Friday, December 25, 2009

Illustration Friday - Pioneer

Originally uploaded by danguerra444
'Space...the Final Frontier' ;o)
These are the modern day pioneers.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Illustration Friday - Undone

San Francisco 2061
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
'San Francisco 2061' - When everything comes undone, whether through earthquakes or mere progress, things are always redone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Illustration Friday - Hatch

Picture 053
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
It's 'batten down the hatches' in this acrylic I did for the Ultimation, Inc. game, "Silent Hunter".

Thursday, December 10, 2009

O Christmas Tree

Yesterday I did something I realized I hadn't done in years. I got a tree at a Christmas Tree lot. You know the ones, they set them up during the holidays at vacant lots, and stock them with trees that were cut probably as early as October.
In recent years, I simply put lights around a potted tree I already had, or bought a small live one at the grocery store. All during the 80's and 90's I would get those little ones, and after the holidays I would drive up to Lake Tahoe. There's a rest stop along highway 88 where I would replant them. I haven't been up there in ages, but I'm hoping some of them have grown to full own grove!
When I lived in Rohnert Park, for a few years there I went to a tree farm near Sebastopol. Shawn would come with me and we'd cut one down, making sure to leave a few branches at the bottom so it could continue to grow. We'd bring it home and decorate it. I even bought an electric train to go around it, because I had one when I was a kid.
It all takes me back. But getting one this year had a certain poignancy. My mom and I walked along rows of pre-cut trees, other families were browsing too, "How about this one?"
"Nah, too lopsided."
I couldn't help but think of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" where he and Linus went tree shopping and picked out a forlorn little tree. All of them reminded me of that little tree. Just sitting there waiting for a home, almost as if to say, "oooh pick me! pick me!" only to slump over when people passed them by.
There were also stacks of trees leaning against the fence, with no stands. They seemed even more forlorn, like wallflowers at a high school dance. I noticed one of those, it was nicely proportioned. "How about this one?"
"Yeah that's a nice one, but it doesn't have a stand."
"That's okay, I'll make one."
I stood it up and fluffed out its branches, it WAS nice! "Okay let's get this one." It felt as though we were rescuing a puppy from the pound. It would have a nice home, for a while anyway.
On the drive back, with the tree stuffed in the trunk, a memory struck me from long ago as they often do. When I was about 4 or 5, I was with my mom at Valley Fair shopping center in San Jose. Outside in the parking lot, a doughboy pool was set up, stocked with little trout where kids could fish with small rods. For 50 cents, they gave you a rod with bait. "You wanna try it?" my mom asked. "Okay!"
So I dropped the line in, and sure enough I caught a little trout, about 5 inches long. "You caught one Danny!" They put the fish in a plastic baggie and we went home. I sat in the car and stared at the fish in my lap. Even back then, I felt sorry for it. Earlier it was swimming innocently in the pool, now here it was stuffed in a baggie.
With the tree back there in the trunk, I had thought of that little fish, coming home to its final act on this earth. Since the tree had been cut over a month ago, it was hard to think of it as a still a living thing, but it was green and it smelled like Christmas, so it still had an essence of life. I made a wooden stand for it, acutely aware of the fact that I wasn't using my old stand that held water, to keep it moist. No, this was strictly old-school. I found myself apologizing to it, as if were a sentient being. It's funny how the older I get, the more attuned I am to those things.
We brought it in and decorated it, which really took me back. Maybe it was the Christmas Tree smell that triggers it. I thought of my old train, and that stringy tinsel they used to sell, and presents under there. A ton of memories of Christmases past. And the tree does indeed have a certain spirit now. Even though it's in its final days, it's going in style. It seems happy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Illustration Friday - Crunchy

Picture 050
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
This is the final scene in the Nintendo game, 'Mario is Missing'...Bowser is about to get crunched by a dinosaur.
This was back in the Deluxe Paint days. :o)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's All In The Details

Today I was out in the garden planting garlic bulbs, which I had never done before, in a 'winter garden'. I even checked online to make sure I was doing it right. But first I had to clear a space in the dirt. I have a row of carrots and radishes just now sprouting. They're on raised beds, and the rows are parallel. The carrot row is about 6 inches higher than the radishes, so when I water them, the excess water drains down through canals to the radish row below.
When I made a bed for the garlic, I made sure to level it off about 6 inches below the radishes, thus making it a catch-basin for the runoff from above. Not stopping there, I made yet another bed about 6 inches below that one, and used that to plant the rest of the radish seeds. So now when I water the carrots, a series of drainage canals will ensure that all of the water will be transferred down and dispersed evenly to the terraced beds below, even allowing channels for the sediment that the water will carry with it. That was the fun part, building the thing. Of course, watching the seedlings pop out of the ground for the first time is a joy all it's own, but it's the building of the garden that carries a certain satisfaction, like a tiny civilization. The key words are building, creating.

I've always liked to create things. Not just artwork, but things. I have all my life. I have a fort made out of toothpicks that I started in 1971, and to this day it remains a work in progress. And it's the details that interest me the most. Whether it's in a drawing or painting, a toothpick fort, a garden, a story, music, or just about anything, the more details the better. Sometimes, to the exclusion of all else. Except of course, when a series of distant, esoteric but vivid memories go through my mind as clear as if they happened yesterday.

About a year or so ago, a friend told me about a radio program she was listening to. A man was being interviewed and he described a similar history of being focused on detail to an extreme, how he too had distant but vivid memories.

She told me, "it reminded me of you!"

He was talking about something called Aspergers Syndrome. A mild form of autism that was only recently diagnosed. I read the guy's interview and sure enough, I could relate to a lot of what he was saying. After reading more articles and blogs on the subject, and an excellent one is here: I realized that hmm, I think I may have a touch of it myself...
Not an extreme case, but definitely some signs of it.
I also found it interesting that in most of the cases I've read about, they are men in their 50's who never knew what it was until recently, and who realized, "well, that explains a lot."

Though more extreme cases include a lack of communication or social skills, and a lack of empathy. And while I seem to have an adequate amount of communication and social skills, sometimes it seems to require some effort. And I've always felt a deep amount of empathy towards others...and animals. So perhaps in my case, I've only dipped my toe in this ocean called Aspergers. And that is, if I have it at all...

But I can empathize (ha) with those who do. When they talk about being keenly focused on detail, and the slightest minutae of drawing, painting, music, model making, etc.
Or memories that would usually be long forgotten, they come frequently, every day. I remember what we had for dinner on June 17, 1975...and the conversation we had about putting up a new wall in the patio.

