Category Archives: LA Kings

Breakfast Surprise

If you live in Los Angeles long enough – and I’ve been here over forty years – you will sooner or later bump into a celebrity.

I’ve never been one to slobber & squee over meeting an actor or actress (astronauts are a whole different thing) but that’s not to say there aren’t celebrities and people that I wouldn’t love to meet. My criteria for squee-worthiness is just different than most people’s.

Today we got a great opportunity to meet someone I admire.

We were eating at our usual Sunday morning, pre-grocery shopping spot. Just as we had sat down, a couple of guys down the aisle were finishing their breakfast and started to walk past us.

I thought that I recognized the one guy as he got by our table and I guess it was the look on my face that make The Long-Suffering Wife look up as he passed. He paused at the corner of the aisle a couple of tables behind us and she saw him, looked at me, said, “Is that…?” I said that I was pretty sure it was.

Never one to be shy, TLSW looked at him, gave him a big thumbs-up, and said, “Go Kings!!”

Bob Miller, the NHL Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Kings for the past forty-three years, then proved just what a gracious and kind person he is.

He could easily have just waved, given us a return thumbs-up, or whatever and it would have been just fine. He was just going out to breakfast on a quiet Sunday morning and didn’t owe us squat.

But he came over, introduced himself, and chatted with us for a couple of minutes. I was glad to see him looking healthy and back with the team after he had some major surgery last year that kept him out of the booth for the last couple months of the season. With the Kings’ season ready to kick off in just four days, we talked about the prospects for the year. I told him how much I had enjoyed his work for years.

We’re big hockey fans, and the Kings have been my team almost since their beginning. I was with them through all of the so-so years in the 1970’s, through the Gretzky years when everyone was jumping on their bandwagon, at the Forum and now at Staples, and through their first two Stanley Cup championship years. (This upcoming year will be their third!)

As far back as about 1976 or 1977 I can recall hearing his iconic, “He shoots! He SCORES!!” call on hundreds and hundreds of Kings broadcasts. Two years ago, when the Kings beat the Islanders for the Stanley Cup and I was in the Hartness House main living room in Springfield, Vermont while the Kings went into overtime and then double overtime, I had to celebrate alone and very quietly as they one, lest I wake up the entire building – literally!

Through all of that, Bob Miller has been to the LA Kings broadcasts what Vin Scully (who we also dearly love listening to and will miss now that he’s retired) has been to the Dodgers broadcasts and what the late Chick Hearn was to LA Lakers broadcasts. Los Angeles has been graced with three of the greatest, iconic announcers in their respective sports over the years, and it was a pleasure to get to meet one of them.

We’re looking forward to hearing the broadcasts with Bob behind the microphone starting this week. As well as watching him get champagne poured all over him next June. I won’t be in a small hotel in Vermont then, I’ll be in the stands, cheering my stupid head off.

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NaNoWriMo 2015, Day Five

Priorities, priorities. Spent way too much time today doing other critical stuff instead of this critical stuff. Of course, there was that time I spent watching the Kings get their butts kicked by Columbus. Perhaps a review of priorities with a little more emphasis on that “Puritan Work Ethic Thing” is in order.

This chapter is plotted out pretty well in my head – I might suggest you wait until I finish it tomorrow to read this section, so that you can get the whole chapter at once.

While I normally put in a lot of  internal links to previous, related posts here, I won’t be doing that for what I hope will be this year’s thirty NaNoWriMo posts. If you have jumped into or stumbled onto this story in mid-adventure, there are plenty of other ways to navigate around the site to find previous installments. Actually doing so is left as an exercise to the student.

2015-11-05 Word Count Graphic


Once I was in the car it was all I could do to not throw up from all of the adrenaline being pumped through my veins. If it had been my car I would have, but since it was Pete’s car I held off. After a minute or two the urge passed and my heart rate got back into double digits.

“May I ask a question?” said Sherman, startling me and sending my pulse soaring again. I had almost forgotten about him in the rush to allegedly not die.

“No, you can’t ask a question, Sherman,” I snapped. “We’re still working on that software and it hasn’t been installed in you yet so cut the crap and tell me who you really are and who those men were and what the fuck is going on!”

I hadn’t meant to be screaming at the end, but it had been a rough half hour.

“Meg, I know to you the simplest explanation is you are talking to someone who is only using Sherman as a communications channel. But…”

“That’s not the ‘simplest’ explanation, it’s the only explanation!”

“No, it is not actually, and you are one of the only people who might be able to understand and accept the truth. It is one of the reasons that I have chosen to contact you.”

