Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hanging Out In The Cretaceous Age

  View towards former dinosaur hangout (the chalk grey line) from west Alameda parkway

One hundred and fifty million years ago three dinosaurs, an Apatosaurus, a Diplodocus, and a Stegosaurus were all hanging out in the swampy lowlands at the eastern foot of the Elko highlands, in an area known today as Morrison, Colorado.

Back in the later half of the 19th century, a gentleman by the name of Arthur Lakes, one of those gentlemen of that bygone era who wore a lot of hats - artist, minister, mining engineer, teacher, writer and geologist, discovered the remains of all three of those aforementioned dinosaurs in the formation at a place now called Dinosaur Ridge. 

That's about five miles from my house. I've gone up there a number of times, and even re-painted one of the large plastic representations of a Stegosaurus that are displayed in front of the Dinosaur Ridge Museum located at the base of the trail (the easy access is off the west Alameda Parkway exit on I-70, either east or west bound).

This is not the one I re-painted. This one was done right

If you are even remotely curious about the actual size of the prehistoric creatures that Hollywood falls in love with about every other decade or so, then Dinosaur Ridge is a must stop on any visit you make to Denver.

This is the one I re-painted - it's used in the Fourth of July parade

The trail follows dinosaur tracks that were preserved in a large floodplain tens of millions of years ago, which became the bottom of a large sea tens of millions of years later.

This was once the bottom of the Western Interior Seaway

There are guided tours with geologist who work at the museum, or you can just walk the mile and a half yourself. You cannot miss the tracks, and there are plenty of prominent signs to explain what you're looking at along the route.

Dinosaur Ridge staffer laying down some serious science about the dinosaur tracks

The museum itself is small, but well put together and features a bone quarry, with dinosaur bones that you can actually handle. 

The Morrison Natural History Museum, in the small town of Morrison a scant two miles further east, has some of the fossils uncovered by Arthur Lakes and his crew. That particular museum also has some interesting information on the more modern history of the area as well.

Dinosaurs, as everyone knows, are cool. The western states are dotted with small museums devoted to finds of early geologists such as A. Lakes. The Dinosaur Ridge museum staff will be happy to tell you all about  infamous Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, two paleontologists who would stop at nothing to outdo one another in the quest for paleontological supremacy.

That may sound like a bit of exaggeration, but it's not. That's actually an understatement. According to every geologist and paleontologist at the Ridge I've talked with, those two made the bickering between the Dems and Repubs look like a playground spat.  

If science is your thing (and why wouldn't it be?), then an afternoon spent with a some solid evidence of the earth's past is well worth your while.

Though I must tell you, once you get an idea of how little time humans have actually existed on this rock, and how very, very irrelevant we are as a species, it does curb your enthusiasm for recycling a little.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Joy Of Replacing The Starter In A 1997 Ford F-150

                                      Installing the new Starter...one half turn at a time.

Sunday evening the truck wouldn't turn over. Unfortunately I was up at Brad's feeding his dogs, so I had to walk down the hill to my house. It was late, so I figured I'd just get up in the morning and go up and give it a jump and all would be well with the world.

Bro Tom drove up to Brad's with me Monday morning. He suggested I try turning it over before we bothered with the cables, so I did. It started right up! I drove home, all the while thinking that it was weird that the truck had turned right over, as I did go through the bother of checking the battery connections last night and, assured they were tight, turned the key in the ignition one last time (to no avail) before walking home.

It must have been a loose connection and for whatever reason it wasn't all that loose this morning was all I could conclude as I drove home. Stranger things have happened.

I worked on a painting for a bit before having to get ready for work, not thinking there would be any further trouble with the truck.

I hopped in the truck to go to work, turned the key and...nothing. Radio worked, and so did the AC, but the truck wouldn't turn over. It didn't even make the clicking noise that usually indicates a dead battery. Turning the key resulted in...nothing.

Mechanic neighbor Josh was in his garage, so I called him over to take a look. He brought his voltage meter, checked the battery, found it to be charged, and then said, "It's your Starter."

Oh yay. 

Josh told me to get him a hammer, so I grabbed one out of the garage. He crawled under the truck, banged the Starter a few times, then told me to turn it over. I did, and it did. 