When they talk about being uncomfortable in crowds, I can relate, somewhat. I usually don't mind crowds at all. In fact, I enjoy parties, and I've thrown some. And I enjoy concerts and sporting events and street fairs, where large crowds gather. I've always been especially drawn to people with a sense of humor, I love to laugh. But those are crowds I choose to be in, with people who I'm comfortable with. On the other hand, when I worked at the store, I was astounded at how drained I would feel afterwards, like I wanted to retreat into a cave and just sleep.

I also empathize with shy people, because I've always been shy myself, especially when I was a kid. Or introverted at least. How I've always envied and admired extroverts, the ones who aren't shy at all, who feel invigorated being in large crowds. Sometimes I wish I could be an extrovert, and I've tried, but it's just an act. I'm not 'wired' that way.

And then I think, would I still be able to focus on the precise details of what I was drawing, or building? Would I even care then? Because if I didn't, I don't think I would even bother to start. Not that being an extrovert would preclude that, but I wouldn't want to know. It would be too much of a departure from whom I've always been, and what I do. When I finish a drawing, there's a certain joy that comes with it that resonates deeply, like a blessing beyond blessings.
So if Aspergers has been a part of all that, even a small part, then so be it, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

To Shoot An Arrow

There's the old saying, "I shot an arrow into the air, and where it lands, I know not where."

Well, I'm beginning to think maybe we're all arrows, flying through the air, our life paths like an arrow's trajectory, sometimes they hit their bullseye...some just miss the bullseye...some never hit the target at all...and some, well, just misfire....
Sometimes I think that I'm in the 'just missed' category. When you think of all the people who have existed on Earth for thousands of years...all these arrows...who had to endure all of the conditions that would probably scare us today, even if we were hunkered in the relative safety of an RV, the conditions they lived in is astonishing and yet they survived. Arrows, all of them, and even back then, they hit and missed...The one's who hit a bullseye left a mark in history, one way or another...
But then again, maybe 'Arrow' is not the right metaphor for anyone's life path. Because paths can change, sometimes in an instant intervention of fate, either good or bad. And what is 'fate' or 'destiny' really? A notion that everything is pre-ordained maybe? Well that doesn't really make sense. But I understand the notion of fate, most of which is in our own hands, we can control our own destinies to a certain point, and then fate intervenes, if that makes sense...
I remember reading a story from a Herb Caen column about a family who lived in San Rafael, and they moved to San Francisco. They brought their cat with them, but soon after she disappeared, ran away...
Two weeks later she was found back at their old house in Marin...all she wanted to do was go back to the home she knew.
A woman in a car, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge during a windy and rainy night spotted a cat making her way along the bridge, stopping post to post, the poor thing was cold and drenched...
The poor kitty...her fate was to cross that bridge, but her destiny was to end up back in San Francisco...her arrow flew, but changed course.
Right now I can relate to that cat on the bridge, just trying to go back...trying to avoid any pre-ordained destinies, trying to avert the trajectory of her 'arrow'.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Time Tunnel

This is a follow-up to a previous blog, 'my time machine'....Remember the tv show from the 60's, The Time Tunnel? It was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. Two scientists invented a time machine, The Time Tunnel, and they ended up trapped in time. Each week they would tumble through time to a new adventure, while the scientists at the Tunnel entrance would try in vain to get them back. After two seasons, the show ended and they never did get back home.
I decided to write a short story on
Other than creative writing assignments in school, I've never written a fictional story before, but I had a blast doing it! It's here, I hope you enjoy it...that is, if you do read it, ha!

Illustration Friday - Music

Picture 027
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
This was an attempt at pointillism, using black, yellow, orange, and red felt pens.

Friday, October 23, 2009

another Aunt Carmen story

In my previous post about my aunt Carmen, I mentioned her sense of humor...and recently I began thinking of certain incidents that had me laughing out loud as I was outside in the garden, a flood of memories came rushing through my mind, like a long lost VCR tape that you once loved but had forgotten about, but upon seeing it again...oh my gawwd that was hilarious...

It was during the summer, probably about 1965...and during the day, I would stay there and play with my cousins, Joanne and Little Joe, but mostly Joe, since Joanne was older than us, and she'd be off playing with her friends...One time, me and Joe were eating lunch, Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup and Aunt Carmen was at the table with us, reading the paper, when suddenly she let out her hearty laugh, "ah HA hahahaha" she had read a Dennis the Menace comic, "listen to this one, 'Mom! get Dad quick! I got Santa Claus locked in the bathroom!"
A spray of Campbells Soup went across the table as Joe exploded in laughter..."Jooooooe!"
I eruped in laughter myself, about both things, thankfully I was between mouthfuls of soup.
Sometimes Carmen would take me and Joe on her shopping errands, constantly berating him, "Sit Still!" because he would attempt acrobatic feats in the car. We were in the back seat and bags of groceries were in the front.
"I can do flips!"
"No you can't!"
At a young age, Joe already had the vocal inflections of his mom, "ohhhhh yes I CAN!"
"yeah? well let's see."
"okay watch this..." So he climbed on to the front seat and did a head stand on the top of the seat, with his feet on the roof of the car.
"What the hell are you doing?!?!"
He flipped over and landed on bags of groceries.
"Goddammit! you Dumb Banana!" I couldn't help but laugh hysterically...
Later on when Uncle Joe came home and my dad came to pick me up, for some reason my mom was busy or working late, anyway Carmen said, why don't you just stay for dinner? So we did...and while we were eating, she said, "I want you to LOOK at this bread" as she placed smashed pieces of french bread on a plate.
"What happened?"
With an accusing finger she pointed at Little Joe, "HE LANDED on it!"
ahhh, it makes me giggle just to write about this old memory...well, like they say, I guess ya had to be there...

