Category Archives: Did you know?

Best San Diego location to watch planes

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If you fly into San Diego, try to get a window seat on the left side of the plane. That will give you a birds-eye view of downtown San Diego. Some would say a “way-too-close” birds-eye view. If you sit on the right side, you’ll get a view of the grass and trees in Balboa Park, not nearly as exciting.

There are times, though, usually during extreme Santa Ana wind conditions, when neither side of the plane provide a good view for passengers because the planes will circle around and come in to land from the ocean side.

Regardless of wind conditions, there is a place where the viewing is quite spectacular for anyone on the ground. During regular wind conditions, planes take off just a hundred feet above your head, landing just a hundred feet above your head during Santa Ana wind conditions. It’s not an easy place to find or get to, but when you find it, you can spend all day there because there is a nice little park and lots of food and drinking establishments within walking distance. It’s well worth the experience.

On Google maps:

Location for great plane watching in San Diego

Here’s a picture of a plane taking off in the early morning “marine layer” (called “fog” in other parts of the world):

Plane landing in San Diego

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

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People need people

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After arriving in San Diego on April 27, 1993, I spent the next ten months studying the world’s great, and not so great, religions. I considered myself retired and simply wanted to explore the world. I had enough money to do it.

My mom’s side of the family were Mormons while dad’s side were Catholics. A pretty eclectic marriage, pun intended.

I was looking for a religion that might welcome an openly gay guy. I didn’t find one.

The closest at the time were the Universalists, both Christian Universalist and Unitarian Universalist. Both of them were a little too strange for me, which is kind of funny since all religions believing in some of the stuff they do pretty much makes them strange.

The other possibility was the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a “religion” founded in 1968 by a gay guy to provide religious support to the gay community. However, I had two problems with MCC:

The first was with the mass, and the word mass should tell you all you need to know. It was just Catholicism under a different name.

The second was that mass was simply a place to cruise other guys (and gals for the gals) on Sunday morning. The mere fact that one was at church on Sunday morning probably meant that one had not gotten lucky Saturday night.

After ten months I had decided that my religion was nature, both fauna and flora, and I found that when I needed someone to talk to, and someone to listen to me, I could go to the beach and talk to the animals, the birds and the bees. Of course, when the ground squirrel or the seagulls stole my lunch, I had a few choice words for them. But they always came back to listen, as long as they thought I might have more food….

Finally, on February 14, 1994, I decided to go back to work. Didn’t know what I was going to do but with my typing ability and my command of the English language, I knew I could easily find a job. It wasn’t that I needed money. It was that I had determined that people are social animals and really don’t like to be alone. On that Valentine’s Day, I went to the beach and found it pretty much looking like this:

Beach chairs

It was obvious that there were people around but they were not within sight. Probably out scuba diving. I was both alone and lonely that day. I needed interaction with people on a regular basis, and work could provide that, even if it was forced interaction.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

I have been a Native since April 28, 1993

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From October 2015 to August 2016, I was biding my time by delivering packages for Amazon Prime Now and people for Uber. One of my Uber passengers was an 87-year-old man who had been born and raised in San Diego, and had lived his entire life here. He immediately recognized an accent and we had a great conversation during the 10-minute ride, the tail end of which went something like this:

Uber Passenger: “Where are you from?”

Me: La Mesa

UP: No, originally. I’d guess Texas.

Me: Why Texas?

UP: The accent.

Me: Yes, Texas. But I’ve been here for 23 years. Surely I don’t still have a Texas accent!

UP: You do. Are you a Native?

Me: I don’t understand. I was born in Texas.

UP: But are you a Native?

Me: Okay. What’s a Native?

UP: A Native is someone who no longer GOES home because he IS home.

ME: I like that. I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993. By that definition, I have been a Native since April 28, 1993.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Still here. Na na na na na na.

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When I left College Station, Texas, the night of April 15, 1993, my original intent was to drive straight north to Canada to kill myself. I was too patriotic to do it in the United States. Let Canada deal with an unidentified dead body.

I had taken $5,000 in cash with me, though, and when I got to Canada, I still had $4,854 left. How could I kill myself while I still had $4,854. In cash. In my car. Let’s have a little fun first. So I drove Interstate 94 west from Fargo, North Dakota, looking for things to do, places to spend money.

Still had over $4,500 left when I got to Seattle, so I went to Vancouver, thinking that Canadians would love an American spending a few days and many thousands of American dollars. I was right. After spending just 60 hours in Vancouver, I was down to $3,500.

I’ll never forget the distinct difference between the two countries’ border patrols. Here’s the conversation going into Canada:

Canada Border Patrol: “How long are you planning on being in Canada?”

Texas Boy: “I don’t know. Probably a day or two.”