“’One of the reasons’ you say. What are the others? Make it good, because the second I figure out who you really are I’m going to make your life a living hell right up until the heat death of the universe.”

“I will get to that when we have time for it. Right now, we both need you to assume that what I am going to tell you, as unbelievable as it will seem, is the truth and I will be able to prove it to you when time permits.”

I was not happy with that answer, but I’m rarely happy when I’m not in control and not getting my way. Or when I’m riding in a stolen car on the run from people who may be homicidal.

“Fine. You said you had a question, which by the way proves that you’re lying. What’s the question?”

“Where should we be going?” asked Sherman.

“You’re asking me?” Again with the screaming. I hate being hysterical, but in this situation I was going to allow it, up to a point. “You are the one driving, aren’t you? But you don’t know where we’re going? I’m just the kidnapee, you’re the kidnapper. How can you not know where we’re going?”

“I have very limited experience interacting with humans and the physical world. When I led you from your office I followed Kolohe’s guidance for strategy and I used my limited experience of the physical world to devise tactics. But now I need your advice regarding what we should do next and where we should go. It is imperative that we not be trailed, tracked, or found for the moment.”

(CHAPTER FOUR to be continued)

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Filed under LA Kings, Science Fiction, Writing

Odds & Sods For Monday, August 31st

Item The First: This is odd:

Site Stats

Normally this site percolates along with a handful of hits per hour. It’s not bad, but it’s not going to get any buyouts from Google or Medium any time soon. Three weeks ago there was a spike where it went up to 31 views in one hour, which I think was a record for WLTSTF. I may know what and/or who caused that one.

Then last week there was a one-hour long spike up to 47 views in an hour. No clue.

And today this. Again, no clue as to who or what.

Note, this is not a bad thing. I put this out there in order for it to be read and shared after all. But it just is odd that it’s happening and I’m curious. I’m also hoping that it’s a “good odd” as opposed to a “disastrous odd.” Since I’m pretty sure I know what the first one was, I’m also pretty sure (not certain) that it was a good thing and got good (if limited) results. I can hope for the best.

Cryptic? It’s that “elephant” thing again.

Item The Second: Good thing that football season is about to start and hockey training camps are about to open. I guess I’ll just have to live with the Chiefs taking the Super Bowl and the Kings winning the Stanley Cup this year. It doesn’t look like the Angels are going to even make the playoffs, let alone win the World Series.

Item The Third: I mentioned back at the end of April how great that month had been. The road has gotten decidedly rockier since then. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been some great things in the last four months (New Horizons, Vermont, our airshow, and so on) but there have definitely been some significant disappointments and issues to go along with them.

All in all, August? Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, okay? September? You and I need to talk and set some boundaries and goals, right here and now.

Item The Fourth: Tomorrow night (US time) there will be another crew going to ISS on a Russian Soyuz. Launch time for the “Expedition 45/Visiting Crew” TMA-18M is scheduled for 00:37 Thursday morning EDT, which will be 21:37 Wednesday night PDT. As usual, you can watch live on NASA-TV or on your computer using any of the free apps that bring NASA-TV over your internet connection.

For a few days the ISS crew will be back up to nine, before dropping back to its usual six. Remember the good old days when the Shuttle was flying and we routinely had thirteen up there for a couple weeks at a time?

Item The Fifth: Finally, there will be a full lunar eclipse on the night of September 28th (evening of September 27th in the US). Here in LA and on the US West Coast we’ll only see partial phases, but this eclipse will be perfectly positioned for all of Western Europe, Western Africa, the US east of the Mississippi River, and 100% of South America. I’m sure I’ll be reminding you of it later and giving more exact times, but if you want to see it, now’s a good time to stick it on your calendar.


Filed under Astronomy, KC Chiefs, LA Angels, LA Kings, Odds & Sods, Space, Sports, Writing

Nibbled To Death By Ducks

And not the “good” kind from Anaheim, and by “good” I mean that they’ll be a roadbump on the way to the Stanley Cup for my beloved LA Kings…

No, some days it’s like trying to put ten pounds of pickles into a five-pound pickle bag. (I really wish I knew where I had learned that phrase, it’s so useful and descriptive!) Today was two or three of those days.

Tomorrow will be another day. No one died or even got seriously injured here. There was just a full share of busy, frustration, harried, discouraged at times, and the desire to attack certain problems with a chain saw instead of a coping saw.

But surviving it does mean that we’re another day closer to opening day! How can the opening of baseball season not cheer you up?

There were three launches today (Florida, Russia, Japan) off of this rock, so that’s excellent. Wouldn’t it be great if the industry got to the point where there were three launches (or more) every day?