Problem solved? Josh seemed to think so. He did say I should probably replace the Starter as soon as I could, but he also said I probably would be fine for awhile.

So I hauled off to work. However, I had to stop at King Soopers first, which I didn't think would be a problem. 

Unfortunately, it was, The truck wouldn't turn over. Again.

So I called Josh, he drove over with the hammer, crawled under the truck and hammered away. I turned the key and the truck started right up. 

Josh handed me the hammer and said for me to just bang the Starter a couple times as he had if it happened again, and I headed off to work.

'cept I had to make one more stop, at Coors Field to pick up the tickets for Monday nights game (Rockies vs. the new look Dodgers, Section 140, Row 1, Seats 9 through 12. Sweeeeeeet). As I pulled up in front of the box office along Blake, I told myself "Don't shut off the engine, let it idle." I'm sure I said that to myself three or four times as I was parking...then I shut off the engine.

Damn. I hoped the truck would start right up after I got the tickets, but if not, well, I had the hammer.

After I got the tickets, I hopped in the truck, turned the key and...you guessed it.

Grabbing the hammer and a furniture blanket I had, I walked around to the passenger side (next to the curb), threw the blanket down, crawled under, hammered on the Starter, then got up and climbed back into the truck. Started right up.

After stowing the blanket and hammer, I headed to work. However, as I was driving along I-25, the low fuel light came on. Damn.

I knew I had enough gas to get to work, but I would have to go to a gas station sometime that afternoon to get gas. That meant starting and shutting off the truck at least three times before I would leave work for the game that night.

About four hours into work, I decided it was time to go get gas. As luck would have it, the truck started right up when I left for the station, and it started right up after I filled up. 

Shouldn't have pushed that luck though. Thinking everything was hunky-dory, I decided to stop at King Soopers again to grab some lunch. The parking lot at this particular King Soopers is something of a hill though, and I did had the foresight to park at the very top.

When I got back to the truck, sure enough it wouldn't start. I
got out the blanket and the hammer, crawled under the truck, Bang! bang! Bang! Got back into the cab...nothing,

Repeat the procedure. Nothing. Repeat again. Nothing.

I parked at the top of the hill for a reason. It would be a beast to turn the wheel, as the power steering wouldn't function without the engine turning over, but I could manage.

I opened the driver's side door and with one hand on the wheel and the other on the cab pillar, I pushed for all I was worth.

Ten feet down the hill I jumped in the cab, popped the clutch, and the engine turned over. Whew! 

Back at work, I parked on the the top of the very small hill of our store's parking lot too (actually, a small rise) just in case...

Hours later I climbed in the truck to leave for the game...and the truck wouldn't turn over. I didn't want to crawl under the truck, so I asked manager Tom to get behind the wheel as I pushed and pop the clutch for me. Worked like a charm.

Met up with Double Play Dave and his wife Janet at Jackson's before heading over to the game, and after the 10-0 shelling of the Dodgers by the Rockies, asked Dave to follow me to my truck to help me pop the clutch to get it started. He did, I popped the clutch, and drove on home.

Which is where this story actually begins.

I had called Dave W. over at Stevinson parts to get a new Starter Monday afternoon. All I needed to do this morning was crawl under the truck, take off the old Starter, drive over to Golden to give it to Dave for the core charge and pick up the new one from him.

Simple. According to the Internet, taking out the old starter was a three step process - three bolts, 5 minutes tops.

I had to put the truck on ramps first though, as my pushing-270-how-god-awful-is-that-ass wasn't going to fit under the truck (much less be able to use tools under there as well) unless the front end was on ramps.

So I got the neighbors Fred & Josh to help me push Tom in the truck in order to pop start it one more time. After that was accomplished, I backed into the driveway, got out the ramps, and drove up 'em. Perfect. Tires blocked and I'm ready to go.

I grabbed all the tools I'd need (1/2 and 9/16 inch sockets, small socket to disengage the negative cable, wire cutters), and opened the hood up. 

Step 1) Disengage negative battery cable. Easy breezy.

Step 2) Crawl under the truck, locate the Starter. Using the 1/2 inch socket, unbolt the ground wire and wiring harness.

