Saturday, November 22, 2008

2008 San Miguel Rockhound Tailgater

Today was Santa Lucia Rockhounds member Cliff Bowen's tailgater in San Miguel which seems to just get bigger and better every year.
This year was my second time doing it and it was a rousing success for me personally.
I showed up earlier than last year when I learned I had missed a pretty good surge of visitors earlier in the morning after I showed up to set up. This year I showed up earlier but there was no such surge. In fact, there was no one big surge but a steady stream of visitors kept me reasonably busy the entire six hours or so I was there.

My booth, pictured above and below, was the largest set-up but hardly the only one as we had both some returning dealers as well as at least one new one in the persons of Santa Lucia Rockhounds President Gene Bilyeu and his lovely wife Barbara who is also a club officer.
This was the Bilyeu's first foray into being INSIDE the sales booth as opposed to OUTSIDE and they seemed to enjoy it and have reasonable success.

A lady I had never met before showed up part-way into the day and wanted to know if I wanted to purchase any of her jewelry. Some years ago she said she started to get into selling jewelry at shows but got out of it due to health issues.
On this day she was on her way back from selling what she could to a jeweler in San Luis Obispo.
She heard mention of this event on the radio or saw a flier and dropped by to sell what she could to dealers present at this tailgater.
I told her I wasn't interested in what she had but that she was welcome to use my small back table to sell her stuff herself to the visitors at this tailgater.
She gratefully accepted my offer and proceeded to do land office business.
On the inside I was a bit bummed at all the business she was doing while I seemed to get ignored by everybody.
That was until she started spending most of the money she was making at my booth purchasing items from me and the rest over at the Bilyeu's booth.
That was a classic example of good karma at work. ;-p

My hope (and Cliff's as well) is that this event becomes bigger and bigger and develops into an important regional rockhound tailgate event.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool XIII

We're Out of Our Misery (Well, Sorta)

Isn't it nice that the election is over and all the political advertising and grandstanding and posturing and jabbering is finished other than the Prop. 8 losers whining and clogging streets in L.A. at Rush Hour?

It appears the gay community is given a free pass when it comes to throwing a collective public hissy-fit when they don't get their way.

If this were a case of Evangelicals having lost the same contest and they pulled this stunt there would be howls of outrage and talk of "intolerance" and "sour grapes" and they'd be told to "get over it".

Obama is Different How Now?

For those of you who are missing it, Obama is turning out to be just another politician like any other: run on the fringe to win the primary, run closer to the middle to win the general election, and then govern from the dead center like Bubba and Dubya done.

Yep, folks, both of them really were rather centrist, for better and worse.

Want to argue that with me? Don't make me go down the list of similarities between the two that also happen to be pretty much middle-of-the-road, now, ya here?!

Of course, Obama, is now looking to pull Hillary into his cabinet not to mention a whole host of other Clintonites like Rahm Emanuel while making overtures to McCain.

Myself, I like seeing it and feel it is honorable and commendable and indeed his only option.

However, it isn't change as it is the same "more of the same" that Obama campaigned against when he accused McCain of being "four more years of Bush."

How is it his only option, you ask?

From where else is he going to get the talent he needs that is Left-of-Center?

To be a successful President he must look within the talent pool of the Democratic Party which is dominated by Clinton People.

An analogy would be comparing the occupation of Germany in 1945 with the occupation of Iraq in 2003.

In the former case we necessarily utilized the services of former Nazi Party members as the only qualified civil servants around to manage the nation had been members of the party as that was required to be a civil servant under the Reich.

In contrast, in the latter case we refused to utilize former Baathists and that cost us dearly as they were the ones running the country before we showed up and thus were the only ones around qualified to do so after the Baathists were deposed, but in our stubborn principle we iced them out of civil service jobs and the military initially and paid dearly for it.

Obama is doing the only competent thing he can do, but that flies in the face of his campaign rhetoric which makes him just like any other politician and expect more such occurrences.

I Gotses Jury Duty

Oh joy! I've been called in for jury duty and for a gangland murder trial no less.

Some Mexican gang (Nipomo 13) member got himself whacked by another member of his own gang back in late 2006.

No honor among thieves (nor gang members), eh?

Apparently, most of the cast of characters in this trial are going to be gang members or associates.

I've got an idear that will save the Treasury a lot of money and make society a whole lot safer: execute the entire gang ASAP and be done with it!

Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out!

Sounds draconian I realize but what we're doing now as a society is failing miserably in case any of you haven't noticed.

It would be presumptuous of me to post all this here if I were actually serving on this jury.

