Wednesday, January 30, 2013


     Natalie Angier of the New York Times reports that cats, our domesticated pets and their feral cousins, kill 2.4 Billion birds a year.  They also kill 12.3 Billion mammals, like chipmunks voles and gophers.  At least I hope they are getting the gophers, but that's another issue.
     Well, our three are among that killing squad, though they look like a civil group here.  Luke, front and center, is the Alpha and is true to his tiger/leopard ancestry. Little sister joy with the pink heart is following her tiger DNA coding as well.  She is tenacious for such a cute little thing.
Hemingway, the orange polydactyl doesn't seem to be the hunter type. He's more interested in napping, playing and sitting on a lap.  We haven't seen him express much curiosity in hunting, so maybe he'll help lower the curve. Can't get a bird from a lap, or in a nap.

     The San Luis Obispo Tribune's "Flashback" listing of this day in history was almost enough to send me back under the covers.  
    January 30th has been besmirched by human endeavors.  Consider the history:
-1933 Adolph Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany
-1649 King Charles I is beheaded
-1948 Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated
-1962 Two of the Flying Wallendas hire wire act die in an accident during a performance in Detroit
-1964 Ranger 6 is launched. It crashes on moon but fails to send back images
-1968 The Tet Offensive begins in the Viet Nam war
-1972 "Bloody Sunday"-13 Catholic civil rights marchers are shot to death by British soldiers in Northern Ireland
-1973 KISS performs its first show
     This is also the birthday of Dick Cheney. But it too is the day that brought us Boris Spassky, Gene Hackman, Vanessa Redgrave, Phil Collins and Christian Bale. On reflection, that is a group of intense folk.
 Looking toward the Pacific from Highway 46 between Paso Robles and Cambria 
      So we end this brutal post with something soothing. As the old sarge used to say on Hill Street Blues, "Be careful out there!"
       See you down the trail.    

Monday, January 28, 2013


    "Unique," "quirky," "Jesuitical" and as a headline read
"a speech like no other" are published descriptions of Jerry Brown's California State of the State address."
      I've covered many State of the State and State of the Union addresses and I was struck by its eccentric and quintessential "California-Brown" singularity. 
        Regardless of your political skew, or attitude about  Brown, it was crafted and spun in an inventive way to make it a memorable offering. 
       It was fresh, unanticipated, non traditional  and a bit of an inspirational charge. It prompted memories of the "Moonbeam" era.
     He painted a scenic California time-scape including the building of the missions, expeditions, the discovery of gold, to the establishment of Apple, Google and the silicon valley invoking impressions of California as the land of creativity, innovation and leadership. He even referenced the original Californians in the tableau that was sun drenched, hopeful and full of can do.  
     He spoke of the Pharaoh's dream, quoted philosophers and poets.  He also reprised FDR's line about a "rendezvous with destiny." 
      As he was in the 70's, Brown is a hybrid. A thinker, idea merchant, philosopher, master of old school "backroom" and retail  politics, and a wonk. He is a political mystic.
      In the world of Sacramento and real politics he's laboring at imposing fiscal restraint, profound educational and regulatory reform, quoting French intellect Montaigne, breathing life into building a bullet train and borrowing from his father's legacy addressing future water issues.
      He's got a challenge in hemming in legislative spending especially with pumped up revenue from taxes approved by voters. He applied the State of the State address as a tool in the retooling of California legislative budget making principals that he seeks. He told the story of seven years of famine in Egypt and Joseph's interpretation of the dream.  He told the lawmakers we should remember the wisdom of Joseph to pay down debts and to store up reserves. 
       Given the normal political flack in the air, hearing a state's Chief executive channel such an eclectic scan was both pleasing and entertaining. Certainly one of the season's better speeches. Memorable indeed. 

     Late January on the Central Coast prompts the season reminiscent of Midwestern spring. Here, winter is green. 
     See you down the trail.

Friday, January 25, 2013

THE WEEKENDER-Zero Dark Thirty & 180

     This is an important film to see, not only because it is superbly directed-(Kathryn Bigelow should have been nomimated for an Oscar) nor because Jessica Chastain turns in a stunning and riveting performance as the CIA tracker Maya, but also because it is important history.
     It provokes, in fact it confronts you, in your face, on a couple of aspects of real life that are too easy for too many  to put out of mind.
     The war against terror requires warriors. We ask countrymen and women to step into the breech and do the awful work to keep us safe and then hamstring them with policy, bureaucracy, politics and the intrusion of career minded weasels. This film tells that story. It also tells in vivid detail the horrible and dangerous work that we ask our public employees to do. And the toll it can extract. 
      It captures, for public history, the search for Osama Bin Laden and the resolution of that quest.
      Some have knocked the film, accusing Bigelow and writer Mark Boal of being apologists for torture.  That is simply not true.  This is a fictionalized account but it tells with, in my opinion, an honest appraisal of the human toll that is taken and the demands that are made on those in our employ. 
      I remember sitting in a secure room in the dome of the US Capitol as the ranking member of the House Intelligence Oversight Committee said that some of the things we must do to protect our liberties don't always look so good in the light of day, but they are necessary to give the President and our security apparatus, options.  
      Zero Dark Thirty is a film that provides an opportunity to remember a real search and to ponder that dilemma. I think it is important to see this masterful, though gritty and at times heartbreaking and painful work. It is also a tribute to those Americans who do the hard work of intelligence, counter terrorism and security.
       Some of you may feel a tinge of envy in viewing this 
trailer.  Talk about a great adventure.

