[g+] Breakfast with the Bees

April 11th, 2014 Chris Kim A Posted in Misc, Stimulati | No Comments »


This started out as a test to see how embedding a Google+ post might look, but I think I’ll leave it up, at least for a while. I really should’ve posted it here to begin with. Although I have come full circle (pun intended) considering using Google+ as my primary “blog” (and have reasoned not to), I still find myself using it as my go-to place for posts that are really more blog-and-share-worthy. Oh well. I’ll keep working on it.

I’m using the WP Plugin Metronet Embed Google Plus. No muss, no fuss, just paste the link to the post and it does the heavy lifting so you don’t have to fiddle with embed codes and such.

Decided to close the comments on this blog post to encourage commenting on the original Google+ post. Having to sign in to Google can’t be any more annoying than signing in to Disqus to comment.

I wonder what impact adding a +1 to an embedded Google+ post has?

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Passing (on the) Gas

March 4th, 2014 Chris Kim A Posted in Domicile, Misc | No Comments »

Wow, what a difference not using the stupid wall heater makes!

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Dramatic difference since last year!

As you can see by the usage graph from my recent gas bill, even with using the stove a lot more for cooking and coffee-making (as you may recall, my Braun died and I’ve been going old-school stovetop Melita for the last few months), not using the wall heater has significantly reduced my fossil fuel usage at home and is saving me tens of dollars a month (through the cool-weather months).

While it never really gets that cold in Los Angeles, along the coast and particularly here in Venice, it can be downright (relatively) chilly.

After my extended holiday trip back to the middle-of-the-middle and enduring what real cold can be, I decided to see how uncomfortable I would be not using the (shockingly inefficient in a poorly-insulated apartment) wall heater this winter. For the last several years, I’ve been playing a game with myself leaving it off until Thanksgiving.

This year, I decided to just leave it off as long as I could stand. Between its inefficient function and location in this small 1-bedroom apartment, it really only heats the dining / kitchen area (which doesn’t need it) and does nothing to heat the bedroom or the rest of the place. Pretty sure most of the heat is going up the chimney vent anyway in that setup. Pretty lame.

So…so far, so good, with the help of layering my wardrobe during the day (which is pretty much status quo for westsiders) and an electric blanket at night (it does get down into the 40s and sometimes lower occasionally). I also have a small ceramic heater that I have turned on 3 or 4 times for an hour or so, but I’m also trying to keep my electric usage down, too.

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Capulus Factorem Mortuus Est 2002-2013

July 1st, 2013 Chris Kim A Posted in Coffee, Meandering | No Comments »

After over 10 years of flawless daily service, my Braun Aromaster made its last pot of coffee this morning. The light comes on, but no heat. That’s usually how it happens, but I think this is the longest I’ve had a machine last. RIP, faithful companion!

Its predecessors only lasted 3-4 years each before the burner/heating loop would give up. I had held on to them in hopes of Frankensteining them together into a working machine…except they all had the same problem with the heating unit burning out.

Suus_mortuis_Jim

The 30-something-year-old Melita steps back into service.

This one had been a gift from an old girlfriend, and I’d been babying it along by making sure to turn the burner/heater off after the first hour or so. Either I was lucky to get an extra-durable unit, or that practice really did help, or some combination of the two (most likely).

Fortunately, I kept my original Melita stovetop “manual” drip maker, as well as a couple of French presses, an electric Krups and a Bialetti espresso machine, so I’m covered.

However, in a fit of compulsive panic, I headed out late tonight on the bike to check the local 24-hour grocers and drug stores (two of each) to see what they might have to offer, but they had nothing that I was interested in paying for, even at the reasonable $24.99 price for the basic Mr. Coffee 12-cup machine.

What I really want is another Braun Aromaster, but it looks like you can’t buy them anymore. At least not in the US. Or so it seems. I’ll have to do some old-school letting my fingers do the walking and call around to Bed, Bath and Beyond, Frye’s and Target to see if the stores might have something that the web searching has not revealed. Meh. I wish I didn’t have a good idea that it will take nearly as much time to get the info over the phone as it would to drive to each location.

So…just made a fresh pot in the Melita —yum! I’d almost forgotten how good it makes the coffee taste! Okay, so it’s notably less convenient, but I may just hang with it for a while until I can suss out the Aromaster situation.

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Our neighbor, the President

May 8th, 2013 Chris Kim A Posted in Kith & Kin, Misc | 2 Comments »

Just so you know, I’ve been wishing Mr. Truman “Happy Birthday” for quite a long while now, but I’m just being neighborly.

The personal thank-you I received from President Truman.

The personal thank-you letter I received
from President Truman.

We moved to Independence in 1967, into a house that was in the neighborhood between Truman’s home and the Truman Library.