Not quite. The ground wire is easy enough, as it's connected to the lower bolt that holds the Starter in place. The wiring harness however, is on the opposite side, and it is in a tiny, tiny place. A place much to tiny for my banana hands to get into.

Looking at how everything was configured, I knew I wouldn't be able to get to the wiring harness until after I got both of the mounting bolts undone. So I proceeded to unbolt those. One. Half. Turn. At. A. Time.  

Between the oil pan and parts of the frame, moving a tool of any sort is difficult. Getting enough leverage to break the bolt from it's seat to begin with was a pain. It took at least 10 minutes for the bottom bolt to be removed, and at least twenty for the top bolt - the top bolt took longer because I had to find the longest 9/16 inch socket I had, plus an extension, just to get the socket over the bolt head in the tight little recess where it was placed.

Five minute job my ass.

The two bolts, top and bottom are two different sizes by the way. the bottom one is 1/2 inch, and the top is 9/16 inch. Seriously. Why are the bolts not the same size? Is this a conspiracy on the part of the socket manufacturers? 

The official instructions will tell you to hold the body of the Starter with one hand while removing the two mounting bolts with the other. Since I do not have the secret third arm professional mechanics have, I just removed the bottom bolt first, then the top bolt, all the while hoping the wiring harness would keep the Starter from falling on me.

Step 3) Once the Starter is out of it's mount, turn it so the bolt holding the wiring harness in place is visible. Unbolt the wiring harness and clip the solenoid wire behind the spade terminal.

That wasn't the actual third step from the instructions, but it is actually how the job gets done.

The wiring harness is a whole heck of lot more accessible when the Starter is out and you can see the wiring harness bolt, so I used the 1/2 inch socket to get it off. Then I cut the solenoid wire just behind the spade terminal as instructed by ye olde Internet. 

There you go, one old Starter removed. I put it in a plastic bag and borrowed Josh's truck and headed over to Stevinson.

It was good to see Dave, Kenny, Michelle, Maurice and all the crew in the Stevinson Parts Debt. Since John passed, I haven't seen much of those cats. Maybe once or twice a year, at the memorial and such.

I picked up some oil and a filter while I was there, too, as I figured I may as well change the oil while the truck was on the ramps. Not good thinking on my part, that. Not good at all.

But that's a story for another time. 

I drove back to the house with the new Starter and the oil change fixin's. After putting on a fresh pair of latex gloves, I crawled under the truck once more (this time with two of Josh's ratchet wrenches though, in the hope they would be easier to use than the sockets).

I cleaned all the mounting surfaces, then attached the wiring harness. With the wiring harness secure, I attached the solenoid wire with the crimp splice. The crimp splice and heat-sealing of the weather-guard sleeve went smoothly.

Placing the Starter in the mount, I located the top bolt and contorting my hands in ways I never would have thought possible, managed to get the top bolt a little more than half way in using my fingers. Then I started the bottom bolt, but the best I could do with my fingers was three or four turns. 

I grabbed the 1/2 inch ratchet wrench I borrowed from Josh and went to town on the bottom bolt. Only took 9 minutes using that tool one half turn at a time.

The top bolt would not accommodate the 9/16 ratchet wrench, so I had to use the long 9/16 socket with the extension again. About fifteen minutes later I was done. The new Starter was installed!

I attached the negative cable to the battery, crawled up into the cab of the truck, inserted the key into the ignition, turned it...and viola! The truck started right up! I'm a damn fine mechanic!


Then I tackled changing the oil. I've had less painful divorces.

But that's a story for another time.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alphonso Never Wanted To Be A Tasty Fish

Alphonso was a very nervous fish
Most days he lived in dread of being squished
Or being caught and served up as some exotic dish
Between two slices of bread with parsley, garnished
Maybe minced with potatoes in an oven like a knish 

He hated to imagine to whom he'd be fed 
Everyday he closed his eyes tightly and wished
Whoever caught him would be to full to sup

