Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Whether you call it Autumn or Fall, this is a wonderful time of the year - particularly up here in the mountains.  We don't have too many deciduous trees, mostly pines, but nonetheless there are a few that we enjoy seeing turn.

The leaves begin to turn from the top to the bottom, but with the Maples, they seem to go all at once and also very quickly.  Of course, for the very best shows, you have to go north east in the country, but we're happy with our modest displays here.  I'm told by the biologists, that the change comes through a combination of lower temperatures and hormones triggered by the diminishing daylight.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trip - hotel

We camped for seven of the eight nights we were on our trip to Oregon and back.  But one night - the fifth - we stayed at the Peppermill Hotel in Reno, NV.  After our days and nights on the road it was quite a culture shock.

We're not in a camp site anymore, Michael!

The very first thing I did when we arrived was to run a big bath.  One of the major problems of a trip such as ours is that one becomes absolutely filthy, in spite of regular applications with Baby Wipes.  But the next day as soon as we rolled out of the parking lot, we were filthy again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday's Column - March Air Museum

This Sunday's column is about the March Air Museum.  It's the home of the SR-71 Blackbird and also the Folland Gnat - the world's fastest, and the world's smallest jet airplane.
Folland Gnat

Unfortunately the column is yet to be posted on The Sun's site, so I shall be sending one of my unpleasant emails in the morning. You can check in though at and hope its up if you'd like to read the entire column.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Right Track - Churchill

The great man was known for his in-depth observations; most of them right on target.  Here is one.

Tirade - props 30 and 38

Currently we are bombarded with TV ads for propositions on the upcoming election day.  There are several annoying ones.  Particularly there are two asking us to vote for an increase in taxes to pay for schools.  Excuse me, don't we already pay for them?  Is it our fault that the incompetents running these institutions can't keep within their budgets?  Let's face it if we gave them double what they asked they would be back for more in a few years time.  Maybe it's time to hand the entire business over to private enterprise and then we wouldn't have these pathetic whiners complaining they don't have enough money for pencils!  Come on People!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Music Track - Skyfall

This is the new James  Bond theme for his upcoming movie.  I think it's quite good as composed and sung by Adele.  What do you think?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Suits - one

I don't think anything has changed as much in my lifetime as men's clothing.  In particular men's suits.  Now I know that in the UK suits are still worn in the business community, but out here in California, they seem to have completely disappeared from view.  I can hardly imagine how I would be greeted if I wore one to my local one evening.  But it wasn't always that way.
I still remember quite vividly having suits made for me.  It was at Wilde's of Edgware.  Downstairs the "front man" would help you choose the cloth, and measure you.  This was quite a long process as was the actual making of the suit.  Waistcoats (vests) would be sent out to a separate maker as too were the trousers, but it was the jacket that called for all the tailor's skills.  Mr Wilde himself upstairs would handle this.  He was rather deformed - I only met him once - and he made these wonderful garments sitting crosslegged on a table.
After ten days you would go back for a fitting and once again, the front man would check out the measurements and tear off the one arm that was loosely attached.  There were no lapels and the body of the suit was made up mostly of stiff sacking like material.  Another ten days elapsed and the second fitting would show something that more resembled a jacket.  The third and final fitting was pretty much the end of the process and the waistcoat and trousers would be tried on as well for any small adjustments needed.  Finally about six weeks after the order was placed you walked away with the suit wrapped up in brown paper and string.  Back in the sixties, the cost was about four weeks wages!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trip - Chandelier Tree

On our trip, we took a little diversion to ride through the Chandelier Tree. Some stats for you.  It is 315 feet high, 21 feet in diameter, amd 2,400 years old.  Quite an age!  Soon after Michael went through, I did, and then came a big automobile. It was a 1960ish Dodge and barely made it.  The wife of the driver had to direct him through.  Later on we rode through a couple of Redwood forests; they were amazing.  Tall, dark and silent; in fact quite eerie.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trip - Manzanar

On the penultimate day of our trip we passed through Lone Pine on the 395.  Just to the north we stopped to have a look at Manzanar.  It is a controversial place, as it is one of the ten internment camps erected to incarcerate Japanese Americans from 1942 to 1945.
People still argue over the correct name of the facility with the more militant insisting that it be called a concentration camp.
There is no doubt that to many of the internees the incarceration was a dreadful punishment for just being of Japanese heritage.  Some no doubt were spies, but mostly they were peaceful citizens as shocked at the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor as anyone else.  So if the same thing happened today, what would you do?
To read more about the events you can read more here

