Monthly Archives: January 2017

(Guest Post) How to Travel with Your Dog…

Standard

Today’s guest post is from Jenny of Here Pup dog blog (https://www.herepup.com/).

Traveling with a dog is possible, but it can be a huge challenge. However, if you don’t want to leave your furry buddy behind, the best thing that you can do is be prepared for the trip. This is also true if you are planning to dwell in your van, whether it’s full time or part time, or if the situation calls for it, or you want to experience this kind of lifestyle.

One of the first things that you need to do is make sure that there’s enough room for you and your pet in the van. You want your pet to be as comfortable as possible for the long journey ahead. Create a checklist of everything it needs and make sure you get them all packed. Some of the most important items to never miss are your dog’s medications, foods, favorite toy and blanket, leash, and crate.

Don’t forget to bring your dog’s medical record too. Do a research and get the contact information of the vets around the area of the places you are going to so you’ll have someone to call in case of emergency. Plan your route ahead so you’ll known where you can bring your dog for an enjoyable break.

There are more things to consider to make travel with your pet more fun and less troublesome. We prepared this great looking infographics that lists more tips for van dwellers and regular travelers alike who are traveling with dogs.

Be prepared on your journey with your best fur buddy with the help of this guide:

How to Travel with Your Dog without Going Completely Insane

It’s Been a Week

Standard

It’s been a week since I’ve posted here.

I’ve written a couple of posts by hand in my notebook, but I haven’t sat down at a computer with internet access since I sent out the dispatch from Quartzsite.

It’s been a whirlwind tour. A car was sold. My new friend and I left Quartzsite behind. Camping supplies were bought. We spent a couple of nights at free campgrounds, one I’d been to before (Buckeye Hills Regional Recreation Area) and one that was new to me (Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area). We stopped to visit The Lady of the House; she prepared a wonderfully delicious lunch for us, and as an added bonus, we took showers! We drove late into the night, set up camp in the dark, and woke to fantastic nature. We climbed up on rocks and took photos of each other, then climbed back down again.

I’ve been laughing a lot.

I’d forgotten how great it can be to have a nice, helpful, kind, funny person in the passenger’s seat.

So now we’re in a small town in the Southwest. I have friends here, and my new friend is making some of his own. We’ve been anarchist camping at a small campground with no camphost. I don’t feel too bad about it, as the restrooms with the flush toilets are locked, there are no picnic tables anywhere in the place, and we’re not using any resources. We don’t even put our trash in the dumpster! It’s just a place to go to spend a few hours sleeping.

This is the wood spirit my friend carved. The carving sits on my dash and protects my van.

My friend has been carving wood spirits from cottonwood. It’s his new money-making venture. As soon as he makes one, it sells.

I’ve been scheduling readings of my book. I’ll do two next week. It’s exciting. After the woman at the bookstore said I could do a reading at her shop, I felt as if the Universe would give me anything I wanted.

Today I’m tired. I didn’t get nearly enough sleep last night, but I’ll be ok.

I’m currently working at the computer lab in the town’s senior center. It’s really hot in here, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I wanted to get a post out today so everyone knows I am alive and kicking and doing well. I’ll write longer posts soon, but I plan to post every other day starting in February. I have more books to write, and I need more time. Blogging every other day should give me time to work on other projects.

Life is good. I am blessed.

My friend took this photo of me at Indian Bread Rocks Recreation Area in Arizona.

Last Days in Quartzsite

Standard

The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous has come and gone.

All of my friends have left Quartzsite, save for the new one, the one with whom I am planning on embarking on an epic adventure road trip. Or at least a several hundred mile ride in the van.

Imagine my delight to meet another traveler of my ilk, someone who knows and holds dear dumpster diving, gas jugging, and sign flying. Imagine my delight in meeting another seeker, a fellow believer in magic and signs and the machinations of the Universe.

So we’re still in Quarzsite, but not for long. As soon as the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed, we’re blowing this popscicle stand. Leaving right now would be fine with me, although I’m resigned to the fact that we won’t be out of here that soon.

The traffic’s gotten bad. The library parking lot was packed this morning when I arrived at 11am. There was nowhere to leave the van anywhere near the scratch and dent grocery store. The internet connection is slow and frustrating. (Thank goodness I had two weeks of blog posts scheduled. I’d be a wreck if I’d been dealing with the frustrating internet all this time.)

I hope to sit somewhere in the next couple of days and schedule the posts I’ve been writing down in my notenbook.