In the first few years, it wouldn’t be unusual to see Mr. Truman out for a walk in the neighborhood. And for several years, it wouldn’t be strange at all to run into Mrs. Truman, or their daughter, Margaret, at the local Kroger grocery store — on one occasion, I recall Margaret was having a time with one of her kids staying seated in the grocery cart.

Mr. Truman also went to the same chiropractor we did. One afternoon, as he was leaving the doctor’s office, he looked down at me and my brother playing on the waiting room floor.

“Are these boys for sale?” he asked our mom.

“Some days, Mr. President, they’re for free!” Mom blurted, her face immediately turning bright red, realizing what she had implied to the former President of the United States about her two little angels.

Meanwhile — I was very excited about the prospect of getting to live in the big Truman house and hanging out with Mr. Truman, and was sorely disappointed when Mom didn’t close the deal!

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Concert Series: Dan Hicks at McCabe’s 1998-02-20

February 20th, 2013 Chris Kim A Posted in Concert Series, Music | No Comments »

Fifteen years ago this evening, I got to catch Dan Hicks and The Acoustic Warriors performing at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, where I had seen (and would see) him perform several other times. In fact, he’ll be there in a couple of weeks on March 1st, back to being billed as “Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks” from the old days.

Dan Hicks & The Acoustic Warriors at McCabe's, 1998-02-20

Dan Hicks & The Acoustic Warriors
at McCabe’s, 1998-02-20

The “Acoustic Warriors” changed personnel slightly from time to time, but the music was always all Dan, and he was always his usual, consummately effervescent self. His performances were always very fun and entertaining, like his music—upbeat, quirky and clever—musically as well as lyrically.

How to categorize his ‘style’ of music? That’s always a tough call, since it simultaneously includes elements of several genres: folk, rock, country, jazz, pop, swing, jump…it’s just not that easy to describe or pigeonhole into a familiar ‘type’.

A few years before this show, I saw him at the cozy cabaret once known as the Cinegrill at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (alas, it is no more). We got to the hotel about 45 minutes early, parked in the hotel parking and walked through the lobby toward the club. There wasn’t much activity in the lobby at all as we approached the lounge door, only a guy sitting on one of the padded benches reading a newspaper. The closer we got, I realized it was Dan, himself, relaxing with the paper for a few minutes before the show. As we passed, I said a quick, “Evenin’ Dan.” to which he replied, “Yup.”

Inside the club, I could see why he was spending some time in the empty lobby. That place is tiny without a bandstand, and with Dan (no small guy) and 3 other musicians, it was a bit tight. There wasn’t much of a crowd, either, for whatever reason. We’d gotten there early to get a good seat, which turned out to be almost anywhere. I’ve only seen him in small venues, but this was a very small, intimate setting. And, of course, a most excellent performance.

Back in the 90s, Dan kept a mailing list of his fans, and would (personally?) send out post cards when he would be appearing in your area. The front would almost always be some original artwork of Dan’s, usually something kind of crazy or silly. Hmm, I know I still have them, somewhere in the archive, but not handy enough at this writing to include here. They will be forthcoming in another post, once I run into them again, promise.

 

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Not today, little buddy. Well, not that I know of, at least.

February 8th, 2013 Chris Kim A Posted in Meandering, Misc | No Comments »

The used-up, former roll of packing tape was still in the dispenser, its replacement sitting right next to it, on the ready. Close by, another smaller, disposable tape/dispenser still had plenty left on it before needing to replace the roll in the larger unit.

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©2013 Chris Kim A

Most of the (now) empty roll had been used up in the last move a few years ago.

The loud, distinctive sound of the adhesive side ripping free from its wrapped self-restraint isn’t a particularly pleasant sound, anyway, but it appeared to be an extremely unpleasant one for my cat, Spot. Quite likely, it was the combination of the sharp, daggar-like noise of that sound along with my heightened emotional state hustling to get things packed for an unplanned relocation that had as much to do with his reaction—but clearly, it was a much-less-than-pleasant experience for him, overall.

That subsequently presented a bit of a problem every other time I would use the dispenser. He would put his ears back, gazing at me, wide-eyed, with a bit of panic slightly coloring his furry countenance. Since circumstance had required he be an indoor cat from the time I’d gotten him as a kitten, I always tried to at least give him the most consistent best experience that being stuck living with me could offer as often as I could.

So, keeping in mind that he likely associated that sound with a complete upheaval of his confined reality, I tried to at least give him some assurances every other time that wasn’t the case:

“It’s okay, Spotty, we’re not moving. Not today, little buddy. Well, not that I know of, at least.”