Illustration Friday - Fast

dannyspics 253
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
This one came out a little blurry, but actually it kind of lends itself to the theme, Fast...haha! yeah, that's it...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Illustration Friday - Frozen

Originally uploaded by danguerra444
Climbing the Matterhorn would be an awesome experience, though everything looks frozen up there.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Illustration Friday - Flying

dannyspics 061
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
What a sensation it would be to feel like you're floating, even though you're flying at over 17,000 miles an hour!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Cyber Sea

As you can see, I'm back posting images on Illustration Friday, which I did regularly up until about two years ago, when my browser could no longer see it. Well, after a long hiatus I'm back again, but I don't recognize any of the original people on there, they've moved on. To where, I don't returning to an old neighborhood where you once lived, only strangers live there now. I've experienced the same thing on Imdb, where I once was a regular on their message boards...indeed, I posted on a daily basis, many times a day on some occaisions. This was about ten years ago, and it was my first experience doing such a thing.
At first I came to recognize the regular posters, each with their own personality which I assumed was a 'real' person, not a contrived persona or anything like that, I was naive at the time...So, in all those posts about movies and tv shows, a certain number of posters would gravitate to one another, and become, well, friends online!...I became buddies with a few of them, we would chat about movies and sometimes delved into our personal lives, almost like 'pen pals' we had in school...But then something happened, an influx of new users and a group that had been kicked off an old board brought their 'wars' there. And an infestation of teenagers who plagued the board with their inane and juvenile posts...'trolls'...I soon lost sight of the old regulars but later learned that they retreated to a certain movie board on imdb, "The Way We Were" of all places...others who were not invited there complained bitterly, "why didn't you tell me?? how could you??"..or...
"okay, here's your knife back, the one you stabbed me with!"
It became clear, sheesh this like high school! and these people have never even met each other, or knew each other growing up, or shared each others pain or joy that they otherwise would in a real or at least tangible friendship...No, this was a new territory, a new universe of VIRTUAL friendships, just as loving and supportive, or just as dysfunctional...but friendships nevertheless!
As friendships can come and go, so do the Illustration Friday crowd who moved on, so did the Imdb bunch, a small group of them formed a small site on which I was invited, like building a hopeful bridge over the cyber sea, but even now that one is dwindling, like a bridge that is abandoned or swept away...I guess people just want to move on, like in real life. America is one of the most mobile and migratory people in the world. Everyone moved out here to California in the 50's and 60's and I grew up listening to them brag about how great it was back where they came from...I would sigh like an old man....
And, like a migratory shift, people move on from virtual friendships to new places and then we wonder where they went, what became of them?...but we do make friends, and keep them! Like facebook, we connect with old friends, the 'tangible' ones. But the virtual friends, they're basically pen pals...I miss the ones I don't see anymore, even though I never saw them face to face, or shook their hands...or even arranging to meet someday, somewhere...when it comes to all of them, the friends I never met, it's like throwing a message in a bottle into the Cyber Sea.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Time Machine

I have always been fascinated with History, especially when looking at old films or photographs. Or walking through old neighborhoods or historical districts. My interest was piqued recently when I watched a Ken Burns series on the National Parks. He used an enormous collection of old photos and Super-8 movies of families vacationing in Yosemite and other parks. I immediately related to the kids in those old movies, in the backseat of their parents car, then walking around in wonder, because I could have been one of those kids back then in the 60's.
But some of these were from way before, like in the 40's and 50's...even back to the 20's and beyond! Every time I see an old photograph or old film footage, especially in color, I wish I could magically step into that picture, go back in time and see for myself how it really was....
Or better yet, I wish I had a Time Machine, not a big clumsy contraption like H.G. Wells would have written about, but a small convenient one, about the size of a cel phone. But I'd make sure to prepare, to have all my bases covered...The first place I'd want to visit is San Francisco in the 1940's, maybe 1947...but before I went, I'd put on an old vintage suit that I own, from about that era, to blend in...then I would go to San Francisco present-day, probably to Golden Gate Park to a secluded spot in the bushes where I couldn't be seen, and then punch in the date, and make the leap!
I would appear in that same spot, hopefully still hidden, but it would be 1947!... After emerging from the park, I think that much of the city would look the same, as far as the buildings and houses, but the cars and the trolleys and the people would be out of an old photograph, but I would be There! I think I would walk downtown, rather than take a bus or taxi, just to soak it all in...I would probably be nervous as hell, almost paranoid in thinking that I stood out somehow, an ultimate outsider, someone from the Future...but I'd be nonchalant as I strolled down Geary St. toward Union Square, nodding hello to passersby, peering in to storefronts and listening to peoples' conversations, picking up any nuance in their speech, but I don't think it would be very different. No different than Bogart and Bacall, who filmed 'Dark Passage' there in 1947...and I've seen plenty of Three Stooges and Little Rascals movies to know how they spoke back then, but that was Hollywood, this would be regular people in the street.
Before my 'trip', I would make sure to bring along a lot of faded one dollar bills, that denomination hasn't changed much since the 30's, but the 5's, 10's, and 20's have a new design, and that would be an obvious giveaway, they would think I was a nutcase or a counterfeiter if I tried to use one of those. And besides, things were way cheaper back then, I could probably walk into a diner and buy lunch for less than a dollar, and a newspaper for a nickel. Upon arriving downtown, I imagine Union Square would also still look basically the same, but with different storefronts and not as many highrises, but the cable cars would be there, Lefty O'Douls would be there, and maybe Tad's...
There would also be the St. Francis hotel on Powell, curiosity would take me there first, with its ornate lobby and piano bar, I wonder how different it would be. I'd gather up the nerve to go sit at the, I've seen movies from the 40's and bars haven't changed much, but still, I would glance and see what others were drinking...I'd probably order a beer, and pay for it with change that I got from buying the newspaper, I'd be too nervous about using a dollar bill from 2009, bartenders can be pretty sharp about that stuff. Not that he's looking out for money from the future, just bills that don't look quite right...
After having perused the paper and sports page just to catch up on local current events, I'd probably be prepared for any light conversation, should a bar patron decided to chat...I'd say I was from San Jose, which I was...though my historical knowledge of San Jose would only carry me so far...they might ask if I was in the war, and given my current age I would say no, I was too old by then...I would never tell anyone I was from the future, because a) they wouldn't believe me, and b) I wouldn't want to say "buy IBM stock in 1956, you'll make a fortune!" because it would 'alter the future' and that could get, I'd just be an observer.
I think I would want to explore most of all, to ride the cable car to Fisherman's Wharf, when it really WAS a fisherman's wharf, with the original restaurants catering to the fishermen themselves, and Pier 39 was really a working pier. Ride taxis, visit the Sutro Baths...
Feeling a kind of wanderlust, I'd want to venture all over the City and East Bay, northward to Santa Rosa, and walk around my old neighborhood as I did not long ago, and again, all the houses would still be there, but different colors perhaps...the trees would be smaller...I'd walk down McDonald Avenue where 'Shadow of a Doubt' had just been filmed, and I think it would look the same, again except for the cars. I'd go downtown and look around, and see how things were then...I'd see all the fields and orchards where houses and new neighborhoods would soon be...There'd be so much to see and explore, like a living history museum. It would be fun to stay overnight at a local hotel, or back in the City...though no tv, ha!
That would be only one trip in my Time Machine, I think I would take many such trips, to many places...I would take a trip to August 21, 1955...the date of my parents wedding in San Jose, maybe sit in the back, since I have a family resemblance to my uncles, they would wonder who I was...I'd dare not go to the reception...
As my time travelling got 'easier'...I would go back to the 30's...the 20's...and beyond!
New York City, 1923, the opening of Yankee Stadium and watch Babe Ruth play ball...the list is endless.
Of course, this is all just one big fantasy, see how far it takes me? haha! There will probably never be such a thing as time travel, at least in our lifetime...but if there ever was, I'd want to be ready.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Illustration Friday - Germs

