All posts by Jack Varian

Parkfield Then And Now Pt. 1

Parkfield, Mmmmmm let’s see, what are we famous for?

Well we are the Earthquake Capital of the World, where Geologists from many different parts of these United States come to study all the little jerks and quivers that are always happening along The San Andres Fault but what I think most Geologists hope for is “to be hear when happens” so they can put on their resumé that “I experienced a big one.”
I’ll start with the Shakers of the 20th Century that are worth talking about. They’re the ones that if there was a Richter Scale they probably would have measured from a low of 6 to almost 7. The 20th Century had barely got started when in 1901 the Cholame Valley with all its 900 souls that call Parkfield its capital got hit by an Earthquake that shook chimneys hard enough to remove them from many houses and to keep several Brick Masons busy for a month or two building new ones. 1922 with chimneys now made of sterner stuff and houses made of boards and nails that would just creak and groan when struck by an earthquake were struck by a quake that hit in the middle of the night. It was measured by one old time Cowboy, who remarked the next morning “I needed my spurs to keep from getting Bucked off my bed.”
June 7, 1934 arrived and our community hall was all lit up with Colman gas lanterns, as electricity had not yet arrived in Parkfield. That wouldn’t happen till 1949. These lanterns put out lots of light needed for the annual end of school year play. The play was in progress and it was about 8 P.M. when the foreshock arrived. It sure got everyones attention and brought the program to a halt for several minutes. Then someone in the audience said, “The big one always comes first, let’s get on with the play.” The audience agreed with cheering and clapping so the actors took their places and on went the play. Somebody must have been looking at their watch because 17 minutes later the real one hit and the best guess was of a high 6 on The Richter scale. It tossed people and chairs around and broke the Mantels in the gas lights which turned out the lights. Well, no one was hurt and being a resilient lot it was decided in true Show business fashion that the show would go on! After putting new mantels in the lanterns the lights came on and the children finished the play and then took their bows and everybody agreed a school play to remember.
June 27, 1966. Zee and I and our now 4 kids were enjoying our 5th year on the V6 ranch. It was evening time and I was talking on the telephone to a friend in Palo Alto California when it hit. I believe I said “oh sh*t we’re having a real Earthquake” and at about that moment our kitchen cabinet broke open and dishes flew everywhere. Nobody was hurt and our wood frame house went threw it unscathed but the aftershocks got kind of old and some what unnerving. They lasted for several weeks. This earthquake caught the attention of the U.S.Geological Survey and in 1967 they started to monitor the San Andreas Fault because there was enough history that maybe the wait time to experience an earthquake was thought to be reasonable. (1857,1881,1901,1922,1934,1966). There has been 1 quake in the 1990’s and 1 in 2006 that were a 6 or better and several others lacking enough strength to talk much about but enough to assure the world that Parkfield is indeed ” The Earthquake Capital of the World”.

(End of Part 1)

While you’re washing your hands you may be sterilizing your life and not your hands

‘You are not safe’ is a poster that popped up all over Seattle today 9/27/2017 according to our local channel 6 news broadcast. Then the national news with Lester Holt says that food allergies for adults are on the rise. And just in, on our local news is a course on bike safety for the younger set. All of this barrage of worry news in just the first half hour of 2 hours of ” ain’t it awful news.” So what do you get from this bombardment of unsettling news? If you’re lucky and are endowed with an attitude that says I’m healthy until I’ve got a temperature and my Doctor says you need one of these pills and some rest. But if you’re not grounded with a healthy attitude then I suspect if I went to your house and looked into your medicine cabinet it would be completely full of every conceivable elixir.  After taking a handful of these pills you’d feel better until you happen to pass your T.V. set, on your way out the door. But wait a minute, one of your favorite daytime Soaps stops you. The doctor is telling some poor soul that he has some incurable disease and in the blink of an eye you have all the same symptoms and that feel good feeling is gone and you’re left wondering if you’ll see another day tomorrow.
Hypochondriac, a person who is abnormally anxious about their health, add to that a constant stream of slogans to keep you safe BE CAREFUL, WATCH OUT, DON’T GET HURT, WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS DANGEROUS and I’m sure there are many more warnings that are meant to be helpful but there is a cost. For many it’s a start to a learned behavior that begins with what can go wrong instead of what can go right. Life becomes a constant game of dodging every predicament because taking a risk might uncover a broken body hidden in your mind.
What a terrible way to live a life. I know because I’m a recovering Hypochondriac that made each day a day spent escaping death. So how did I start to break this life draining habit ? Remember habits are learned and can be broken. The best time to begin is now, so for starters how about not washing your hands next time you feel the urge and pass up the hand sanitizer at your local grocery store then sing a few bars of your favorite feel good song while all the time your wearing a smile.
See Ya
Jack

Are Brain Farts hazardous to your health?