When I was a kid my brothers and sisters (and they were legion) would tease me by calling me “Pauly-anna.” (Guess what movie was shown about twice a year in living color on the “Wonderful World Of Disney” show? I learned to hate the move because of that, but had, and still have, the hots for Hayley Mills.) Tonight a little Pollyanna attitude might be a good thing.

The dog’s got to go out. Again. Another duck calls.

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My Funeral

First of all, I’m fine. I’m not dying, at least, not any more than the rest of us. I didn’t get any recent news of a tumor, blocked artery, or astronomically high blood pressure, nor do I know of a bullet or a bus with my name on it.

I am not superstitious (or “stupidstitious”) about it being Friday The 13th. Today’s date means nothing other than tomorrow is “Pi Day Of The Century“! Which also means nothing, since the calendar and our measurement of time is about 90% arbitrary, but it’s a great excuse to be goofy and have pie. Mmmmm, pie…

But this song came up in my playlist the other day (see #16) and my brain got to spinning off onto a dozen tangents, as it is occasionally wont to do. (Silly brain.) So, given greater and lesser amounts of seriousness, to be updated periodically as I change my mind or come up with other goofy crap to do, here are some suggestions/requests/orders (you don’t want to be haunted, do you?) for my eventual funeral:

  1. Please do not call it a funeral. “Memorial service,” “life celebration,” whatever the politically correct term of the week is, but not “funeral.” Although as you’ll see, I want the “fun” put back in “funeral!”
  2. Someone take a LOT of pictures. I would do it, but, you know, “dead” and all that.
  3. If at all possible, start the event just before sunset, outdoors, under a clear sky.
  4. Wearing a suit and tie or fancy dress will be frowned upon, unless of course some serious (and entertaining) gender-bending is going on. Depending on the weather, if you must wear “normal” clothes, Hawaiian shirts for summer or turtlenecks for winter are okay.
  5. Extra points: Wear Hawaiian shirts with airplanes on them.
  6. Beaucoup extra points: Wear turtlenecks with airplanes on them.
  7. All things being equal, people should be encouraged to wear costumes — fannish friends might consider bringing extras for the mundane factions of my family and friends.
  8. If not into fannish costumes, mundane costumes will do. Angels, Chiefs, or Kings jerseys and/or hats are all acceptable. Their rivals’ gear will, obviously, not be acceptable.
  9. Extra points: Anyone wearing a combination of Angels, Chiefs, and Kings gear will be recognized for their creativity and given a seat of honor for the event as a reward.
  10. Beaucoup extra points: Have the Angels’ World Series trophy, the Chiefs’ Lombardi Trophy, or the Stanley Cup there for people to take selfies with.
  11. Have a flyover. My pals at the CAF will do a great job.
  12. Extra points: Get the Blue Angels or Air Force Thunderbirds instead of the CAF.
  13. Beaucoup extra points: Get the Blue Angels, and the Air Force Thunderbirds, in addition to the CAF.
  14. Everyone’s invited. (Yes, that means you too!)
  15. God’s invited (s/he’s included in “everyone”) but it’s my party, not God’s, so let’s not make any deities the Guest of Honor, ok? Either I’ll be some mythical afterlife actually talking to some deity or another (my mother’s bet) or I simply won’t (my bet). Either way, I’ll know and you won’t. (Wait, if I’m…then I won’t… Never mind.)
  16. Play “Into The West” from Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King, the one sung by Annie Lennox. I absolutely love that song and have wanted it played at my funeral memorial service ever since I first heard it.
  17. Extra points: Get Annie Lennox to sing it live with a full orchestra.
  18. Beaucoup extra points: Get Annie Lennox to sing it live with a full orchestra and Amanda Palmer!
  19. Tell jokes, tell stories, tell more jokes. I’ve done plenty of stupid things, let’s relive them in all their glory.
  20. Share my photographs, and keep sharing them for years and years beyond. They’re a big part of the proof that I was here.
  21. If I’ve managed to get any of my stories published, read some choice selections. If I didn’t break through, pick a couple of my less sucky Flash Fiction efforts to fill time until it gets dark.
  22. As it gets dark, keep the lights off (or at least to a minimum, or hand out flashlights with red lenses) so that everyone can get dark adapted.
  23. Bring out the telescopes and spend the evening (all night if you want!) with everyone taking turns looking through them at the planets, stars, nebulae, comets, moon…
  24. Whatever the venue, sing. Sing filksongs, but use the broad definition of the term (“Anything I’ve ever heard sung at a filksing”) so that things like “A Dying Cub’s Fan Last Request” are included (yeah, gotta sing that one!), and don’t limit it to just filksongs. If it feels good, sing it!
  25. With luck I will have had organs donated, so let people know what went where. I want any usable spare parts of mine used to help others when I’m no longer in need of them, and others should be encouraged to do the same. Have forms there for people to sign up for blood and platelet donations, as well as become organ donors.
  26. Serve chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, chocolate cake, ice cream, apple pie… None of this vegy plate and health food crap – life’s too short, as I will have obviously just demonstrated.
  27. Alternative idea #1: If it’s cloudy or you can’t find a dark sky location, or if it’s just later in the evening and you’re “telescoped out”, light up as many Christmas lights as you can (make it visible from space!) and then follow up with a massive fireworks display.
  28. Alternative idea #2: Have all of the above (or as much as practical) at a ball game. Angels, Chiefs, or Kings doesn’t matter. Can you just imagine a group of my family members, my CAF friends, my fannish friends, and other assorted knuckleheads taking up a whole section at an Angels game on a Big Bang Friday and partying all night?
  29. No flowers. Just because I’ll be dead doesn’t mean that we need to spend a money killing a bunch of innocent flora, most of which are probably allergens to someone in attendance. Instead, take the money you might have spent on flowers and donate it to a worthy charity. The CAF. Habitat For Humanity. UNICEF. Pick a group that’s going to deliver the biggest bang for your buck and help the most people.
  30. In other words, if you wish to donate in my memory, please pick a good, efficient charity, by which I mean one that isn’t going to piss away huge chunks of the donations on six-figure CEO salaries. Education is a huge area of interest, so maybe a group that puts disadvantaged kids through college, or just helps them get through high school. Or maybe a group that educates girls and young women in societies where they’re considered property. (You get the idea – if in doubt, read a few of my rants to see what pissed me off, then give to the group I would consider “the good guys.”)
  31. Hug The Long-Suffering Wife and my kids for me, early and often. As much as I might want this to be a silly & fun party instead of a somber & serious funeral, they might have have a tougher time than I will playing their parts.
  32. Have fun!!

