Friday, January 30, 2009

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool XV

I'm Back Again Already

This time I didn't take a couple of months to post another one of my obnoxious, self-absorbed, self-important Random Musings columns and I plan to make it a habit of doing at least one of these weekly so be forewarned!

Anywho, this edition of Random Musings is mostly devoted to rockhounding or rock-selling both of which have picked up for me of late.

Ebay Petrified Whale Boneheads

Earlier this week we got in trouble with Ebay for selling PETRIFIED whale bone. Ebay claimed it violated their rules about marine mammal products. They summarily ended two of our offerings of this non-organic/non-bone/non-ivory material, one each on consecutive days until we took down the remaining pieces. That we were not selling organic products from still-viable marine mammals but instead were selling stone casts of bones from creatures that have been extinct for millions of years was of no relavance nor the fact that Ebay does not state in their rules and regs that they make no exception for fossilized marine mammal bones.

Consequently, this means we now have two violations of Ebay Terms of Service despite our zealously following Ebay rules as long as we've been using Ebay.

We have incurred this penalty as a result of a zero-tolerance policy designed to protect modern marine mammals from being exploited for which Ebay's take on fossilized marine mammal bones does nothing to protect.

We don't know if this was an Ebay internal search and destroy which I doubt as why would they do this one piece per day for two consecutive days and not simply upon finding one piece just check our store and see a whole bunch and take them all down?

Although it might have been a competitor that would be potentially hurtful to such a competitor selling the same thing if Ebay were to start cracking down on that material in a more widespread fashion.

My money is on it being some sort of Save The Whales asshole with too much time on their hands and too little brains for their own good out looking for a windmill to tilt in order to perpetuate their own delusion that their wretched and meaningless little life somehow has purpose and they are accomplishing important things and making a difference.

If enough of you express interest in reading our email exchanges with the catch-22-peddling Ebay Trust & Safety Division (reminds me of the Upright Citizens Brigade) as we attempted to navigate the bozone layer that seems to permeate there and futily battle them while employing logic and common sense in an environment where Double Think appears to be the norm then I will indulge you all by posting the thread in its entirity.

We will blog about this in more depth in the days to come.

Rinconada Mine & Trail

On Tuesday I joined my friend Mike for a hike up Rinconada Trail in the Los Padres National Forest between Santa Margarita and Pozo. Before we headed up the mountain I showed him what was left of the mine and to my suprise they had recently plugged the adits and the retort had been marred by grafitti and the gun people had left a wasteland of spend shotgun shells and targets and such not to mention a good deal of litter. This pissed me off to no end but what can I do?

While there I found a surprisingly good specimen of Cinnabar (the ore from which mercury is derived) right next to the retort which one would think would not be possible given how utterly insane and irrational the EPA gets about Cinnabar and Mercury and one would assume they had stripped the area clean of any sign of such material.

While we were hiking the trail, which was a magical experience with the Santa Ana Winds blowing while we were there, I did a lot of scouting for future rockhounding treks in the immediate vicinity of the mine where there is a lot of strange geology and plenty of signs of mining activity in the days of yore.

Pasadena Day Trip

On Thursday, Mom and I daytripped down to Pasadena to pick up her late father's slides (he being the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee) from the offices of Thru the Bible Radio.

Mom and I had not been there nor visited in person its director, Leo Karlyn, for the better part of the past two decades or more so it was nice to triumpantly come back and make peace with the place and reconnect with Leo, a long-time friend of the family in spite of our drifting apart and parting ways over the course of the aforementioned timeperiod.

It was a pleasure to visit with Leo and renew our connection to him and it was nice to be introduced to the new staff (new to us anyway) and walk the halls and rooms of the old building before they downsize to their other property across the street later this year.

Ahh, the memories. It was also a bit bittersweet and melancholy given how many people she and I both once saw in there who are either now dead or retired. Tempus Fugit.

Grizzly Ridge Quartz Ranch

Today I talked on the telephone to mine owner John French and we worked out a business arrangement in principle that has me becoming one of his exclusive dealers of the material coming out of his mine. We will start this new relationship with next month's Roseville Show.
Needless to say, we are very excited about this opportunity and are humbled and grateful and excited about the future.