Picture 010
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
I read a short story once, where the Earth was being overrun by deadly germs that needed to be eradicated. In the end, it was revealed that the germs were us.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Illustration Friday - Pattern

dannyspics 248
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
Patterns can be found everywhere...or everywhen.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Illustration Friday - Infinite

Space Tower
Originally uploaded by danguerra444
Among the infinite of space, and the infinite of time, anything is possible.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Aunt Carmen's last hug

My Aunt Carmen was like a second mom to me when I was growing up. From the time I can remember, up until the second grade I always stayed over at Aunt Carmen and Uncle Joe's during the summer, during the day while my parents were at work...along with their kids Joanne and Little Joe, my cousins, they were like my extended family...and I was witness to their frequent 'wars' firsthand, which sometimes made me feel thankful I was an only child, but I loved them all anyway, because they were family, my Second family! When my parents went on a two week vacation to Hawaii, I stayed with them for over two weeks. Indeed, I can't count the times I would spend other evenings with them watching tv... Gilligan's Island, Hogan's Heroes, Daniel Boone...all the while Aunt Carmen provided an endless supply of ice cream, potato chips, and other snacks.
I remember when she would run errands during the day, and she would bring me and my cousin Joe along, we would act goofy and crack jokes the whole time, "you boys are driving me NUTS!"...Her booming, intimidating voice, with a sense of impending menace was all it took to shut us up...and then, serenity, "can I interest you boys in a root beer float?"...I was amazed how she seemed to know every salesperson at every store by name, even the drive-thru dairy (remember those?) and they all greeted her with enthusiasm because she had that kind of personality...Huge, an expansive personality that would fill a room. And an incredible sense of humor and sardonic other words, she was a Force of Nature, the Salt of the Earth.
Aunt Carmen is my mom's older sister, and through the years, they stuck together like glue, even through what I call 'the lean years' from the mid 80's to 2002 when I wasn't in contact with them that much...but later about that...
When my cousins and I were kids, we enjoyed weekend barbeques at any one of our homes, whether it was at my parent's house, Joe and Carmen's, or Uncle Bob's...or sometimes Uncle Joe's on my dad's side...even writing about this gives me kind of a warm and happy feeling, a feeling of family...I know of such families today...
Anyway, whenever Carmen would arrive, the scene automatically changed, because here was this Presence now...remember the tv show 'Maude' starring Bea Arthur? Everyone at the time would say, "ohmygawwd, that's CARMEN"...and sure enough, for awhile she had the nickname, "oh look! Maude is here!"...but she took it all with good humor, 'yup that's me alright!'
But with her big personality came certain strains, my dad had always 'tolerated' her ever since he married my mom back in the 50's, and while I had been away at school and then on my own in the 80's, a rift developed between my dad and Carmen and they basically avoided each other, which was unfortunate, especially for my mom...and us cousins had grown, so we weren't in as much contact through the 80's and 90's, as we were busy running to and fro with our own lives...that's what I mean by the 'lean years'....
So in fact, it was my dad's funeral that brought us all back together, the rift was was basically a reunion. Before the funeral, some of them arrived at my mom's house, Joe and Carmen, the Bakers, everyone...the first thing Carmen did was give me a Big bear hug, "ohhhh Danny I'm sooo sorry I've missed you sooo much!" and couldn't help but tear up because I had missed her too, and on top of that, my dad gone, here was this emotional reunion as well...not to mention everyone else...
It was not soon after, that she developed heart problems, sometimes serious and we would worry...but I'll never forget when I had my paintings showing in Sonoma Square, Carmen and Joe showed up! she was probably feeling like hell, but she made sure Joe went to get the food they brought! haha! Some things never change...
My mom and I went out to visit them earlier this year, Carmen had continued to have health problems but still was a Force of Nature, she insisted we go wine tasting and she was the designated driver! While my mom and I stayed at their house, I felt an echo from childhood and a certain affection for ol' Carmen and Joe, from a long time ago, my second family. About a month ago, it looked like things were getting worse, and sure enough, she was sick with cancer...inoperable...we all gathered around again. In her hospital bed, she insisted, "now don't any of you be sad! it's been a good life!" We all joked and told stories...when it was time to leave, I give Aunt Carmen a kiss on the cheek, her cheek was warm, and we hugged, "MMMMMMMMMM"
"I love you." and she winked.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Aerolution Films

I have a recurring dream, about once every 6 months or so lately, sometimes not for years, but I recognize the dream, it's the same theme and the same only happens when I'm tired or haven't slept much, or always happens the same way, I toss and turn, trying to FALL asleep when I know that I need to...
And then I'm transported to this familiar dreamscape which I recognize, because I've been there before in other dreams, "oh boy, here we go..." I say in anticipation of what could literally be a roller coaster ride of visuals. I remember a lot of this one.
The setting is usually an office space where bizarre projects are being worked on, sometimes populated by former co-workers I have known over the years, and a few other recurring characters...but at the center of it all are these two brothers who make movies, and in the dream, they gather everyone together to watch their latest movie...and here's the astonishing part, I remembered the title and much of the dream here in waking hours! I was driving on I-5 and all of a sudden it came to me, "Aerolution Films"!! straight out of my subconscious came this vivid image, as if a secret vault, or long lost computer folder suddenly opened into the light of day.
The two brothers, one looking like Cosmo Kramer with glasses, the other like Teller (from Penn and Teller) and the distinct logo, 'Aerolution Films'...Everyone gathered for the film and sat down on the floor to watch...
The film started with a simple scene of a cat sitting on a table, then the cat grinned wider and wider, until its mouth was completely open to reveal an inner mouth also opening, and then again and again, like watching a flower blooming in fast motion. Then this blooming effect took on the shape of an origami paper unfolded itself in a precise and geometrical way, and began to refold and reshape itself into a house, like a dollhouse...and through the windows of the house came two robot like hands, each holding a deck of playing cards. Each hand fanned out the cards, which sprouted feathers, like bird's wings. It was amazing to see the vividness of each feather sprouting and growing, and forming into wings. I half expected to watch the dollhouse fly away, but the house began another transformation as the wings folded back.
From all the other windows in the house, small boxes emerged, and they opened to even smaller boxes, and those boxes opened to reveal small rings interlocked with other rings, and as they began to rotate and sort of 'dance' in amazing choreography, the wings withdrew back into the house as it refolded itself origami style into a tree-like shape, onto which the rings attached themselves to the branches, like a Christmas tree...Then the tree twisted itself into a pole, like a spiral Greek column and within the cracks of the column, hundreds of birds squeezed out and flew all around the room...
All of this happened with a constant flow, as if it was a fast moving animation, well, that's what it was! It's the vividness that gets me every time, and it's always a different 'movie' every time I have that dream. It's hard to interpret, because of so much information and imagery...but I am looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Animals Can Talk