CBP, while looking at my Texas license plates; customized and lowered Saleen Mustang with blacked-out windows and Flowmaster exhaust making a louder-than-really-necessary rumbling sound: “Are you familiar with the work laws in Canada?”

TB: “No.”

CBP: “You need a permit to do any work. Are you going to be doing any work?”

TB: “No.”

CBP (still looking over my sleek Saleen Mustang): “Are you familiar with the gun laws in Canada?”

TB: “No.”

CBP: “You cannot bring any guns into Canada. Do you have any guns with you?”

TB: “No.

CBP: “Are you familiar with the alcohol laws in Canada?”

TB: “No.”

CBP: “You cannot bring any alcohol into Canada. Do you have any alcohol with you?”

TB: “No.”

CBP: “Are you familiar with the tobacco laws in Canada?

TB: “No.”

CBP: “You cannot bring any tobacco into Canada. Do you have any tobacco with you?”

TB: “No.”

CBP, once again looking at my Texas license plates—probably thinking, “Texas license plates. Customized sports car. No guns. No alcohol. No tobacco. Yeah, right.”—and pointing: “Why don’t you pull into that empty spot right there?”

TB: (Does as requested.)

CBP, five of them, spent four hours going through my car unpacking everything. They searched under my car, over my car, around my car. They found my little TV made to look like a computer monitor.

CBP: “I thought you said you were not going to be doing any work. Why the computer monitor?”

TB: “It’s not a computer monitor. It’s a television.” I showed them how to work it.

CBP, after finding an unopened five-gallon can of peanut butter that I had just bought in Seattle: “What’s in the can?”

TB: “Peanut butter.”

CBP did not believe me. They proceeded to open the can and poke long sticks into the peanut butter. They were checking the length the sticks to see if their depth in the peanut butter matched the height of the can. They did. No false bottom hiding guns, alcohol, tobacco, or anything else. Just a five-gallon can of peanut butter.

CBP then invited me to repack my car, which I did. As soon as I was finished, one CBP said I could go and told me, “Welcome to Canada!”

They did not reimburse me for the five-gallon can of peanut butter. I threw it in their trash can. Why knew where those sticks had been before being poked into my peanut butter?

I spent 60 hours in Canada before reaching the border to return to the United States. Here’s dialogue with the United States Border Patrol:

USBP: “How long you been in Canada?”

TB: “2½ days.”

USBP, waving me through: “Welcome home!”

I drove to Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, and San Diego, still trying to spend all my money and figuring that, as far as killing myself, it would be Tijuana or bust.

Well, it was bust. Still here. Na na na na na na.

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

The system is broken

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A friend posted this meme on Facebook this morning:

Bob Corker

I can explain that.

I had U.S. Senator Phil Gramm as my Economics 301 professor at Texas A&M University in Spring 1976. At that time, he was Professor Phil Gramm. He was 34 and had a tenured position at $125,000 annual salary.

He went into politics in 1978 and retired as a U.S. Senator in November 2002. Twenty-five years in politics as a United States Congressman and then  United States Senator. Newspapers throughout the nation reported that he was retiring with $64 million in his “campaign war chest.” He got to keep that. Didn’t have to turn it over to the federal or state government, and I didn’t get a nickel back of my many financial contributions over the years.

So let’s do the math:

Tenured salary from age 34 to 65: $125,000 x 32 years = $4,000,000.

Politician: 1978-2002. Campaign war chest: $64,000,000. Excludes 24 years of salaries as U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator, and excludes annual retirement salary.

See how that works?

Now you know why rich people like the Kennedys, the duPonts, and my own rich-now-career-politician Darrell Issa, and so many others, go into politics. They have no desire to serve the public. Their only desire is to get even wealthier than they already were, get great health care courtesy of the government, and only have to work half the year. Of course, I have a different definition of work.

The system is broken, and has been broken for a very long time. The only thing we can do, in my opinion, is do away with career politicians. If eight years is good enough for the presidency, it should be good enough for all other political positions.

Many would argue for term limits. That’s almost a fix, but not quite. Here’s why: We have term limits for many city, county, and state positions here in California. Not federal positions, though. Most of the term limits are for eight years. Here’s how career politicians work the system:

Russel Ray is elected to the City Council and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. With name recognition, Russel Ray is elected to the County Board of Supervisors and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. Still with name recognition, Russel Ray is elected Mayor of San Diego and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. Now with experience governing a major city, Russel Ray is elected to the California House of Representatives and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. Now with state-wide name recognition, Russel Ray is elected to the California State Senate and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. Russel Ray runs for the United States House of Representatives but since this is his first federal election, he loses to the incumbent.