When we moved into this place, I promised him that I wouldn’t put him through it again. In all fairness, though, in the eighteen years he and I were together, I only put him through that reality upheaval twice (quite thankfully for both of us).

It’s been nearly two years since his passing, and this old, used up tape roll core has been sitting on the corner of my drawing table, waiting for the recycle bin—much like the bit melancholia that I’ve left adhered to it. The process of grieving the loss of my mom a few months before his became intertwined with grieving his loss along the way.

Understanding that it is a process, however, has been surprisingly useful in practice, as it turns out.

Being patient with it (the process, the loss, and myself), while trying to be sternly earnest about doing what I can muster to move myself forward beyond it has been an understandable challenge over these last couple of years. It feels as though I have much more patience for others in this way, than I do with myself. Having the tremendous blessing of loving family and friends’ love and support has been a great facilitator in maintaining the useful perspective that it is just a part of my experience, and is not the sum total of it.

Now that I’ve encapsulated it in this documentation, perhaps I can move on to up-cycle it in a project, or at least send it along for recycling. Either way, it’s on its way up, along with my attitude (and maybe even my outlook), which has been due for a major overhaul/up-cycle quite long enough.

And, ironically, I’m at another major point where circumstance and opportunity may be conspiring for me to relocate once again—and very likely all the way back home to Missouri (finally, just as had been the plan when I moved to spend a year in L.A.). The difference being that this time, it will be my idea, and as much on my terms as I’ve left possible. It will also be more than 30 years or so later than I thought it would be.

Huh. Maybe I’m more patient with myself than I thought.

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Concert Series Kick-Off: X at UCSB 1984-02-25

February 25th, 2012 Chris Kim A Posted in Concert Series, Music | No Comments »

In this series, I’ll be recollecting and reminiscing about the various music (and maybe other) shows I’ve gotten to see over the years, accompanied by a scan of the ticket(s) for the show from my personal archives.

To get things rolling, I thought it serendipitous to start off with a show from 28 years ago this very day: L.A.-local heroes “X” performing on campus at UC Santa Barbara.

X at UCSB, Feb 1984

Back in those days, it was easy enough to catch them around Los Angeles, but I was dating a girl who was going to school there at the time, and there weren’t always a lot of big date things going on around Goleta and Isla Vista, so this was quite a bit of a treat. Funny, I can’t recall who opened — either The Dream Syndicate or it might even have been Dave Alvin (or even both). That I retrospectively place Alvin there may just be a mind-mash of concurrent events, since he would replace X-founding-member Billy Zoom a year or so later.

What I absolutely do remember quite distinctly, however, is that by about halfway through X’s set, we’d been moshed out of our great stage-side spots to about halfway back in the auditorium. I saw a dark shadowy something fluttering over the heads of the crowd from in the front of the stage, and it wasn’t until I felt a hard thud on my chest and heard the glass tinkling on the ground that I realized 1) it’s coming toward me! and 2) Crap! it’s a beer bottle! As much as we were having a great time, it seemed like maybe it was time to call it a night before the chairs started flying next.

Something else that came to mind thinking back on this show — up until that weekend, I had been taking the Greyhound Bus up on Fridays from Santa Monica to spend the weekend with her a couple times a month, and take the return bus Sunday night. What dawned on me when I scanned the ticket stub for this show was that this would also have been the first weekend I would have driven my brand-new Isuzu I-Mark (the “ChrIsuzu” I still drive today) up to show off to the girl and her girlfriends.

(As a token tangentially-related factoid, it may also interest you to note that singer Katy Perry was born in Santa Barbara exactly 8 months after the day of this show.)

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The End of a Year of Firsts

January 16th, 2012 Chris Kim A Posted in Ack, Kith & Kin | 2 Comments »

At the very end of today, it will have been a full year since Mom quietly and peacefully passed away, or “was called to Glory” as she frequently liked to say.

“It’s the Glory shining down” was how she had described the beautifully majestic, natural atmospheric optical effect known as ‘crepuscular rays’ to us when we were kids, explaining that that was how her mother and grandmother had described it to her as a child. It is no wonder, and perhaps now very fitting, that I always think of her when I see this wonderful effect of nature. Heaven opens a bit to shine down its Glory, and it will forever more remind me that she is smiling down on us, safe in the arms of her Savior, singing praises in the Choir Fantastic.

Her unrelenting faith — no, trust — in God and absolute assurance that she was moving on to a better existence were her daily testimony and witness to all with whom she had contact. Not through pious, evangelical speeches, but through simple, everyday loving acts of thoughtfulness and kindess that she extended to the world around her. This was her story, and this was her song: praising her Savior all the day long — to borrow appropriately from the old standard hymn. Being a channel and example of the Love of Christ was something she did as easily and automatically as breathing.