I believe that animals can talk, not just to their own kind, which they obviously do...but to us humans. At least they try to talk to us, in the only language they know, in their barks and meows, and in their body language and behavior, and we recognize some of it...When they're hungry, we know....because they'll be sure to tell us!
For those of us who have had pets, mainly dogs and cats, birds, or any contact with animals, I think we all know the way they look us in the eye when they're saying something to us, and we know what they're saying, because they're just like a family member.
Back in the 70's, Koko the Gorilla astounded scientists with her ability to American Sign Language...she displayed a definite intelligence, in which she was able to communicate with an amazing vocabulary...up to 600 words. Using sign language, they asked her "what is dead?"
she signed, "long sleep"...She described sour milk as "crocodile milk" because she didn't like crocodiles after seeing pictures of them. And she described dreams as "sleep pictures"...She distrusted newcomers until she was assured, "this man/woman good"...She described a policeman as "clown" because his shiny badge and parts of his uniform reminded her of photos of clowns.
So even though Koko is a primate, it is obvious that they think and dream...and have emotions and feelings just like we humans do...and there was the amazing story of the parrot who DID use human words as communication, her last words were, "be good...I love you."

Koko had the ability to communicate using sign language, but our dogs and cats don't have the hands or dexterity to do that, so they communicate with us humans in their own way, through their barks and meows and their incredible language within those...and of course their body language. Many books are available about cat language and dog language, and it's true, they are communicating to us, or trying to...but, they don't have the ability to sign, or mimic the human voice...but if they did, I think they would tell us wonders...I remember Jake, a lovable Golden Retriever when I lived in Pleasant Hill, a big goofy night I brought him out a steak bone, he clenched it in his teeth, took a couple of steps and then dropped it!! what dog would drop a meaty bone? Then he ran and jumped on me, licking my face profusely...he was thanking me....
"yeahhh okay okay, I love you too Jake!"...then he stopped and just grinned at me, in that doggie smile way... "wuff" and grabbed his bone and off he went...
Dolphins in the ocean are also incredibly intelligent. There are endless stories about dolphins in the sea who have protected men in shipwrecks, by surrounding them and shielding them from sharks. Dolphins are smart...and they're mammals, just like whales...and they sing.
Gabby, who lives here has an entire cat vocabulary all her own (that's how she got her name!) Her meows range from little peeps to drawn out meows to a staccato-like chirping...this is her language. Like all of our dogs and cats, each one has its own personality, just like humans...
My mom says, "my god it feels like she's talking to me! directly to in Chinese!"
I wish I knew what she was saying exactly...other than 'where's my breakfast?'....I wish I could communicate with Gabby on a level other than the basic stuff, because I know she has WAY much more to say...and I think she's just as frustrated as a zillion animals in this world who are sentient and have a certain intelligence, and would LOVE to talk to us, and ask questions...and I would love to talk to them....and ask questions.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I've Seen All Good People

"I've seen all good people turn their heads each day so satisfied, I'm on my way"...That is a line from a classic Yes song, and after nearly 40 years, I still don't know what to make of it...or maybe that was the idea, Jon Anderson who wrote the line, and has always said, "it's open to interpretation.."
Well, fair enough...When he referred to all good people turning their heads, did he mean turning their heads away from being good? and being a pop star during that time in all of its decadence, was he on his way too? or were all the good people turning their heads to something better, a greater good?...that is the question and it pretty much summarizes everyone, turn their heads to good or evil, or somewhere in between?
I think good and evil exists in everyones' soul, whether we acknowledge it or not...and I don't necessarily mean this in a religious sort of way, but more in a biological way which is more secular, but if you want to apply religion, then so be it, it still works...because I have come to believe there is good in everyone, and Good usually wins. Because if there wasn't Good, none of us would be here....
Of course, there's the sociopaths, the serial killers, and the truly bad people out there, filled with violence and hate, and terrible crimes...what got in to them to commit those things?
Not to mention Adolf of the biggest thugs in history...who can stop these people? Well, Good people do...Hitler was destroyed, and criminals go to jail...well, most do...
Anyway, I think that most people have Good in them, people who just want to get along and help when they can, because I think it's hard wired in the human psyche that it's better to be good, it's better to help out, because it just means survival in the long run...
During an accident, the first thing people do is jump out and help the injured...
In war, soldiers help their buddies, even though they just blasted the enemy, whether or not the blasted enemy was 'evil' is only relative....especially those German kids in WWII who only got drafted towards the end...those frightened kids were not evil, but got swept up in a bigger Evil.
When I worked at the store, where the policy was, 'World Class Customer Service' I experienced quite a cross section of people coming through the line...from the wealthy who lived up on the hills above Santa Rosa, to the gang bangers who lived down below...each customer came through the line with a certain personality and attitude, I don't know whether it was because it was simply a grocery store, but everyone was Good, usually...aside from the cranky customers, crackpots and old coots mostly...I saw everyones' good side, even the gangbangers, their polite side...maybe because they were gathering food, an age old human ritual...and all the while I tried to remain Good, even though sometimes I wanted to commit murder...
But that made them happy for the time being, and Good.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Musician as Artist