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Life of A Grievous Angel

Ingram Cecil Connor
                        The Third

A trust fund baby who 
                        Became a Byrd

Born to a warrior and a fruit grower's daughter
In the proud South of these here United States
The warrior father took his own life when the boy was twelve
Then mother took up with a local Parsons
                  Not to be mistaken for a religious man, though
                  He took to women other than his wife
                  And the neglected mother drank herself to death                                                        
He wanted to create cosmic American music
Liked his Gospel and Soul with Country and Rock & Roll
Dropping out of the Crimson College
To play with submarines along side Nuese who introduced
                   Him to the music that sparked it
                   So they fancied themselves like Buck Owens
                   And serenaded the truck driving man

A kid who died in Lakewood in July of '72
Convinced Gram he needed to be in California
Where he could make the scene on the big screen
Go west he did and bought a house for the band
                   But stayed with Nancy
                   Much to Crosby's chagrin
                   And the band played on

Success eluded our young hero
                      Even with Hazlewood's help
As '68 dawned he knew 
                      He had to make a move
Then he found himself filling 
                      Crosby's spot once more
Only with his voice and guitar
                      Not in the boudoir

Sweet was the short time spent in the studio
Heart full of soul and raw with passion
Of this history shows
The trip to Nashville wasn't easy
Rodeo days and Opry nights of harassment
                       Five months was long enough
                       When the Glimmer Twins said stay with us
                       In London, and teach the Honky Tonk

Back in L.A. he was soon flying with the Bros. Burritos
Living in a gilded palace of sin
Until Hillman said it was time for him to leave
The cocaine and the heroin were taking their toll
Even Pallenberg told Richards to show him the door
                       G.P. back at the family estate
                       Married the young and fetching Gretchen 
                       Who needed more than he could give

Back in England Grech helped him kick the horse
                     And with Emmylou he found his echo
Alcohol though, that which drowned his mother and father
                     Filled his mind and his belly every night
Soon after he created his grievous angel
                     Death took away another friend

In 26 years he'd lost his parents, lost his home
lost his wife and lost too many friends
In Joshua Tree on a warm September night
Gram Parsons lost his life


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Denver Modernism Show Is A Blast, Daddy O

The best of Mid-Century Modern is on display and for sale this weekend

Tonight I ventured out to the National Western Complex Expo hall for the 2012 Denver Modernism show. The event promised to showcase Furniture, Art, Architecture and Industrial Design from that hippest of eras, the swinging '50's.

The show featured all that and more - Exhibitors displayed goods that spanned a period from the 1930's through the 1960's, and covered a number of diverse movements, from the Prairie school of Architecture to the Scandinavian influenced lines of furniture manufactured in the '50's and '60's.

          What home is complete without a cocktail table possessing hypnotic qualities?

The furniture classed as Mid-Century Modern is often referred to as Scandinavian Contemporary, being that a number of the primary designers were of Scandinavian extraction. Some of the biggest names, such as Eero Saarinen (tulip chair, St Louis Arch, tons of churches), Arne Jacobson (swan & egg chairs, SAS hotel) ) and Alvar Aalto (the still sleek Paimio chair, Finlandia Hall, those stools in every Apple store) were born in Scandinavian countries.

                              The thin, curvilinear lines of Mid-Century Modern

Eero Saarinen, one of the most influential architects and industrial designers of the 20th century, was born in Finland and immigrated to the United States when his father, noted architect Eliel Saarinen, moved to Chicago in the hopes of winning a building design competition (The senior Saarinen took second in that competition, but went on to design a number of buildings and had a huge influence on the look of 20th century architecture).

                                   The low graceful arches of Scandinavian design

Not-so Scandinavian Mr. and Mrs Charles and Ray Eames (born in St Louis and Sacramento, USA), college chums of Eero and creators of the most well-known (and thus most overexposed) piece of furniture in history, the Eames chair, were very much a part of the Mid-Century Modernist movement, primarily on the West Coast. Their influence cannot be understated. Examples of their work was well in evidence.

Can you spot the Eames in this picture? Concentrate, it'll come to you.

Other prominent architects and designers, such as Le Corbusier ( LC series of chrome and leather chairs, the Open Hand sculpture) Mies van der Rohe (of "less is more" and Barcelona chair renown) and Walter Gropius (Bauhaus) were also not of Scandinavian extraction, but their work was identified with the Scandinavian look simply because they all hailed from Europe and the clean lines and functionality of their designs was very similar.

