4th of July - Cayucos, part 2

It was downright cold on the beach for the fireworks, but I trekked back to the house to find that I could actually see them from my balcony. I don't have any pictures of fireworks, though. Just pictures from earlier in the day.

The town had a parade. It was pretty impressive. It had all the usual things: classic cars, fire trucks, police cars, cheerleaders. There weren't any marching bands, but there were steel drums.

Down here on the coast, there was a lot more of a nautical flavor, with pirates:

and parrots:

and vikings:

It seems to me that surfers and skaters are obligatory in this part of California:

As are old VW Bugs, though this one belongs to a bunch of retired submariners. Did you know that the continental US had actually been attacked by the Japanese in WW2? I don't remember learning that in school, but apparently torpedoes were launched at Morro Bay and a tanker was sunk off of Cambria.

There were businesses, like the Brown Butter Cookie Company:

And avocado orchards:

I have no idea what these snacks were about. There's not a movie theater in town:

Every town needs a precision umbrella drill team:

But what I liked most about the parade was that it seemed like some of the participants were just families who wanted to be in the parade. This rather large group represented Nana's escapees:

They brought their own jail, complete with Elvis. There's a reporter getting folks' real names. When you work for a paper, you have to make sure you provide proper attribution.

There were smaller family groups, too. Like this incredibly cute representative from Oz:

But at the end of the day, the group that impressed my inner 7-year-old the most:

Yep. The gulls are doing what real life gulls are expected to do.

Oh, almost forgot. There was even a group in the parade especially for me:

4th of July - Cayucos, part 1

So, I'm going to make a post with pictures of the parade, but first I want to talk about chairs.

Way back on Monday, I saw the first ones.

These were out in front of the little market. Did I mention it was Monday? That was still June!

As the week went on, more chairs appeared.

By yesterday, there were rows and rows of chairs.

The town went chair crazy. None of them were really chained or anything, just tied together or draped with police tape. I think that was more to save extended space than to warn people off.

As I was walking up the street yesterday, SUVs were pulling up and unloading dozens of chairs each. Obviously, this wasn't just the locals being grumpy about their parking spots being taken over by the parade. This was bigger.

Indeed, one of my teammates sent me an LA Times article:

One day each year, this beach town of less than 3,000 residents becomes among the most populous places on the Central Coast.

Some 30,000 people show up for a parade featuring floats that locals have worked on for at least two or three days before the event, children doing cartwheels and — when they aren't otherwise booked — marching bands.

30,000 seems like it might be a high estimate, but it was crazy crowded this morning in Cayucos. This was shot today where the first chair picture was taken:

And the town seemed to absorb it okay, really. Everyone I saw was smiling and cordial. (We'll see how tonight goes after a day of drinking.) I think the layout of the town helps. Down here by the beach, the streets are a whole lot wider than up in Nevada City. We're just generally spread out more. And, of course, the beach absorbed a lot of people, too, once it was over. All in all, not a bad deal.

And several folks went the extra mile. If you're going to go to the trouble of reserving a spot, might as well make it nice:

Oh, and sadly, I was disappointed he bothered to save a chair but never showed up:

Parade and sand castle pictures later.

This is Really Not Helping the Campaign against Using a Cell Phone While Biking

Cyclist of the future, 1933 - 15

In Brooks Robinson's Shadow

I forgot to give them right arms.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.

Flickr Commons

Looks like the Library of Congress just posted a photo of a professor at Hogwarts.

W.H. Rothwell (LOC)

The Moon King (Neil Williamson)

It is the moonlight reflecting upon the waves around Whale Rock just off our shore that visitors to Cayucos exclaim about. But in the evenings I prefer to sit on my second floor deck. The view from there is of green hills rising above the rooftops of this beach town to which I've moved myself. I can also look down into my wee realm of nearly 200 square feet and see the giant cactus that grow in beds surrounded by the planking of a meandering deck, the sundial that needs perpetual tuning, and the two boys harassing lizards where I planted an avocado tree in a whisky barrel on the platform raised above the decking.