Monday, October 22, 2012

Video - Hackett

I've never actually posted a joke on the blog before - well, not in video form.  My friend Kevin sent me this one delivered by Buddy Hackett, who was surely one of the funniest men in the business.  It is somewhat off-color so be prepared to be offended.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday's Column - Mojave Narrows

Pelican Lake at Mojave Narrows Regional Park
This week the column goes out into the country, or El Campo as it's known south of the border.  Mojave Narrows Regional Park is set in a area of urban build up which makes it seem even more countryfied.  There are two lakes and an area to rent horses and the bucolic atmosphere pervades the entire place, it's always a pleasure to visit.  You can read the column at

About four years ago, I did a series of ten videos called Trevor's Treasures, which were my ten favorite places to visit in the Inland Empire.  The Mojave Narrows Regional Park was number ten on that list.  I have all the videos as a permanent link here on the blog, but this is the one for the park.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tirade - Football

It's taken me a long time to appreciate American Football (It took me one game to realise I hated the English style!)  But can someone tell me why we have to start the season - well pre-season - in August.  Then we have dozens of games every Sunday, several more later in the week and it all comes to an end in January.  Then we have the appalling prospect of basketball for months until the pre-season of baseball begins and Dodger fans can begin to dream again.  (Normally those dreams are turned to nightmares quite early, of course!) It's not that football players play basketball so why the rush?  Could I make a suggestion.  Lets start the season in late September, then if the weather is too bad to play in the north, then let's make two divisions, north and south or those with covered stadiums and those not.  Then we could also limit the number of games that come on each day.  That way we get a longer season.  This stuff is not hard to figure out. Come on People!

Right Track - clear choice

Worth considering - or is Romney "lying" again?!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Music Track - More MJQ

I played a little of the Modern Jazz Quartet here a few weeks ago and I had a lot of mail about it, all positive.  So here's another piece

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Corfe Castle

I was reading an on-line British newspaper the other day and there was this charming photo of one of my favorite places in England - Corfe Castle.
I first went there when I was about 17 with my first girlfiend and another couple.  It was the first trip I'd ever taken away from my parents and so far away.  In those days the drive was about three hours with no motorways to help.  The drive from Wareham down to Corfe was the last link and we were all pretty tired, when all of a sudden as we came around a bend the Castle popped into view.  It's an incredible sight.  The castle, built by William the Conquerer in the 11th century, was blown to pieces by Oliver Cromwell in 1645 after the civil war ended.  Immediately in front here is a pub called not unnaturally The Castle.  To the right out of frame is another one called The Greyhound.  I have been back many times to the village, but never stayed again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago today I joined the motorcycling community.

This is a rather grainy photo of me riding away on delivery of my first Harley - a 1993 FXRS.  The young lady on the left is Molly, the saleswoman, who sold it to me.  I had never ridden a motorcycle before except a 150 cc Honda around the parking lot of a rider safety course three weeks earlier.  I was extremely nervous riding this 1340 cc bike away.  But now it's a distant memory.  I wonder what Molly is doing now?  My first traffic problem was at the end of the road I was about to turn into.  It was the crossroads of Washington and Lincoln, about the busiest in LA.  On that day however they were making a film and there were several cops around to watch me negotiating this intersection.  Thank God I didn't drop it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Men often say they think they're getting like their fathers.  I can relate to that, but I also sometimes feel I'm getting like his father, of whom I was exceptionally fond.  He was in the Royal Navy and was very affected by the weather. He lived in Southampton, Hampshire during the years that I knew him, and generally the weather is not too bad down there.  But he hated it when the wind went round to the east.  He would humph around the house tapping the barometer.
He had served the first few years in the Royal Navy under sail, and I suppose much of his dislike came from the feeling of vulnerability if the wind was in your face and your enemies on the Continent had it at their backs.  Also all that dirty air the Germans. French and other foreigners breathed out was coming our way.
Here too in Southern California, an east wind is not good.  In the current season it is hot and unhealthy from the desert, and a little later it becomes the dreaded Santa Anas (in actuality, the Santana Devil Winds) which blow hot air and fire danger.  In the photo above you can see it's blowing from the east.  Grandad wouldn't like that!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Video - Magic

I really hate magic tricks.  They make me feel dumb.  And the reason most magicians won't tell you how they do the trick is because once you know how it's performed then you feel even dumber.  So here's an explanation of various tricks and how they happen.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday's Column- USS Iowa

The column this week is about The Big Stick, which was the nickname of the USS Iowa.  She is perhaps the ultimate battleship with nine massive guns, now silent as she sits in San Pedro as a museum. 