I didn't see much of their work, which was a surprise.

The influence of  late 19th, early 20th century Arts & Crafts pioneers such as the Stickley brothers, Frank Lloyd Wright, Harvey Ellis, C.R.Macintosh, the Roycrofters, and others is obvious in the clean lines and utilitarian designs. Much of the furniture considered Mid-Century Modern looks a lot like Craftsman design made thinner and curvilinear.

The art on display was a good mix of what was once termed Avant Garde and Industrial until the word Modernism was coined. The artists I most closely associate with Modernism are Piet Mondarian and Joan Miro, but I saw no examples of their work anywhere.

There was an art show featuring the work of contemporary artists influenced by Mid-Century masters. The works on display were worth the price of admission alone.

Alex Meyer, Mark Penner-Howell, Ryan Rice, Jonathan Saiz and Emily Moore all had pieces in the exhibit. 

Every gallery in SoHo would be drooling at the prospect of putting this much talent in one place.

               The art show featured a beautiful piece by Emily Moore, a steal at $900.00

The Contemporary Modern artist SHAG (Josh Agle) had a very large display of his art. His work is reminiscent of the second generation of Warner Brothers animators as well as some off-the-board animators such as Gene Deitch and Shamus Culhane. Not only does SHAG incorporate the eye-pleasing palette of late-'50's, early '60's animation, but also the work of a number of Mid-Century architects in his paintings.

                                         SHAG and Chris Bakunas, Mano a Mano

Ryan Rice creates visual puns, such as the two works he's standing with here, Crabapple and Venus Flytrap. 

                 Ryan Rice has a keen, focused talent for such a blurry guy

Harley Earl, one of my favorite industrial designers,  was sadly underrepresented. Although he was primarily an automobile designer (tail fins and the Corvette), his sleek, organic style influenced Mid-Century product designs in every form, from toasters to television sets to writing pens.

            1957 Desoto Fireflite Sportsman - overflowing with Harley Earl influence.

Tonight also featured the Miss Modernism contest, with six lovely and talented contestants vying for the chance to represent Colorado for 2012. The winner, a beautiful Burlesque queen with the moniker of Vivienne VaVoom, rocked nearly everyone right out of their chairs with a fabulous fan dance.

                              Chris Bakunas and Miss Modernism 2012, Michelle Baldwin

There is a Tiki lounge at the show for those who wish to imbibe as hipsters may have 50 or so years ago. A DJ is present with genuine vinyl, spinning everything from Sinatra to the Ventures.

                                                   The Tiki Lounge awaits you...

Tonight there was also live music featured on the main stage, and the band far exceeded expectations.

The Sonic Archers played a poorly attended but great hour and a half set to close out the evening. It's not very often one gets to enjoy a decidedly professional ensemble of musicians who play not only their own well-crafted tunes, but covers of the Jam and George Harrison too.

                                                                CRB with Sonic Archer

I realize that the only only thing worse than criticizing a band's performance is criticizing their stage presence, but I have to be honest. The guys pretty much looked like four John Entwistles up there, and that is not a good thing. The whole Indie band look of black on black is way past it's due date. For this particular venue I would have suggested white vinyl shoes, khakis, and houndstooth jackets over chartreuse  shirts. Actually, with their sound they might want to go with that kit full time. 

Trust me on this one.

The show continues Saturday and Sunday, with the Daughters of Design (Celia Bertola, Carla (Eames) Hartman, and Susan Saarinen) speaking about childhoods spent with their respective creative parents on Saturday, and a full-on car show on Sunday.

Maybe Sunday Harley Earl will be given his due. Whatever the case, I highly recommend this show. Visit www.DenverModernism.com for details.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Walking Like The Ghost Of Audrey Hepburn

There is no doubt of the certainty
   When she put on that hat this morning

           With the little black dress draped over fishnets  
             She was going to be looked at by everyone

Some people may think she's pretentious
   There are those who write her off as a cyprian

                                              Attention-starved and willing to do anything to get it
                      Ironically addicted to the fantasy of the reality show lifestyle 

She gets up everyday believing that she's a poet 
   Though she keeps the words she's written well hidden

              There is a part of her that yearns desperately to be known
                 For the way she captures her observations in ink on paper                  