It's actually a whiskey barrel, having once held Kentucky bourbon, but I prefer to think of it without the 'e'.

I haven't lived here long enough to be sure yet, but I believe the green will soon be fading to brown as the brief rainy season is put behind us. Only last week, I received a tweet from the local fire brigade about a fire in a nearby river bed. There is something wrong with a world where river beds are appropriate places for wild fires.

I tell myself to ignore the desire to sing the Midnight Oil song aloud.

Living alone brings a matched set of pleasure and difficulty. One difficulty is restraining myself from talking to the cat, singing random snatches of song, and interacting with imaginary people. Some day I would like to rejoin society and I have no desire to crash land in it with a cart full of off-kilter behaviors. So I am doing my best to ignore the two boys crouched upon my deck near the avocado because they are but evidence of some unhealthy misfirings in my brain. And the worst part is that although my brain has invented them out of whole cloth, it refuses to remind me of the name of one of the boys.

Still, one cannot allow the local fauna to be terrorized by the figments of one's imagination, right? The ice clinks as I put my Godfather on the railing and walk down the spiral staircase to investigate. As always, I use a little technique I've come up with to ferret out what's going on in situations like this. I call it, 'asking questions'.

'Hey, what are you lot doing?'

Prasad doesn't bother to straighten his tie or stand when I interrupt. 'We are making luck lizards,' he explains.

'Obviously.' It's never wise to let your imaginary crowds think you aren't keeping up. 'And I assume you got the idea from some book. The true question is why are you making luck lizards?'

'Because there aren't any monkeys in this place, obviously,' pronounced the boy whose name I cannot remember. 'Have you thought of living somewhere else?'

'I have thought of living many places, but you and the rest of the imaginary crew always find me. I thought there'd be peace by the seaside.'

Prasad catches another lizard and places a coin in its mouth. He puts the lizard on top of the wooden fence between my yard and the one that seems to belong to the Dalmatian next door. When Prasad releases the lizard, it raises and lowers its feet in diagonal pairs, testing its freedom. Then it scampers away. It never drops the quarter.

When it comes to being inspired by books they read, I suppose a bit of trinket redistribution via lizard is not the worst they could have come up with after reading The Moon King, Neil Williamson's latest bit of weird fiction.

'I don't know if it qualifies as weird fiction,' Prasad tells me. 'It's rather gentle.'

'Gentle?' I'm surprised by the word. It feels right, but... 'But there are riots and mayhem. It's clearly weird. This novel is easily on par with the best of Ambergris.'

'I think it owes as much to Calvino as to VanderMeer. It's almost musical.'

'Oh, right,' says the kid with no name. 'That's your shtick these days: finding the so-called parents of the book at hand.'

'This one is a hard one,' I admit. 'In addition to those, I see Foundation, Baudolino, Diamond Age, and Soldier of the Mist, all wrapped up in a beautiful package. It's a lazy shorthand, but --'

'It's not lazy; it's insulting. As if the books are not true creations in their own rights, simply mere mashups derivative of early work.'

'Oh, that's not my intent at all. I think it's more like there are sympathetic vibrations from these other works in this book, as if each one resonates with this at a particular level, though it is not a mirror or copy of any of them.'

'Perhaps it is a conversation the book is having with the other ones, much like you are having with us,' Prasad suggests.

'I'm not having a conversation with you.' I wave my hands in frustration. 'You don't exist. You are not real.'

The other boy puts an ankle bracelet around the neck of another lizard and sets it free. Both boys stand up. 'Then you won't mind joining us down at the beach?'

'What's at the beach?'

'We're going down there to wait.'

'And to watch,' Prasad put in.

'No, I am going to sit on my deck and finish my drink. You two run along.'

I watch the boys walk past the house to the road. I'm sure they'll be safe: after all they don't really exist. As I'm sure that whatever it is they are expecting to emerge from the waves is not real. I am not afraid.

