Category Archives: general

Liberty Station

Today walk was out at LIberty Station in the Point Loma region of San Diego. For those who do not know San Diego used to be home to one of the navy’s three Naval Training Centers, the other two being in Orland (Where I did my basic Training) and up int he Great Lakes region. Several years ago the USN gave up NTC San Diego and it has since been trnasform into a bayside park,  business & Arts district.

Here is a panoramic shot I took today of Liberty Station. It didn;t turn out half bad.


Liberty Station


My trip to Fire station 45

So for the past year my sweetie-wife and I have watched as the city built a new fire station near our home. Today, after several months of operation, Firestation 45 hosted an open house for the public, and while my sweetie-wife need to work I managed to attend. Here are just a few picture and thoughts from that visit.


This is the area called the bunkhouse. It is the ‘living room’ for the station for the people on duty. Off to the left is a big screen TV and a stack of DVDs. ( I was informed because that cable and internet access has yet to be connected.) Now you can see that those recliners look quite comfy, and they are, but they are not a product of your tax dollars. The city provides utilities and  toilet paper, everything else including the food, the personal pay for themselves. They work 24 hours on, then have 24 hours off, after 4 work periods they get 4 days off.  I learned that smaller stations the people on duty just brown bag it, but at larger ones like 45 they chip in each day for a grocery run and buy the food communally.

kitchen-2Here is the kitchen. It’s very nice and ultra modern, but then again this is a brand new station.

Here is a reverse angle of the rest of the kitchen.






I learned that station 45 is the Hazardous waste specialists for San Diego County and so they are on call for any Hazardous waste issues county wide. Fire department personnel also suffer cancers at a higher rate than the general population due to their continual exposure to burning chemical. Because of this the department goes to great lengths to reduce exposure whenever and as much as possible. Those bulky protective uniforms are washed after every use and each person has two sets of ‘turn outs’ so that one can be in the process of being cleaned while the other worn on a call.

Here is a [picture of a fire truck and a fire engine. The truck is one the left, the yellow hose is Truck and Engineconnected to the exhaust to reduce carcinogen exposure. The difference between a ‘truck’ and an ‘engine?’ A fire truck carries a tank of water, this one I think has 500 gallons, while an engine doesn’t carry water but carries ladders and equipment. Essentially a Fire Engine is a giant motorized tool box.



I mentioned that the people on duty are on duty for 24 hours at a stretch, so of course there has to be living spaces. They don;t live, at least not at this station, in a giant barracks style room, butquarters here you can see that they have private rooms. The one picture is unoccupied. There were two wings and the occupied wing was off limits to the public.


Now in case you were getting sentimental about Firepolethings and felt that traditions were dying out, here for your pleasure is the fireman’s pole. Yup, they actually use that pole for quick transits from the upper floor to the ground floor. One thing that did surprise me, though it makes sense from a middle of the night safety thing, is that the pole is actually inFirepole door an enclosed space behind a door. This is of course so that you don’t stumble and fall through it by accident. (And no they were not letting us use the pole.) The display above the door is a ticker tape sort of thing that during a call continuously flashes the call and which units are responding.

I’ll end this post with a panoramic view from the second floor balcony.

panorama 45



New Theme

So, I decided to experiment again with a theme for my blog. This time I wanted something simple and direct. Go ahead and let me know what you think.


2014 A Personal Review

So today is the first day of 2015 and I have decided to look back over the totality of 2014, the challenges, the changes, and share a few of them with you.

  • A year about I was working as a temp, earing about 66% of what I had been pulling down, plowing in serious amount of overtime every week to make ends meet.
  • Now I am fully employed in a good position with union benefits making 15% above my previous high-income mark. I have good co-workers and everything on that front looks to be stable and growing.
  • This year I have received 40 rejections on short stories I have submitted for publication and 1 acceptance. That may sound dreary and depressing but of those 40 rejections 12 were personalized with comment from the proposed markets. 30% of my rejections elicited comment from editors and screeners. This is a new high water mark and indicates that more and more often my prose is scratching at professional acceptance.
  • My rejection streak continues with the Writers of The Future contest. Under the new coordinating judge I cannot seem to advance. A year ago this generated a great deal of frustration, but now I have only acceptance. It is simply one of many markets.
  • Sadly two friends passed away this year. They will be missed
  • I finished a new novel and that novel is generating at least some professional interest. We’ll have to see if 2015 closes that deal.
  • I attended a family reunion and spend a far too short weekend with my kin.
  • I started this year and ended it happily married to my sweetie-wife. Clearly the best aspect of the year.



This year was good and bad, as most years are, but overall I am happy to be be here and optimistic about the future.


E.P. Review: Without You Renee Olstead

cover170x170First let me say that I have no formal training in music, musical theory or criticism. I know what I like and I know how it makes me fee and it will be from that perspective that disc this recently released E.P. by Ms. Olstead.