In hope all my readers will stay tuned.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Carolina, Wherever You Are

Standard

Today is Mr. Carolina’s birthday. I think he’s 26 now.

I haven’t spoken to Mr. Carolina since 2013. I was in Texas and he was in North Carolina when he called to tell me he was going back out on the road. We talked a few minutes, then hung up our phones. That was it.

I didn’t realize we wouldn’t talk again, but the next time I called him, I got the recording saying the phone was no longer in service. Did he lose the phone? Did the family member who’d been paying the bill decide not to pay it anymore? Why did he never call me again? Did some glitch in the system cause him to lose my number? I have no idea.

I got reports about him for about a year. When I talked to The Viking or Sweet L, I always asked about Mr. Carolina. The reports were few and far between, but at least I got some information. He’d gotten a dog. He was on some religious trip. He ranted about seeing the demons in people. That’s the last I heard. It’s been a long time.

I sure loved that guy. I suppose I still do. He is a good person, generous and funny. We traveled together for not quite too months, but we were together every day during that time. We were together every day, and he never got on my nerves, never annoyed me, never pissed me off. He listened to all my stories, cheered me up when I was sad, appreciated every thing I did to make our travels possible.

I appreciated him too. Anything he had, whether food, money, beer, or weed, he was willing to share it with me or whoever needed it. I trusted him to drive my van, and I learned so much about driving just by paying attention to how he did it. I never had to pump gas when he was around. In so many ways, he was a real friend to me.

I hope the last few years have been good to him. I hope he’s happy and safe and loved. If you see him, tell him I said hello and give him my phone number. I’d really love to hear from him.

img_5439

The First Time I Quit Drinking

Standard

I recently sorted through my old writing that somehow survived countless moves and a couple of great purges of my belongings. I realized quite a bit of the writing I’d been hauling around wasn’t worth keeping. I threw a bunch of old academic papers and cringe-worthy poetry into the recycling bin. Some of the writing, though, seemed worth saving.

I wrote the piece I’m sharing today early in the 21st century. I wrote it without a clear audience. I don’t remember it being intended for a particular publication, and I don’t remember ever sharing it with anyone. The pieced didn’t even have a title

My emotions were a bit overwrought, and the language I used leaned toward the revolutionary, but that’s the person I was at the turn of the millennium.

Without further ado, writing from my past…

I’m not writing this to tell you what you should do. Do whatever you want. I’m writing this to make sense of what I did, what I do, what I want to do. This piece is self-centered and certainly introspective. It might be a little whiny. Read it if you like, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“I often feel like I have to celebrate my self-destruction,” she said, and I knew exactly what she meant.

It hadn’t been enough to hate myself. I had to pretend that I was happy about it, that I was having a good time, by downing beer or hard cider or the occasional shot of tequila. I was partying, hanging out in bars, spending time with people I thought of as friends, looking for people who wanted to have sex with me, using my body as a commodity, giving my money to bar owners and beer companies. When I remember those days, I remember having so much free time, probably because all I had going on in my life was working for $$$ and hanging out, drinking, partying, having fun.

But it wasn’t fun. Not really. Where’d I get that idea? I never even liked the taste of beer. But oh, I liked the way it made me feel, silly and sexy and free. Just a little out of control. Like my head might float away from my body and leave me without a thought or a care in the world. I could dance and not worry that anyone thought I looked like a dork. I could kiss boys and not take responsibility or blame…I could always use the oh, I was drunk excuse. I got away with a lot.

I thought I was having deep and meaningful conversations with people. Maybe I was. I can’t remember most of it. chunks of my life are fuzzy. What’s the point of sharing the deepest parts of myself if I’m not even sure I did it? Maybe I just think I told people what was going on in my head. Maybe I just hoped people were sharing themselves wit me. When I think about the person I loved most during those days, I’m not sure if he really told me the stories I remember as his, or if if I just made them up. Most of our relationship was a lie. I’m not sure if even now we know who the other truly is. Unhealthy patterns started between us back then; even today I don’t know how to break them. I could only really talk to him when I was  drunk, but I’m still not sure what I said.

I guess I had revelations when I was drunk, but I didn’t remember them once I sobered up. E[mma] told me recently that sure, she had lots of revelations when she was drunk, some she even wrote in her journal, but what good did it do when she couldn’t read her own handwriting the next day? I think I’m not going to make enough progress if I can’t remember my own epiphanies.

