It’s a rip-off….

Well, damn, but I guess my long summer of fire and smoke is nearing an end.

The other day, lying down for a nap, I suddenly remembered that I have to prepare a “reader” for the writing classes I will be teaching in the fall.  This filled me with a vast irritation that did not, nonetheless, keep me from napping.  But I woke up thinking about it.






For a few quarters, I tried not to have a reader and put the readings up on the net so students could download them, print them out and read, but they were not doing it partly because the ink for those damn printers costs so much, and when they did sometimes print they all used different formats and so sometimes the page numbers didn’t match and we would all be looking at different page numbers, so I went back to constructing a mini-reader with articles gathered from here and there all about, in this case, “the consumer society.”

Speaking of which—the consumer society, I mean—those guys who make printers were not the first to sell the product, i.e., the printer for next to nothing or very little, knowing full well that they would make fortunes selling the stuff that makes the printer work.  In this case the ink.

Kodak did it back in 1906-07.  They were practically giving that damn Brownie away.  It sold for 1 dollar.  True, I don’t know what a dollar was worth back in 1907 but it couldn’t have been an awful lot. Lured on by the very low introductory offer to the machine itself one might have failed to note that the cost for film and developing ran about a dollar a pop.  That’s what kept the dollars rolling in. 

On their celebratory website marking the 100th anniversary of the Brownie, the Kodak people proudly note that they were one of the first businesses to advertise their product extensively to children.  Indeed one finds in their print ads, many references to children, and in their magazine ads children are frequently presented in the pictures.  An interesting tactic indeed, employed all too frequently since.  An absolutely new product is introduced; and because no one really knows what it is or what it does, it is advertised as a toy or plaything that does not necessarily have a use.

I mean what the hell is a “top.”  What does it do—it goes in circles; and what is it—well, a top or thing that goes in circles.

I must say the Brownie web site is pretty cool.

We are doomed!

I am freaked out enough these days.

I go into to deposit my portion of the TFT in the bank.  I mean I walk into the actual back to deposit the check rather than use the ATM machine because I am afraid the ATM machine will screw up, I guess.  I really don’t know what I am doing since I haven’t deposited stuff in a long time, and as I start to walk away, the person at the counter says you want your receipt, don’t you.  Why of course I say, pretending just to have forgotten sort of absent mindedly.

And then still trying to operate in the adult mode, I go over to the other side of the bank where the so-called “financial advisors” all sit behind their desks.  I have learned through my dealings with the Tingle Family Trust that there are these things called CD’s and that they fetch more interest than just leaving your money sitting there in a checking account.  By God! I am for the first time in my life actually “investing” some money, I guess.

This guy waves me over to his desk and I tell him what I have got and was thinking about CD’s and he says that’s a good idea though maybe—and he is sort of mumbling—it would be better to buy some Euros.  And I sort of go what, and he says Euros or Yen, and then he says or maybe some Gold.  I know enough to know that when people start talking about buying Gold they are preparing for the end of the world as we know it.

So I say, things don’t look so hot, huh.

And the guy says, “We are doomed.”

Jesus!  I just wanted to ask a couple of questions about CD’s and rather than trying to sell me on CD’s, as he should be doing, the guy says, “We are doomed,” because he says the housing market is in a free fall and there is no end in the sight.  Last year, he says, at this time, there were exactly 70 properties on the real estate market in the general Santa Barbara area; this year there are 900 and nobody is buying.  So things don’t look so hot, I say.

And the guy says, “We are doomed.”

I ask does the bank sell euros and he says they certainly do and he gives me a card with a number on it to call, as he hands me some info he has printed out on something called a CD ladder.

So I leave the bank all upset because “We are doomed,” and am befuddled too because I have never really understand the idea of using money to buy money and what would I do with the money that I bought if I bought it.  I mean would I keep it in my house or something, or would I just own it on paper.  But any way I cut it, it doesn’t sound good because buying Euros would mean I believe that the dollar will soon go down the toilet, money-wise.


Over the weekend, the very last remnants of a hurricane brushed through the Santa Barbara area.  There was a flashflood alert but nothing happened.  But down in San Diego Brother Steve reported a two hour down pour and added, the next day:

….the paper had the stats on the storm….2.17 inches in one hour at Lake Wohlford….on my walk I could see some flash-flood erosion of the dirt roads….and the trash cans they place along the edge of the lake were out in the lake a few feet….first time the water level has come up in a while….all this from a storm that started in the Atlantic!

