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Saturday, June 07, 2008


Well I've been in California for a week now and I thought I would describe those little things, positive & negative, that have caught my attention.

The weather in the Central Valley of California in the late Spring is beautiful. Lows in the 50's and highs in the mid 80's. I know that won't last long. Temps in July and August reach the 115 to 118 range.

I can still see stars at night but the light pollution cuts that by almost 2/3rds from Mau'i. I miss the night sky.

It is very quiet at my son's home. At night I can hear the train whistle in the distance. A muted lonely mournful sound. No street traffic. No sirens. No trucks using their "Jake brakes". At night the occasional dog briefly announcing a trespass by a feline intruder.

My son and family have a beautiful home. Far exceeding anything that I provided when he was growing up. I am proud of him. I have treasured jewels in my mind of each brief moment in time spent with them over the last 2 decades. Mundane for them but precious for me.

I am amazed at how much Modesto has grown. I first moved to the area in late 1976. The population was circa 76,000. It now is near 225,000. Kihei was 10 square miles and Modesto is 39 square miles. The area has adequate intracity bus service. Gas was $4.39 at the station this morning.

There is a major problem with gangs and certain neighborhoods have driveby shootings on a regular basis. But seldom enough that it does make the front page of the local paper. Unlike El Lay, where the local news doesn't even report incidents unless there are multiple deaths.

The local economy is agriculture driven but a vast percentage of the residents commute the 90-100 mile one-way trip to the Bay Area every work day, where salaries are double (or more) to those provided locally.

Flat. The valley is absolutely flat. On a clear day you can see the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas to the east and the coastal range to the west. On a clear day.

The valley has bad air pollution. Dust, smog, etc. Air circulation is stagnated by the bordering terrain. The only way for air to flow is via the Carquinez Strait, where the Sacramento/San Joaquin Rivers enter the northwest corner of San Francisco Bay.

While I am happy here, getting caught up on my family's lifes, I am still in the process of getting things together for the eventual transition to Asia. To get a passport I need a certified copy of my birth certificate. That has to come from Los Angeles County and has been ordered. Upon receipt I can apply for my passport. It will probably be late August or early September before I make the next move.

As I am sure you are all aware, Big Brown did not win the Triple-Crown. In fact he came in last. Which, considering the track temps at the time, was a smart move by the jockey. We didn't need another dead horse.

When Google first lauched Gmail in 2004, they were filtering spam at a rate of 25% of all traffic. Now they are doing it at 75%. I get, all filtered away, about 3,000 spam messages a month to my Paradise Driver account. My personal account gets about 1,000 and some others that exist but are seldom used get less than 100.

"Let's all be careful out there!"