I had no regard for my life, no regard for my self. It wasn’t easy to live while hating myself and feeling so much despair. I thought drinking was supposed to numb the pain, but it never worked that way for me.  Alcohol somehow made the pain sharper and more intense. Wasn’t being drunk supposed to make me forget? It only made me remember in Technicolor detail what was hurting me. Yep, I was often the crying girl at the party. How fun was that? Not much fun for me. I don’t know whether or not other people were enjoying it.

Now, I’m just not drinking at all. After I left [a notorious party city], I slowed down. People in [the new place where I lived] often thought I wasn’t a drinker until they aw a beer in my hand. Sometimes they were shocked. You just don’t even know, I would think, after explaining that no, I wasn’t a teetotaler or straight edge or a recovering alcoholic. Then I moved to [the Midwest] and slowed down even more. Oh sure, I still complain that this town is uncivilized because bars close at 2am and grocery stores don’t sell beer on Sunday, but I’m getting tired of my comments. What do I think defines civilization anyway?

It’s been five months since I’ve had any alcohol. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone without a drink in the last 10 years. Damn, I’m surprised it’s only been five months. It seems longer. It seems like it’s been years and years.

I worry that if I get started I won’t be able to stop. I worry that if I have a swallow beer I’ll end up getting shit-faced. I worry that getting drunk once will make getting drunk next time easier. I worry that getting drunk will lead me to turn to alcohol instead of working to solve my problems.

Sometimes it’s my body that wants the alcohol. Sometimes my body remembers what it’s like physically to be drunk. The other night, my mouth tasted like beer.

Mostly I want it in social situations. If I’m completely stressed out by another person, I really want to go to a bar and have a drink (or two or three) and try to numb my feelings. If I’m at a party and I feel self conscious, I want to drink enough not to care what anybody thinks. When four of the other five people at the table have big-ass beers to go with their garden burgers, I feel strange about having a glass of water. (Who’s that girl without the beer? I think, and then realize it’s me.)

Too shy to even talk to the boy I want to kiss, I know how easily it would be to get a little drunk and totally giddy and haul off and kiss him nonconsensually. Another crush boy’s girlfriend will probably be out of town on New Year’s Eve and I fantasize about him and me sharing a bottle of wine. Knowing my background and his, then we would kiss, and then we could fall into bed together and fuck. Although it would feel good at the time, we’d feel super guilty the next morning, but we could blame it on the booze, chalk it up to being drunk. We wouldn’t have to acknowledge any feelings between us or how our actions affect the whole community or what sort of brave new relationship we could forge as equals and comrades if we were able to keep the bottle out of the equation. But when I think about this scenario, something in me cries NO! and I am determined not to mess up like I’ve done so many times in the past.

I just want to be real and whole and true. I want to know who I really am and to let others know too. And maybe some people can live that way with a beer in their hand, but it’s never quite worked out for me. And the wildest part of this whole situation is that I bet no one I know would ever have thought I had a problem. I never lost a job because of alcohol, never got into trouble with the cops because of it, never got in a barroom fight. I didn’t even drink every night. But I think it arrested my development and kept me from being the person I want to be. I feel sad when I think maybe I wasted big parts of my life. Maybe I could have been smashing the state or writing my stories or building revolutionary relationships instead of getting drunk and walking home down the dark and scary sidewalks of [the big city] hoping someone with a gun would blow a hole in my head so I would be spared the trouble of having to figure out how to dispose of myself. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so depressed if I hadn’t been using a depressant in an attempt to numb my sadness.

Shit. This isn’t a happy story. And I don’t know how to end it because there’s not an ending. People at the…show tonight are going to have alcohol. I’m going to think about getting a beer, or just taking the bottle from someone’s hand and having a long, slow swig. But I know that if I have one swallow, I’ll have another and another and another. And I know that if I don’t take the swallow, I’ll have one more night to work on feeling real and whole and true.

 

 

My Creative Dream Guidebook

Standard

I’ve adored SARK for years.

I can’t remember which of her books was the first I read, but I know I knew about her before the 21st century. I remember decorating a post card and writing a fan letter on it and sending it to her in 1999 or 2000, so I certainly knew her work well by then.

If you’ve never heard of SARK, I’m glad I can be the one to tell you about her.

Succulent Wild Woman
SARK is her acronym name; the letters stand for Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. On her website, Planet SARK, she says about herself,

Throughout the course of my life and career as an international expert in personal well-being and transformation, my name has become synonymous with transformation, color, healing, movement & FUN.