But we did have unusual clouds that produced an interesting sunset:




And some dramatic cloud effects, one might say:





And a correction:  the blackboard with the welcome for Colton and Blake is located in Brother Dave’s house, not up on the Crest Line Trail somewhere. 


Yesterday morning I started plowing through this stack of instructions and forms from the lawyer regarding my job as executor of the Tingle Family Trust.

I will be glad when the Tingle Family Trust is over.


At first looking at the documents I thought I would have a fit and die right there on the spot.  These documents were guidelines for the official documentation of the accounting of what is, money-wise, in the Tingle Family Trust.  After a couple of phone calls to the lawyer to clarify some basic issues—like what were the dates of the accounting, from when to when exactly—I got started and spent most of the morning and into the afternoon, looking at bank statements and trying to figure out what had gone into and what had gone out of the Tingle Family Trust, since April 10, 2007 when Joan died.

As Carol will tell you, I am a big picture sort of guy and detail stuff is not my forte.  I would be adding something up and then realize I should be subtracting, and I would forget what I had to push on the calculator and it would subtract something rather than add, or it would come out with some incomprehensible number that no relation at all to what I was trying to figure out.

But I persisted and now have a skeleton outline of the forms that I will finish in a few days when the bank statements show up on line at the end of this month (Friday) and then I will put the whole mess in the mail and send it to the paralegal at the lawyers, who will at 95 bucks an hour, put the whole thing in official shape.  Soon after that I should be able to write checks to the Brothers Tingle and I will be able to drive a stake through the heart of the Tingle Family Trust, except for a few thousand bucks we will keep to pay very late bills.

Brother Steve knew I had put checks in the mail last week with part of the money for each brother, so he went by the lawyers to see where the checks were, and THEY COULDN’T FIND THEM.  But they did later and he came back and got his.  So now the lawyers know they have the checks and should be sending them out to the rest of the Brothers Tingle, Dave and Dan.

I am not impressed with these lawyers at all.

Brother Dave took a trip up to the Pacific Crest Trail, and while there came across this blackboard, and decided to welcome the two recent Tingle Additions: Blake Tingle and Colton Dhillon (Caroline’s new child).  I am not sure where they were before they got to earth.  But Welcome in Any Case.

Starry Night?

We’ve had a little fracas going on in the condo complex for a couple of years now.  Maybe five years back or so, one of the residents got out of her car and on the way to her condo was attacked, knocked down that is, and had her purse taken.  This was a terrible experience of course.  So she decided to sue the condo association for insufficient lighting since the attack was at night.

She must have won something I guess because the condo association was pressured by the insurance people to do something about the lighting.  So they did and now we have these poles stuck up everywhere with huge bulbs stuck on top of them, so you could sit outside, in the dark, supposedly, if you wanted, read without too much trouble.  Nobody liked these lights much and a couple of the eco-new-age freaks in the complex complained because they said it was no longer possible to see the stars.

That was true and the eco-freaks are onto something because according to an article in the New Yorker, one can now find only a few places on this earth where one can see the night time sky the way, say, any old ancient Roman, or most people living even in the 19th century could have seen it.  Human beings are producing way too much light, and it gets refracted, or something to that effect, and blocks the stars from our vision.

 I realized reading this that it’s been a long time since I have really looked at the night time sky since there really is no point in doing so.  It’s just black—sort of—with nothing floating around in it.  I remember too as a kid out camping in the mountains with Boy Scouts and being astonished at the number of stars visible out in the woods.

 I think human beings are direct products of their environs.  Once the stars were, at least for quite a few people, a source of wonder.  Wow!  Look at that!  What the hell is that!  And even when we came to know what that was, it remained a source of wonder, suggesting the vastness of time and space.  No stars, no wonder.  Gone, a source, since the start of humanity, for idle star gazing and profound pondering.  A whole source of spiritual stuff or of contemplating humanity’s relation to all that is out there is disappearing right before our eyes so that our eyes may see at night.

Now there’s an organization working to preserve the night time sky.  They have gone around the globe ranking night time star visibility.  Only a few places on the globe are as dark now at night as the whole globe was a 100 years ago. No doubt these few places will become, if they have not already become, tourist attractions. Even the night time sky will become commercialized.

Weekly De-Spamming

I was deleting all that spam I get about enlarging my penis and came across, while doing so, a response to my description of my recent tooth cleaning.  It was from one MamaGums.  She has a site up that sells stuff.  And people selling stuff make me suspicious.  But the comment wasn’t spam and so I looked at the site ( and I can say that Ms. Gums is truly committed to gum care and that gums have a true defender in Ms. Gums.

