Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indulge in the Comforts of Fall: Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ok, so here's a shout out to Starbucks, sort-a, kind-a

One day last week I sat here from 8:00-3:00, only getting up to get coffee, writing an article. Yesterday, I held two meetings here and then arranged gift shop orders. Today, I have been here from 8:00-11:00. I am on my third refill.

I just saw Aaron, the president of the Chamber of Commerce. Miles is sitting over in the corner, he still has not found a job as a content writer. Frank asked me if the kids had started school. Marcus just came in to work. Eric is not working today, but he came in to get coffee.

We really, really missed two things in the Turks and Caicos: a coffee shop and a bookstore. Well, I guess it's lucky for us there is no bookstore.

The second week of school Lucas had an art project; draw where your family eats together. He drew the outdoor patio at Starbucks while we were sitting here. During the pinup crit, the art teacher was very critical of the drawing saying that the artist did not really listen to the "prompt."

But did he? In the transition of life for Lucas, Starbucks is one of the few constants. When Lucas was in school in Columbus he drove to the Lennox Starbucks during lunch. When I came home from the Turks and Caicos I drove Lucas to school and then sat at the Lennox Starbucks on the internet. After school, Lucas and I would sit there waiting for Deneen and Davis to meet us on their way down 315. In El Centro, we gravitated to the Starbucks because we had no where else to go in town. And we all carry cards with our names in Gold.

Literally, the Starbucks feels like home. And for Lucas, it probably feels more like home than a trailer in Ocotillo.

During the summer, while Martin was here, Davis would run over to Little Cesar's and get a five dollar pizza and the family would eat every week on the patio at Starbucks while I was at Rotary. Last Thursday, before the the boys went to Mock Trial Club we ate pizza out on the patio.

So, what picture would you draw when told to draw where "your" family eats together?

We talked about this last night. To be a better artist you need to look past what is right in front of you in order to see a deeper meaning in your artwork. What was lost on his art teacher was the reality of the social commentary inherent in Lucas' artwork. The drawing has a far deeper meaning than the literal representation of where his family eats together. It is actually almost tragic.

I guess he is lucky for not getting in trouble for drawing a picture of his dad's "office."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

De Anza Rescue Unit

I have two more articles for the IV Press to write this weekend, one about the De Anza Rescue Unit and one about BLM Rangers. Its kind of funny, but the stuff I get called to write about is also stuff I already have information on. I toured the old De Anza Rescue Unit mobile command center during the July 4th festival and picked up a bunch of flyers because I thought it would be cool to join. The handout was about the serious issue of dehydration in the desert. It included several stories of people who thought they were prepared...

I have a soapbox here, just like I did in the Turks and Caicos, as much fun as you think you are having, the desert is very unforgiving. I kept the De Anza flyer and made all the boys read it.

I just finished and submitted the article. I wrote one version in 500 words and another version in 650 words. Did you ever wonder why teachers made you write essays of 300 or 500 words? This is why:

De Anza Rescue Unit

Alone, on an evening ride around Superstition Mountain, a young rider crashed his motorcycle. When he regained consciousness the next day he was able to call the Sheriff's Department on a cell phone to request help, but he was already dehydrated and nearly incoherent. The Sheriff called the De Anza Rescue Unit, and an hour later they were searching the desert.

The rider was found one hour and fifteen minutes later. He was not near his bike and not in the location he gave when he called the Sheriff. Delirious with severe dehydration, he could no longer walk on his own. The rescuers brought him to the De Anza Rescue Unit mobile command center, gave him first aid, and immediately called for transportation to the hospital.

“If the victim had spent another two hours in the desert, he would have died,” was the report of the attending physician.

The De Anza Rescue Unit, Inc. was formed on May 26, 1969. “The unit serves as an auxiliary service organization prepared 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to assist the Sheriff's Department in organized search and rescue,” stated Paul Koon, the organization's current president.

Today, there are 28 members from all around the county, with a variety of occupations. “All members participate in field training exercises once a month,” stated Koon. “We run real-life scenarios, someone gets lost and we go find them.

“Each month our training focuses on different skills, sometimes it is foot tracking, sometimes it is vehicle tracking. Every member is required to maintain First Aid and CPR certificates. We are all disaster service qualified and part of the State Mutual Aid system. The De Anza Rescue Unit can be called to assist in both San Diego and Riverside Counties if needed.”

The organization is all volunteer, and members provide their own equipment and expenses for the 22 to 24 rescues that they are called to assist with annually. Jeff Green, who has been with the organization for ten years, field manages search and rescue operations for the unit. “When we receive a call-out from the Sheriff's Office, we can typically deploy half of our members within 45 minutes,” Green said, “but we can go out with five people and set up an effective search to find someone.”

In the 42 years since the Rescue Unit was founded, not all of the rescue stories have had such happy outcomes. “Even in the worst case scenario, what we do is important,”said Green. “To find someone and relieve the unknown factor for the family is a big part of what we do.”