I have always loved music, since day one, or at least the day that I had cognitive memory. I wrote about this before, about shaking my leg to 'The Best is Yet to Come' by Frank Sinatra when I was 2, or singing 'I Wanna Be Around' with my dad in the car when I was 3...
I would have loved to be a musician, be a musician meant to play a musical instrument, and play it skillfully and with a certain signature of emotion, or sing a song with a strong voice, also with skill and emotion and timing... After playing trumpet in school and trying to learn to play the guitar, the music ends at my wrists...and I tried...over and over, music teachers always say 'practice practice!' and that is very true, even Rick Wakeman, the keyboard player in Yes said, "I can only recommend practice, I can't emphasize that enough"....and I did practice. And I was able to play the notes, but I never *felt* the other words, I couldn't express them in a way other than just reading them off a music sheet, like taking a Great Ape staring through a cage at an elusive wonder, my musical ability is only a whim.
But that has never diminished my appreciation for music, and those who create it...because they are incredible Artists. Those who are able to play an instrument, or sing with a natural flow, as though the music is within them, and it pours out of them with ease...they have a gift..
You see, I think that I envy musicians because it's an instantaneous, communal thing that can be if you brought your guitar and someone else brought theirs, then you can jam, and play and sing...even if you play or sing in a pedestrian way it doesn't matter, because you get to share the experience, which can only be a fun thing! I never got to that point...
I became an artist anyway, but the solitary kind...I love to create images and I always will...but it's a solitary way of creating something, and yes, there's art guilds and classes...but it's still an individual endeavor. And then maybe you can share it later on, once it's finished...but it will never be spontaneous, like playing music with people in real time, creating it on the spot, and the cameraderie and sheer joy of doing it when it's happening! not to mention the audience who is also watching and listening and experiencing the whole thing...real time as it's being created...the way people smile at each other during the song...and I've seen it, the smiles people give each other when playing and singing, whether it's a small gathering, or onstage at a big arena, music is a shared experience...and I guess I'm just jealous...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another

A long time ago when I was in kindergarten, my parents had been planning to buy a house, and move out of the house we lived in, which was my dad's parents house in San Jose. He and his siblings inherited that house when their parents died at a young age. So my dad, at age 23, basically finished raising his younger siblings. Of course, that didn't sit well with some of them, so they moved out as soon as they could. My dad stayed on, got married and then I was born, and we lived in that house until I was 5.

They found a house in the Willow Glen neighborhood, I remember driving by there a few times, peeking through the windows as they would show it to friends and relatives. The deal was just about done, but then something happened and the deal fell it was back to looking again. A couple months later they found another house on Doma Drive, and that's where we ended up moving to, and that was the house I grew up in, we lived there for 20 years.

As I grew up and went to the same school for 8 years, and then on to high school along with those same kids, I would often think back to that house we 'almost' lived in, and how much different my life would have been, with different friends, and different experiences...would the trajectory of my life path be entirely different? or would it veer back in the same general direction? What opportunities were missed? What disasters were avoided? Well, none of us will ever know, and it's the same for everyone. There are major forks in the road in everyones' life path...some we take by choice, some by circumstance. And it is always by chance, or by fate, that in a single instant one's life can change course forever.

I remember driving to a job interview back in 1985. I lived in San Leandro and the interview was in Concord, so I allowed myself some extra time. But sure enough, traffic was horrendous and I found that I was running almost 15 minutes late! As I approached the exit I wondered if I should just blow it off since I was so late, but I thought, "no I might as well go in, I'll just explain it was the traffic."
So that's what I did, and they were very understanding, and the interview went extremely well! The guy who interviewed me was named Ron, and he introduced me to Mimi, who was one of the artists working there, we all hit it off that day and sure enough I was hired. We've all been friends ever since, and through them, became friends with a wider constellation of people.
Had I decided to skip the exit and drive home that day, I would never have known any of them. Who knows what course my life would have taken? Would I have met another different set of friends? probably, but the idea of never having known any of these friends leaves me with an incredibly empty feeling.
Similarly, in 1987 I was freelancing, and jobs were getting pretty few and far between...I remember going through the drive-thru at a Jack-in-the-Box, and there were newspaper racks along the drive-thru lane. So on a whim, I bought a SF Chronicle to read during lunch. As I skimmed the want ads, I saw an ad, "Illustrator Wanted - Computer company seeks artist/illustrator w/ traditional skills..." Even back then, I knew the odds of landing a job through the paper was pretty slim, since they get tons of resumes, but I thought, why not? So I sent in my resume with some samples...sure enough they called! And I went in and I got the job, it was at Spectrum Holobyte, a start-up game company when computer art was in its infancy, and I learned as I went along and rode the crest of a computer graphic wave for 15 years! And I've met some wonderful friends on that wave...friends that I would never exchange for the world, in any 'what-if' time line....All because of that one moment when I decided to buy a paper at that Jack in the Box. If I hadn't bought the paper, I would never have answered that ad...and well, who knows what direction I would have taken? A different but similar one maybe, but not *this* one, and not with the people in it...maybe some! but we'll never know.
How many other instances are like that in everyones life? It occurred to me that they happen every single day, in subtle ways...and not just by the things we ourselves do, but as circumstances of things other people do as we interact with them. Like the big-rig that overturned on the Bayshore Freeway, halting traffic for miles, because the driver had to swerve to avoid a guy on his cell phone who cut him off. The wreck blocked the main entrance to SFO, causing pilots and passengers to miss their flights. What were the consequenses of all those missed flights? How many people missed out on job interviews? How many business deals failed to get done? And the people who missed weddings, funerals, or a husband trying to fix his marriage...and the consequences of all those events on other people, all spiraling out in an endless array, like dropping a heavy stone on a still lake. All because someone decided to make a phone call at that exact moment in time.
Timing and circumstance, every single day. The beer I ordered today, I asked for a Sierra Nevada. After the waitress took the order she came back again and said, "oh did you want that in a 16 or 20 ounce draft?" 'oh 16 ounce please'... "okay, you got it.." And when she turned, she ran right in to a customer, knocking an empty bottle on her tray to the floor. "Whoa!" everyone yelled. Clearly embarrassed, both the customer and waitress apologized, and a busboy swept up the glass.
That's when it all occurred to me, if I had ordered a glass of wine instead, she would never have turned around to ask me what size, and the customer would have passed and no collision would have happened. Maybe that one collision was the last straw for that waitress, now she will quit her job and go back to school to become a nurse...probably not, but you never know...all because I ordered a beer instead of wine. All of these life-altering permutations. How many occurances like this, big or small, happen every single day, to everyone? And how big do we know they will be in the long run?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Old Ball Game

I've always been a baseball fan, I played in little league and in high school, the movie "Field of Dreams" still chokes me up at the end...
"oh yes, they'll come, Ray!..."
I went to my first game when I was 5 years old, the Giants vs. St. Louis at Candlestick Park. My mom and her friend took me along. I don't remember every detail, but it was a weekday game, and my mom's bowling league friend Jo Crane drove in the T-Bird that she owned at the time, but would later sell to my parents.
Candlestick was an open end stadium at the time, and it was cold and windy, but the crowd was enthusiastic because the Giants were in the World Series the season before, but they lost to the Yankees in Game 7. My mom was a huge Giants fan, and still is!
I remember bouncing on her knee when the stadium organist would play the 'mexican hat dance'
"oh look! see Danny? there's Willie Mays!"
Well the Giants lost that day, because all I remember Jo Crane saying on the way home was, "wellll, you can't win 'em all..."

