First Visit to The Getty Center (and Something New…)

Yesterday (July 22, 2014), I finally made a trip to The Getty Center in L.A. I can’t believe it took me so many years to finally get there!

Steller: First-Time Visit to the Getty Center

It was a convenient ride down on the bus—which meant no driving/parking hassles and costs—and I basically spent all day there. It wasn’t, however, nearly enough time to even begin to do the place justice so I will definitely have to return.

I also took the opportunity to use a new service/app called Steller to document my visit. It’s pretty nifty, allowing you to combine words, photos and video easily into a sort of storybook format. So far, it seems that it’s only available for iOS devices, though you can view the resulting stories in a web browser on any computer. Click the photo or this link to view my story, including 3 original poems I wrote while there (two Tanka and a Haiku).

It was a great and inspiring day!

Independence = Travel

Here’s another piece I wrote for the Golden Pen Writers Guild. Our assignment was to write something on “Independence”.

There are many different kinds of “independence.” We have Independence Day every July 4th. There’s independent living, independent study, an independent press, and many others. But when I think independence I always envision hitting the open road.

One online dictionary defines independence as: “freedom from outside control or support: the state of being independent.” It also lists some synonyms: self–sufficiency, self-reliance, self-support. To me, there’s no better way to demonstrate those skills than by leaving everything behind, going to a strange place and living out of a suitcase.

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And then suddenly, it’s over…

Where did March go? Wasn't it just last week that I was giddily writing about my month's time off and how much I was going to enjoy it? How much I was going to get done? All my big, big plans?


But now it's April first, and I'm back to work. I am back at Amgen again, though in a different job, in a different department on a different project. This is also only a 3-4 month contract, so that's doable.

I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped (naturally), but did make some important progress on several fronts. My trip to the wargames convention where I had a flea market table netted me just over $2,000 which was kind of a surprise. I've already trumpeted my health and weight successes, and I'm now down to 177 pounds, just in time for my physical on Wednesday. That's 30 pounds less than last year. And the birthday's coming up Sunday.

What was really fun, though, was my trip last week out to the deserts and Central Valley. I left Tuesday morning and drove out to Palm Springs where I enjoyed the historic district, a little outlet mall shopping and a side trip up to Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree. Wednesday, I made my way across the desert the “back way” via Lucerne Valley, Victorville, Boron and Mojave, then over the Tehachapi pass to Bakersfield. This time of year, the scenery through the pass was spectacular—everything green with the poppies and lupin starting to blossom on the oak-dotted hillsides. It was the quintessential central California landscape.

Then I spent the afternoon, overnight and the next day in Bakersfield, one of my favorite places. I really started getting serious about gathering research and information for my novel (which is set there) and generally had a wonderful time. Barbecue dinner at Famous Dave's, evening stroll along the Kern River, a signature Black & White sundae for dessert at Dewar's. Very relaxing, very fun and very informative.

So now it's back to the daily grind. I will continue to ramp up my efforts on other fronts to prep for big changes. I even signed up for a book writing class through the Santa Clarita website which starts on April 10th.

Here are a couple photos from the trip: a shot from my motel in Palm Springs, and the evening sky above Dewar's famous ice cream shop in Bakersfield:

Stay tuned…


Score! Tour ticket for Annenberg’s “Sunnylands”

It was a good thing I was paying attention and looking through Sunset magazine last night…

Beginning March 1st, Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s Sunnylands retreat in Rancho Mirage will be opened for public tours. It’s a masterpiece of Mid-century Modern architecture in a beautiful setting of parks and gardens–even its own 9-hole golf course. It is now both a retreat center for world-class events as well as a museum of art and visitor center for the Annenberg Foundation.

Tickets went on sale this morning at 9:00 AM, and I was ready with credit card in hand. I scored a ticket for 10:15 AM, Saturday  March 10th. The entire batch of available tour tickets for the first half of March sold out within 20 minutes…

I’m really excited and it should make a great day trip–I love going out to the desert. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures (on the grounds and in the center only, none in the house itself unfortunately) and do a write-up.

Check out the Sunnylands website here for more info.

Greetings from Flagstaff!

We’re just about to leave lovely Flagstaff, Arizona where we’ve been on a family vacation this week. We took in the ever spectacular yet surprisingly commercialized Grand Canyon, Sedona, and the three local National Monuments, Wupatki, Sunset Crater and Walnut Canyon. It has been a pleasant time and the weather has been gorgeous. Everyone thinks of Arizona as nothing but desert, but they forget the part of the state north of the Mogollon Rim. It has been way cooler here this week than the sweltering East and South of the US–I pity my coworker on vacation in New York City.

But the main purpose of our coming to Arizona was to support our Arizona brethren in their fight against the arrogance and stupidity of the Federal Government and pointy-headed liberal politicians everywhere, especially our native California and most particularly the idiotic mayor of Los Angeles. Just Tuesday, the Feds sued AZ over their upcoming law about illegal immigration. If the do-nothing congress and utterly contemptible administration would simply enforce their own immigration laws–you know, and actually DO what they are constitutionally mandated to do i.e. Provide for the common defense–then none of this would be necessary.

But enough of that. The best part of Arizona is the extraordinary natural beauty you find here. Couple that with amazing sites of Native American history and the history of the old west and I’d take vacationing here any day. I have quite a few photos to eventually post, but here’s a sample from the Grand Canyon just to get started: