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[sticky post] Meet the family!

Mar. 10th, 2012 | 01:11 am

Before we begin, some introductions are in order.


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The Coach

Feb. 11th, 2017 | 07:45 pm

Greatest man I ever knew.

Sixty years ago – in 1957 – my dad began his brief but highly successful career coaching youth baseball. Although I have many pictures of Dad standing alongside his boys in team photos, this is the only solo one I have of him from his coaching days (from his last year, 1964, when he was manager of the Covina Post 790 American Legion ballclub). It's a great portrait, too; probably the best close-up of him that I have.

Anyway, this past week, I scanned this tiny print and made an enlargement of it at one of those self-serve photo kiosks, and the result was definitely suitable for framing. So now it hangs in my family shrine in my living room, next to his trophy for the West Covina American All-Stars' third place finish in the California State Little League Championship Tournament in 1957. (More on that later this summer!)


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18 U.S.C. §241

Feb. 6th, 2017 | 03:53 pm

I said before that I should have been a lawyer. ;) I did a bit of legal research over the weekend, and I'd like to share some interesting findings with you.

You know, I can't recall ever posting on a political subject here, but as an old-school liberal who has staunchly supported personal liberty and freedom of expression all my adult life, I must say I was shocked and frankly appalled by the actions of the anti-free-speech demonstrators at U.C. Berkeley, who, last Wednesday, by means of concerted, collective intimidation, prevented gay conservative satirist Milo Yiannopoulos from exercising his right to freely express his opinions under protection of the First Amendment.

What I've learned is, the protesters' aggressive and riotous behavior violated a specific Federal civil rights law: a seldom-invoked statute which, rather ironically, was originally enacted in response to numerous notorious acts of conspiratorial violence perpetrated against blacks by the Ku Klux Klan.

On June 25, 1948, Congress passed and President Harry S. Truman signed into law Title 18, United States Code, §241: "Conspiracy Against Rights" a/k/a "The Civil Rights Conspiracy Statute."

To wit (with my emphasis added): "If two or more persons conspire to injure, OPPRESS, THREATEN, or INTIMIDATE ANY PERSON in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of ANY right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same–

They shall be FINED under this title OR IMPRISONED not more than ten years, or both; and IF DEATH RESULTS from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, OR AN ATTEMPT TO KILL, they shall be fined under this title or IMPRISONED FOR ANY TERM OF YEARS or FOR LIFE, or both, or may be SENTENCED TO DEATH."

Subsequent amendments altered some of the original language in the statute, but the substance and intent of the law itself remain unchanged, and in my opinion, 18 U.S.C. §241 is fully applicable to the intimidation tactics currently being employed by the Hard Left to suppress dissident political speech.

Finally, let me say this from my heart. The Berkeley Anti-Free-Speech riots totally crossed my personal "red line." That was the absolute last straw for me. It is crystal clear to me now who the REAL perpetrators of hate and enemies of free speech are in our country today, and it is my fervent hope that the new Attorney General of the United States will use 18 U.S.C. §241 and other civil rights statutes to prosecute any and all organized political thuggery (INCLUDING internet threat-making) to the fullest extent of the law.

The KKK Night Riders of yesteryear wore white hoods to hide their identities. Today's Antifas wear black hoodies, balaclavas and bandanas. Despite the superficial differences in their disguises, however, I see no difference whatsoever in the aims or tactics of both groups: to intimidate, silence and deny fundamental civil rights to people whom they hate, and desire to oppress.



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A friend's advice

Jan. 17th, 2017 | 02:48 pm

I really should have been a lawyer. I could have been, too, if I'd just taken the advice of an old college friend, 42 years ago.

One day, when we were both juniors at UC San Diego, an ex-roommate and I were walking from a biology lecture in the Humanities Building on the Revelle campus to a psychology class over at Muir College.

We'd just gotten our grades on the latest Genetics midterm. I got a C, but Jim got another D. That was hard to take for someone with a genius-level intellect, and Jim had had enough. We were crossing Revelle Plaza when he said something I've never forgotten.

"Fuck Genetics! Fuck biology! I'm changing my major to psych and going into pre-law. I want to go to Boalt Hall." (U.C. Berkeley School of Law)

I don't think I said anything in reply. I was too stunned by the suddenness of his announcement.

"You should go into law, too, Scott. You've got the mind for it."

"Nah, I don't think so."

"Why not?"

"I can't talk. I mean I can't talk in front of people. There's no way I could stand up in a courtroom and argue a case in front of a judge and jury. No way in the world."

"Fuck that 'Perry Mason' bullshit! You don't have to be a trial attorney. There are lawyers that never see the inside of a courtroom. You like doing literature searches, don't you?"

"'Love' is more like it."

"Yeah, well, then you could be a research lawyer. They get paid a hundred bucks an hour just to do case work in law libraries, looking up legal precedents and stuff like that. That'd be easy money for someone like you."

