Archive for May, 2021

Rock 101

29 May 2021

On Saturday May 29th, The School of Rock Elk Grove put on a concert at DOCO.

This was the first song in the first set. These students are the best of “Rock 101,” ages about 7 to 11.

Ads may appear as this song is still under copyright.

The School of Rock released a huge number of photos and videos on their own Facebook page on this concert. It was the first of 3 major wrap-up concerts for their 12th season. A really big deal for them.

Self portrait

In this photo, the lead singer of the first band, in the background in my video, is in the foreground and I am in the background! Can you find me?

My latest mini-video

28 May 2021

Larry visits…Walnut Creek

27 May 2021

Currently, the BART station is surrounded by construction work. My leading image shows the classic vista from BART, looking east to Mount Diablo. But if you look down, or west, you see new or recent construction.

Everywhere I see more apartment buildings going up around my city and the Bay Area. I hope there are young people who can still afford to live in all these posh new places when all the economic and political unrest settles down, if it ever does.

Parking structure next to BART.

And will people still be able to afford their cars? Currently the whole urban pattern in the Bay Area consists of people driving to BART stations from their suburban homes, then going into The City (or Oakland, or even San Jose) on the train. So every suburban BART station includes a huge parking structure.

On this day, I set off in what I hoped was the direction of Main Street. Many years ago I had visited here with parents and family friends to see the offbeat French film “La Cage Aux Folles” (Cage of Fools) in an artsy little movie theater, such as were popular in those times. Downtown Walnut Creek today is unrecognizable, but not unfamiliar.

At the outskirts of downtown, across from a Target and just up the street from some car dealerships, a lovely corporate park containing three nice buildings sits amid lush greenery.

Right down Main Street yet another apartment building is being put in.

A block or two further, and the downtown shopping / eating district starts for real.

The quaint-looking edifice in the distance is a real estate office that appears to have been built rather recently.

I then proceeded to walk down one side of Main, cross over, and walk back up the other side.

At first the cute little shops and eateries seemed familiar enough. A used book store. Some sort of art shop. Asian food.

All the eateries are very hip and want to “protect” their clientele while doing their best to stay open (thank goodness for the mild weather here!).

I had to include the photo below. This is an “old style” downtown building. It would have been a hamburger joint or dime store back in the day.

These sorts of shops continue for another block or two. Then the tony corporate stores begin to take over.

Tiffany’s
Anthropologie
Apple!

The Apple store heads up an extremely posh set of shops along a walkway. It reminds me a little of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Not shown: Neiman Marcus and Nordstroms. You have to have a very healthy cash flow to shop here!

… or eat …

Another view of the corner…

A bank with a bizarre piece of sculpture in front greets me as I return to the area with the little eateries and specialty shops…

Mel’s!

My visit was short, but the air was fresh and I got to see how yet another “old haunt” has transformed over the years.

I wish the Bay Area well. I doubt I will ever live there again, but who knows? Perhaps my affinity for the place will eventually lure me back.

Mid-May Images

23 May 2021

As the world seethes with whatever paroxysms it is going through, daily life continues in its animated and comfortable sameness…

Old Sacramento

As the menace of disease recedes for many, and the pleasant days of early summer beckon, Old Sacramento gets busier and busier, particularly on weekends.

The tour boats are running again…

… and the dockside turtles never fail to appear for their daily sunbath.

Old Sac is a favorite site for photographers.

Who can overlook a pretty girl in an old fashioned red dress posing for a photo shoot?

People love to stroll through the little park, in spite of the dirt walking surface that often billows with dust when the winds gust.

Young couples are typical Old Sac visitors.

Many visitors seem to be from the local area rather than being “real” tourists. You don’t need to dress up to visit Old Sac.

The little native wildflower bed planted by one of the park rangers has probably reached its peak.

American River

The buckeyes are now in full bloom.
Sweet peas growing wild next to Folsom Blvd.
The allium are also blooming heavily.
This jimsonweed flower by the fish hatchery is at its prime.
This green pine cone will probably never go to seed. It somehow got knocked off the tree prematurely.
The cottonwoods are also at their peak now.