Renee Olstead is a singer/actress with a dazzling voice and a love of jazz. I discovered her as I slowly discovered my own appreciation for Jazz and bassa nova music.

Without You a crowd-sourced E.P. featuring 4 covers, all in a airy jazz style.

First up is Blue Moon. Being a cinephile I principally am aware of this song from it’s prominent use in the comedy horror film An American Werewolf in London. Renee’s voice and the arraignment give this cover a haunting dreamlike quality that makes this version stand out as a new take on a standard song.

Next is Leaving On your Mind. Patsy Kline made this song into a country hit back when country music didn’t go around a rock roll’s lesser cousin. Renee’s take on the song is so different that as I listened I had a hard time remembering just where it was I knew the tune from. Again the over all impression is one that is ethereal and nearly spectral in its floating vocals.

Without You a song where I am unfamiliar with the original or other covers, so I can’t compare what has changed, but as she typically does woth Love song, Renee’s fills this rendition with heart, soul, and longing.

The E.P. ends with the song Everything. Another piece where I have no knowledge of the source material, but continues in the floating, haunting vocals.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mini-album and throughout my listened I was repeatedly struck by how well these songs and this performance would have fir onto the soundtracks for either Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks.


My CPAP wisdom

It was a little over four years ago that I received by diagnosis of severe sleep apnea. It came as a surprise; though I snored and had issues with being tired I had not expected that this would happen. I started CPAP therapy and this gave me my life back. So now that it has been four years I thought I would put together a small post sharing what I learned about making this therapy work effectively. Before we continue, these are simply my personal experiences. I am not a medical professional and you should always consult with a medical professional about any therapy you are engaged in.

1)   The Right Mask

First and foremost in getting the most of your CPAP therapy is finding the right mask for you face and your sleeping habits. Personally I started nasal pillows, which isn’t even really a mask. This was a device that affixed right under my nose and plugged directly into the nostrils. I thought it might work best because of the small profile, however I tend to open my mouth during my slumber, and this dropped my pressure below therapeutic levels. Even with a chinstrap I couldn’t keep my mouth closed. (A symptom I am sure many would say it equally true when I am awake.) This also ruled out the nose only masks. I tried several nose & Mouth masks before I found one with a gel form that sealed nicely against my skin without requiring too much pressure.

So if you first few masks don’t work for you, keep looking. There are all sorts of masks with all sorts of materials. Keep at it until you find the right one.

2)   A Clean Mask

Most instructions that come with the masks advise cleaning on a weekly basis, but this may be too infrequent. Each night you use the mask oils from your skin become affixed in a thin layer on the contact surfaces, degrading the seal. I have found that by purchasing CPAP mask wipes, I can clean the contact surfaces each night and improve the seal. This reduces how tight the mask needs to be when worn, and improves the general effectiveness of the therapy.

3)   A Shorn Face

If you’re male, and particularly if you are hirsute and given to ‘five o’clock’ shadow, it would be prudent to shave before bed. Just like gas masks, sleep apnea therapy masks do not function well with beards and unshorn skin.   You see a common theme appearing in my advise, getting a good seal. The point of the therapy is raising the pressure in you airways so that you have unobstructed breathing and you can keep properly oxygenated. A good seal is critical to obtaining that needed pressure.

4)   The Right Accessories

The mask and your skin are the most critical elements in securing good therapy, but making your sleep comfortable can sometimes be a matter of the correct ancillary devices. I myself tumbled and turn in my sleep, when I first started my CPAP therapy I often woke myself either tanged in the hose or by the roar of air escaping the machine after I had pulled the tubing free of the connectors.

I found a hose stand on Amazon that works well for me. The base slips between the mattresses and it hold the hose overhead, much like an IV stand does in a hospital, allowing me to toss and turn with little restriction.

I hope that this sharing experience helps someone out. If you think you may have sleep apnea I cannot stress enough the need to be tested. I didn’t think this applied to me, but during testing they discovered my blood oxygen levels were dropping in the high 80’s, and as I understand it, anything under 95% is considered dangerous. If people tell you that you snore and stop breathing, get thee to a doctor. If you wake up constantly through the night, get thee to a doctor. If when you stop moving you find yourself falling asleep, get thee to a doctor.


How Life Has Changed

I remember clearly a bit of frustration from my youth. I had read the Isaac Asimov novelization of the film “Fantastic Voyage” and I desperately wanted to see the movie. I have always been a fan of film and fantastic genre fiction particularly so. The problem was that this was the 1970s. There were no Blu-rays, DVDS, VHSs or Betamaxes around to sate one’s entertainment cravings.

The town I lived in did not have a revival theater, and all I could do was searched the listing on the weekly TV Guide and hope that some station like TBS , which aired a lot of films, would pay it.

