They extended a good eight feet beyond both the front and rear of the car, sagging to block the driver's view. There was no flag or reflector on the rear end to warn vehicles behind. It doesn't get much stupider than this, folks.

Evolution of the breath mint

I was thinking about Altoids the other day. Those Curiously Strong peppermints in that old-fashioned looking tin. They're everywhere nowdays. They even played a prominent role in the Ken Starr report. (I still want to know how they help.) Do you remember the days before Altoids? Tic Tacs were the mint of choice a decade ago. Tic Tacs were introduced sometime in the late '70s I think. They were shaped like the white half of Tylenol, and were just the right size to get stuck in a kid's nose. I know of one case where it actually happened (in this particular case it was an orange one). Anyway, they came in a little clear plastic container with a flip top lid. They came in all kinds of flavors, but we're talking about mints, so let's get on with it. People had to deal with bad breath in the late '60s and early '70s, and the Tic Tac hadn't been invented yet. That was the reign of Certs. Certs contained a "sparkling drop of Retsyn, [ bling! ] to stop bad

Another historic building goes down.

Monterey lost another piece of its history yesterday. The old Southern Pacific freight depot was turned into a pile of splinters, courtesy of the Monterey City Council. The SP freight depot, which was built in 1915, was the last piece of evidence that Monterey once had a thriving freight railroad system, which enabled the development of local industry. It stood immediately east of the entrance to the Muncipal wharf, near the corner of Figeuroa and Del Monte. It was a long, yellow building on a raised platform. On the street side trucks would unload goods on the dock. On the other side, they would be loaded into boxcars. Or vice versa. The Monterey City Council had its mind made up several years ago. When the city acquired this plot of land, known as the Catellus property (Catellus being the real estate division of SP), the council's first instinct was to tear everything down to open up views and make a park. A nice enough idea, but there is already ample shoreline parkland in th

A visit to Carmel Point

Today on my way home from work, I took a walk around Carmel Point. I haven't had a chance to do that for a long time. I noticed some whale spouts in the distance. Probably a Blue Whale, which are known to inhabit these waters this time of year. When I got to the southwest corner of the point , I looked out on my favorite view in the whole wide world. The waves today were quite large and spectacular. They washed up on the crescent beach to form a foamy fan. This place has always had a special draw for me, something transcendent. I can't describe how it affects me, but whenever I'm here, all is right with the world. I climbed down to the rocks for a closer look at the ocean. As I watched the waves come in I suddenly became consciously aware of the almighty Spirit behind them. Every drop of water I saw as a spiritual idea, all coordinated in a beautiful thing called a wave. Suddenly everything felt alive, and I felt I was part of this glorious wonder, and it was part of me. Af

I got a banjo!

I got my banjo on the 4th. Ordered it from . It is a Gold Tone CC100R, and it sounds terrific. I already know one short song called "Bile Dem Cabbage Down." (Mind you, bile and cabbage are not words I care to associate. Better to say "boil" and let the regional accents sort themselves out.) I had to  order it on line because when shopping I found hardly anybody in Monterey County sells banjos. Music Unlimited in downtown Monterey only had one 6 string (for guitar players who don't want to migrate to a real 5 string banjo). The stores in Salinas had one expensive Fender between them, plus one electric which wasn't an option. Sylvia Williams in Seaside had a used Epiphone for $350. But I thought it sounded kinda dull and plunky. She didn't have much banjo knowledge, other than to say "Epiphones are good." Nice lady, but she didn't inspire confidence. I found out later the Epiphone has an aluminum pot instead of a wooden one, hence

Where are all the fat people?

Its the biggest news story of the day. Obesity is taking over America. Children are horribly overweight. Porkers are everywhere!  You just can't see 'em. Believe me, I've looked. Yeah, statistics show, so they say, that unhealthy fat people are everywhere. And kids, they're all roly-polys. It said so on the news, so it must be true. So where are they? Most people look pretty normal to me. Sure there's a fat one here and there, but that has been true throughout history. And that hardly constitutes a widespread epidemic. Maybe they're all concentrated in the Ozarks or something and that's skewing the statistics for the rest of us. (No offense against Ozarkans intended, I'm just using that as an example.)  Certainly these statistics don't jibe with another widespread concern that Americans, particularly females, are obsessed with being skinny. I still can't figure out if there are too many skinny women or too many fat people. The reports indicate bo