Well, they can be if not treated. And how does one treat a Brain Fart? By reducing cranial pressure.

It is not done by the usual method of letting Methane Gas out the “ole Bung Hole.” The kind of Fart you try to slide out quietly because you’re at a rather fashionable dinner party, but to no avail, this one leaves with enough force to blow right past the sphincter muscle to then rattle ones cheeks and exit with a pulsating beat that would make a Belly Dancer proud. And to make matters worse there’s a guy at my table who can’t let any opportunity like this pass and says “Good going Jack that was a real Ripper, one you can be proud of.” Then this guy proceeds to double over and lets out a Belly laugh that’s very infectious which gets the rest of party laughing with many tears rolling down their laughing cheeks and some are now pointing at me and holding their noses. Well I might say this is certainly one way for members of the dinner party to reduce their Brain Fart pressure in  a very healthy way because laughter is always good for whatever ails a person.
But now to my more serious side. I want to write about what a Brain Fart is. It’s a kind of unrelenting self imposed pressure that builds as we refuse to recognize that our thoughts are a big part of the problem. Brain Farts in order to not harm our Grey Matter, must be defused by changing the way we react to our daily quota of problems. It’s about learning new habits that don’t raise your blood pressure, or make you feel like a sad sack, or wearing a brow that is furrowed all the time. It’s about being willing to step out of your comfort zone and into the land  of “maybe things can be better, it’s up to me”
So when did the pressure get so intense in my head that I had to do something even if it was wrong. I think that happened about the time I entered the early years of my 40ties ( probably a cousin to the midlife crazies). The first thing that came to mind as a possible cure was exercise and it wasn’t long before my Type A personality took over and each day I found myself running a little farther until I was running in a half Marathon and before it was even over I was dreaming of spending my days wherever there was another marathon that would give me the Endorphin High that felt really good, but it was very short lived. So my Brain Fart Pressure Gauge kept climbing ever higher. The idea that maybe a touch of alcohol might do the trick as it’s always available and there were millions of my species that were practicing with it everyday. But for me drugs or alcohol as a solution just didn’t ring true. My thought was that they just masked a Brain Fart and a Hang Over was always a reminder that I was probably on the wrong path.

Unrelieved Pressure had been building in me for most of my life as I tried to please all the people I came in contact with. Wanting to own all the land that joined our V6 ranch and the cattle to stock it. To work 100 hour weeks, year after year with no side effects, add in a number of Panic Attacks. Put them all together and I finally realized that burning the candle at both ends wasn’t going to work much longer.
I think there are as many self help books out there as their are cook books and I don’t cook. Thus, over the course of the next several years I acquired mostly hand me down self help books from friends that had found knowledge and enlightenment from their printed words.  I now have a stack that comes about up to my waist. What I found, was that from each author I got a smidgeon of hope for a possible new me that would be much more “user friendly”.
I followed books with some trips to the psychiatric world. I spent some time with a few psychologists,  then tried T.M.(transcendental meditation), acupuncture, some Yoga and found a couple of the less than traditional churches that were most helpful. About the only industry out there I didn’t try was the Fortune Teller, Fortune cookie world.
But for me, what turned out to be the most, result effective and affordable cost wise, was when I discovered Support Group Network that was taught by Dr. Robert Simmons. The initial meeting got right to the point. Pick some people around you that you don’t know, no spouses allowed, and this would form my new found group of friends. My group started out with 13 members all wanting to relieve Brain Fart Pressure in their Craniums.  I’m going to skip over the finer points. Basically it is a safe haven to discuss anything and everything except Criminal activity without being judged, only given help by the others in the group and only if you wanted it. Our group of 13 needed a name to rally around somebody said E.G.B.OK. Which is pronounced egg bock = everything is going to be okay  and after 5 years of meeting every Monday night at different members houses the last 5 of us each had done his or her work. We looked at each other and felt satisfied and content with our new and very different persons, I know I did. We never met again. That 5 year chapter in my life gave me the knowledge and confidence to know that I was a real E.G.B.OK.
What happened to the other 8 members? I think for each that departed along the way they either got what they wanted or this format was not for them as our numbers diminished a little each year.
Boy did I have a lot of skeletons in my closet. But as I took each one out over those 5 years and exposed it to the light of day and started giving the “Old heave ho” to each one, my Brain Fart Pressure would go down a little and It sure felt good. It wasn’t easy as most left unwillingly, bucking and kicking and swearing to return. So one will reappear now and then. But I recognize them rather quickly and tell them that their not welcome in my mind anymore. I seldom feel the need to change myself or the world anymore. I’m satisfied with just a little tweaking to hopefully stay relevant with the times. That does it for me folks. It makes all that reconstructing time very worthwhile. So to all of you out their in blog land suffering from Brain Fart Fever, relief is just a choice away for there are better drummers to march to.
See Ya
Jack

Are we ready for the electric car?