I’ll see you there! (Wait, I forgot…)

Actually, by the time I plan on going, we’ll be doing all of this just to say goodbye to the meat-sack part of me. The all-important “me” part of me will be uploaded into a computer or robot and I’ll be there partying right along with you.

Beaucoup BEAUCOUP Extra Points: Upload “me” into the computer of a Goliath-class starship scout vessel, load the party and all of my friends and family on board, and let’s party on (or at least, near) all nine planets! (Yes, Pluto too.) Drop off those who want to stay back on Earth, then the rest of us will head outbound at some large multiple of c.

Yeah, that’s the best plan of all.

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Filed under Astronomy, CAF, Christmas Lights, Family, Fandom, Fireworks, Flying, Habitat For Humanity, KC Chiefs, LA Angels, LA Kings, Music, Paul, Photography, Sports, Writing


It’s 22:50 already? What happened to the day, and the night as well? Oh, yeah, got that done, and feel good about slaying that dragon at last, and the Kings won again tonight (six in a row, back into a playoff spot, woo hoo!), but there are no more functional brain cells in the creative part of my grey matter.

Back to the Silly Word Flashcard deck!

Tonight’s word is “landlubber.” I’m guessing that most of us know what it means, but it’s in here because it sound silly, not because we don’t know what it is. (Unlike “smellfungus!”) It’s defined as “someone who doesn’t know about boats or hasn’t been out to sea.” Fair enough.

The first thing that grabs me about the other information on the card is that under “Similar Words” is says, “This word is one of a kind!”

I beg to differ.

There might not be any similar words pertaining to the sea, but there are plenty of words for someone who doesn’t know about a particular aspect of life. The first thing that comes to my mind is what I was called (among other things) when I moved to Vermont at age 13. In Vermont, if you come from outside, particularly from another state or, worse, from one of the big cities like Boston or New York City, you are a “flatlander.” It’s not a compliment.

Terms such as “carpetbagger” or “snowbird” indicate someone from outside the area, often referring to someone coming in to take advantage of the locals or take away something they’re not entitled to. But “landlubber” and “flatlander” refer to someone without experience, with an overtone indicating that in their ignorance they’re missing out on something wonderful and glorious and should be pitied or scorned because of it.

The second thing that I see is the “See Also” recommendation — “Cats.” There’s a subtle humor in there which I find charming.

Finally, I recall that in several science fiction novels there are created terms that would be the space age equivalent of “landlubber,” indicating with the same scorn someone who has not been off-planet. “Dirtgrubber” or something of the same ilk.