She believes we should brush our teeth and gums with toothpaste high in baking soda and that we should use an irrigator rather than floss, and that we should brush our tongues as well as our gums and teeth.

This put me in mind of a time years back when, during one of my multiple attempts to stop smoking, I went to an acupuncturist.  Before I got to lie down on the acupuncturist bed thing, the acupuncturist would ask me how I was doing in general physically and as part of this abbreviated check up she would ask me to stick out my tongue.  Then she would take a long hard look at my tongue.  Sometimes it seemed like I had to stick that tongue out there a long time as she looked at it this way and that.

I don’t know what the heck she saw when looking at my tongue, but I started for a while there to look at my tongue myself.  And I must say I didn’t like what I saw.  Sometimes, the thing would be a sort of sodden white towards the back, and sometimes, the tongue had a greenish hue, and once it was even yellowish. I had a sort of a psychedelic tongue.  I stopped looking at my tongue because doing so only gave me more hypochondrical thoughts.

But who knows maybe right there in the middle of our mouth is a good index of the state of our general health, if one could only understand what one is seeing.  Certainly, the medical profession is not likely to tell us about this index, since we might start diagnosing ourselves by looking at our tongues.  Or maybe it’s all nonsense.

In any case, I recommend looking at your tongue once in a while just to see what you think of it.  It’s one of those body parts that don’t receive sufficient attention to my mind.  I have already written about and so won’t repeat my attempts to examine my own anus.  I mean after all it is the other main opening into the body.  But I don’t recommend trying it if you have a back problem.

John and Juan

This is Saturday, I think.  Anyway, a few days back, on Thursday I think, John the contractor/carpenter came with his assistant, trainee Juan, to put in our window.  John and Juan.  Juan is Spanish, I think, for John; and John is English for Juan.  So John and Juan came and cut a hole in the wall of our walk in closet so we can make the closet into less of a closet and more of a room. 




So of course right in the middle of the place we want to put the window, John finds, once he cuts a hole in the sheetrock, a string of wires right in the way and there’s no way around them.  So move more to the right I say, and John and Juan do that and cut another hole and what do you know but more wires.  And no way around them.

Still maybe the window can be squeezed in between the wires.  Maybe they have some slack.  So Juan goes down to the utility room below our closet where the water heaters are housed and they find the wires and there seems to be a little slack.  But getting the slack involves John yelling inside the closet—give me the slack (so he can pull it up)—down to Juan inside the closet below, and of course Juan cannot hear John and visa versa.

So I am involved in a flash back to childhood with me running from John to Juan saying what John said to Juan and then back to John to say what Juan was doing for some 20 minutes.  I say flashback to childhood because WB would insist on trying to repair the plumbing when something went wrong and that would involve him shouting something and usually swearing too up through the floor, like, “Turn it on!” or “Turn it off!”  And of course we couldn’t hear a damn thing he was saying and that would involve more swearing, until if there was more than one of us around we would construct a sort of human yelling chain.  One person would be down below listening to WB yell and swear and then that person would yell (and sometimes swear too) to the person upstairs who had to Turn the blank, blank, blank thing on or off.

Anyway, they found the slack and framed the window and stuck it in.  When you look at a wall, it’s hard to imagine what it will look like with a window in it.  But I can say now that putting a window into wall really transforms the wall.  While previously the wall had been a wall, it now appears more a structure to hold in place a window.  All of the stuff beyond the wall that was previously invisible to the eye is now visible.





We can see all new stuff from our condo now.  Mostly what we see is the condo complex next door.  But it’s not too bad looking, and if our neighbors were to look over our way they might notice we have a new window.  But seeing somebody has a new window isn’t half as exciting as actually having the new window yourself.

By the Beach

I was sorry to hear my favorite Aunt had to go to the hospital yesterday for a heart cath.  The doctors feared a heart attack was imminent; she has been struggling for some years now with a lung problem.  Her difficult breathing puts pressure on the heart of course.

 Carol’s mom is out of the hospital for the time being.

Brother Steve is now a grandpa as of yesterday, his daughter Caroline having given birth to one Colton James Dhillon.

Brother David is Grandpa twice over, his son Stephen being now the father of a second son, Blake Daniel Tingle.

Brother Dan dropped by and we took a walk to the beach with the Puccini the Dog.