Her mind is filled with stories that she wants to tell
Scream them out from the top of a hill
The streets should reverberate with what she has to say
About the people and the world around her
And how life for her is such a thrill
Never gives a minute's thought to yesterday
Today's what matters and there's no doubt
She's here to enjoy every delicious moment
If she made your eyes light up when you saw her
Then she's given you a moment to enjoy, too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday Evening Sketch Club

                        Donna, who thought I was sacrilegious. August 22nd, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sex And Dancing (Really, That's What It's About)

Never met one that could be likened to Penelope
Most had peculiar ideas of what constituted loyalty
Frustrated like a musician unable to find the note
That would make the song complete

Can't lay claim to being the best of catches
Played the role of the rake once or twenty
Though that was long, long ago

Life has a way of teaching everything eventually
Especially those protocols you may have missed
While dancing with strangers and hoping to be kissed
Never giving a thought to who you would one day be
Lessons learned seemed to always be gained through experience
Cats aren't the only creatures that pay for being curious

The doors are all locked and there is no skeleton key
To aide in the unlocking of the universal mystery
It's like taking a hobnail boot to the throat
When you're on the other end of deceit

Can't lay claim to being the best of catches
Played the role of the rake once or twenty
Though that was long, long ago

Life has a way of teaching everyone eventually
Especially those who didn't get the gist
While dancing with strangers and hoping to be kissed
Never giving a thought to who you would one day be
Lessons learned seemed to always be gained through experience
Cats aren't the only creatures that pay for being curious

Still the ride has been fun as it has been fruitful
Misadventure can be harrowing but it's rarely dull
Without regrets means without a single wild oat
Sown or cultivated and you end up with tasteless wheat

Can't lay claim to having been the best of matches
Played the role of a bogan in the land of plenty
Though that seems so long, long ago

Life has a way of reaching everybody eventually
Especially the ones who could never resist
While dancing with strangers and working on a list
Never giving a thought to who you would one day be
Lessons learned seemed to always be gained through experience
Cats aren't the only creatures that pay for being curious

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Crazy *%@#& Things We Do for Love

                                      This man is 1) Romantic 2) Crazy 3) Both

It's only Monday, and we may already have this week's crazy guy of the week. As I was driving to work this morning I encountered this guy on the side of the road.

Usually I don't find the crazy guy of the week this early.

There is much that could be written about this man's courage, his cleverness, and certainly about his level of commitment.

Much could also be written about a few contrary attributes he may possess.

I imagine he thought about just buying a simple $100.00 14k gold-plated band with the promise of a much bigger and better ring once their fortunes improved. That path would seem to be the sane, logical way to proceed.

Our hero, however, must have thought that no, he was going to get her an impressive ring right off the bat, one that screams "I love this woman and we are going to get married!" to every person that comes within twenty feet of it.

He sat down and formulated a plan, one that would enable him to get the money quickly, without having to fill out a W2 or 1099, and one that wouldn't require incredible good fortune, like winning the lottery or finding a bag of 20's on the sidewalk that a drug dealer threw out a car window as he was being chased by the police.

There are a few other possibilities...maybe he's thinking "Man, this will make a great story to tell the kids when they ask how we got married," or "When Mike (or whoever, but most guys know a "Mike") gives the best man toast he can use this to illustrate the depth of my love, and that will get me in good with her parents who don't think I'm good enough for her."

Whatever his rationale, he picked a great spot to execute the plan.

The largesse of strangers is somewhat dependable in these parts. A number of local reporters, from both print and on-air media, have done the "Living On The Streets" for a week bit and claimed bringing in anywhere from $200.00 to $1000.00 a week panhandling.

Famously, a few years ago a local radio station had an employee go out and panhandle near a fairly wealthy suburb. He had to hold a "Will Work For Food" sign, and if, in the event that someone offered him work, he had to refuse it on the pretense he was physically incapable of work. He claimed to have received over $400.00 in a single day.

Hmmm....maybe that's what that guy was doing, working for a radio station...or maybe he lost a bet. That's not a stretch.

I didn't get that impression when I talked to him though. He had a bag with an 8X10 picture of the girl of his dreams taped to it, and that bag had quite a few dollars in there.