Elsewhere

I found this huge hedge of sage in Pleasant Hill (Bay Area).

There is a LOT of building going on in the area. Construction sites are not very photogenic, but the creation of what is essentially a collection of artificial caves is an amazing process.

Graduation!

I’m not sure how Sacramento State managed to matriculate a class of students over the past several months, but somehow they pulled it off. Here I sit in the Arboretum and watch a line of eager families waiting to take photos of their graduates in front of the “California State University Sacramento” sign at the main entrance to the campus.

Justification

12 May 2021
From an Italian painting depicting the Spanish capture of the Inca in Peru. This long period of conquest was justified by a Roman Catholic document known as “The Requirement.”

I want to spend a few paragraphs addressing a common mechanism in life known to me as “justification.”

What I really want to address is the tendency of “rational” people to take all arguments seriously. I see this very often in political discussions and less often in conversations about random personal issues.

Moral Codes

Let’s start with the concept of what is “right” or “good” versus what is “wrong” or “bad.” These ideas can become fixed in society and be elevated to the status of moral codes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it can get out of hand.

At the highest spiritual levels, moral codes aren’t really needed. It’s not that spiritual beings are incapable of being naughty. It’s just that it doesn’t usually matter. A spiritual being in good shape can tolerate almost anything you can do to it. It is massless and eternal, so how can you hurt Spirit?

However, in the games of life, which involve possessions (at least bodies) and hunger and emotions and all that, codes of conduct become more important if you want to build some sort of society (game) that can last.

Very high-spirited (free) people will develop very high-minded moral codes. They are closer to a Code of Honor, which would be entirely voluntary. Such beings normally allow for lots of freedom but can also be very strict, or you could say, demanding.

Slaves, or slave societies, will develop very savage moral codes that might seem bizarre or arbitrary to freer beings.

But wherever you or your society is at, below the level of pure Spirit there will be codes that attempt to define the rules for the various games played in that society. To follow the codes is “good” and to break the codes is “bad.” Because following the moral codes will keep the game going.

No one wants to be wrong

If you break a rule for a game you are playing, you could be kicked out of that game. And most people don’t want that. They need games. Games make life fun and give it meaning.

So when a person realizes they are breaking a rule – the moral code – their first reaction is to create a justification. Justifications can be off-the-cuff and very superficial, or long and involved theories “proving” that the moral codes somehow don’t apply in their case, or maybe even need to be thrown out or revised.

The problem with justifications is that their only purpose is to make the rule breaker right. Though they might seem logical or “based on science” they are not invented to further the cause of science or human understanding or even to win a debate. Their only purpose is to cleverly find a reason or explanation for why the bad deed was really okay.

You can’t argue with a justification

Thus, any attempt to pick apart the logic, rationale, or scientific basis for a justification is time totally wasted. If a wrongdoer finds his justification getting weak, he will simply change it or replace it. There is no desire to do anything with it other than to justify his misdeed.

I see a LOT of time spent in political debate, and to a lesser extent in life in general, treating justifications seriously. Of course, that’s exactly what the creator of the justification hopes you will do. But the fact is (we can assume) that some crime or bad deed has been committed, if a justification is being invoked to explain it. Why even bother addressing the justification? That just encourages the evil-doer. A bad deed was done; what are we going to do about it?

Those of us who wish for a saner and more honest world would do best to ignore justifications as thoroughly as possible, and focus on what was actually done, why it might have been done, and how the situation could be corrected. One reason justification has become a totally reactive coping mechanism is to avoid punishment. On Earth, most punishments are relatively mild. But this has not always been the case. In the deep dim past, the punishment for doing wrong could be extremely horrific. Thus, punishing offenders almost assured that they would reactively attempt to justify their actions.

Some examples you may disagree with

In the larger games of life, spotting the link between bad events and their perpetrators can be a real problem. Thus a justification can be brought up and seem legitimate because the one voicing it has no obvious connection with the bad thing that happened. Thus, a news outlet might run a story that blames some politician for some tragic event. The news outlet “obviously” had nothing to do with causing the tragic event, so there is no reason to see their story as a justification for the event.