I’ve read a lot of SARK’s books over the years, including Succulent Wild Woman, Eat Mangoes Naked, A Creative Companion: How to Free Your Creative Spirit, The Bodacious Book of Succulence: Daring to Live Your Succulent Wild Life, and Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed: The Ultimate Nap Book.

The books are full of colors and wisdom and love. Even though I live in a van and have little space to hoard books, I own copies of both Succulent Wild Woman and Eat Mangoes Naked. Sometimes when I am sad, I reread one or both of the books for the umpteenth time. I like browsing through the books, skipping around, reading bits and pieces here and there. Reading SARK’s kind and gentle words always lifts my spirits, cheers me up, makes me feel better.

Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day
In 2004, Touchstone books released SARK’s book Make Your Creative Dreams Real: A Plan for Procrastinators, Perfectionists, Busy People, and People Who Would Really Rather Sleep All Day. (Yes, I WOULD rather sleep all day, as a matter of fact.)

I’ve had my eye on Make Your Creative Dreams Real for a while now, but I was never in the right position to acquire it. I don’t like to spend money on books since there are so many free ones out in the world, but I never found this one in a free pile or offered on BookMooch.

I was house sitting for a friend from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve. She had a $10 voucher at an independent used bookstore that expired on New Year’s Eve. She didn’t have a chance to use the voucher before she left town, and her plane didn’t land until late on December 31. Since she couldn’t use the voucher, she left it for me. (Super big thanks to this generous friend who also left a Chick-fil-A gift card for me!)

Before I went to the bookstore, I didn’t really know what I wanted to get. I wandered around in the store for a while before I thought, OH! SARK!

So I sought out SARK in the store’s self-help section. (SIDE NOTE: I couldn’t find the self-help section, but I was too embarrassed to ask any of the workers to direct me. How silly is that!?! I was too embarrassed to let strangers know I wanted to self-help myself. Sigh.)

The Grapes of Wrath
There were quite a few titles by SARK on the shelf. Then I saw Make Your Creative Dreams Real. Oh, yes, that would do. I checked the price. It only cost $8! Score! (With my remaining $2, I bought a battered copy of The Grapes of Wrath, which I’d decided to revisit.)

Although the word “plan” is clearly in the subtitle, I didn’t realize Make Your Creative Dreams Real is a how-to book. I started reading it and realized it’s a twelve month, week-by-week guide. Every week SARK presents a new project, exercise, game, or suggestion.

I’ve never been good at sticking with how-to books that require weekly exercises, but I figured since I already had the book I should stay the course.

The exercise for the first week was to make a “creative dream guidebook” for myself. I had a visual journal I’d bought with a gift certificate The Lady of the House gave me a couple years ago for Christmas. I’d bought two journals and only used part of one, so I thought the second one would do just fine.

I made collages on both covers. (One of the best features of this particular journal is that you I can open it completely and lay it flat.) I went for a blue theme, which I thought gave everything a dreamy feeling. Coyote Sue had just given me an old children’s dictionary she’d bought at a thrift store, so I cut out and pasted on the definitions for “create/creation/creator” (since there was no entry for “creative”), “dream,” “guidebook,” “blaze” (because, you know, the dictionary doesn’t include “Blaize”), and “sun.” I think it turned out great.

img_7921

I took the photo of my Creative Dream Guidebook collage. The other images are links to Amazon.com. If you click any of those images, they will take you to Amazon, and I will get an advertising fee from anything you purchase.

Happy Birthday, Dolly Parton

Standard

Today is the birthday of Dolly Rebecca Parton. I’m sure everyone knows who Dolly Parton is, so I won’t even bother with autobiographical details. Instead I will share a review I wrote of a Dolly Parton biography I read last summer.

Dolly Daughter of the South
The book in question is Dolly: Daughter of the South,  written by Lola Scobey.

Where to begin?

I picked this book up at a thrift store for a dime. I wouldn’t say I’m a big Dolly Parton fan, but I do like some of her music and when I’ve seen her being interviewed on TV, she seems like a really nice person. So I figured, what the hell?, and forked over the dime to buy the book.

Several things about this book are suspect.

#1 It has no ISBN. Did books in the 70s and 80s not have ISBNs? What does it mean that this book has no ISBN? I dunno. (Oh, wait. I did find the ISBN, in tiny print on the spine, and again in tiny print on the right side of the front cover, right next to the price of $2.50)

#2 There are photos in this book, but no photo credits. Don’t most reputable authors give credit, if not to the photographer, at least to the person who provided the photo? No one is credited with the photos in this book.