Speaking of Mines

A friend of mine who lives as caretaker on an important and storied mercury mine complex located somewhere in the North County has invited me to help him move some fire bricks next week and while we're there we plan to do some serious Cinnabar hunting on a nearby roadcut and perhaps traipse off into some adjacent BLM land and do some rockhounding on lands that have perhaps not been rockhounded since the nearby mines were in operation.

Our plan is to do this next Monday so I'll keep you posted.

Coming Soon: More Petrified Whale Bone

Local rockhound Jeffrey James has more petrified whale bone from years ago he wants to trade me in exchange for material I have so I hope to close this deal soon and I'll get back to you on what I get my hands on but it should be good given Jeffrey's previous offerings.

As a result of the aforementioned dust-up with Ebay over this material we won't be offering our petrified whale bone there but we will sell it directly to you through PayPal as well as at our shows this year.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool XIV

Hello Again!

Yeah, I know, how many times have I said I'm back again and will start posting regularly.

This blogging thing is much like weight loss, it takes a lot of mental discipline to do it right which is to say do it consistently well.

Anywho, all I can say is I'm back and intend to blog daily or close to that for the foreseeable future.

Given that my last installment of this column was November 18, 2008, I'd say we have a lot of catching up to do so here goes the Mother Of All Random Musings.

New Year's Day 2009

We spent New Year's Day sick at home watching on television the Rose Parade occurring in our hometown of Pasadena, CA. Following that we watched a lot of football, but mainly the Rose Bowl which again this year featured a USC team hell-bent on proving it belonged in the national championship picture looked for respect at the expense of an over-matched Big Ten Conference Champion (well, in 2007 it was the Big Ten Runner-Up Illinois).

Fight On!

Well, my USC Trojans won another Rose Bowl this year, their third in a row and third in four years following their loss to Texas in the 2006 BCS Championship held at the Rose Bowl.
This followed USC's winning another Pac-10 Conference Championship, this time without sharing it with another co-champion as they did the year before with Arizona State.

Without the University of Oregon at Eugine blowing out Oregon State University at Corvallis in Corvallis the last game of the regular season for both and at a venue where OSU upset USC earlier in the season in USC's 2008 installment of their yearly let-down game against an inferior opponent which keeps them out of the BCS National Championship they would actually have been in that game against either Florida or Oklahoma and would have no doubt beaten whomever they faced.

The game was 31-7 at halftime against an over-matched Penn State team which finished their regular season like USC at 11-1 and like USC would have been in the BCS National Championship game were it not for a let-down game against Iowa late in the season.

USC spent most of the second half celebrating on the sideline which allowed a well-coached Penn St. team to make the final score a respectable 38-24 which game was not as close as that score might lead one to believe.

The final BCS standings put 13-1 Florida at #1 and 13-0 Utah at #2 and 12-1 USC at #3.

A few weeks later, that game's offensive MVP, USC junior quarterback Mark Sanchez opted to not come back for his senior year as he will graduate in May of this year and could be the second quarterback picked in the draft whereas if he returned for his final year of eligibility he would be competing in the draft with Florida's 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and Oklahoma's 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and Texas' Colt McCoy.

Jury Duty Follow-up

That jury duty thing I mentioned last time didn't work out.

The prosecution nuked me while the defense wanted me to stay.

The Machiavellian reasons for this seeming illogicality are due to my feeling that active gang membership should be illegal and that active gang members are untermensch and that I would have no qualms with a policy wherein active gang members were ground up and used for fertilizer on public highway landscaped right-of-ways (although I didn't exactly phrase it that dimly).

During the questioning phase for prospective jurors this bigoted and close-minded attitude of mine came to light as well as the fact I know more about gangs, particularly the Mexican Mafia, than most folks (that's because I have a close friend who is a corrections officer who shares with me a lot of what the Corrections Department teaches him).

The prosecution seems to have taken a dim view of this as their case was heavily dependent upon prosecution witnesses who were gang members in or out of incarceration who had copped pleas to get their sentences reduced or were even active gang members or their affiliates who were not facing incarceration.