Oh boy…

An example of this is the “mainstream” still clinging to the story that Oswald killed JFK. This justifies the murder of Oswald (which prevented him from testifying in his own defense), as well as hiding what really happened. Ruby becomes some sort of frustrated patriot, and the fact that Oswald was killed closes the case.

But…

It is clear now that Oswald did not kill JFK. He might have had information that would have pointed to who was behind this horrendous act (someone in the CIA), so he had to be killed in order to protect the identities of the true killers. Someone (Ruby or a pretender) was sent in to do the job, and that act was pinned on Ruby. Ruby had mob connections, as did certain people in the CIA. But these could be ignored as long as the story that Oswald killed JKF held firm. The Warren report was concocted to justify the “fact” that Oswald was the lone gunman. The report and all the effort spent to defend it is a load of reactive bullshit and should be expunged from history, as far as I am concerned.

The mainstream perpetuates the Oswald story to this day. For “fairness” sake, it has to admit that other “conspiracy theories” exist. But because of the hidden connections between mainstream news, the CIA, organized crime, and other criminal elements in high places, those “theories” will never be taken seriously by the current mainstream, as the truth would expose not only that atrocity but many, many others.

And so with the pandemic…

Research by people who don’t have a finger in the pie suggests the initial release was an accident, and was from a lab. The truth of this may never get straightened out.

The use of cheap and safe drugs for early treatment of the disease was suppressed by the mainstream. This was a very clear misdeed. VERY CLEAR! For the most part, they don’t even bother to justify this, beyond attempting to keep our attention riveted on some new danger posed by this bug. One form of justification is total invalidation to the point of making nothing out of the true facts. This has been the favored approach here in the U.S., where the misdeed was so obvious and egregious (proper early treatment could have saved thousands of lives).

A similar approach has been taken with the vaccine. A good vaccine should not kill people or have terrible side effects. These vaccines do, but they have been minimized or brushed off as coincidence. There is a lot of money to be made from these vaccines, and Big Pharma now has a history of being deceitful in order to get drugs approved that are actually ineffective or harmful.

Social distancing measures have been justified using a shaming approach: “How dare you act in a way that would jeopardize the life of another?” As if you don’t do this every time you take your car out on the road (one reason I don’t drive). It is clear now that social distancing, as a protection against disease spread, is a total joke, and that all arguments for doing it, after maybe the first month, have been reactive and irrational justifications. That Fauci went along with this identifies him now as just one of the criminals involved in this attempt to destroy a planet through medical terrorism. At this point, the arguments in favor of social distancing are not even worth taking seriously. It was a total scam.

I am venting.

These examples are perhaps too large and controversial to make my point. But the evidence that crimes have been committed are clear as a bell to me. And so all the arguments in favor of those crimes reduce to reactive and irrational justifications.

Should I next take up “social justice?” I think not. If the damage done by the riots is not clear enough evidence that evil was intended, then you can continue to embrace the justifications put forward for that destruction. But if you wake up one day to find your planet turned to dust and all your attention being attracted to a slave auction on Arcturus, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

More on Games

7 May 2021

I have mentioned games several times in these posts

I wrote recently of “How to Play Like a Child.

And along with that, an article on “Suppressive Games.”

I don’t know if I’ve made it clear before that this is a subject in Scientology, and as such has some special terminology when referred to that way.

“Game Theory” is also a subject in the social sciences, used in economics and political science in particular, that uses a special mathematics to model how people interact in complex situations. I am not referring to this modeling system here.

“Game” can be used to describe almost any interaction where some goal is involved, and there is some question whether or not the goal can be achieved, because both freedoms and barriers exist in obtaining that goal.

The classic example of a game is a sports game. In sports, the primary barriers to success are provided by the opposing player or team. However, you can play a game alone where all the barriers are either internal or environmental. And more complex games can have multiple players or teams with differing goals and strategies.