I just want to finish my drink.

And I am definitely not humming any songs by The Mountain Goats.

Tiszaf├╝red, Hungary

Imagine spooky, somewhat dated music.

The music increases in intensity.

The camera pulls in, a bolt of lightning strikes....

And we hear an evil cackle.



I needed a place that was protected from rain because it's been off and on wet this week. The telephone/electricity poles here seem to mostly concrete, which is useful for this sort of exercise. I also made a wee Van der Graaff generator, but the wind blew it away.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.

Cats Playing Poker in Dupont Circle

This is a quick set. I stopped by DC for an overnight between New York and my next trip.

Of the famous dog paintings, you'll often see a version where one dog is slipping a card under the table to another. You'll never see a cat cheat like that. Oh, they'll cheat; they just wouldn't do it in a way that helps anybody else out.

Dupont Circle is a pretty active neighborhood in DC. I had trouble finding a spot that was quiet enough to get everything set up.

It's funny, I like how the cats turned out better than most of the wee toaty explorers, but I'm not happy with the pictures at all.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.

Apple Chorus Line

A few Wee Toaty Explorers put on a show in the Big Apple.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.

Flying with a Side of Fries

Imagine I sat down at a diner and ordered a burger and fries. I went ahead and paid the $10 and they brought me my plate. At this point, I decided maybe I didn't want to eat the fries, so the waiter says, "No worries, sir, let me take that out of your way." He whisks away the fries and leaves me with the burger. Then he returns with a bill for $5. "What's that for?" I ask. The waiter says, "Oh, that's your change fee." "You mean I'm not allowed to eat the burger I already paid for because I don't want to eat the fries?" So now I've got a $15 hamburger.

Oh, and the waiter went and sold my fries to some other customer for even more money.

Folks, that's what the airlines in this country are allowed to do. I bought a round-trip ticket to DC, but it turns out I'm already going to be in New York next week, so I can't use the outbound ticket. But I still want to use the return ticket so I can come home.

Not allowed to do that. If I don't show up for my outbound ticket, the airline cancels the entire trip. There are no refunds, which I'm fine with -- it bothers me a little that they can both charge me and resell the spot, but I understand opportunity cost. What gets me is that if I want to use the return portion of the trip I already paid for, I have to pay a $200 "change fee". Get this -- there is no change to my flight or to my seat or anything except that some other flight I don't want to take gives them the right to charge me nearly half again as much as the original trip.

It should be illegal for me skipping one flight to have a financial impact on my future flights.

Hotels don't do this. If I reserve a room for Monday through Friday but can't make it until Tuesday, if I call up the hotel, they'll say "You have to pay for Monday, of course, but there's no reason you can't come in on Tuesday. And we won't charge you more."

Ridiculous. And downright greedy.

Newark, New Jersey

You should thank me for not going with a response to What did Delaware?

This guy looks like a mean one.

It's safely chained up, anyway.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here. The whole set is available if you click on Wee Toaty Explorers.

More Book Parents

I'm not keeping up very well with my commitment to find parents for all the books I read this year. Here is another table of "If this book and that book hooked up and had a kid book, it'd be..."

This book could be the offspring of Notes


Let's be honest, I was lazy on this one.


Not quite as funny as Wooster, but a quick enough read (like Smith's book). Good enough to try a second one.


I liked this one a little better than the first, but it has a bit of ickiness in it that made me think of The Big Sleep.


This one is very much a keeper. Comparing anything to Locke Lamora is high praise in my mind. This one has a bit more about music in it, which is why I lean toward de Lint. I'm not musical so I don't normally get it when books do the whole music thing, but love and belief in music comes through even to me in this and the de Lint books. Also, I was tempted to add Harry Potter to the parentage. This is a kind of Harry Potter for adults.

To be honest, I've read more good books since November than than I did in the previous 3 years combined.