I have before me a copy of New Times dated 9/28/17. The Opinion page has an article stating that Californians can steer the world into not being dependent on fossil fuel. Couple this article and a Sunday drive my wife and I took a few weeks ago to have lunch at Harris Ranch Restaurant. As I entered the parking lot I drove toward what looked to be several parking spots. Much to my surprise it was about 20 spots all with electrical plugs to charge the batteries of some of our new electric cars today, mostly being Teslas’s. My curiosity was peaked so I called Siri who told me that a Tesla model S could get a 240 mile charge at a fast D.C. Charging station for about $10 and 1 hour of a persons time.
Our present day gas or diesel engines have always been able to be refueled in a matter of 10 minutes or less. Having to wait for an hour or more will put a dagger into the heart of the electric automobile. Most people are not patient enough especially those that have a bad case of “road rage” to wait the hour. I think that the only way to attain this kind of time frame is to have a service that will replace your de-pleated battery for one that is fully charged.
So how do you do this? The starting place is our state government, for I believe that you must have 3 battery sizes and not many more than that, that are of a universal design and plug attachment. Then all the Electric car manufacturers can let their imaginations run wild and design their cars around these standard batteries. Doing the battery design first and making each one identical lends itself to the robot that comes out to greet you and ask if you are ready for a fully recharged battery. Yes I say, and in the blink of an eye out comes another robot that swings an arm under my car, unlatches my now electron dead battery, drops it down a few inches and moves it to a recharging area. Now, from the other side of my car another Robot moves quickly with fresh battery in hand and lifts it into place. All this happens in the same or less time than it takes to fill your car with that old toxic stuff we used to call gasoline.
I believe that the writing is on the wall whether big oil likes it or not. The electric car is here to stay. I think that selling fully charged batteries and charging the dead ones is a perfect fit for our present day service stations and or the quick lube stores that can be found in most towns.
If we consumers really get behind the electric car we are talking about starting a totally new industry. Much like 100+ years ago when Henry Ford started making Model T Fords by the millions. Only this time we won’t be polluting our atmosphere, our oceans and the land we live on. By using electricity as our “Work Horse of the 21st Century” instead of fossil fuels we will all be better served.
This new and much yet to be discovered industry can dwarf the Fossil Fuel industry of the 20th Century so WHY DON’T WE GIVE IT A GOOD OL’E AMERICAN TRY !!!
See Ya
Jack

 

Urban Myth

   If you wanted to find me on the 23rd day of September 2017 I was at The Parkfield Rodeo arena where the first of the season California High School Rodeo was taking place. I had just been introduced to Linda who is the mother of a new couple that decided that they would like to work their way around the United States and get a closer look at our wonderful U.S.A.Their first stop is Parkfield after driving all the way across the country from their home in Virginia.

This beautiful valley surrounded by The Diablo mountains and the wonderful people that lived here then as now is what also attracted Zee and I to this promised land 56 years ago. Ian and Paige have decided to stay on and hopefully they to, might also choose to make a life in Parkfield.

            Linda with her friend David had come to visit for a few days as they have been 5 weeks on the road discovering America. Linda, wanting to understand how all the different Rodeo events worked, was curious in the bucking events. It’s only natural that a lot of attention would center around The bucking horses and bucking bulls. Linda said “I understand that to make the bulls buck, you have to tie a rope around their BALLS then they’ll buck”. I said “this could not be farther from the truth”, but I bet I know where it got started. Organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals P.E.T.A. This organization thrives on fake news and taking things said and pictures taken out of context to advance their agenda.

I would like to paint a word picture that is fiction but demonstrates how a truth might be known.

             

“Yes operator, I would like the telephone number for the P.E.T.A. organization and would you put me through to their main office, thank you.”

“How may I help you.”

“I would like to speak with someone that has authority to send a P.E.T.A. representative to the next Professional Bull Riding event in Oklahoma to witness a bull being readied to try to buck his rider off.”

“Hello, yes we will get back to you shortly so give me your telephone number and we’ll return your call.”