Life is a Game

The most basic observation about games is that every living being plays them. One could almost say that the basic purpose of life is to play.

From a more esoteric or spiritual point of view, some explanation like this becomes necessary, as otherwise, one is likely to wonder why we are here and why all this “stuff” we are surrounded with was brought into existence. The only real answer seems to be: To have a game.

Once this fundamental is established, the next question becomes: What are the factors that determine choice of games and skill in play? These are the factors of life. It is not important here to enumerate all of them, but only to observe that people seem to have considerations about which games they can play, which games they want to play, and which games they would rather avoid. And that these considerations don’t always seem to make that much sense.

While it would be obvious why one would shy away from a game that one is physically unable to play or sees as too dangerous, why don’t I like card games? I have no particular rational explanation for my peculiar likes and dislikes regarding games.

Beyond that, some beings, often judged by others to be a little mad, seem to be involved in games that absorb all their attention yet result in no useful outcome. Such as the troubled person who screams arguments at the sky, seeming to be reenacting some dialog or drama that only they are privy to.

An observation and its ramifications

What has been observed about people is that “any game is better than none.” Thus, if one falls out of a game or is pushed out, one will find another one to play. If one’s ability or confidence or courage deteriorate over time – or suddenly – one will simply find or invent some other game where one feels reasonably competent as a player.

Because of these dynamics and this observation, we can find games that seem more or less rational or sane.

One common example looks at what happens in many office situations. In this case, we have been exposed to a TV show which explores this is many ways, some fanciful and humorous, and some more serious.

Ideally, a business or production group would work together, similar to a sports team, to do better than or even defeat other groups or teams. Thus one musical group might attempt to become more popular than some other musical group,. One business might attempt to become more profitable than some other business, or provide a higher quality product for the same price. These are considered “healthy” or “sane” games.

But what if some or all of the group members feel inadequate or defeated in their ability to play? Will they necessarily give up and leave? Sometimes. But they are just as likely to invent less sane games to play within the group. And if the group operates too permissively or with lax ethical standards, such games can become the norm and seen as just a part of life. Like hell they are!

What do the less sane games look like? Gossiping about each other. Trying to tear down the boss instead of supporting them. Goofing off or going slow at work. Striking for higher wages when production levels would not make that affordable. Finding fault with fellow workers out of envy or jealousy or to hide one’s own sloth. Finding reasons why one is not as good at working as others, such as being part of an “oppressed minority” or having a “mental illness.” The bottom line is: Less sane games tend to tear down or weaken fellow team mates. Such games are suicidal for the group, as they threaten its ability to survive. Thus a group that has gone crazy in this way can only “survive” if it is supported on a charity basis, out of proportion to what it is actually producing.

Look at psychiatry for example.

In relationships

I don’t know about you, but I see a relationship between a man and a woman (or other combinations of friends) as a small production group or team who should be working together to create something special that is pro-survival for all concerned.

Besides the most obvious job of working together to raise their children, the married couples I know (including my own parents) worked together to varying degrees, either at a business or similar enterprise where they both actively participated, or by dividing up tasks in order to get more done.

When a couple or family begin to work against each other, either for internal reasons, or as a response to some external influence, their ability to survive as a couple or family decreases and may eventually end in divorce if not worse. The road to ruin often includes apparently unresolvable conflicts, finding fault with each other, suspicions of cheating or other bad activities, addiction, etc. It can include various forms of mental and physical abuse. It can get pretty bad.

The dating game seems to be one in which the two parties are expected to be in conflict. Though this may be the way it’s “supposed to be,” I have never really played this game and it seems strange if not kooky to me. Just because I don’t know a woman well doesn’t mean I want to approach her as if we are doing battle. Thus, I tell them I am looking for people to “do things with.” But most don’t seem to be able to fathom this. It’s is almost as if they are saying, “then, you don’t want to date?” What?

The above discussion, then, was promulgated by my observation of how people seemed to be interacting in this activity or game called “dating.”