The Business End of USS Iowa

Be prepared for lots of climbing up and down stairs as there is a lot to see.  And don't get behind little kids!
You can read the entire column at

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tirade - Changes

I'm sure I'm not different from a lot of people but I'm always suspicious of unnecessary changes in my life.  Particularly with computer stuff.  Recently Hotmail have seen fit to change their contacts layout.  It is nowhere near as good as it was, even though it's prettier.  Also Morgue File, where I get my pictures, has changed their format.  Once again it's prettier but it's not as good and I swear they're cutting down the number of free pictures.  No doubt as an inducement to purchase better ones.  So when you young 'uns think you need to change something to seem as if you're making a contribution.  Please re-consider if it's really necessary.  Come on People!

Right Track - New Yorker

I didn't watch the infamous First Debate, as I knew I would be bombarded with clips and opinions the following day.  I find such things rather embarrassing, and I don't know why. 

But the New Yorker, not one of the most right wing rags around, has a front cover this week that rather proves Clint Eastwood's heavily criticised performance at the RNC conference was on target.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Music Track - Cash

One of the great country classics from one of the greatest singers and story tellers.
I couldn't resist posting one of the recent comments under the picture - very funny!

"I always wanted me one that was long and black." Who woulda ever thought that Johnny Cash and Kim Kardashian would have something in common...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

If I won the Lottery - one

This is a category my friend suggest I run for a little while.  Of course, it's never going to happen as I've never bought a lottery ticket in my life - honestly!

I use Morgue File for photos I don't have myself, and this is the only one they have for "Lottery!"

However, say I picked up one in the street and it came up trumps and I was confronted with several millions, the first thing I would do FOREVER is to fly first class.  None of your business class substitute, I mean FIRST CLASS.  I had the privilege of doing this for many years as I was such a frequent flyer but those days are far behind me.  Now I fly like everybody else - in swine class!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I can't speak too highly of the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) organisation.  During our recent camping trip we stayed in about four of these places and found them to be excellent.  We had a book which gave all the various campsites in California and it was very useful, but after about four days, we just went for the KOA sites.  They are no doubt franchised as the set ups seem to be about the same with good individual sites, often a swimming pool and spa, a small shop that sells items you may have forgotten, and above all good bathrooms.  If you're a "primitive" type camper they may be a little too well organised but after several hours in the saddle they are first rate. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tire Pressure

Now I don't know about you, but I'm not very good with tire pressure checking.  I tend to leave it alone for far too long.  There's something degrading about crawling around all four wheels and having to fit that annoying little hose on and then waiting for it to inflate.  Out here, you have to pay a dollar for the use of a machine that always seems very slow.
They will let you have it for free if you buy gas there, but that's always a hassle.

So the other day  having filled up the car, I was on my way, when I noticed a little light come on the dashboard.  I wasn't sure what it was as I hadn't seen it before.  I stopped and got out the instruction manual that came with the vehicle, and it told me that this little sign means that one or all of the tires needed inflating.  How the heck did it know?

So back I went to the garage and the friendly mechanic, whom I know well, said to let him do it for me with his proper compressor.

Hey presto, I was on my way in no time.  After he'd filled the tires, I noticed that the little light was still on.  He assured me that after a couple of rotations the light would go out.  It seems there is a tiny radio in each tire stem and it beams a message to the central computer if things are not quite right.  What will they think of next?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Video - Disarm!