#3 The following disclaimer is given on the book’s credit page: Sections of Chapters 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 18 are dramatizations based upon facts about the characters’ lives and/or attitudes they have expressed. Dramatizations? As in made up? As in fiction? Ok, the author made up some of the shit in this book, and while she admits to making up some shit, she doesn’t tell us what shit she made up. So how can the reader really know what is true and what is not?

#4 The author never says where or when she actually interviewed Dolly Parton. At the end of the book, she does “acknowledge” some “fine people of Sevierville” (the town near where Dolly Parton grew up). Throughout the book, the author does mention situations in which some of those “fine people” told her about Dolly Parton’s past, so I do believe the author interviewed and got quotes from those “fine people.” And although the author presents the reader with many direct quotes attributed to Dolly Parton (with quotation marks and all), I think the author read a bunch of other interviews other people did with Ms. Parton and cobbled together quotes and included them here. For some of the quotes, the author of this book even says who did the interview and in what magazine it appeared (but no dates or issue numbers). I think this book is akin to a term paper, where the author read a lot of other people’s writing, then put it all together hoping for something bigger than the sum of its parts, but without any endnotes or footnotes or citations of any kind. I think any of my high school English teachers would have called that plagiarism.

This book is has a copyright date of 1977, with a first printing in October 1977, and additional printings in January 1978, August 1978, August 1979, January 1981, and February 1981, so I guess it sold a lot of copies. I’m sure Dolly Parton had a lot of fans at the time who wanted to know all about her and were willing to shell out a few bucks to get all the info in one inexpensive, paperback package. (I thought my mom had a copy of this book lying around the house when I was in middle school, but nothing in this book seemed the least bit familiar, so if my mom had it, I somehow didn’t read it.)

Great literature, this ain’t. Consider the first sentence of the book: “Kicking the damp, sticky sheets away from her legs, Avie Lee stared with plucky brown eyes into the sultry morning darkness that still filled the hot rooms of the cabin.” “Plucky brown eyes”? “Sultry morning darkness”? I haven’t seen such overwrought use of adjectives since 10th grade English class. I suspect this is some of the stuff author Lola Scobey dramatized, since I doubt she was in Dolly Parton’s parents’ bedroom before Ms. Parton was even born to experience for herself how sultry that morning darkness was or to witness the pluckiness of Ms. Parton’s mother’s brown eyes. Sheesh!

I like trashy biographies. I really do. But this one was kind of disappointing. I didn’t get swept up in the writing, and nothing really juicy is shared here. I did learn that Dolly Parton has been working as a singer ever since she was a little girl of nine or ten years old. That was interesting.

Really, the best thing about this book is the cheesy photograph of Dolly Parton on the front cover.

 

The Grand Theatre (Tracy, CA)

Standard

img_7391

When I was out walking the self-guided tour of the historic buildings of downtown Tracy, CA, the coolest place I saw was the Grand Theatre.

img_7412According to the walking tour brochure,

The Grand Theatre was built in 1923 by German born John Droge to present vaudeville acts and then-silent motion pictures. The first “talkies” were show in 1929. Remodeled in 1940 in an Art Deco style, the movie house continued until 1977. In 2007 the city restored the theater complex and it was reopened as The Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.

According to the theatre’s website,

The classical Grand Theatre, designed by architect Albert W. Cornelius, opened on August 11, 1923 as a premiere vaudeville half-house in the area.

The facility received a major remodel during its heyday between 1939 and 1941 (under the Allen’s ownership), garnered with bold new art deco features including a sculptural marquee designed by Alexander Cantin and futuristic mural by Anthony (Antoon) Heinsbergen.

The 37,000+ square foot facility opened in September of 2007, hosts 50,000 patrons a year and is currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary Season.

img_7400I went inside to have a look around, and was surprised to find free Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) activities underway. I grabbed a free piece of pan dulce and exited the building.

There were some cool murals on the theatre’s 7th Street wall. They caught my attention, and I stopped to give them a good look.

The murals are part of the Tracy Mural Project. According to the project’s website,

The Downtown Tracy Mural Project began in the summer of 2015 in conjunction with the Tracy Artwalk.  The Project invites local and regional artists to create murals and street art at 7th Street and in Jackson Alley on the walls of the Grand.  This innovative project features temporary murals owned by the City of Tracy. They remain on display from weeks to years, rotating as new works are presented.  The public appreciation of these projects has led to futhur interest to create murals at other locations in downtown Tracy.img_7397

I really liked the robots decorating the wall during my visit.