"Yeah, I guess. I dunno. I really want to study animal behavior. I want to work with animals."

"How are you going to make money doing that?"

I can't remember my answer; probably because I didn't have one.


Jim did go on to get his law degree at Boalt Hall. After he passed the bar exam, he went back to his home town of Brawley and specialized in agricultural law, where he's still in practice today. In the years since, every chance he could, he bought stocks and rental properties. His net worth now is probably in the tens of millions of dollars.

Me, I never did figure out a way to make money studying animal behavior.

Believe me, not a day goes by that I don't think about Jim's advice from all those years ago, and how my life could have been vastly more remunerative and comfortable than it turned out to be. They say the worst regrets we have aren't about things we did in the past, but the things we didn't do. I know firsthand how very true that is.


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Oct. 18th, 2016 | 05:15 am

On the first of this month, I managed to fall in my front yard and crack one of my ribs. It's only the second bone I've broken in my whole lifetime, and just like the first one, what caused it was a split-second moment of misjudging the position of one of my limbs in 3-dimensional space, a misapplication of muscle force to correct that misjudgment, and the gravitational pull of the Earth. In other words, clumsiness. Just plain, stupid clumsiness.

Consequently, I haven't felt like doing much for the last 2-1/2 weeks; at least nothing that requires the use of my upper body. Even breathing is painful. And sneezing, coughing, or hiccuping – OMG, it feels like I'm being stabbed in the chest with a knife.

So, trying to avoid exerting myself, I've been staying at home most of the time. In fact, my car's been in my garage since last Wednesday at 0930, so this morning will mark the beginning of my 7th day in a row that I haven't left home, or spoken with another human being.

I may not go into town today, either, since I have enough food in the house, at least for me, but I only have one can of dog food left, so for their sake, restocking before I run out would probably be a good idea. And thank goodness for my dogs. Without them to talk to and interact with, I would surely lose my mind living like this.

The genealogy part.Collapse )

I don't mind, though. It's been a lot of fun thus far. Anyway, I've always been more interested in the past than the future – I guess in large part because I don't have much future left to look forward to. :/


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Feb. 12th, 2016 | 09:55 pm

When I was 6, one late night when everybody else was asleep, I was in the long bathroom that connected my bedroom to my grandmother's. Nana always slept with a nightlight on so she wouldn't trip and fall on something in the dark. Peeing, I glanced through the open door into Nana's room, and I swear I saw a figure of a man pass quickly across the doorway. I was so scared, I ran back to my bed still dribbling and hid under the covers, absolutely frozen stiff with fear until morning.

Fast forward about 10 years. I was in high school, and Nana was still living at home. Again, I was in the bathroom one late night. I saw something out of the corner of my eye, looked over, and saw the image of a very young, thin (and grinning) red-haired man, sitting on the end of my grandmother's bed, right by her feet. I shifted my gaze for a split second, and he was gone. It was just like things vanish in a dream, but I definitely wasn't dreaming. I realized then that the shade of a man I thought I saw in that room when I was little was not just my imagination, after all.

After college, one time when my parents were out of town, I had a friend come stay over the weekend. I put him up in Nana's old room (she'd died some years before). We partied and listened to music into the wee hours, and eventually, we retired for the night. When I woke up, I found Glenn sleeping on the couch in the living room. I asked why.

"I couldn't stay in there," he said. "I woke up and felt like someone was in the room with me. I turned on the light and saw a man in that mirror, but no one was really there."

"Could you tell what color his hair was?"


"Was he maybe smiling?"

His eyes widened. "Yes!"

Then I told Glenn the stories. He was always interested in matters metaphysical, and fascinated by the idea that he might have seen an actual ghost – but apparently not fascinated enough to want to sleep in that bedroom again the next night. ;-)

Funny thing about that tall, almost floor-to-ceiling mirror where Glenn saw what he saw. There was a long, pull-out drawer directly beneath it, and strange things happened to objects that were inside. Scissors and sewing accessories made of steel formed a rust-like coating on the surface that was so fine and so precisely patterned, it looked like red magnetized iron, and it could be blown off with a slight breath, as though it were merely dust. New coins placed in there would quickly tarnish. Fabrics would stiffen and fall to pieces when picked up. An old makeup mirror's plastic handle had gradually decomposed into hundreds of tiny, brittle fragments over the years, and its silvering had turned jet black. Strands of hair in an old hairbrush similarly became brittle, and would actually fracture if touched. Because almost everything in there seemed to decay in some bizarre fashion, I came to call it "The Drawer of Corruption."

Another funny thing about that bedroom. The far corner of it was sometimes distinctly chilly. This could happen even in the middle of the summer. A person could stand five feet away, feeling warm as toast, then take one long stride toward that corner, and the temperature would drop perceptibly in an instant. In later years, my mother made that corner inaccessible by piling a stack of random clutter there, high as a person's head. It came out from the wall just far enough to cross over the invisible boundary where the chill began. Hmmm. Made me wonder if Mom had ever encountered our red-haired man, too.

