Things Change

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Things change.

I have been reminded of this fact lately. In a number of ways…

Last month, my professional responsibilities came to an end after a long spell. Sad to see it happen and the way it came to end was not as pleasant as it might have been for some of the folks involved.

Yet not all change is bad. A new opportunity lies in store with new challenges ahead. One that will take advantage of skills and experiences from along the way. Looking forward shows promise.

“Things Change” has also been the title of a great little film from 1988, directed by David Mamet. This review by Roger Ebert gives a good glimpse into the project, which starred Don Ameche and Joe Mantegna. One of my favorite little screen gems from the 80’s.

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Without giving the story away, the title is an apt one. Don Ameche found several good roles late in his career and this is indeed among those. Worth a watch some time.

The last Saturday in June found me in Anaheim. At one time, this was a yearly visit with family members to celebrate a particular birthday, but the last few years have found real life getting in the way. So it was a treat to enjoy Disneyland and California Adventure for the day. A less hectic day than those of the past with no real plans ahead of time.

I know that some folks are disappointed with some of Disneyland being closed due to construction for the Star Wars project. But on the whole, I did not find that this was all that big a problem. Sure, the Disneyland Railroad may not be making trips, nor the Mark Twain or the Columbia sailing the Rivers of America. But there were plenty of memories being made elsewhere, with good numbers of happy guests all around.

We enjoyed a breakfast at Rancho Del Zocalo (Chilaquilles was tasty!) and a nice lunch at the Harbor Galley (Lobster rolls at Disneyland? And a tuna salad sandwich enjoyed next to the Columbia that takes one back through the years back to the Chicken of the Sea galley in Fantasyland!) Disneyland offered nice rides on the Jungle Cruise, Pirates and the Haunted Mansion, along with various rides up and down Main Street. California Adventure saw us enjoy the new version of Soarin’, Radiator Springs Racers and a ride on the Red Car Trolley.

The afternoon came with a Disneyland Mint Julep, truly a throwback to earlier visits through the years.

While it wasn’t a whirlwind adventure by any means, I have to say it was a fine day at Disneyland. The kind of thing that I used to enjoy more often.

 

And who knows? This new opportunity might allow more of these kind of days.

 

But first up, the annual Friends of the Magic gathering is coming , August 5th through 7th. The Blue Parrot will be hosting a meet and co-hosting another along with the Pink Monorail. Hope to see a few readers join in the festivities! A good chance to meet some wonderful folks bringing Disney content online. Worth the time if you are in the area of Disneyland!

 

Yes, indeed. Things change.

 

hats

 

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Musings at Mid-week

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It is one of those weeks. Depending on which way you turn, your actual mileage may vary.

Politics certainly is fun right now. I keep asking myself, “Is this really the best you can do?”, when it comes to the choices at hand. I don’t really have a great deal of faith in the candidates, but it seems to be a pretty clear mandate that everyone really does not care for business as usual. Not that a Presidential election will change that. Going to take voters from one party or another to come to the polls and out vote their idealogical counterparts. And as long as we have unlimited spending for political campaigns, things won’t change all that much. Folks will believe what they want to, no matter what facts may be in evidence to counter those beliefs.

But hey! We got rain in California this winter and spring that seems to have lightened our “drought” situation. And as regular as clockwork, the Golden state is turning brown. Hoping that dead trees and high grasses will be kept in check as the fire seasons of summer and fall come along. And that those who will be fighting the inevitable wild land fires will be safe out there. Weather this week has been somewhat cool and gray. That would be nice when the summer months come to call.

Life is good right now, with the cats seeing the start of their sixth year on the planet. A couple of rescued ferals who just fit in with us, taking their rightful places as our overlords, demanding food and attention while sharing the royal personage with us larger and clumsier “cats”.

While I know that the summer season for movies is well underway, I have kind of lost the enthusiasm for what lies ahead. Call me what you will, but it sure seems as stories have all blurred, with super hero film after super hero film after super hero film. When it came to comics, I was always more of a DC fan than Marvel. I will admit that somewhere among my stored collections of stuff, I do actually have a copy of Howard The Duck, issue number one.