However, I'm 99.9% certain they will boot me out of this jury pool due to multiple factors.

First, my connection to one of the D.A. investigators (went to school with him and played football for Larry Welsh with him. Also, his girlfriend at the time lived up the street from where I live now and I have met her father).

Second, back when I was in high school the D.A. investigator's dad represented Carl Webber, the man who was injured in the same freak accident that killed my father in his lawsuit against us for injuries in sustained in the accident. Needless to say, we were not amused although I never told the son as I didn't want him to feel awkward and bad about something his dad had done.

Thirdly, my connection to the judge's son with whom I also went to school and played football.

Add to all this my whack 'em and stack 'em attitude about gang members and I feel I have a snowball's chance in hell of making it on that jury although doing so would be interesting.

If I do get selected to serve on this jury it will not be as much a hardship as I would have imagined as it will run from 1:30 PM to 5 PM Monday through Thursday and Fridays 8 AM to 5 PM so I will be able to do my Ebay stuff and do a couple of local shows during the time of the trial worse comes to worse although I will have to go to Plan B for my Thanksgiving.

Oh, and they will pay me $15 a day which for a trial slated to last into next month and maybe the month after that would add up over time.

I'll keep ya'll posted on this.

That Ranch Hand Thang Didn't Work Out

As some of you may recall here I got a job back in September as a hand on an alpaca ranch east of Templeton, CA.

Well that lasted less than a week due to the Sherrill's and I not having good chemistry as they annoyed me and I rubbed them the wrong way.

I won't go into detail here as they are members of the community and I don't wish to slam them in public, but needless to say it was a great relief being let go as I was miserable working for them. In spite of that I enjoyed learning how to operate a John Deer tractor.


Monday, November 17, 2008

K&K Earthwerks New Ebay Offerings

We welcome everybody to check out the K&K Earthwerks Ebay Store as we have made some notable additions to our growing inventory.

Most notable of all is the rather large Sikhote-Alin meteorite we purchased from David and Becky Richter of Rocks & Relics back in 2004.

The price given is not unreasonable but we will seriously consider any serious offers for less.

We have also listed a large selection of Cave-In-Rock Illinois fluorites in all shapes sizes, and colors, as well as Arizona Petrified Wood and other miscellaneous specimens including some pieces from Dale Harwood.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Californiadisasters Calamity Coverage

Californiadisasters did it again!

We gave you live, up-to-date coverage of the recent spate of wildfires that afflicted Southern California from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles to Orange to Riverside to even a wee bit of San Bernardino Counties.

Those of you who are already members of this nearly 1100-member Yahoo Group already know this but we invite the rest of you reading this to visit our home page right here and from there you can join if you wish.

I am very proud of how the group functioned during this time of disaster in Southern California.
I thank all the members for their contributions and even the lurkers did their part in not cluttering the group with unnecessary chatter.

We highly suggest that join even if you don't wish to follow the group on a day-to-day basis as you can set your membership to not receive email messages accept for emergency notices we can send out such as in the case of a tsunami warning for the California Coast or a notice of a volcanic eruption in the Southern Cascade Range or a major earthquake in California my might not have felt due to your distance from it.
Furthermore, you can always set your membership to receive all messages just during major incidents like this past weekend to keep abreast of events when something interesting is going on and then set it back once things return to normal which in California is the period between major disasters.
If you prefer no activity in your email inbox ever you can simply visit the group homepage and read the messages off of there no matter what is going on or not going on.



Friday, November 14, 2008

My Santa Ana Wind Walk

Today we here in San Luis Obispo County on the Central Coast of California experienced an unusually intense Santa Ana Wind event following last night's Sundowner Wind-driven Tea Fire in Montecito and Santa Barbara that has hurt people and destroyed a lot of homes.

Earlier in the day the 60-acre wind-driven El Cerritos Fire started by a powerline on the eastern margin of the City of San Luis Obispo (SLO) forced evacuations for a time this morning.

It wasn't worth driving down to see while it was going on as it didn't last long and was more smokey than firey as it was mostly burning on rocky grass-covered hillsides, but coupled with the intensifying winds here in the North County that I knew were warmer and stronger on the south side of the Santa Lucia Mountains due to compressional heating I wanted to experience that plus see the aftermath of the fire.

Therefore, I decided to drive over the Cuesta Grade and down to SLO to experience the winds and see the fire.

I took mom with me as well as my little dog Tequila and decided to take a walk at Laguna Lake Park in SLO.