Bringing joy to people, through conversation, laughter, song, a meal, a card or a phone call was how she devoted her time and energy. Of course, there were those with whom she did not agree, and she secretly suffered idiots to the best of her genteel nature, but she loved nearly everyone from her seemingly limitless heart. Those she couldn’t like on her own, well, she prayed to love them as Jesus already did. She still might tell you what was on her mind, but in her heart, it was always love, and that was never in doubt. This lifelong example and practice is the legacy which she left us, and the manner of living in which she tacitly, but earnestly, instructed us.

As much as the preceding 5 years since her initial diagnosis of 6 months had had my brother and me holding our breaths and awaiting the inevitable, neither of us had any idea what to expect for the year following our loss, either as brothers, or as individual sons. Through this year of the “firsts” without her (first Valentines Day, first Easter, first Mother’s Day, etc.), the anxiety of expecting her passing moved to the anticipation of a surprise attack emotional meltdown, but it has been thankfully peaceful over all.

Without question, I miss her daily, and quite often deeply. There have been several ‘sneak attacks’ of sadness, and there are bound to be many more, I’m sure, but I remain convinced that she is always with me, with all of us, whose lives were blessed with her presence, persistence and steadfastness.

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Holding Mom’s Hand

January 14th, 2011 Chris Kim A Posted in Ack, Kith & Kin | No Comments »

Mom, Christmas 2010

Sitting with Mom as she appears to peacefully and comfortably sleep, it is very difficult to articulate the intensity and diversity of thoughts, emotions — all very disjointed and incomprehensible. The decline of her health has been rapid and irreversible, and it seems impossible that she’s not just resting and recuperating and that everything will just go back to normal.

The truth I so earnestly am trying to keep hold of is that her body has truly lost the ability to recover, that the Mom I can’t let go of has already moved on, that this part of the process of living, while inevitable for everyone, never really gets any easier to walk through — nor should it, when it involves a parent.

I know I will move both through and past this portion of the journey, never completely alone, but with the courage and strength of God the Father, the presence of my brother & our family, the deeply heartfelt thoughts and prayers of friends.

It is my privilege and my choice to stay with her earthly body until it is no longer useful to God or to her. I know she will always be with me, and I with her, and in the next part of the journey, the next dimension of experience, we all are already together.

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ChrIsuzu – A 26-year-long Surprise Love Affair [part 1]

November 6th, 2010 Chris Kim A Posted in Meandering, Misc | 2 Comments »

My 1984 Isuzu i-Mark

My brand-new 1984 Isuzu I-Mark diesel.

The story of how I came by this wonderful machine really begins with its predecessor, a 1976 AMC Pacer, but to explain how I came to own that car, I’d have to go into what happened to its predecessor, a 1969 Mustang, so we’ll leave it at that for now.

The fact is, I was in need of a new car, and a co-worker had just purchased one of these and worked out a good deal with the salesman, and he thought I’d be able to get the loan with my trade-in allowance, etc.

It seemed like a good move for me at the time (remember this is 1984 and I’m in my early 20′s) — I needed a car, and a new one would be nice; I needed to get a credit history going, and my job seemed stable enough to at least last the length of the car loan. When I test drove it the first time, i was really impressed by how it felt and handled.

The second test run was the night I signed all the papers and drove away in it — the dash and panel lights, the way the headlights shone, the way the park and running lights looked…all convinced me that I would at least not be that unhappy while I paid off the loan so I could trade up to my “real” car (whatever that would reveal itself to be).

"ChrIsuzu 1985 road trip"

1985: My brother Bill and I showing off our new wheels in front of our Dad's house.

There was absolutely no way I would have known at that point, or for several more months that this would turn out to be my “real car”!

A 4-cylinder diesel car wasn’t particularly sexier in 1984 than it is today, and Isuzu discontinued the consumer passenger diesel line after this production year. Not a jack-rabbit off the starting line, or a fast-climber on inclines, either, I suppose I can understand how it didn’t compete with the other mid-80s consumer conveyances.

Fast-acceleration-issues aside, I very quickly became enamored by its increasing good-fit for me. Every time I got behind the wheel, it just felt a little more right. Besides, a fast-moving car on the freeways, streets and by-ways of Los Angeles would have just be a bad, short-lived idea for me in those days. Plenty of room in the front and back seats, and a surprisingly roomy trunk for a vehicle of its relatively tiny size. It even turned out to be comfortable enough to sleep in on several occasions (not the trunk, of course, but the front seats reclined nicely even with the seat position set back).

Look for more on the ChrIsuzu in upcoming posts…

    Including:

  • Stolen and Returned – Bullwinkle Testifies!
  • California From Your Car – The Book That Wasn’t
  • 250,000 Miles! Return Trip From The Moon
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