I also liked the mural featuring the wolf and the crow. The mural was painted by Ilena Finocchi. According to Finocchi’s website,

In nature, the wolf and the crow can be frequently found in each other’s company. They have been linked together in play and in foraging for food.

img_7401

The other cool mural is “Planet of the Apes” Kenney Mencher.

img_7398

According to the Tracy Press,

Mencher, who is the Grand’s artist in residence this summer [2016], will create a streetscape with a “Planet of the Apes” theme on Seventh Street. Wilson said the piece will provide a photo opportunity for visitors to pose on a bench with the mural wrapping around them.

From what I surmise, Mencher painted the robots too.

The Tracy Press also reported in the aforementioned article,

The murals are designed to be temporary projects, lasting from a few weeks to a few years.

I’ve grown to think of murals (especially murals approved by a municipality) as permanent. As the Merry Pranksters proclaimed, art is not eternal. Apparently the murals in Tracy prove this idea to be true.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

Tracy Historical Museum and Downtown Walking Tour

Standard

I was house sitting in Tracy, CA,  staying with two adorable little dogs and working on my book. Other than two daily thirty minute walks with the pups, I mostly stayed indoors. After five or six days in the house, I decided I had to get out and do something different.

img_7363I’d checked out the things to do in Tracy before I rolled into town, and there wasn’t much on the list. However, I did see there was a historical museum in the town, and admission was free. Score! I headed to the Tracy Historical Museum (1141 Adam Street) on my day out.

The museum is housed in a building that was originally a post office. Built in 1937, the building became a rec center in 1967. The museum took over the space in 2003.

The museum is very clean, bright, and well organized. The img_7365information given is easy to read. The long, narrow room on the left houses display cases on either wall. The artifacts in those cases are described adequately; I felt I was able to really understand what I was looking at and its context within the area’s history. When I explored the main room in the middle of the museum, well, not so much.

In the middle room, artifacts were grouped in sort of vignettes. There was a kitchen vignette complete with life-size housewife mannequin, a mannequin dressed in a nightgown and sleeping cap, and a child-seize mannequin dressed all in white. (Was the child mannequin wearing a nightgown? A baptismal gown?) There was also a “farming” vignette, showing implements for working the land from back in the day. 

My problem with these vignettes is that various items from various time periods are displayed with little explanation of what they are, what they were used for, or what time period they were used in. For example, the caption for a photo of the kitchen vignette from the museum’s brochure reads,

img_7372Kitchen display of household goods from the late 19th–early 20th century, among period photographs, artifacts and memorabilia from Tracy’s railroad and farming heydays.

Although “late 19th–early 20th century” narrows things down a bit, it’s still a little broad. There’s no indication if a cup from 1873 is sitting next to a plate from 1913. Also, items seem to be displayed willy-nilly. Why is there a rolling pin on a table that otherwise appears to be set for a meal? What are those items jumbled on the shelves beyond the table?

What’s the difference between an old “household good” and an “artifact”? Doesn’t throwing (or even placing carefully) household goods, photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia all in one display make for quite a hodgepodge? The Tracy museum seems to be working under the false assumption that every old item it  owns must be displayed at all times, whether or not it can help tell the story of the town’s history.

img_7374Past the kitchen display is a small display of old dolls. Creepy! Especially creepy was the life size (“five foot”) doll sitting in a rocking chair. There were explanatory notes with this doll. The notes are in the photos, and I was able to zoom in and read them. The doll’s name is Leila. She is named after Leila Smith whose “1880 dress” she is wearing. The doll was made in the late 1980s, which means she’s younger than I am. The wicker chair the doll is sitting in “was donated by the Cordes family,” but no indication is given as to who the Cordes family is, why they might be important, how old the chair is, or why it might be historically significant. img_7373

My favorite items in the museum are in a back room. In addition to an old bank vault and other office equipment, several antique typewriters are on display. The typewriters look to be in good condition, and it seems as if a modern writer could  sit down in front of one of them and churn out the Great American Novel.

img_7371In the museum, I found a brochure for “Historic Downtown Tracy.” The brochure includes a map and information about “the Historic Buildings of Downtown Tracy.” I like self-guided (translation: free) walking tours, so I decided to follow the route in the brochure.

According to the brochure, Tracy was founded on September 8, 1878 and was incorporated in 1910.