I was not prepared for the degree of antagonism and anxiety I have experienced relating to this subject. And my considered opinion is that many if not most of these people require some sort of rehabilitation of their ability to play together before they would really be able to have a healthy relationship again. Two people “in love” means they are working together towards a common goal, doesn’t it? And more broadly, doesn’t mankind need this sort of attitude if we are to survive as a species?

Cinco De Mayo at DOCO

6 May 2021

Here the band is warming up at about 4 in the afternoon.

There is often music on weekends at DOCO, but this was a special Cinco De Mayo (Wednesday) performance with a full Latin band including lead singer, second singer also playing electronic wind instruments, bass player, keyboards and two percussionists.

Early Summer Images

5 May 2021

It has been very hot in Sacramento the past few days. The weather feels like deep summer but the animals and plants are still transitioning out of Spring.

Folsom views

For the first time since I have been here, the pond by the newish construction near Winco in Folsom went green and stayed that way instead of getting flushed out by the Spring rains.

While over at the Aquatic Park, the lizards who used to bask tenaciously on top of some granite boulders lining the bike path are quick to run for cover if someone comes along.

Some of the blackberries are starting to flower, though it’s a little early for that.

The Spring flowers have already died back, and vetch has taken over in many places. I already have so many photos of vetch I didn’t bother to take any new ones. But a yellow daisy-like flower is showing up here and there.

Birds

There are many wild turkeys living along the American River and it is mating time for them. This male got very close to me. He was being followed by at least six hens.

My best shot of a full tail fan.
Partial tail fan.

The bird houses further down the trail are occupied now.

Blue jay and hummingbirds

I often sit in the park in Old Sacramento and ask the animals to come over and visit. Recently I have had a blue jay appear, with one or two hummingbirds following it. It’s as if they are playing together. It used to be I would only see a single hummingbird.

Birds are difficult to capture, especially with a phone camera. And hummingbirds even more so. I think the next images include a hummingbird. But they are hard to see.

Seals or sea lions

Once in a while some seals or sea lions will swim up the Sacramento from the Pacific Ocean. I’m not sure why they do this. A couple were playing around in the river by Old Sacramento recently, but I couldn’t catch a photo of them. Later, one popped his head out. Again, the phone camera is not really up to the job…

Fashionable?

The current fashion includes torn jeans. Mine now qualify! To me, it’s still a sign I need a new pair.

The other popular fashion trend that has caught my eye may be taken up in a subsequent post…

Larry Visits…Placerville

2 May 2021

I always called it “PLAY cer ville” but the bus driver called it “Plaa cer ville.”

It took quite a long time for me to get up there via light rail (to Folsom) and bus.

After climbing a significant incline, the view changed from high-end suburbs to forest.

One of the stops was Red Hawk Casino. It is owned and operated by a group of indigenous Americans. I got a good view of snow-covered mountains in the distance, but did not get any photos of it until later.

Our stop at Red Hawk Casino.

After a very circuitous journey, the bus finally arrived at “downtown” Placerville.

It’s just a short walk from here on a special path into the downtown tourist area. Along the way were great beds of flowers…

The path into town has a lovely little brook running alongside it. At a quiet rest area next to the stream, a somewhat eccentric-looking man was doing some exercises with his shirt off. (I didn’t photograph him.)

Downtown was quaint, a bit quirky, full of elderly folks, but had too much traffic.

Clothing store window and reflection.
Art store window.

By the time I got to the far end of Main Street, I was getting really hungry. I bought a bagel at this coffee shop…

… and ate it at the bench in this photo.

I walked back under this lovely rose bush.

And arrived at a quaint restaurant to meet my host for the afternoon.

Sweetie Pies

After a light lunch (nice Cobb Salad) and a long talk, my host drove me back to Red Hawk Casino to get a panoramic view of the area. We were able to just drive into the parking structure and climb up the steps at the far end…

… we weren’t really supposed to be up there. There was some technical equipment on the top landing…

Look at the snow-capped peaks in the distance! I was so thrilled to see the mountains!

She helped me get a closer shot, as she thought her camera might have better resolution than mine.