In October 2010, The Rescue Unit began a fund-raising campaign to raise money to replace their mobile command unit, a 30-year-old school bus that has been very visible at community events, fairs, and festivals in the Valley. Soon the rescue unit will have a new state of the art mobile facility. “We are just waiting on the radios to be installed,”stated Koon. “Most of our operations are either at night in the middle of winter, or in the middle of the day in 120 degree weather. The new 5th-wheel trailer will have heat and AC and will allow people to get in out of the heat or cold. We have been putting in lots of work to get the trailer finished.”

Why put in so much work? Koon has the answer, “A couple years ago we were called out to the desert. A seven-year-old boy had run out of gas and was lost overnight. About 3:00am we found him asleep on top of his quad. When we returned that young man to his mother I knew that every volunteer hour that I had spent with the De Anza Rescue Unit was worth it.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Yea, and I Just Moved Here

Dave just sent me an article entitled 10 Housing Markets that Will Collapse This Year.

Guess what number seven was...

El Centro, California, is located five miles from the Mexican border, and is one of the poorest cities in the country. Median income is just $43,300 per family, the tenth-lowest in the U.S. Unemployment is at a staggering 28.6 percent. Between 2006 and 2011, home prices decreased by more than 50 percent. According to a report in the Imperial Valley Press, one home was sold in the El Centro area before the recession for $390,000. In 2009, that home was listed at $200,000. Prices are expected to drop an additional 12.1 percent by the first quarter of 2012. Five miles from the Mexican border? Think about it and forgetaboutit.

Well, uh, too late...

Now, I can't believe the housing market has not already collapsed here. It's going to get worse? Ouch.On the flip side, we are looking at a house today to rent in El Centro. We could never have afforded this house a couple years ago. But we were at a party last month at Pastor Ron's house. He said the house down the street was going to be empty because the renter had bought the house across the street. We went to look at it. It would be nice, but no way. A couple weeks ago I gave the owner a letter and told him what I thought we could pay. He called me yesterday and told me to come pick up the keys.

With school starting four weeks ago and Deneen starting work this past Monday we are already crunched with the drive from Ocotillo to El Centro. We spend an hour every morning in the car. Last weekend we had to drive into town for a church youth group party and a school club party. Yesterday we had to go out to eat after school then sit at Starbucks while the boys were at an evening practice until 7:30 for the Mock Trial Club. Tonight, if Davis has to cover the football game for the school newspaper, we will be in El Centro from 7:00am-10:00pm, and most of that time I will be sitting at Starbucks.

Not that I don't love Starbucks...but I think they are getting tired of me. Lucas came in after school a few days ago and the barista said, "I know your Dad, he's the guy who gets a lot of free refills."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Writing and Blogging, Blogging and Writing

Have I said be careful what you good at lately? Well, be careful what you get good at.

I started a museum blog to document what it takes to open a museum. You can view the Desert Museum Blog here. I try to maintain those blog postings every couple of days.

This week I wrote three articles for the Imperial Valley Press. These were introductions to Yuma, Arizona, and the Imperial Valley for a shoppers guide to the desert.

But this blog is really about Davis' first published article. During his first week of High School, Davis went down to the school newspaper and signed up, I guess, anyway he got a press pass and made us go to the first football game two weeks ago.

When we looked at the online paper today, Davis' submittal was the front page lead article.

Ouch! Only Two Blogs Since Martin Left?

Where has the time gone? I did not write about the Border Patrol helicopter landing at the museum, or the four trips to the Borders bookstore closeout in San Diego, or the approval of the museum's strategic plan, Davis' first week of high school, the extreme heat warning, or the rain storm and distant lightening...that last one was actually pretty cool.

I guess I will just start with today.

Today I installed, well started to install, gift shop fixtures in the museum...

The day Martin flew out of San Diego I received a phone call to say I should check out the fixtures that were for sale at the Borders bookstore in San Diego. Since I was already in San Diego I went over to the store, getting there right before closing. This was the same day that the IMLS grant was due.

As it turned out everything in the store was being sold for probably 10 cents on the dollar. And there were nice store fixtures.

We went down and bought 14 units at I think $125 each. Two weeks later we got a call saying all shelving would be $50 on the coming weekend. We went down and bought 10 more units.

Last Saturday we drove down to San Diego and loaded the cabinets (this was actually the second trip) on the last day the store was open. I have been trying to get a gift shop implemented for 8 months. Finally, its here. Though now we have the hard part of filling the shelves.

But that's coming.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Power Outage

All Southern California is under a blackout. Power went off at the museum at 3:38pm. I am on the last of my computer battery. It was 98 degrees in the museum when I locked up. It is 109 on Jimmy's porch. Deneen and Atty are freaking out. We are drinking all of Jimmy's cold Mountain Dews. Might be sleeping outside tonight. But the worst thing is I am missing the opening of the 2011 NFL season!