Fast forward to 1968 when a new team moved to Oakland, from Kansas City...the Oakland A's!
Living in San Jose at the time, the Oakland Coliseum was much closer so we went to some of those games, and then the A's got good...they won three World Series in a row and by god they became my heroes when I was growing up! I was in junior high and what better time to choose and assign heroes when you're that age...I chose the Oakland A's.
And I've been a fan ever since. Though not as much 'heroes' now, but simply a fan.
It's hard to explain being a "fan" derives from the word 'fanatic' which makes sense in some cases, but for me it represents a kind of continuity, or an institution in which you can remain loyal. Year after year...but it's a safe kind of loyalty, where the only betrayal is losing a game...when there will always be tomorrow's game. (other kinds of betrayals notwithstanding, like the 1919 White Sox, steroids, etc...)

But I'm a casual fan, certainly not one of those intense fans who dress up in gaudy outfits for every game, or decorate their homes with shrines to their ballclub. I remember meeting one fan like that, Marge Wallace, but she was an eccentric, bless her heart...

From about 1983 to 1993, I lived in the East Bay, very close to the Oakland Coliseum, therefore, I went to tons of A's games, sometimes up to 40 games a season, and I would mostly sit in the bleachers back then, usually in the same spot, this was back when they were 'real' bleachers made out of wood...and season after season, I recognized the same people who would come too, and sit in their regular spots....a father who brought his young 3 year old daughter, she would sit on his shoulders until she got tired and would take a nap...a young family and their blue ice chest full of the tastiest looking sandwiches and treats, you could tell she had prepared them all morning...the group of college aged yahoos who sat down near the fence, the ringleader was a blond girl always in her bikini top, reveling in the attention...and sure enough, when the A's were in the playoffs, the camera's zoomed in on her on national TV...
There was also one guy who intrigued me...a solitary black man who looked 'hard' and sullen, but he would be there every weekend. I always wondered what his personal story was, you can't help but wonder about anyone's personal story, especially in an environment that is ideal for people-watching...One day between innings, the PA was blasting "Soul Man" by the Blues Brothers, and these two kids started dancing in the aisle, they were good! One kid was doing Michael Jackson moves and the other looked like Opie Taylor but he was holding his own...they were entertaining the entire section and as they all laughed and clapped, I glanced over at the sullen black guy, he was grinning for the first time...and I grinned with him...
Such are the many scenes of going to games...not just on the field, but in the crowd...I'm still thrilled to have seen Nolan Ryan pitch his no-hitter, I saw guys like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax...I saw that guy's little girl in the bleachers grow up to be a teen...year after year there in the bleachers...
"People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come." - Field of Dreams

Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite

This evening I heard the news of the death of Walter Cronkite, and like any famous person's passing, there was the immediate, 'oh wow'...but unlike other recent passings, such as Michael Jackson, surely an event in itself...this one has seemed to sink in deeper and deeper.
With each CNN tribute I watch, I come to realize that Cronkite was not just a TV news anchor, but an institution, a living historical landmark. An institution in the sense, that at 92, he was part of a generation that represented America at its zenith, the 'greatest generation', and he was their spokesman. A grandfatherly figure who was unbiased, neither conservative nor liberal...only fair, and honest...and quintessentially American.
When I was little, my parents always watched the evening news, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, and of course Walter Cronkite...I would sit with my mom, she'd be riveted to the news, I would say something and she'd give me a curt nod as if to say, "yes yes, just hush, I'm watching the news..."
I have a vague recollection of the JFK assasination, Cronkite kept taking his glasses off and putting them back on as he reported...seeing that again years later, you could tell he was clearly distraught, but his demeanor was steady and with a certain dignity.
His call sign was, "and that's the way it is..." And, like a true journalist he called it like he saw it. In 1968, he said Vietnam was a quagmire of a war, and the American people saw it too...
It was later, July 20, 1969 to be exact...which just so happens to be 40 years ago this Monday! that Apollo 11 landed men on the Moon, perhaps the biggest engineering achievement ever accomplished by mankind...maybe that's what makes this so poignant, because I never saw such a sense of pride in Walter Cronkite reporting it then...I look back at the time when he was in the booth, a time when America had the capability to send men to the moon, fight a war with 500,000 men overseas year after year, build cars with V8 engines when the speed limit was 70, it all seems a world away now.
Walter represented for me that old school, and when the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon, not only was he proud to be an American, he was proud of the Human Race, and so was I...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Come Fly With Me!

Down here in the hot Central Valley, I've noticed a certain phenomenon, Vapor Trails! ...commercial jets that fly back and forth, to and fro, north, south, east and west...they are all over the sky! Also military jets from nearby Lemoore Naval Air Station. It's funny how I've become such a sky watcher lately...maybe because not much happens down around here on the ground as in the sky, and it IS interesting to watch! It's 'planespotting'....
Because of the hot air down here, there seems to be a constant inversion layer of cold freezing air up above 30,000 feet, so when planes fly through it, the CO2 from their jet exhaust immediately freezes upon hitting the atmosphere, literally leaving a trail of ice...their vapor trails
Then they dissipate into basically clouds.
On some days, it's amazing to watch as many as 4 or 5 planes at any given time. Mostly they fly north/south, on the SF to LA corridor, one of the most busy air traffic corridors in the world, and I have a 'front row seat' from the ground anyway...
Other flights are in a southeasterly direction, the ones right overhead are probably bound for Las Vegas or Phoenix.
I have a dear friend Shawn who flies to Dallas, and I say, "I'll watch for you!" and indeed, her plane's trajectory takes her over Yosemite, and I swear I've seen her vapor trail...and I wave...
I should wave at all of them, because in each of those vapor trails, there's a plane that's carrying 100 to 300 souls on board, each with their own story. Not just the story of where they're going, but an entire life story, part of which is why they are on that plane at that moment.
Many fly on business, of course, some are off on a fun vacation, some may be flying to a funeral...or a wedding...each passenger's story is different. And they're all up there, in a vapor trail...
I'll never forget being at the Oakland Airport in 1987, my friend Mike was getting married, and me and Rory were flying down for the wedding, we were all college friends.
So we were at the bar and Rory said, "hey, look over there!"
A couple was arguing, a woman was holding a 2 year old kid and her husband (or boyfriend) were in a heated discussion. We couldn't hear anything because of the glass walls that surround the bar at the oakland airport...but we was obvious the couple was separating and the woman was leaving with the kid, and the man was arguing, pleading...begging! that they not go...passersby would stare and they retreated to a less visible place as they continued their debate/argument...Rory and I watched as if riveted to a soap opera.