Sierra Nevada on the horizon.

My spiritual challenge for the day

The trip home was uneventful until the light rail reached Rancho Cordova.

A pair of rather young but quite fully-formed women boarded and sat in the back of my car. I was facing them. One was very attentive to those around her. The other seemed more self-absorbed, or fiddling with her phone.

The first woman noticed that the bike rider across from her was reading a graphic novel, and asked him in a loud voice what it was. He showed her, but did not really respond to her expressed interest. Then another bike rider got on. These were both young guys in fairly good shape. She started up a conversation with him, but it didn’t seem to go anywhere.

As we got closer to Sac, she finally noticed that I was observing her and her companion. She waved at me and asked me if I was a “spy!” I nodded in an exaggerated way (I don’t mind playing with people on the train). Her companion then walked over to me, sat in the seat right in front of me, asked me my name, then introduced herself as “Lay” and asked me, “Should I have your phone number?” I replied: Probably not, that I would be more trouble than I was worth. Then they both got up and left the train at 29th Street.

Had I met a call girl? If so, this would be the first time in my 66 years that one had approached me, and so brazenly! A true brush with temptation!

I still have many lessons to learn about making friends with women and how those relationships tend to work. I have talked with several now, all different types.

One pattern is emerging: They don’t like to show you all the cards they are holding. Is life really like a game of poker? I hope not! I never learned how to play that game!

Larry Visits…Bay Point

1 May 2021

Bay Point is a suburban area built on the hills (former cow pastures) overlooking Carquinez Strait.

It is served by a BART station and a little mall.

High voltage power lines run right through the middle of Bay Point, the towers normally situated on hills that seem to have the ideal spacing for this purpose.

I first came here to meet a new friend in person.

Bench at BART station where we first met in person.

Very obvious in the distance in the above picture is one of the hills bearing power line towers. In fact, I believe it is the hill.

The Hill

My friend told me there was a park somewhere in the neighborhood, and as I had some time for a walk, I went looking for it. After walking for a mile or less, I found it.

It was right at the base of one of these hills bearing the towers. Could I get to the hill from here? I saw someone climbing up, so I knew I could.

The next hill over looked very similar, but had no such access. This park had a paved trail for walking, running or biking, and from this trail there were some bare dirt paths leading up the hill.

The park.

Climbing the hill was a relatively small challenge. I had only been up there a few minutes when three more people joined me, and the couple looked older than I am! You can see that the park includes a lower play field and an upper area with tennis courts, a half basketball court, and a children’s playground. I took photos of the entire panorama:

Then I went down to the upper part of the park to rest in the shade. Looking back up towards the hill, I had this view:

It was a group of kids sitting or playing at the base of the nearer dirt path up the hill. Along with a woman, who I had seen earlier, climbing up the path.

The hill climber

I figured she was the mom of these kids. Either that or their baby sitter. But I will call her their mom. I waited, and she returned and talked to them for a while before starting up the trail once again.

An older boy and two girls were sitting calmly working with a laptop. I think they were learning English (they spoke Spanish). There were also two boys who just wanted to play.

This woman must have climbed up and down that hill at least five times while I was there. A real athlete! Before I left, she had the two little guys who couldn’t sit still put their shoes on, and then she took them up with her.

The tragedy

The only really unusual thing about this park was this sign, attached to the fence that surrounded the tennis court. All I could tell about this was that a guy named Kyle had died when he was 19 years old, just that past summer.

I looked up the name when I got home. It turned out that Kyle was one of four young people from this area who had died in a freak car accident. The car had gone out of control while approaching the Carquinez Bridge (the other one, near Crockett). There were many witnesses; even some dash cam footage was posted. The car had somehow gone sideways in the road, then sped up and gone right over the cement embankment at the side of the bridge, and had then plunged 200 feet onto a train car that was sitting on the tracks below. All four in the car were killed. They were all young like Kyle, all from different local families.

Life is full of courage and tragedy. You can find these anywhere if you look. But I was surprised to find both on the same day, here in a quiet Bay Area suburb.