Big Sur


California coastline near Big Sur Posted by Hello

If I get one or two good photos out of every batch, I’m happy. This one is a favorite from the May San Francisco trip. Out of about 100 others, there are another two or three that I would consider worth posting and boasting about.

To give is to receive

Those whom heaven helps we call the sons of heaven. They do not learn this by learning. They do not work it by working. They do not reason it by using reason. To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.

Chuang Tse: XXIII

This is one of my favorite Zen quotes, used by Ursula K. LeGuin in her novel, The Lathe of Heaven. The “aliens” in this book often spout quotes like this, and like “to go is to return,” and so on. It seems to be part of some Grand Theme, like the karmic “what goes around, comes around.”

Which is all my way of introducing freecycle.org. I’ve posted once on this site, but I’ve been reading and responding to some of the other posters’ “wants” much more than that. I’m really much too busy (or lazy—it’s a fine line) to hold a garage or yard sale, and I’m far too environmentally-aware merely to throw things away if they still have a useful life. Freecycle seems like the best alternative, a chance to let my detritus live on.

And some day—karma again—I might get something in return, if I see an “offer” I can’t refuse.

VGR

The Voyager spacecraft, launched in 1976, is now passing through the outermost reaches of our solar system, NASA announced recently.

In the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Voyager is depicted returning to Earth far into the future. The craft is an unidentifiable menace at first, due to the letters that have worn away. It seems it’s now known as “V-ger” (pronounced vee-jer), and it takes Captain Kirk’s usual wily ways to suss out the truth.

Even Gene Roddenberry couldn’t have foreseen another use of (at least some of) those letters in our times. But there they were, on yet another unidentifed object, on the floor of San Francisco International Airport.

I was sitting in a chair at the end of the security line, leaning down to put my shoes back on. A small blue pill lying on the floor nearby cried out to me. Looking around and seeing no one, I pocketed it for further investigation.

The pharmacist who listened to my description the next day recognized the color blue, the diamond shape, and the letters “VGR” and manufacturer’s name “Pfizer” stamped on the pill. Yup, you’ve probably guessed it by now—it’s Viagra!

Mystery solved. But somebody was planning to have way too much fun with his “V-ger” in that airport!

Another Year, Another Pizza

Yesterday was my birthday. We celebrated by going to Fricano’s (original) pizza parlor, the first time there for me. Fricano’s claims to be Michigan’s first pizza parlor, dating from 1949. They can’t prove the claim, but no one else has ever disputed it, either.

Unreal Real Estate Prices

More observations from the May 13-20 San Francisco trip.

There was a store-front real-estate office in picturesque little Tiburon (Marin County) with photos, descriptions, and prices of some of their offerings in the front window. One representative listing was for a 3-bedroom, 2-bath “fixer” for $799,000. At those prices, they might as well be on another planet. Perhaps they are.

A Break at the Breakers

The old Vanderbilt “summer cottage” in Newport, Rhode Island, is called The Breakers. It is truly spectacular, a reminder of a bygone era when real money (not the Bill Gates kind) could be made.

On the opposite side of the country, there is a spot in where Golden Gate Park meets the Pacific Ocean. It is also called The Breakers, and every May it serves as the endpoint of a 12K (7.46-mile) race called, of course, Bay to Breakers. The “bay” referred to is San Francisco’s own east coast, as symbolized by the massive San Francisco-to-Oakland bridge, under which is the starting point of the race.

Since I was going to be in San Francisco on vacation May 15th anyway, I tried to catch part of the race. My efforts were in vain. Even though I arrived at the so-called starting area (no observers allowed) at least a half-hour early, by the time I was able to scope out and travel to a better vantage point, the leaders had long since passed by.

You see, the serious part of the race was won this year by (yet another) Kenyan named Gilbert Okari, with a time of 34:49.

The non-serious part of the race is probably why it is billed as “one crazy weekend.” Of the sixty-five thousand runners—and I use the term loosely—at least several thousand run in costume or as part of a centipede, a group of runners tied together in some way. A couple hundred run without a costume—of any kind. That’s right—naked. Crazy weekend, indeed!

Anyway, for my troubles, I ended up walking more than 4 miles effortlessly, so perhaps next year I’ll actually join in. But naked? I don’t think so.

Art Student Revolutionizes Medicine

Have you seen Target’s new prescription bottle? A small paragraph about this was in Newsweek magazine’s articles on design last week, something I had to catch up on reading after I returned from SF. But I wanted to know more.

As it turns out, there’s far more to the story. The basic prescription bottle had been unchanged, except for child-proof caps, since World War II, until this art student’s grandmother mistakenly ingested the prescription meant for her husband.

The student’s resulting work was shopped to the FDA before being snapped up by some on-the-ball creative-type at Target. Additionally, her work will be featured in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Ode to a Parakeet

Kafois’s parakeet was named Pretty Boy. Mine was called Jimmy. I had one of these records, too. The difference is that Jimmy actually did learn to talk, at a young age. This feat amazed our family at first, and provided nearly five years of ongoing entertainment. Jimmy, like Pretty Boy, is long gone, but never forgotten.

An ‘F’ for Originality

Last week’s Newsweek magazine carried the annual summer movie preview. For those of us who take movie-going more or less seriously, there is cause for alarm in this year’s crop of new releases. Of eighteen films described or depicted in the article, a depressingly-high nine (50%) are either sequels, remakes, or based on television shows.

Remakes:

  • Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
  • War of the Worlds
  • The Longest Yard
  • Bad News Bears
  • House of Wax

Sequels (and prequels):

  • Star Wars, Episode 3
  • Herbie: Fully Loaded
  • Batman Begins

Based on television:

  • Bewitched

Original (?) material:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith (I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt, although it looks suspiciously like Prizzi’s Honor)
  • Kicking and Screaming
  • Madagascar
  • Kingdom of Heaven
  • Dark Water
  • Wedding Crashers
  • Hustle & Flow
  • Lords of Dogtown
  • Fantastic Four (derived from the comic book, but I’ll excuse that)

But wait! There’s more! Newsweek didn’t even mention the late-summer releases of The Pink Panther, The Dukes of Hazzard, and yet another Deuce Bigalow.

Whatever happened to creative writing? It’s too bad that Hollywood is so afraid of fresh ideas, and of writers who can think for themselves.