Have a great weekend.  
See you down the trail.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


     From this corner of the Peanut Gallery, it doesn't matter if Beyonce was live or recorded.  Her rendition of the National Anthem was stirring and sensational. So was the Marine Band.
     Four letter words have lost their shock value. Like many of you, I'm comfortable enough in my own skin and values to appreciate the vast latitude that free speech provides, even when it is offensive.
     More offensive than hearing what we used to call "gutter" language coming from actors, comedians, singers, etc is the unnecessary use of it. The fact that more people swear or curse everyday is not something about which to be proud.  OK, maybe we have fewer reservation and perhaps people just feel free to say it like they wish, but some of what we called "polite" language has value, not the least of which is dignity.
      I'm surprised that good writers or authors believe they must put some words into the mouths of their characters. All too often it is not needed to build a character's personality or to help with plot line.  
      I'm no prude, and to be sure I can sail with spicy language, but I just wonder if we haven't hit the skids and simply peppered too much useless "foul" language into the mix.  Laziness? Stupidity? 

     Which of the two frames do you prefer?  If you'd care to, leave a comment below.

     Interesting what a difference a focal length can make eh?
     See you down the trail.

Monday, January 21, 2013


     The angles are stunning.  The history is as well. Sunnylands, the extraordinary estate of the late Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg, awaits a first visit by President Obama.  
      (UPDATE-President Obama used Sunnylands as the
sight of a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping June  2013))
      Every President since Eisenhower has visited or worked at Sunnylands.

   Built in the mid 60's the estate captures the essence of Modern architecture and style, worthy of study. It is now administered by the Annenberg Foundation.  Less than a year ago the first public visits began.
   The visitor's center provides an overview with superb large touch screen videos and history and a good orientation film. It also features a schedule of special exhibitions.
    The setting is majestic.  
    Sunnylands is now a retreat center for issues of critical importance. 
    Tours of the home are limited to 7 people and run on a limited schedule. It is worth the ordering of tickets.
    The grounds of the visitors center are a stunning sight. The Giacometti sculpture commands focus. 
     Some come to see to the visitors center and garden.

  Those fortunate to visit the home are offered a golf cart
ride over the Annenberg's 200 acre estate near Rancho Mirage.
    You are driven to the famous front gate that welcomed  Presidents, Queen Elizabeth, other royals and countless celebrities. 

     Extraordinary art and sculpture are abundant, including this from Mexico, opposite the front door.

    Photographs are not permitted in the mansion, decorated as it was when the Annenbergs lived here.   
    Included are digitally created replicas of the multi-million dollar art collection given to a museum. The furniture and interior decor have been studied and envied by professional decorators and collectors.
   The home is a masterpiece of the modern architecture  Palm Springs is known for.  
    The display wall inside this hall holds the world's most extensive Steuben glass and crystal collection.

   11 lakes were built on the 200 acres of desert, now an oasis extradordinare'. 

   A closer look at the pool deck reveals a piece of balancing art that reminded me of a raft.
   Ronald Reagan loved the place.  He spent 18 New Year's eves here.  Photos of those parties are a treasure of show business greats mingling with world power brokers.  The first State Dinner held away from the White House was held here.  
   The Chinese Pavilion was built on the golf course to provide a place for lunch.  The Annenbergs played daily.
   Leonore Annenberg saw a marble bench while traveling and had one created for the edge of the golf course. She thought it was "too white," so a hedge was planted to block it's whiteness from being seen at the home. Her choice of color for the home was a peach or pink.
   The sand traps on the course, built on a flat and arid desert wilderness, are deep.

     Eisenhower golfed here. The Kennedys were guests as were LBJ and Lady Bird. Richard Nixon withdrew to Sunnylands after his resignation. The Fords played here. Reagan and the Bushes worked and relaxed here.  Carter and Clinton were guests and partied or strategized here. 
     Frank Sinatra was married here.  Bob Hope was here often. 
     The photos in Walter's study are a collection of the famous and powerful, from the US and abroad.  The  Christmas cards from the Queen, the Duke, or the Queen Mum are alone a stunning display.  All of this has been available to we mere mortals for less than a year.  
      Sunnylands is now a foundation providing a high calibre retreat space for the world's more challenging political, educational or communication issues.
      This New York Times link provides a fascinating background.
      The Foundations hopes that President Obama will  use the calm, peace and beauty of the estate to tackle an issue before him.  Some have suggested it would be a great setting for congressional leadership and the President to deal with fiscal issues.  Maybe the vibe of all of those who preceded him would help.
       Sunnylands is a uniquely American experience. And you can't help but be dazzled by how the Annenbergs lived, out in their desert house.
       See and learn more by linking to Sunnylands here. 
       See you down the trail.

Friday, January 18, 2013


    Central California Coastal scenes draw thousands each year.  If you are a frequent reader of LightBreezes you know that a friend and fellow blogger, Bruce AKA The Catalyst, was here, and away from his own posting, but he was "working"
 pondering and posing.
I'm interested to see how his exposure of this overly back lit and entirely too bright scene turns out.
A great visit with a couple of great friends, but time flew
all too quickly. 
Taking you for a ride....
Have a great weekend. 
See you down the trail.