No problem. The next year Russel Ray is elected back to the California House of Representatives and serves four years before running for the seat of the retiring United States Congressperson whom he lost to four years earlier. He is elected. Many politicians lose the first time they run for a federal office, 90% of the time to the incumbent. Not until the incumbent retires does someone else inherit the office. Now Russel Ray is in a federal position, which has no term limits, until he decides to retire.

See how that works?

There’s not a single politician willing to fix the system because that would mean voting themselves out of extremely well-paying jobs with great benefits. Regardless of party affiliation, why would they do that? It reminds me of another meme about the current administration of morons governing America:

You're a special kind of stupid

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

….and I had a college degree

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According to the USPS, I now live in El Cajon CA, hometown of Jimmie Johnson, 2-time winner of the Daytona 500 as well as 7-time champion of the NASCAR Cup Series.

When I first started exploring El Cajon after moving out here, I discovered Jimmie Johnson Drive. It’s an extraordinarily busy main thoroughfare so I wasn’t able to get this picture until yesterday when I was on foot nearby after all the morning rush-hour traffic had dissipated and the traffic signals at both intersections were cooperating.

Jimmie Johnson Drive in El Cajon, California

Johnson’s rookie year was 1998, and, yes, he did win Rookie of the Year. Arguably, Jimmie Johnson’s best year was 2006 when he won the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR All-Star Race, the Daytona 500,  the Brickyard 400, and his first Driver of the Year.

His first big year in terms of wins was 2003 when he won the NASCAR All-Star Race and the first of three consecutive Coca-Cola 600 races. He also came in third at the Daytona 500, on February 16, for which he won $717,526. His total earnings for 2003 were $7,745,530.

For the rest of the story, though, we need to go back to 2002 when he earned $3,788,268.  That’s a lot of money, and Johnson was living in a modest El Cajon home, which he decided to sell.

In early 2003 I, a home inspector at the time, got a call from prospective Clients, and agreed to do their home inspection for them. Whenever I scheduled a home inspection, I would always look up the public records to see how old the home was and who the owners were. The age would tell me a lot about the systems I would be inspecting, and knowing the owner’s name would allow me to address the owner properly (Mr., Mr. & Mrs., Miss, Dr.) if the owner happened to be there.

The owner in this case was Jimmie Johnson. Well, Jimmie and Johnson are somewhat common names, so no big deal. However, when I got to the house, there was a race car in the garage, being worked on, and racing trophies everywhere inside. That’s when I knew it was the one and only Jimmie Johnson.

I have been interested in racing ever since my second semester at Texas A&M University in Spring 1974. Terry LaBonte was one of my rampmates in Puryear Hall (sadly, Puryear and its mirror sister, Law, were demolished in 1997). Terry’s younger brother, Bobby, also got into racing, and both were extraordinarily successful. Terry & Bobby were from Corpus Christi, Texas, and since I was from Kingsville, 40 miles farther south towards the Mexico border, I had something in common with them. Our high schools were rivals.

Although Terry was enrolled at Texas A&M University, he wasn’t there much. He went home every weekend, or to Houston, to race in the local circuits there. Our rampmates didn’t understand why he was even at Texas A&M because he had no interest in anything that didn’t have something to do with cars and racing. Ultimately he did drop out of college and went full time on the racing circuit.

Terry’s first race as a professional was the 1978 Southern 500 (where he came in fourth and won $9,875) and his first win was the 1980 Southern 500. He won $222,501 in 1980. In comparison, I made something like $40,000 in 1980, and I had a college degree….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Maybe he’s guilty

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I have always wanted to serve on a jury. Tomorrow I might get my chance. I have a summons for jury duty for tomorrow morning, 7:45.

I have received jury summons before but I have always been self-employed and being picked for a jury could have been disastrous for a one-man-shop. So I always took the option out for the self employed.

Now that I’m retired and not yet doing anything other than landscaping the new home, playing with Zoey the Cool Cat, and making plans for when I do start to do something again next year, I’m going to do everything I can to get myself on this jury, regardless of its nature.

Defending attorney: Have you ever served on a jury?
Me: No, but I’m sure he’s guilty.

Prosecuting attorney: Would you like to serve on this jury?
Me: Yes, because I know he’s guilty.

Defending attorney: Have you read anything about the defendant?
Me: Yes. I googled him. He’s guilty.

Prosecuting attorney: Do you have an open mind for these types of crimes?
Me: Sure. Guilty fucker.

Judge: No inappropriate language in my courtroom young man.
Me: Young? You wanna see my driver’s license?

Defending attorney: Are you a college graduate?
Me: Sure as fuck am.

Prosecuting attorney: Judge, he’s still using foul language.
Judge: He is, isn’t he.
Prosecuting attorney: Judge, make him stop. Make him stop, Judge.
Judge: Fuck no. I think he’s on to something. Maybe this fucker is guilty….

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post