Brother David went in for his yearly dermatological checkup and they had to cut out a number of things from his face; one was a squamous cell.  I don’t that genetically Tingles do too well out in the sun.

The beach—right at the beach—was fogged in till late afternoon, signifying a possible change in the weather pattern.





I am going to get the old Volvo ready to give to my nephew, Dylan.  Need to see if I can find the paper for it.

 Today, some guy is going to come and cut a hole in a wall and put a window in the hole.  We will see.

I can’t get some software I bought for music making to work and it’s driving me positively nuts.

Surfers were surfing in the foggy surf.


I agreed to write a “response” to an article in an academic journal.  But right now I can’t seem to get started on it.

I hear from relatives in SC that the heat has been just terrible, up near a hundred for about 3 weeks running, no rain, and now some of the trees are dying.

Tooth Cleaning

Started out this day by going at 9 am to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned.  I don’t know how many years it’s been now since I started going to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned three times a stinking year. Twenty though would be a good guess.

Hell, it hurts.  Who looks forward to getting his teeth cleaned?  Well, it doesn’t so much hurt, except for the moment when that pointy cleaning thing hits a nerve, as grind me down.  I just feel exhausted after as if somebody had been beating me with sandbag for an hour.  I know that the days I get my teeth clean I will be screwed for the rest of the day.





Anyway, more than 20 years ago, the dentist at that time—his name was Lance and long ago moved to Australia—told me I had gingivitis.  I didn’t know what the hell that was, at that time, but it sounded dangerous, and when he said all my teeth might fall out if it got really bad I figured I would do the teeth cleaning thing.  I know they have good artificial choppers out there, but there’s something about going to your grave with the originals I think.

For a long time though I would go in, and the hygienist would not be pleased with my progress.  Have you been flossing, that was always the question.  She had this sign taped to the roof so that when you looked up from the dental chair you could read, “Floss or Die!”  I would usually mumble something about having done it but maybe not being as regular about it as I might have been to sort of placate this flossing obsessed person.  Then she would go in there and beat the hell out of my gums for an hour.

I never have mastered flossing really.  I do it intermittently if I remember usually while watching TV.  I have those little dental floss holders scattered all over the place, though usually I can’t find one.  And if I do find one and floss, I don’t know what to do with the used floss while I am sitting there in front of the TV, so sometimes I go around with pieces of floss dangling out of my pocket.

What really saved my ass gingivitis-wise was a) getting a new hygienist who doesn’t believe in hounding a person about flossing and b) one of those electric toothbrushes that started coming out in the late 80’s I think.  I never was a good tooth brusher either, but with one of the electric things it is hard not to do at least a half-assed job.  Anyway, I still have my teeth, less tarter build up, less bleeding from the gums.  Anyway my gums seem to give me less trouble, though frankly that might be because I have a lot less gum than I had 20 years ago.

They want me to come back in soon because in this last hectic year I forgot I had to get a cavity fill and a cap put in to cover over the hole left left my one of the huge fillings I got back in the late 50’s and early 60’s cracked and fell out.

 Damn!  I have fillings that are 40 years old.

Hell in a Handbasket

Yesterday was stressful what with all those lawyer dealings, and to top it off somebody goes and robs a Sizzler!  The one not two miles from where we live. Who the hell would hold up a Sizzler?  Would have to be a robber with really low expectations.  But Carol got a call from one of her clients who was worried that he wouldn’t be able to get home and what was he to do since his usual route was blocked at that time by cops trying to locate the bandit. 

This is a pretty main artery so I got an email from the university saying the road was blocked due to a Sizzler hold up, and then later in the day, I got another report from the University saying 101, that heads up the coast, was blocked due to a wildfire in Lompoc. So now we have another wildfire.





The Zaca fire is now the third biggest in CA history, and given the way it is going could easily move into second place.  It’s been burning now for 49 days, and has consumed about 216,000 acres and has cost about 87 million so far to fight.

In this picture down at the beach, you can see a lighter blue line on the horizon.  That is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of SB.  They are actual islands though I have forgotten how many of them there are.  Yesterday, they were visible for the first time in weeks.  So perhaps the smoke is clearing from the air a bit.

Here is a link to the best site I have found on the Zaca Fire.  It’s something called the Incident Information System, though I would call the Zaca Fire more than an incident.  It has fire and smoke pictures galore, as well as really official sounding information. 

Some dolphins went swimming by when we were there, and I tried to take a picture of them, but missed and got a pretty good picture of seaweed instead.