Down to the wire for last episodes on a number of television series, too. While we are wired to the Internet for the delivery of some content (thanks to Hulu and Apple TV), I still don’t miss the greater part of all of the options. A vast wasteland indeed…

Ah, baseball… Going to plan for a few minor league games this summer. Have yet to visit Stockton’s Banner Island Ballpark and need to remedy that. Visits to Modesto and San Jose call as well for some class A ball. And Reno with the AAA Aces seems worth the adventure, with some fine Basque dining nearby at the Hotel Santa Fe.

Yes, sir… plenty of summer ahead and plenty of great opportunities waiting to be taken advantage of along the way.

Now just to get there all in one piece.

 

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No Matter Where You Go…

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Ah, Home, Sweet Home… Maybe.

Sorry, no Disneyland stories today. I needed a good exterior view of a home and that’s a photo I have.

What I do want to share is some thoughts on the places we choose to live. Oddly enough, I do have memories of all of the spots that I have lived over the years. As well as a few places where family lived from time to time. Okay, so I cheat a bit when thinking of Mainz-Gonsenheim in Germany, but in September of 2001 we did revisit the little place where my parents and I stayed in 1958 and the first part of 1959. Other than those first six months of all my years, I have been a California resident. I was reminded strongly of this during a recent visit with the Social Security Administration.

In those years, the San Francisco Bay Area, has been the place. If you haven’t been here, let me say that you can find all kinds of climates and landscapes within a few hours drive. Redwood rainforest, oceanside, prairie, coastal hills, urban cityscape, vineyards, and more. It is enough of a mix that you are hard pressed to find so many choices anywhere else.

Over that time, I have lived in most of the parts of the Bay Area. The only exception is the North Bay, but family, work and other interests have taken me there on more than a few occasions. It is somewhat scary, in that I know how to get around as much as I do. One of the interesting side effects of a career and a hobby that take in transportation information. Not that I have not gotten lost on occasion, but I manage to get back on track, or on route to a destination.

Looking back, the years were kind and the locations good to us as a family. We shared a lifestyle with other post war families of similar size. I have made some good friends over the time but wish I had kept in better touch with others.

In some ways, sad is a good word for some of those places. My mothers parents had a wonderful home in Sea Cliff in San Francisco. I know tastes in decorating change over time, but when the place was up for sale recently, I had a rude experience. The realtor put a website together to show off everything shiny and brand new. The memories that I fondly recall from many years enjoyed there were utterly crushed.

So little of what remains has any ties to those days. I had seen some of it first hand in driving by the home in the last few years, but could never have imagined what had taken place on the inside. (And no, I won’t link to the real estate web site. It’s just too depressing…)

I am a realist in understanding that new owners usually want to put their own spins on a place. That’s to be expected. Change is inevitable and usually for the best. Yet, one can hope that some respect for what came before still survives. Memories will suffice, but you wish that there was something more to tie you to a place. Yeah, I know. Terminal nostalgia. It’s not fatal, but it sure can tug at heartstrings when you look back.

Maybe that is the best we have of anywhere we live, work or play. Memories of the people (and pets) who made those places as special as they are. Indeed, a treasure worth having.

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Afternoon Musings

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Ah, the promise of an afternoon…

Changes ahead, in all kinds of ways. Disney fans got a bunch of changes out there. Starting at the top, will Bob Iger be staying on now that Tom Staggs has declared his intentions to move on? Only time will tell, but I suspect Bob will be around a bit longer. He has a few more years before he hits that magic number forcing his retirement.

And while on the subject of Disney, how about Zootopia? Fun film and good to see if do so well as the box office. With international numbers, it will become the first animated film to do over a billion dollars at the box office. Walt and Roy would like that a lot. But Disney as a company seems poised to have a string of hits in theaters. With Star Wars (and all the spin-off films), Indiana Jones and all the Marvel properties ahead, times look good, don’t they? And don’t forget Steven Spielberg adding his own BFG to the mix, too. Stockholders gotta like what they are seeing ahead.

So, Universal has opened Harry Potter in California. Sure, it’s a winner. How could it not be? And with Disney looking to keep up as it gets hot and heavy into Star Wars construction in Anaheim, one would have to expect Universal has to have more up it’s sleeves to keep competition going for all of those tourist dollars.

Amusing isn’t it? Even with so much of Disneyland down for this project, folks still manage to spend and spend in Anaheim. As long as they keep coming, Disney will keep gathering all of that disposable income from them. Yes, truly, “Shut Up and Take My Money!”