Now as we all know only the USA has gun violence, so the rest of you can relax knowing that your governments will take care of you!  But for the rest pay attention to this short video on how to disarm a gunman.  Read some of the comments underneath as they are quite instructive.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday's Column - Skating and Segway

There are two new ways to get around on two feet up in Big Bear.  You can now skate again and also ride the trails on Segways.  Big Bear always used to have a skating rink, but it turned in to a roller rink about 25 years ago and then after only a year or two of operation it turned into an antiques mall - Ugh!
Big Bear's new rink is a lot smaller and also it doesn't have any ice.  It's a plastic surface that you can use real ice skates on.  The kids seem to love it.

This is Kaitlin with her "walker." She really didn't need it!

 Just along the road and down Bartlett you can find another interesting way to get around the area, via Segways.  These fascinating machines operate with gyroscopes and you just lean in the direction you want to go.  Very easy to learn and a lot of fun to use.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tirade - traffic zones

Having ridden up and down the entire length of the State of California, I noticed that road works are strongly in evidence.  'Tis the season obviously.  But bearing in mind that the state is bankrupt, is it really necessary to have a pilot truck escort us around a couple of men in a hole?  Let's face it the driver costs us around $50K a year plus "bennies," and so do the fellows with the little bats at each end of the obstruction.  Why do we have to have this?  Surely if anyone is so stupid as to fall in the hole along with the men, they belong in an asylum and shouldn't be allowed to drive - Come on People!

Right Track - Obamaphone

This week's Right Track is a video that has been on and off U-Tube, but it shows something of the way this country has deteriorated.  No words are necessary on my part.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Music Track - Sumi Jo

I was lucky enough to hear Sumi Jo sing the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's Magic Flute in Los Angeles' opera house about 15 years ago.  She was wonderful

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Trip - continuing

A quiet campsite above San Luis Obispo was our first night's stop.  In the morning things were rather misty, but we loaded up and left about 7:30 a.m.  Having broken my chair, and both mattress and pillow deflated we knew we needed to find a camping store.  Target in Gilmore provided end of season stuff and on we went.  Up through Oakland, admiring the Solyndra building now empty, having disposed of several billion taxpayers' dollars, past the Raiders stadium and then over the Bay Bridge.  I was leading and here I made a serious mistake and missed the 580 turning.  Instead we found ourselves in downtown San Francisco and had to exit the city over the Golden Gate Bridge.

This was not on our agenda but we enjoyed the view from the Marin County side.  I was to pay dearly for the error of course.  Michael can be quite unforgiving.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


The other day I rode down to the High Desert with a colleague.  We left early but it was already well up in the 90's by the time we arrived there.  I took off the leather jacket and stowed it in the saddle bag.  Eventually at about 10:15 we turned around and rode back up.  A phone call reported that it was raining in Big Bear.  As we rode closer to the foot of the mountains, we could see the bands of rain coming down.  Perhaps we could avoid the storms.  It's always a big risk that the chrome might melt if we take Harleys out in the rain! Cresting the final hill we were still dry but in one minute we were drenched.  And on a part of the road that was too narrow to stop.  It was very hard rain, and in just a thin T-shirt, it felt like we were being sprayed by an AK-47.  It only lasted five minutes or so, but boy, was I soaked.  But when I got home, the chrome had stayed intact.  Phew!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In-n-Out Burgers

I don't eat a lot of "Junk" food, but occasionally when I'm out on an assignment I will stray from the green and healthy.  If you ask Californians which is the best burger joint, most of them will say In-n-Out.  Yesterday I went in to what must be one of the busiest of them.  It's close to LAX at the junction of Lincoln and Sepulveda.  Boy, were they busy.  They even had a fellow outside with an iPad to take orders to go to ease the rush at the window.  I went inside and ordered a double double, with a small drink.  The wait was about ten minutes and the burger was pretty good.  I also had the distinction of being number one!

I don't think I've ever been number one before in a fast food joint. 

The staff are always decked out in white duds and red trimmings, like the decor of the shop itself and everything is very neat and clean.  But boy, was it busy!

Aficionados of In-n-Out know that although there are only four items on the menu, there is in fact a secret menu, where you can order your food in different ways - like animal style or extra crispy.

For the more adventurous of you here is the "secret" menu, so next time you go to an In-n-Out, you can be among those in the know.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Video - Mars Rover

Over five million people have watched this video, and once you begin it's not hard to understand as it is truly amazing.  It's a computer generated video of Rover going to and landing on Mars.  Makes me wish I tried harder at physics at school!  Set aside the 6:30 to watch and listen to this.