The winds had been going pretty good all day here on the north side of the grade but were slightly cool albeit much warmer than you'd expect winds to be in mid-November around here.

However, once we hit the area around the Cuesta Pass and Cuesta Summit (elevation 1,522 feet) the winds were howling through there headed over the grade to the south due to the Venturi Effect.

As we descended down the grade southbound on Highway 101 it became noticeably warmer throughout the descent.

By the time we arrived in SLO it was downright hot, but we saw no sign of this morning's brush fire which was clearly out.

The winds were extremely strong in SLO which combined with the unseasonable temperatures made for the sort of day one wants to get out and exercise and many folks seemed to have the same thing in mind as the park was very busy with activity.

The views of the surrounding landscape and geography were splendid with Bishop Peak, one of the Nine Sisters, looking unusually beautiful.

I decided to take my camera long and shot some images to share with you.

Although I can't capture in a photo the feel and sound of the wind or the warmth and dryness of the air, I can still give you some sense of how it was through these photographs.

Trailhead at the back of the park (Tequila at bottom left).

The wind roared through these eucalyptus trees.

The sky was incredibly clear in spite of the dust from the wind.

Santa Ana Winds raked these Eucalyptus trees.

This haze was actually an intense glare over the Irish Hills.

Beautiful Bishop Peak

Looking south back towards Laguna Lake Park.

The winds made a loud rushing noise passing through these reeds.

Winds raked the trees and the water's surface.

The winds upon the surface of Laguna Lake.

Bishop Peak, Chumash Peak, and Cerro Romauldo.

When we were done walking (which came out to about a mile and a quarter we think) we drove across the street to the shopping center and mom got a couple of things at Gottschalks department store.

We did get a chance to check out this morning's fire from a distance as we drove home along Highway 101 and it was clearly out with a couple of red CALFIRE engines visible at different locations on the charred mountainside.

We were all fortunate that no other fires started in the area during this weather event unlike Montecito last night and Sylmar tonight which is burning.

Driving back over the Cuesta Grade on the way home we experienced the reverse of our drive south as it got cooler and cooler the higher we climbed up the grade and the winds howled the most through the Cuesta Pass and over Cuesta Summit which gave us quite a headwind.

Back in the North County, it was noticeably cooler although nonetheless unseasonably warm and certainly a bit less windy.

Mom and I both agreed that was well worth the time and fuel we spent down there.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great Southern California ShakeOut

This morning at 10:00 A.M. Southern California conducted the Great Southern California ShakeOut, a massive earthquake drill that involved both government and the scientific community and the general public that is the largest such drill ever undertaken. 

The drill scenario involved a 186-mile rupture of the San Andreas Fault Zone (SAFZ) from the Salton Sea in eastern Riverside County to Lake Hughes in northern Los Angeles County which generated a Magnitude 7.8 earthquake which ultimately kills 2,000 people, injures 50,000 others, and causes in excess of $200 billion.  

For my part I am always as ready for a major earthquake as I reasonably can be and I recently went through my supplies to update them. 

The most interesting part of this drill this morning to me was listening to a couple of online scanner feeds over which I was able to listen to the fictitious damage and casualty reports on the fire department radio channels. 

The folks on the radio did an incredible job of creating the feeling and reality of the immediate aftermath of a major earthquake.

Time and again there were references to well-known landmarks that were adversely affected from transportation infrastructure to schools to dwelling units  to commercial structures to even fire stations and the like as well as major fires, fuel leaks, and HazMat situations. 

They even had a scenario of a major bluff-top collapse at Portuguese Bend on the Palos Verdes Peninsula

I certainly hope this drill helped even a little bit in bestirring a complacent populace to even a little bit of action in becoming better prepared for this event when it actually does happen because it really will happen one day just as it really did happen the last time sometime in the 17th Century. 

Today's scenario involves part of the SAFZ which ruptured in that quake as well as part of the SAFZ which ruptured in the Fort Tejon Quake of 1857 which ran from Central California into Southern California. 

With that I ask you: Are you prepared?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Atascadero's "Faces of Freedom" Veterans Memorial

This past Saturday, Atascadero dedicated its new "Faces of Freedom" Veteran's Memorial adjacent to and between Atascadero Lake Park and Morro Road/Highway 41 and at the corner of Portola Ave. and Morro Road.

Apparently, they put on quite a show which I missed due to my being at the Lancaster Show that day.

However,  today,I had the honor of visiting the new veteran's memorial on Veteran's Day which was meant more to me anyway and, besides, I don't relish being in large crowds and a large crowd it was at the dedication ceremony last Saturday. 