It appears they feared I would doubt or down-right disbelieve any such testimony for which I don't blame them although they needn't have feared such as the defendant, Abiel Ayala was and is as guilty as sin as was clearly apparent by his visage and behavior in court.

I was ready to convict him for just looking the way he did, to wit, a slouchy, punky piece of human excrement and the living embodiment of the expression "untermensch".

They should execute folks for just looking that way, regardless of ethnicity of course.

Mr. Ayala looked all the part of a Neanderthal, replete with hairy, protruding eyebrows and a simple yet feral face that belied a man not on trial for singing too loud in church.

Given he committed his crime of murdering a fellow member of the Nipomo 13 gang while tweaking and not under orders from above he stands a good chance of being murdered after he begins his sentence which otherwise might be up to 52 years.

However, he may have begun to try to earn a reprieve by showing his willingness to stupidly make trouble and thus give those higher up in the Mexican Mafia gang structure a reason to keep him alive by way of his attacking an alleged child molester in court the morning of and right before his sentencing. Read all about it here.

Frak Me!

For those of you who don't know it the "re-imagined" Battlestar Galactica is making its final season final run with this next Friday night at 10 P.M. debuting the third episode of the second half of the fourth season of the third run of the concept; follow me?

The interruption in this season was caused by the recent writer's strike.

Thus far this second half of the final season has been typically dreary and wonderfully intense as we have come to expect from this epic television series.

With the declaration that this will be the final season of the series I'm glad they are going to end it on a high note while it is still at its peak but I'm nonetheless bummed to see this happen as I am going to terribly miss this show, one of my favorite television series of all time.

The powers that be are going to create at least one spin-off television series. However, I fear that will be a step down from the current series although I have hope I will be wrong. This next show is tentatively entitled "Caprica" and will cover the events prior to those covered in the current series.

What the Frell?!

We finally got around to finishing the entirety of another science fiction vice we share, Farscape. This vice takes the form of a serious addiction much like our relationship with BSG.
We both are now seriously bummed at having no more episodes to watch together and with the completion of watching the subsequent mini-series The Peacekeeper Wars we are now hoping the franchise reemerges in either mini-series form again and/or big screeen form and/or webisode form. We hope the execs at Sci-Fi Channel have the mivoks to get something going along these lines.

It's The Stupid Economy

All this talk about this no longer being a recession but a depression and that we have a long way to go down makes my butt pucker.

I wish these fracking/frelling talking heads would just shut the frack/frell up and stop psyching folks up any further into a tizzy than they already are.

We all need to take a deep breath and just get a grip. The sky may be cloudy but it's not falling (yet).

President Obama

We now have our 44th President and it isn't Clinton 44 as I was sure was going to be the case and as perhaps should have been the case had the American people not been so gullible but what is, is and I accept it.

Of late I pray to God every day that He motivates Obama to make as many of the correct choices as possible and causes Obama's advisor's to give him as much good advice as he can get and that he follows it as often as possible.
We can't expect perfection but I just want our guy to make fewer and lesser mistakes than our rivals and enemies and successfully lead us the next four or eight years and that He keep Obama safe from assassination, especially by a white guy(s).

Pole Shift 2008

Well the paranoidiac pseudo-intellectual/anti-intellectual ideologically-demagoguish conspiracy theory whack-job political hack polarization field has shifted back to the cultural Right with my poor, sweet Conservative friends and acquaintances now beginning to make complete asses out of themselves suggesting and believing every sort of malevolent, seditious, illegal motive or action imaginable and even unimaginable.

The latest one is that Obama never actually took the oath swearing on the Lincoln Bible but they don't offer proof or explain how such an important book was taken out of the Library of Congress and under close supervision used in the swearing in and returned to the Library and yet nobody saw it happen or if they did they are all a part of the conspiracy.

This is of course married to and rooted in the oldest conspiracy allegation about Obama which is that he is a closet Muslim replete with belt bomb hanging in his White House closet waiting to be used at appointed time.