“Thank you, goodbye.”

Well I thought that will be the last I hear from them. They just blew me off. Several days go by when my phone rings.

“Hello, who am I speaking to?”

“Hi, I’m the gentleman in charge of verifying things like this.We will be sending a young man by the name of Casper Milk-Toast to your event.”

“Would you say his last name again?”

“It’s spelt just like it sounds, Milk, like you drink and bread that comes out of a toaster is toast, Casper Milk-Toast.”

“I understand that your P.B.R. Bull riding is next weekend and so we will have Casper arrive about 2 hours before the performance, goodbye.”

             

The day of the event arrived.

“Welcome Mr. Milk-Toast you’re right on time. I see you have brought a nice camera with you, but I don’t know if you’re going to need it. So let’s go Casper I’ve only got 2 hours for you to master your new occupation. I’ll lead the way over to the bucking chute and we’ll load a bull for you to practice on.”

Casper looks at me with a somewhat bewildered look on his face and says “I came to watch one of your crew do it, not me!”

“Well Casper we don’t have anybody here that ties ropes around the balls of one of these bulls, so I’m depending on you to teach us how it’s done.”

Casper Milk-Toast’s face now has fear written all over it as he asks if we have a rest room available. “Yes Casper, down the hall and to your left.”

Wouldn’t you know it! That’s the last time we ever saw Casper Milk-Toast. If he had stayed for the regular performance he would’ve realized that the rope is tied around the flank area which is just in front of the back legs. This is a bulls tickle spot and helps them to do what comes naturally “bucking cowboys off”

                              See Ya

                               Jack

An image I took from the P.B.R Bull Riding which is televised live every year. Here you can clearly see the rope tied around the flank or ‘tickle spot’ of the bull

Smoky the Bear has got it all wrong.      

At the end of June of this year a wildfire started on my neighbors ranch. After a day or so, this fire had grown to several thousand acres in size, to warrant its own name. It was called The Garza Fire. When all was said and done and the last embers were out 60,000 acres had burned. 6,000 of these acres were on our V6 ranch and what a blessing it was. For many of you that live in our cities and towns are thinking how awful. But was it? I think not. For this part of The Diablo range had no people living in harms way and there were just a handful of structures that Cal Fire carefully protected from burning. As for the wild life and livestock I believe all escaped unscathed as just an occasional Turkey Vulture was seen flying over the burned area indicating that there wasn’t much to eat.

Now let’s examine what damage the land, the grass, and trees sustained. Thanks to my iPhone this blog is coming to you with pictures “worth a thousand words” to validate my assertion that Fire is a natural and normal part of how Mother Nature manages our forests and grasslands.

This photo was taken shortly after the fire. It gives a perspective as to the type of terrain that the Garza Fire consumed.
This scene was taken on 9/28/17 notice that all the trunks of these Scrub Oak are mostly all dead but their roots are not as you can see all the new regrowth that has appeared in just a little over 2 months. This will now be excellent browsing food for our Black Tail Deer along with the many Chamise Brush bulbs that are sending out new shoots.
This picture was also taken on 9/28/17. This picture was taken in a more open grassland. Notice that the leaves got toasted but already new leaves are appearing even though these leaves will be shed come Winter
I very much like this picture as this hardy Blue Oak is saying “don’t count me out I’ve got a few hundred years of life still left in me.”

Smoky the Bear with his cry “only you can prevent forest fires” is a most destructive fraud because Lightning starts a good share of the wild fires that get started on our western ranges that “We The People” have no control over. So, let’s relegate Smoky the Bear to his proper place which is on the junk heap of fake news.

First, I recognize that my state of California is no longer a sparsely settled land but a land where 40,000,000 people dwell along with all their paraphernalia like cars, houses, and all those who can’t do without T.V.’s, which all needs protecting. However that still leaves many millions of acres of wild lands that are in real need of some thoughtful science based management to leave behind the emotionally charged decision making practices that Smokey the Bear has championed and put us into the mess we’re in today. Catastrophic fires are our reward for not dealing with the build up of an understory of very flammable dry matter which should be burned under controlled conditions or physically removed, which is very expensive. Logging with today’s new methods makes a much smaller footprint on the landscape which is both beneficial and profitable to our government and to the logging industry. So let’s all move forward together, starting with a historical notation that Smokey the Bear was laid to rest this day in his proper place alongside junk science, fake news and a few dogmatic wacko environmentalists who to this day are still leading the gullible astray.

To close, my hope is that over time Common Sense and knowledge will save our forests and wild lands.

                             See Ya

                             Jack