In the 1870s, the Central Pacific Railroad…moved its operations from the Ellis coaling station at the foot of the Altamont hills, three miles eat to the junction with the rail line from Martinez…Tracy was…built around the intersecting railroad tracks…

img_7416I walked the tour in reverse of the layout in the guide because I started walking from the museum instead of driving to the starting point on E. 6th Street and beginning there. The first historic building I saw was the Tracy Inn. The brochure says,

When the transcontinental Lincoln Highway was routed through Tracy along 11th Street, the Tracy Inn was built to capture the trade of motorists.

The Tracy Inn was designed in the California Mission Style and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

After walking several block on Central Avenue, and passing the Grand Theatre (which will get a post all its own),I turned down 7th Street to img_7393see the old city Hall and Jail, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The brochure says,

This uniquely designed building housed the courthouse and city hall from 1900 until 1917  and the jail until 1940. Those arrested were held in two jail cells and faced the judge in the single room courthouse for sentencing. More serious criminal cases were sent to the county seat in Stockton.

No indication is given as to what exactly is unique about the design of this building.

img_7402After another walking another block on Central Avenue, I turned down 6th Street and followed it down to stand in front of the building which originally housed the West Side Bank. This building is also on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the brochure,

Abe Grunauer, a leading merchant, landowner and Tracy’s first Mayor, started the West Side Bank in 1910. The Neo-classical Revival architecture features Corinthian pillars, an arched entrance with a copper door frame and a blue limestone facade.

I wouldn’t say I had a bad time at the Tracy Historical Museum or on the walking tour of the historic buildings of downtown Tracy. However, I wouldn’t say I had a lot of fun either. I kind of felt as if I were on an assignment for a class. I suppose someone really interested in California history would enjoy such an excursion a lot more than I did.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks

Standard

I love the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks, a series of books with information on living through a variety of awful experiences. Some of the scenarios and instructions for survival are funny, but many are totally serious. Today I’ll tell you what I think of each of the books in this collection.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook
According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worst-Case_Scenario_series), it all started in 1999.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht is a book published in 1999 by Chronicle Books. It has sold over 10 million copies worldwide[1] and spawned a series of related books, games, and a television show called Worst Case Scenarios.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook  will tell you how to survive interactions with sharks, bears, mountain lions, and alligators, as well as how to jump from a moving car and how to jump from a moving motorcycle into a moving car. Aren’t these skills everyone needs?

This book isn’t as fun as others in the series. Learning how to survive a confrontation with a person shooting at you is not as lighthearted as how to avoid getting cornered under the mistletoe by someone you don’t want to kiss or how to cope if you are on a date and realize that you have forgotten your wallet. However, learning where to cower during an earthquake or how to survive getting stranded is good information to have.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex
Jennifer Worick teamed up with Piven and Borgenicht for The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex, first published in 2001. This book is full of lots of step-by-step instructions to get people out of all sorts of sex-related mishaps.

Topics include (but are not limited to) how to spot fakes (breasts, toupees), how to fake an orgasm (not recommended–by me or the book), what to do if you can’t remember the name of the person you wake up next to, how to ditch your date, what to do if don’t have enough money to pay the bill, and how to successfully have an affair.

Highly recommended, if only for a laugh.

James Grace teamed up with Joshua Piven for 2002’s The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Golf.

.Reading the book did not help improve my golf game because I don’t have a golf game. I don’t play golf. I’ve never played golf. I never hope to play golf. However, since I’d read almost all of the other Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbooks, I jumped at the chance to read this one too.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Golf
In true Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook style, this book is both funny and informative. Funny: advice on how to “How to Thwart a Cheat.” Informative: “How to Play Out of a Water Trap.” Funny and Informative: “How to Survive Being Hit in the Goolies.” (Yes, “goolies” are just what you think they are.) Also funny: “How to Disarm an Irate Golfer,” “How to Control Your Golf Rage,” and “How to Cure a Golf Addiction.” The line-drawing illustrations are wonderfully humorous too.

I gave the book away pretty soon after I finished it, but it was worth the hour or so I spent reading it.

In 2002, the world received a gift in Piven and Borgenicht’s The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Holidays. This book is hilarious. It gives all sorts of simple step by step instructions for surviving whatever catastrophe may befall your holiday season.

In addition to Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, co-authors for The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Parenting include  Sarah Jordan and  Brenda Brown. This book was first published in 2003, and is the funniest Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook I’ve read. I almost passed it up  because I don’t have and will never have children, but I’m really glad I read it anyway.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Parenting
To think, I almost missed out on knowing that “many monsters are afraid of the color green,” that skills for dealing with a stray dog are nearly the same as skills for dealing with a stray exchange student, and that while “couples frequently disagree over whether to bribe children,” kids are “almost always…in favor of it.”