Of course, this is a complete pole (political polarization) field reversal/shift from the previous eight years when Dubya was variously dumb as mud with Dick Cheney as Puppet Master and Power Behind The Throne or Dubya was dumb like a fox and behind 9/11 so he could justify stomping all over the Constitution and leading us into Iraq so we could take all their oil as if we needed it nearly that badly (actually the Europeans and Indians and Chinese do).

And of course before that it was eight years of hearing about how many people Bubba had murdered or shagged and how he dodged the draft and it was Whitewater ad infinitum ad nauseum. Oh, and lest I forget, there was all the talk about how real or not his marriage to Hilary was and questions about his having a sex addition and Hilary being bisexual or Lesbian.

The amazing thing is it is always the same sorts of personalities that promulgate this stuff and the same sorts of personalities that buy into this stuff.

All these people are actually very much alike and in the same group in reality when it comes to what actually counts and unfortunately these people regardless of political alignment are anti-intellectual extremist nit-wit ding-dongs.

I'm in the Tucson Show (Sort of)

Well, okay, I'm actually not.

My large Sikhote-Alin meteorite is now safely in the hands of Geoffrey Notkin of Aerolite Meteorites in Tucson, AZ.

He and I have entered into a contractural agreement wherein he will display it and otherwise promote it in the course of selling it for me in return for a reasonable percentage.

Not only will it be on display at his noteworthy location at the Tucson Show but he will promote it on his blog and website and perhaps elsewhere as opportunity provides.

When we talked about it yesterday right after he had received it and gotten it out of the box, he was very impressed with it and said it was one of the largest nicest one's he'd come across in a while and was very pleased to be able to handle it for me.

Given that Sikhote's are his specialty and fave and that he's such a nice guy, not to mention such a reputable dealer with great connections I'm so very pleased to be working with him on this matter.

K&K Earthwerks News

Our business and particularly our Ebay Store, K&K Earthwerks, continues to grow in spite of the current economic distress.

Given this is the quiet time of the year for us with no shows to speak of I am pleased to say that Ebay is keeping us going almost single-handedly and continues to pick up momentum as we expand our Ebay Store inventory.

Surpringingly, foreign sales are almost what I'd call brisk.

We have now shipped to Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal. Netherlands, Malta, Hungary, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, and probably some more I'm not thinking of at the moment.

Much of our business also comes from repeat customers, especially some of the foreign customers, particularly a nice Japanese woman named Kazue.

About Those Missing "Bloggings"

Yeah, I know I never posted blog entries about the 2008 Placerville and Lancaster shows.
I have them in the queue ready to go when I've finished with them and when that happens I'll post them on the dates they covered.
When that happens I'll announce it on this blog and provide links to those blog postings.

And Last But Not Least!

Things have changed with me.

I'm talking about change that is not self-perceived or even delusional but the real deal.

My walk with God is getting healthier and stronger all the time and I don't remember when I last felt this way or if I even ever did but I don't care because I'm alive now and I'm living better all the time.

I feel I've really finally gotten my head wrapped around what the hell happened to me since high school as well as to my family during the same period.

I fear I have to have one more heavy talk with my family before I can let it all go and move on but at least I feel the onion is almost completely peeled and my anger is completely gone.

The anger was directed at myself and at loved ones for being just like me: flawed human beings with Old Sin Natures.

It's this realization that has helped me forgive and move on because I failed God just as monumentally as they and I surely want forgiveness and how can I hope to gain that from God if I won't show the same to others for being no worse than I?

Another thing that has helped me forgive is the fact I feel more love in my heart for my family (or at least particular members) than I have ever felt before and that in spite of our differences that I mostly expect will never be fully reconciled but now it doesn't matter with me and I'm okay with it.

Life is too ephemeral to hold onto poison and pain and variously holding onto and running away from both of those things is the explanation of what the hell happened to my family over the past 15-20 years.

I need to start living again for the first time in my life since I was a child and encourage the rest of my family to join me out in the light and if they don't accept the offer then I need to accept that and still love them and be available to them if they ever ask for a helping hand out into that light and life.

If not then I won't judge or hate them but I surely won't follow them anymore into that place.

I'm going to focus on taking care of my business and if by finding the path God has established for my life I can help them find their's then maybe this story will have a happy ending after all.