Soon all three were crying, then the man wanted to hug his son for the last time, and as he did, the look on his face was heartbreaking...loss, regret, mostly grief...the wife was crying too, it was obvious this was not something she would have wanted.
As they left, the argument became heated again, and they were shouting at each other, pointing fingers, as security guys approached she just left for gate, and the man stood and watched them leave, the look on his face... just despair.
We watched this whole thing speechless, then Rory said, "Jeeezus, that's a bummer!"
and I felt sorry for those folks, she was getting on her plane, a vapor trail to who knows where...

That was just one plane, but there's a ton of other flights that carry more joyful passengers, like the flight I would take to Phoenix every March, during Spring Training in Arizona...nearly every passenger in line wore a baseball cap, whether it be Giants, A's, Angels, Cubs, Padres, Dodgers, it's almost like a party plane, where fans swap stories of baseball as long as the drink coupons they can use on a 90 minute flight hold out...I loved those flights, ours was a vapor trail of fun...

And then there's the long distance flights, the vapor trails that cross over oceans and continents, the ones that bring us to foreign shores and vice versa...
Those occur each day, and no one can forget the disaster of 9/11...the audacity of such a terrorist attack will never be forgotten...
In that sense, I'll never forget the flight from SFO to London, on British Airways in 1982...I had just graduated from college and was on my way to Europe for an extended vacation/tour/life hair was long at the time and I had a certain 'swarthy' appearance.
In the long 11 hour flight I got up to go to the I returned to my seat in the darkness, a steward stepped right in front of me, blocking my way "Where do you wish to go, sir?"
I immediately understood...the British are good about being on the lookout for terrorists...the IRA and all that, and probably, to their eyes, I Looked like one of those damn arab terrorists!

So in my best American News Anchor accent, I said, "oh, sorry I'm seated at row 22, Seat number 4"
"ah! this way sir."

And all of that happened when we were vapor trails in the air...don't get me started on the flight from Tulsa, when I was sandwiched in the middle seat...
I look up and I can't wait to leave a vapor trail again...and I will...
All of us, just vapor trails in the air, anyone at any time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Quiet Energy

There's a certain energy that everyone has, and now I believe for certain, there's a spark of 'life' energy that every living thing on Earth has, however that may be defined....even if it's merely defined as just being alive, the energy is there...and I felt it, in a very quiet but profound way last Monday...
My mom and I took a shuttle bus to Sequoia National Park, they encourage the use of these shuttle busses now, to minimize the smog and congestion that an endless stream of cars brings on just a two-lane road. When we got up there I was stunned...I remember coming up to the Sequoia groves as a kid, 'oh yeah, big trees, whatever'....

We went up to Moro Rock, "oooh I wanna climb it!" I felt like a kid again, since I hadn't been up there since 1968!
"okay, I'll wait for you here" my mom said, since she was in no mood to climb the 600 feet of granite staircase...but up I went, and almost as in an internal videotape, I remembered each step to the summit, but this time I was acutely aware of the dizzying drops to each side on the trail, but I told myself, "well, you haven't done anything this bold in a while, have you?"
After that we caught the shuttle to the Giant Forest, and the General Sherman Tree...
This time, whether it was from a certain wisdom that comes with age, I don't know....I was Awestruck!
Being among the Giant Sequoias is just as awesome as being in any cathedral that I had ever been in! Chartres, Notre Dame, forget about it!....Nothing ever built by Man can compare to the majesty of these trees. And they only exist in one place on the Earth, in small groves here in California.
I had forgotten how big and old these trees really were... A ranger/tour guide said, "This is the General Sherman Tree, it was a young sapling, about 30 feet tall when Jesus walked the Earth." And then while walking among them, I felt their sentient presence in their peaceful and silent groves, with all the history of wars won and lost, as humans have run to and fro over the ages.... here they still stand, with a certain powerful energy of their own, a life force only from which something that OLD can have...and I felt peaceful in their presence, as if they were smiling down in their old age and wisdom.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Night Sky

I've been wanting to post something like this for years, and the night sky down here compels me to do it, because it's so vivid...well on clear nights anyway. The nights here are sometimes extremely clear, and you can literally see a million stars, the Milky Way, shooting stars, and sometimes satellites move across at a steady pace. I always had a passing interest in astronomy, but some nights lately I find myself laying on the lawn and just looking up at the universe, and noticing the passing phases of the moon, and the planets, Mars is the red star in the south, Venus is the bright star at dusk, and a host of other observations that I don't recognize and best left to the serious astronomers...After reading the book 'Sarum', which is a book about the history of England, it describes the building of ancient mystery, built about five thousand years ago, by Neolithic people, neolithic meaning, new stone age!...but they must have known what they were doing, because the stones mark the sun's rise on June 21, the longest day of the year, by a distant stone whose shadow goes right through the center of stonehenge at sunrise, only on June 21...and this was five thousand years ago. How would ancient people know how to build such a thing?
And then I realized, of course they knew! how couldn't they? They had the stars at night, and the sun, and the moon...
Humans go back for thousands of years, as hunter-gatherers, the start of agriculture led to towns, towns led to cities and civilization...some say that Stonehenge was an agricultural tool, well, maybe so...but the manpower to build such a monolith way back then would require an organized effort...a society.
Way back then, I know there were smart smart as Einstien, Newton, Galileo, etc... but what they didn't have were clocks, computers, televisions...nothing to mark time. They only had the sky.... the stars, sun, and moon which rises and falls in their own eternal rhythm, that was their clock! and not just at Stonehenge, the Mayas did the same thing.
Some say that 'ancient astronauts' helped them....Aliens...the precise engineering at Maya Palenque and other sites around the world, the Plains of Nazca for example...
I am of two minds...One, there has been thousands of years of human history on this earth, and history tends to become buried if you weren't part of an empire that would record it...and Two, let's just say that what Neil Armstrong said was true, "Santa Claus Exists"....meaning he saw a's a game changer...a myth, who knows? I don't...all I know is, the stars up there maintain a clockwork that will never change...