It was touching seeing uniformed soldiers there as well as talking to one Veteran who served starting out in the U.S. Army in the early 1980's and served all the way through to Iraq where he served two tours. 

I was also glad to see so many people randomly visiting the new site which is one of the few things this stupid town has done right during the entire time I've lived here (1982-2008). 

This new Atascadero Veteran's Memorial is a work of beauty that I'm proud my community created despite a surprising amount of opposition to it coming from some quarters which should come as no surprise given this is Atascadero. 

The artwork on the metal sculpture was incredible in its detail and quality and was created by nationally-recognized Atascadero resident Mark Greenaway

Sunday, November 2, 2008

15th Anniversary of Old Topanga Fire

Fifteen years ago late this morning an arsonist touched off one of the most famous fires in Southern California fire history, to wit, the Old Topanga Fire which driven by strong Santa Ana Winds pushed a small arsonist's fire all the way over the Santa Monica Mountains and down to the Big Fire Break, to wit, the Pacific Ocean, even burning property on the ocean-side of Pacific Coast Highway.
This firestorm pushed by winds gusting near 50 miles per hour scorched over 16,000 acres and destroyed 355 homes and killed three civilians, including Hollywood director Duncan Gibbins.
Gibbins directed such movies as "Fire With Fire" and "Eve of Destruction" and wrote the screenplay for the made-for-television movie "Third Degree Burn".
Needless to say, there is plenty of irony in the titles of those works.

This disaster was heavily-covered live by numerous LA media market stations to which CNN which at that time had little competition in the 24 hour cable news business often carried the live coverage by the local stations, to wit, KTLA-TV, KCAL-TV, and KTTV-TV.

KTLA-TV's Jennifer York working from KTLA's Skycam-5 news chopper won an Emmy for her incredible work reporting this fire.
I hasten to mention she earned the award having to babysit the late Hal Fischmann.
Hal was having a conniption which manifested itself by his regularly calling various weather observation stations around the Southland to get the latest wind speeds and directions and suggest the Santa Anas were abaiting even as the live video feed on the television showed a firestorm underway or bossily ordering York around as to where to go and what to look at and what was happening to which she handled the entire situation with grace and professionalism.

On Day Two of this fire the winds reversed and came in off the ocean but were still warm and dry as the air mass that had moved offshore the previous day had pooled up and simply turned back around the next day and moved back over the LA Basin having picked up little moisture from the ocean and having lost less heat then might be imagined.
This reverse Santa Ana Wind caused a lot of problems in Tuna Canyon where homes were lost.

The person responsible for starting this fire has yet to be caught but given this is a murder case there is no statute of limitations.

Some years later a couple of young men were falsely accused of being responsible for causing it as they were photographed near the origin early on in the incident using a firehose plugged into a hydrant.
One was currently then a firefighter and the other was trying to become one.
Given they had no alibi and given how often such cases turn out to be caused by firefighters trying to be seen as heroes these two young men were crucified in the public arena by the investigators and prosecutors alike.
The two friends claimed they just happened to be in the area and tried to help out and another man also happened by the scene who loaned them the hose to fight the fire.
That story seemed too implausible to investigators, but it was indeed confirmed when the workman who loaned them the hose heard about the controversy from where he was in Canada and corroborated their story.

During the Winter of 1995, particularly in January and March, there were serious floods and slides in the Malibu area as El Nino-fueled storms dumped epic rains on the Santa Monica Mountains which drained off the areas burned in this fire.

There would be another serious fire in this area on October 21, 1996, known as the Las Virgines Fire that would begin along US101 due to a downed powerline and driven by Santa Ana Winds would burn to the ocean but due to partly burning in the Old Topanga Burn Area and partly due to burning in a generally less-heavily vegetated area combined with better preparation by homeowners and firefighters alike would burn less than 14,000 acres and only six homes.

I helplessly watched both of these Malibu fires from my home in Atascadero back at a time when my local cable television provider actually provided KTLA-TV, KCAL-TV, and KTTV-TV 24/7 without block-out hours to protect local programmers up here or in the case of KTTV-TV, when I could still get it at all. Unfortunately, now a sucky local Fox affiliate has come into being this decade and I get none of the KTTV-TV coverage and KTLA-TV and KCAL-TV are often blocked out much of the day so I miss out when something in the LA Area is being given live wall-to-wall coverage like during the firestorms of 2003 and 2007 or even just last month.

A pretty cool time lapse of the Old Topanga Fire can be viewed here.

A really good video of this fire was done by Alan Simmons and can purchased here.