April means a return to baseball. So far so good as the new season has some great stories already. Speaking of Story, he should do well in Denver as that seems to be a hitters park. And Baltimore! Oh, for some crab cake sandwiches to go along with all of those wins. Here is hoping for a productive year for the Orioles in a traditionally tough American League East division. A’s and Giants? Give me Stockton for the Ports (I really need to go visit the Banner Island Ballpark) or just an excuse for some Turkey Mikes BBQ in San Jose. Would be nice if the big clubs did better than last year, while we are at it.

Still waiting for Apple or anyone to come along with the next technological “must-have”. With so many people trained to their phones or other devices, it is only a matter of time before the next gotta get gadget sucks them in even more. Although the next generation of Google Glass (Google Goggles?) has to be lurking out there some where in developer hell…

This Saturday see’s me off to the Presidio in San Francisco for THATCamp, with a look at Humanities and Technology. Promises to be an interesting event. And the following Friday, it is a throwback as Trader Vic’s offers the latest in Cocktail Seminars with a visit to the 1947 Bartenders Guide. Gotta grab my copy and be ready to try my hand at something tempting and tasty!

Yes, sir. Fun ahead at all times, at least from this afternoon onward.

 

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Matters of Perspective

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It is funny that there are times when we can be reminded of how the simplest things in life can provide the most satisfaction.

Take the image above, for example.

These two balls of fluff spent the first four months of their young lives outdoors as feral kittens. They came to us, because their mother spotted a source first of clean water and later food. Yes, I plead guilty to being the source of both. It was a warm summer and the four kittens we saw together in the bushes outside our front door looked like they could use a cool drink. Mom was occasionally around, but for the most part, these kittens were on their own.

So, I took pity and bought a bag of inexpensive kibble at the local grocery store to share with them. We already had one indoor cat and she was curious about the kittens, to say the least. Downright excited at times. (Belle came to us as a re-home from Craigslist, keeping our pal Cruiser company for the last year of his time with us.) But at that time, we had no intention of adding to our little household.

As the days passed, these kittens and another tame cat all came to water and feed at our trough. I think after Mom left the litter, the other cat took up the role of surrogate watching over the bunch of them. (I suspect she had been abandoned at some point as she was not skittish around us, as most feral cats are.

The kittens became accustomed to us and would wait outside for the time of day when either fresh water was forthcoming or the once a day feeding of kibble. The smallest of the four would be the first at the dish when kibble came out. She would growl as she ate, signalling to the other three that they were going to have to wait their turn. But once they had all eaten, they would come to us for attention. We didn’t threaten them by grabbing or rushing after them. As time passed, they were well socialized.

I am not sure what happened, but the four became three and then three became two. One afternoon, our neighbors had some friends visit, and the friends brought their dog to run about the back yard. The gate to the yard was only about three feet high and this dog could easily look over and see the kittens with us and it was more than a bit interested. Having seen their numbers deplete, I decided we wouldn’t take any chances and brought the two remaining inside the house with us.

They have been inside cats ever since. This summer will see the calendar turn seven years since that day.

Chessie (the runt of the litter) and her sister Peake are named for the railroad kittens of the C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio). As with good indoor cats, we are the staff, attending to their needs as required at all times of the day and night. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

When weather is nice, the bench in the photo is placed behind the safety of the secured screen door and becomes a perch from where the passing panorama can be viewed. Everything from birds and other animals (so far skunks have not been annoyed in passing) to the postal delivery people and our current neighbors children, all have become items of long fascination as hours may pass with the two cats sitting there taking it all in.

Yes, the feline version of people watching. From this perch, the view maybe takes in some ten feet or so on either side of the door. And for the most part, the cats are just fine with that. As long as no one tries to invade their inside territory, they are okay with that. On a couple of occasions, they have received inquisitive visitors at the door in the form of other cats. Meows may be exchanged and occasional growls or hissing can be heard. Yet, in all this time, the two of them are somewhat satisfied with their indoor life. Not to say there have not been escape attempts by both, but safety first and they came right back inside, under protest at times.

Give them some peaceful moments as seen above, and they are both happy with the situation. At least, I hope they are…

Indeed, matters of perspective.

 

 

 

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