I remember weeks of searching the guides, with no indication of an upcoming presentation, only my fondest hopes for one. It didn’t appear.

This weekend on a whim while scanned through the instant view option at Netflix I started watching Fantastic Voyage. Now I had seen it in the intervening years, so I was not watching to to satisfy that unscratched itch from decades past. It was just a way to pass the time and look at the filmmaking of years gone by.

However it did get me thinking about those months when I forlornly hoped against reality that it would appear in the listings.

We truly live in an age of Science-Fiction, so many treasures await our pleasures. We are approaching a film lover’s paradise.


I’ve been very busy

In addition to working 50 hours a week at my day job, I have been racing to complete my novel in progress. The final section has been handed over to my sweetie-wife for her proofing and when that is done I will be ready for beta readers.

To pass the time here is a picture of Obama on the iron throne as tweeted by the White House.

Obama Iron Throne


Dreams at 24 Frames per Second

I came to San Diego, courtesy of the United States Navy, late in 1981. The west coast had kensington-ken-cinema-lbeen a choice of mine and I do not regret that, but when I arrived I knew no one in this town. First the first few months my only recreation were movies and one of my favorite places to visit, though the bus ride was tedious, was the revival house, the Ken Theater.

I have always loved films, and some of my earliest memories are of movies, so it was natural that I sough out the theaters of my new home town, the Ken however was unlike anything I had ever experienced of even heard of in my naively limited knowledge.

Check out this image from one of our local weekly papers, The San Diego Reader.


That is the Ken Guide as it appeared when I first arrived at this city, double features that changed daily, except for when the theater would run a festival of some sort, which might block out a week or two. I did not get to th Ken as often as I would have like to during this period, but I made enough time to have forged some rosey cinematic memories.

The Maltese Falcon, M, Little Shop of Horrors (the original non-musical), The Seven Samurai, Creature from the Black Lagoon (in 3D!), this is a small sample of the wonderful film experiences I have had at the Ken. Truly classic films on the big screen.

The Ken is also where I met and made friendships during the mid 80’s as I attended the midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have written in another essay the importance that period played if helping me come out of a very tight introverted shell, and I will not belabor the point again, but the Ken was there for me during that time. Many fond and funny memories were forged on that sidewalk as we waited for the film.

Home video killed the revival theater. When you could own or rent the movies, fewer people would take the time and trouble to see them as they should be seen. By the 90s The Ken turned from revivals to art house films and I remained a true fan of the theater. So many smaller and independent films that never played in mainstream house played here, Cube, Raise The Red Lantern, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra are just three that I had the good fortune to see there. I missed the revival days, but the art house experience remained fulfilling.

All that is ending. The business owners and the landlord can not come to an agreement on a new lease and the announce has been made that the theater is closing down at month’s end. This was not part of my childhood, but this feels like childhood’s end. The last single screen theater in San Diego, a place that has shown movies for over 100 years, will so be no more.

The dreams will stop flickering, but my memories are eternal.


Been quite the busy bee

Last weekend was Condor XXI, so now one of our local SF conventions is older enough to drink. I, of course, attended the convention as I have for quite a few years now.

Our guest of honor was steampunk author Gail Carriger. I’ve personally know Gail since before her fabulous writing career took off. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her books sell lots of copes and gather up a fandom fairly unique in its nature. (She’s fond of saying her has the best fan I will not debate her wisodom here.)

Friday I was on no panels myself so I got to play around and be totally relaxed. I reconnected with a few friends I see mostly at conventions, and enjoyed the rarest of treats, sleeping in.

The secret masters of programming put me on all media panels this year, but since I ma huge media fan as well as a lit fan and aspiring author, I found not trouble with that.

We discussed the enduring popularity of  Doctor Who, and I put forth the ideas that part of the popularity may rest on two aspects of the show. First, they are not tied to a particular kind of story. They can go dark one week, and silly comedic the next. This gives them a wide range of stories to tell and if you didn’t like what you saw this week, wait it will change. Second, the regenerations, first invented to replace an ailing actor, has created a unique possibility for the show. Each new actor playing the Doctor brings their own spin on it and so the Doctor slightly changes as the actors change. This allows the Doctor to always be a  reflection of the times when it was produced, keep it fresh and connected to the audience.

On Sunday evening my sweetie-wife and I had dinner with Gail and her adorable boyfriend. It was a very pleasant time of good food, good company, and good conversation. The weekend was a rejuvenating experience for your humble host and improved my mood considerably.

I also finished the draft for my current novel in progress. I landed at 116,000 words and I have begun the process of cleaning up the copy before turning it over to afore mentioned sweetie-wife for her eagle eyed proofing.

In addition to all that I have been back working my overtime hours at the day job, and getting a submission ready for rejection at Writers of the Future. It has been a busy busy week, but a good one.