He told me most of it was from men, and I didn't doubt it for a minute. We've been there man, we know the pressure to dazzle can be crippling.

In spite of my misfortune in the marriage dept, I gave him $2.00 and wished him luck.

He's going to need it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Living On The Grid...Whether You Like It Or Not

               1930's Era Wind Turbine Still Used To Generate Power in Southern Colorado

In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Rural Electrification Administration, a New Deal agency assigned the task of bringing electricity to rural communities and farms throughout the United States.

The argument had been made that private utilities were not building power grids that reached small rural communities and farms because it wasn't profitable, and the rural areas that were being served by private electricity providers were being charged rates four times the rates paid in the large cities.

Arguments were made that the United States, in order to be competitive with Europe, needed to provide electricity to every area of the country no matter how remote. It was stated that France and Germany provided almost 90% of their rural residents with power, and the U.S. must do the same.

Of course, France and Germany combined are about 1/10th the physical size of the U.S., so those countries had a considerably easier undertaking.

After the arguments between the owners of private utilities (basic argument: The government has no business getting into business) and government representatives were settled (The answer to that argument: Okay, but we can provide loans to rural energy co-operatives that will perform the job private business won't), the REA sent crews all over the country to wire farmhouses, barns, chicken coops, outhouses, etc., to enable them to make use of the power lines that were going up everywhere.

However...there were already quite a few farms wired and already using electricity...but it wasn't electricity that they had to pay for. It was electricity generated by windmills, or more accurately, wind turbines.

Those small turbines typically generated about 15 to 20 kilowatt hours of electricity a day, not a lot but more than sufficient for the average farm. Farmers did not have a lot of appliances, and lived pretty much on nature's terms. There was no air conditioning, no freezers, refrigerators, electric stoves, television.

Radios existed, but could only be used as paperweights, as radio stations were few and far between.

The only use Farmers had for electricity was electric light, or to power small electric motors that could power a band saw or other power tools the farmers might use for construction.

And wind turbines, coupled with the Farmers friend, the Delco Battery System, provided more than enough juice for that.  

That wasn't going to stop the REA however. Farmers who didn't want their homes wired by REA crews were cajoled, bribed, or virtually forced to allow it. The future was electricity, progress marches on, etc.

The fact that in order for the rural cooperatives to succeed, and succeed they must in order for the jobs promised by the New Deal to exist and the loans provided to the rural cooperatives to be repaid, then paying customers had to be signed up.

By the end of the 1930's almost 300,000 rural households were wired and now customers of rural energy cooperatives.

Let's do the math shall we? 300,000 customers at the average late '30's monthly electric bill of $2.90*...that's $870,000. The equivalent in 2012? About ten million dollars. And they were raking that in every single month.

The myth of creating economies by increasing scale in 

Wind turbine, solar panels, and basketball hoop - did Bill Walton move to Lakewood?
I would like to put up a wind turbine myself. There is a private residence in my community that has one in the back yard - it's one of the newer turbines, and is impressive.

I'm liking the vertical axis wind turbine models. Those take up much less space than the conventional horizontal axis wind turbines. They produce up to 10kw a day, and if anything, could power an air conditioner.

Of course, that means I'd have to research the death out of the various models, look into the permit requirements, figure out how to finance it, etc.

Who I am kidding? That's way too much work, and by the time my procrastinating ass got around to it, that portable Mr. Fusion device Doc Brown had will be sold at Wal-Mart.

The utilities won this battle a long time ago.

*That's $2.90 a month for the very same previously free 15 to 20 kilowatt hours a day.

Probably Should Stick To Painting...

There once was a man who 
boasted exceptional insight
  In arguments big or small he was
always right
His wife said he doesn't know 
How to cook, clean or sew
And he's sleeping on the couch tonight

That's it, that's the best Limerick I can come up with. Edward Lear is not amused.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

That Feeling Of Just Being Okay

Perfect, perfect like only a dream can be
As strong and enduring as the deep blue everlasting sea
Unexpected happiness surprises everyone
Like the Mona Lisa drawn in the cream of my coffee

Splendid, splendid as joining the Queen for tea
Sun filtering through the bright green leaves of a tree
Effortless smiles shared with every mother's son
Take a deep breath and enjoy being alive and free

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rockies Win Fourth In A Row, Still Putting Fans In The Seats

25,000 fans can't be wrong...or can they?