I busted out laughing when I saw the section titled “How to Recapitate a Doll.” Recapitate, now that’s a great word. I don’t know if it’s standard English, but I will be using it from now on. Recapitate! Brilliant!

Another fantastic section is “How to Discipline an Imaginary Friend.” Funny, funny, funny! I like the idea of telling a kid that if s/he is going to play with an imaginary friend, “they both need to be on good behavior and are both responsible for any broken vases, stolen cookies, or messes.” Also fantastic is the idea of creating “activities to keep the imaginary friend out of trouble,” such as sending him/her to “(imaginary) music lessons,” “(imaginary) summer camp,” or “(imaginary) boarding school.” I laughed so hard when I read all of that.

The illustrations are hilarious too. The drawings that go along with how not to use a stroller (“as a shopping cart, as a sidecar, as a scooter/skateboard, when running with the bulls in Pamplona) were fantastic. Also great are the pictures showing how to break up fights between parents at Saturday soccer.

Please, please, please, the next time a breeder in your life tells you they are expecting a bundle of joy(?), give them a copy of this book.

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Work
In my opinion, 2005 brought one of Piven and Borgenicht’s least useful books in the Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks series.

 The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Work was mildly funny and barely helpful. I’m not going to try to get a job as a forklift operator or a brain surgeon, so I don’t really need to know how to fake my way through a job interview for one of those positions. And if I have to clean up on aisle 7, will I really have time to read the appropriate entry before heading to the spill? I think not. But it’s good to know the resource is out there if I ever need it.

Jennifer Worick once again joined the Piven/Borgenicht team for The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Collage, first published in April 2004. Even though my collage days are far behind me, I enjoyed this book very much. Parts of it were really funny.

My favorite sections are the “hippie” portion of “How to Take on a New Identity” (it’s spot-on); the food

Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: College
equivalency chart (the caloric equivalent in mugs of beer for a variety of food items); “How to Eat When You’re Broke;” “How to Sleep in the Library;” and “How to Tell Your Parents You’ve Been Expelled.”

Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht, and Sarah Jordan were back at it with The Worst-Case Survival Handbook: Weddings, first published in 2004. I’ve never had a wedding of my own. I never plan to have a wedding of my own, so I’ll probably never use the advice offered in this book.

This volume about weddings didn’t offer a lot of laughs for me. I think this book mostly played it straight. Or maybe it was just that the parts that were supposed to be for laughs, well, maybe the jokes just weren’t that good.

I thought the illustrations were some of the funniest parts of the book. (See “Extreme Heat/Extreme Cold” on page 81 or “Disaster Honeymoon” on page 148.)

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Weddings
The disasters contained in this book all related to the bride and groom; the advice is all for them. Guests could have used some advice for surviving wedding disasters too.

Also, I think there should have been advice for the bride or groom who realizes right before the wedding that this impending marriage is a bad idea and has decided to call the whole thing off or to go along with it anyway.

Another cool book in the Worst-Case Scenario series is 2005’s The Worst-Case Scenario Book of Survival Questions. This one was authored by the duo of Piven and Borgenicht and helps readers determine if they can survive a variety of disasters.

It includes disaster scenarios ending in multiple choice options the reader can choose from. Turn the page and find out what’s the best answer and why. Some scenarios have no best option, so the reader is given two choices and

The Worst-Case Scenario Book of Survival Questions
told the pros and cons of each. The book ends with the “Worst-Case Scenario Survival Aptitude Test.” I gave this test to friends and found that a lot of the questions are not in the pages of the book, making it kind of unfair.

Josh Piven and David Borgenicht were at it again with The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: LIFE, first published in 2006.

Where else are you going to learn what to do if the pandas won’t mate, the sauce is too garlicky, the lobsters escape, giraffes stampede, a bird gets loose in the house, you get caught passing a note in class, you’re stalked by a leopard while lost in the jungle, or a bird gets caught in your hair? Seriously, this book answers all of these questions, plus more, more, more.

The illustrations, while few, are absolutely hilarious!

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: LIFE
Read this book in the safety of your own home, before you need all the information it provides,

There are a couple of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks I haven’t read. I guess I’m not the target audience for The Complete Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Manhood, but I really, really want to read The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Paranormal. It’s not currently listed on BookMooch, so I’ll have to keep my eyes open for it at thrift stores.