If there was a ghost in a house, you might expect the people living there would talk to each other about it. But we were a Catholic family, and we weren't supposed to even believe in things like that, let alone make it a topic of discussion. Fact is, in all the years we lived in that house, no one ever brought the subject up - except for me, and only one time.

One day before I left home for good, in the early '80s, I was in the kitchen with my mother and we were talking about paranormal stuff. Mom had visited a psychic recently, and she was venting her disappointment over how totally wrong the lady had been about everything. This seemed like the perfect time to ask her about our supernatural houseguest.

"Mom, have you ever seen our red-haired man?"

Without even making eye contact with me, she muttered a mechanical, monotone reply.

"No one's ever died in this house."

So she knew what I was talking about! And that was all she'd say about it, too, but I knew after that that Mom must have seen him. By her way of thinking, I guessed she had convinced herself that what she'd seen couldn't be a ghost, because hauntings are said only to occur in places where someone has died. I didn't press her for details. I could tell she didn't want to continue the conversation. But it was enough for me to finally have confirmation that I wasn't the only one in the family who had seen Red.

After Mom passed, it came time to sell the house. I was writing up a disclosure list of possible problems with the property to give to the realtor, and I wondered, should I maybe mention our resident ghost? I decided not to. I really didn't want to complicate the sale, and anyway, I never sensed there was anything malevolent about the young red-haired man. That only time I'd seen him distinctly, he appeared to be truly happy. So indeed, the house was haunted, but it was a benign haunting. Never anything we really had cause to be afraid of.

Not long after, I moved all of the furniture out of the house – everything, except that tall mirrored chest of drawers in Nana's old room. I left that exactly where it had always been; all 32 years we lived there. I imagined there was someone behind the looking glass who would probably appreciate being left to rest in peace, alone at home at last. At least until the new owners moved in. :-)


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Dec. 1st, 2015 | 03:17 am

Dad would have been 100 years old this year.

2015 also marks 30 years since he died; thirty years ago this very day, in fact.

It was the worst tragedy of my life, and to this day I've never quite recovered from the loss: the loss of his presence, and the loss of his wisdom and guidance, as well.

I miss you and love you so much, Dad, and I always will...



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My hands

Sep. 29th, 2015 | 02:17 pm

Nursery school, 1958.

Read more...Collapse )


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August 11, 1957

Aug. 11th, 2015 | 03:42 pm

It's one of my earliest memories. Fifty-eight years ago today, I got to watch my very own dad ride a FIRE ENGINE in a PARADE! (That's him at far right.) I think that was probably one of the happiest days of his whole life.

Dad's Little League All-Star team had just won third place in the California State tournament, and the city of West Covina feted the players at the brand new Plaza Shopping Center.

I remember watching the parade from opposite the Thrifty Drug Store. That's my Nana holding me up so I could see. I was one month shy of turning three years old...


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May. 24th, 2015 | 07:33 am

Taken a few minutes ago. Not too bad for someone in their 7th decade of life, if I do say so myself. (Yes, that's still my natural hair color. If you look closely you can see a little gray at my temple. Things are starting to get a little thin on top, too.)

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. Nothing's really changed in my life, so I basically have nothing to write about. My health is great – no physical complaints whatsoever – though I did fall walking Shadow about a month ago and messed up my right elbow enough to send me to the ER. First time I'd been inside a hospital in the 21st century, which I also think is pretty good for someone my age.

Well, there really isn't much else to say, so I guess I'll sign off. 'Til next time, whenever that may be.



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A quarter-century gone

Feb. 8th, 2015 | 02:13 pm

My mother passed away 25 years ago today. This is the first portrait ever made of her. It was taken circa 1919, probably just shy of her second birthday. R.I.P., Mom. It's difficult for me to imagine you've been gone a quarter-century already. Both you and Dad left my life far too soon...

My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Chambers, made silhouette portraits of everyone in her class in school year 1960-'61. Mom liked mine so much that she framed it, and for 30 years, it hung on the wall in my Nana's bedroom.

I can't be certain, of course, but I've always suspected that Mom put my silhouette in the frame that originally held the photo of her as a toddler, and put her own portrait in that ugly, kitschy 1960s wood frame. The dark wooden one certainly looks far more timeworn than the white/gold one, and both frames are almost exactly the same size...

It's also difficult for me to grasp that this silhouette was made 55 years ago. I'm getting old so quickly, it's downright scary.


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Citrus Avenue

Feb. 7th, 2015 | 07:01 am

A continuation of Richard's and my pilgrimage to Covina on September 18, 2014. Here, we are traveling down Citrus Avenue through downtown on our way to have lunch at Bun 'N Burger.


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