I love Baseball. It is far and away my favorite spectator sport. I have to specify that it is my favorite sport as a spectator because I've never actually played the game.

I know, hard to believe I was born in Southern California, much less the United States. For those not in the know, that last statement is a reference to the large number of Major League Baseball players that come out of Southern California.

Heck, my high school, which was not and is not a baseball powerhouse (I think we finished dead last in our league, or close to it, every year I was there) has produced a fairly large number of baseball players who have made it to the show - two guys from the squad that won all of 4 games my senior year (Sam & Mark) spent 8 and 19 years in the bigs respectively.

No, my love of baseball does not stem from a long career of swinging a bat or shagging flies. It stems from my love of statistics and strategy.

Especially strategy. When I'm into a game, really into it, I sit in my seat trying to map out each inning as if I was playing chess.

Chris Bakunas with Mandi and Sherri at the Rockies vs Marlins game Thursday night

Tonight's game was a freebie for me. I attended with the wife of one of my best friends, and one of her best friends. We had good seats (second row behind home plate...really, really good seats), and I knew enough about the visiting team, the Florida Marlins, to be able to maintain an interest in the action.

The Marlins are not having a stellar year and neither are the Rockies, so I wasn't expecting much tonight. However, I have come to expect entertaining baseball whenever Florida Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is around.

First year Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen started the year off on the wrong foot (that is probably the biggest understatement I have ever written) with the Miami fan base, but he's one tough customer and his record shows he will do whatever it takes to win. 

Tonight he had Ricky Nolasco, with his ERA knocking on 5, on the mound. Nolasco, a graduate of Rialto High School in Southern California, has been with the Marlins since 2006. He's had a few good years, most notably 2008, but he's been struggling - he's posting his worst strikeout to walk ratio since he became a starter (if he gives up 7 more walks this season he'll eclipse his total for any individual season since he's been a pro, including the minors).

Nolasco was strong through the first 5 innings, but then he served up what Michael Cuddyer must have thought was the nastiest mosquito ever, as Cuddyer swatted it clean out of the park and tied the game at 3-3.

I anticipated that Rox manager Jim Tracy would sit a few of his younger players who have trouble hitting hard-throwing right handers, and he did. However, he inserted Josh Rutledge, the kid who was called up to fill in at short when Tulo went on the DL, as a DH in the 7th, and Rutledge promptly hit a triple that drove in the go ahead run.


                 Kids getting autographs from an obliging Eric Young jr. - that's baseball.

The Rockies had Alex White, one of the players acquired when Ubaldo was traded to Cleveland, on the mound to start. He gave up a tater to Carlos Lee in the 2nd though, and was pulled after a 25 pitch, earned run allowing 4th inning. 

Adam Ottavino came in and did a credible job of holding down the fort for 3 innings, giving up a run on a solo jack by the player formerly known as Mike Stanton (Stanton, out of Los Angeles, California, now prefers to be addressed as Giancarlo - I think it's in honor of his Puerto Rican heritage, though he is also of Irish and African American descent - A true American if there ever was one)

Ozzie kept Nolasco in the game in spite of his allowing Cuddyer's two-run pop in the 6th, which may have been good in terms of resting his middle relievers, but was bad for Nolasco's ERA. The 7th inning saw Nolasco give up the aforementioned triple to Mr. Rutledge that gave the Rockies the lead, and Eric Young's fielder's choice sacrifice that scored Rutledge from third to put the score at 5-3

Matt Belisle pitched the 8th in relief of Ottavino, and looked a little shaky, giving up two hits. No runs though.

Betancourt came in to close the show for the Rockies in the ninth, using his weird gyrations and hat-pulling routine, along with that wicked slider and four-seam heat to shut down the Marlins.

All told, it was a great game, observed from great seats, with great company.  

Disclaimer! Or rather, please note: I did not use any depictions of the game in any format whatsoever, as I did not want to incur the wrath of Major League Baseball. I did take a few nice pics of some of the action, but I'll keep those to myself.