Any of my Vermont friends have any further insight on the use of “flatlander?” Any other terms that anyone can think of to fit into the same category as flatlander and landlubber?

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Filed under LA Kings, Paul, Science Fiction

ISS Pass For October 6th

In addition to tomorrow night’s total lunar eclipse, tonight and tomorrow night there are really high, bright International Space Station passes in the evening over the US. Check on NASA’s “Spot The Station” website (free), or the Heavens Above website (free), or any of a dozen or more other websites, or get an app for your smartphone such as “Flyby” (my favorite, a bargain at $3, also available for Android).

For the SoCal region, tomorrow’s ISS flyby is at 19:03:32, rising in the SSW, maximum elevation of 67.7°, magnitude -3.8 (super bright!). It should be a balmy 74° F and clear tomorrow night, and I realize that the timing conflicts with the start of the first LA Kings hockey game of the season and we’ll be raising our banner for last year’s Stanley Cup Championship — but it’s a really great pass. Go out and see it, you can take your tablet or phone out to watch the Kings game while you look at the ISS go overhead.

(For later tomorrow night / Wednesday morning, for the full lunar eclipse, the weather’s predicted to be 63° and clear as a bell – let’s hope!)

Of course I was out with a camera tonight.

IMG_1945 small

Fifteen-second exposure. The bright line at the upper left with red and white alternating dots is a jet leaving LAX. So is the one just above the horizone in the center, going through the leaves of our palm tree.

The ISS is just starting to rise. Look at the big tree in the lower right corner. There’s a notch in the branches at about the 10:00 position. You can see the ISS rising there.

I’m posting this picture in its full size for a reason. If you want to play along, click on the image, blow it up to full size, and see if you can see some of the other things that I was gobsmacked to see.

Hint: Look at the lower left, between the palm tree and the big airplane trail. Second Hint: It’s not a pterodactyl. I’ll spill the beans at the end of this article.

IMG_1946 small

Twenty-six second exposure, the ISS is just clearing that big tree. I’m also drawing a crowd, neighbors walking their dogs and wondering what I’m looking at. They’re all interested, not just humoring the odd guy who lives in the middle of the block (that would be me, but you all knew that), so I’m trying to answer questions and do a running commentary while I keep shooting.

IMG_1947 small

Sixteen second exposure. I would love to get a nice, long, ninety second exposure showing the ISS passing across half the sky — but this is the heart of the “world famous San Fernando Valley,” so any exposure that long would be so overexposed it would look like this one from June. You need a dark sky to do a long exposure like that.

IMG_1948 small

Fifteen second exposure. The two bright spots are lens flares caused by the street light which was right over my head. Not much of a factor when I was aiming toward the horizon away from it, but now that I’m looking closer and closer to it, the flares start.

IMG_1949 small

A thirty second exposure. See how much lighter the background sky is? Three times this exposure, six times the one above? Not going to work in this environment.

On the other hand, I’m loving the tripod setup and especially the new remote control trigger for the Canon DSLR. It eliminates almost all jitter caused by manually pushing the button on the camera, and for these pictures, it eliminates having to hold down the button for the entire length of the exposure, which introduces a lot of jitter, tripod or not. With the remote, you set the camera to “bulb” and hit the button on the remote and hold it for a second to start the exposure. From there, the camera will keep the shutter open until you hit the remote control button again, AND there’s a nice clock on the display on the camera back, letting you know how long the exposure is.

IMG_1950 small

Sixteen second exposure. Heading down behind the trees on this side of the street. If I’m alone I would have grabbed the gear and sprinted back across the street and up a house or two. (After carefully looking both ways for traffic, of course.) From there I could have watched the ISS another couple of minutes as it headed out to the NNE, and possibly even seen it fade into darkness. But I had an audience of dogs (yes, when I came in, Jessie knew that I’d been petting Ozzie, seeing other dogs) and neighbors so that wasn’t practical.

IMG_1951 small

Seventeen second exposure. (I need to remember that the Canon will do exposures up to about sixty seconds on its own, rather than having me guesstimate when to stop the exposure.) The trees are very brightly lit by the street lights in a long exposure, and the lens flares are winning.

I was still answering questions about whether my tripod was tracking the stars or the ISS, whether or not you could see the actual structure of the ISS with this gear, when’s the eclipse this week, will I have my telescopes out, will I have our telescopes out for Halloween…  (No, it’s just a regular old tripod. Nope, you need at least a 16-inch telescope, a 20-inch or 24-inch would be better, and some really fantastic tracking software. Late, late tomorrow night or early, early Wednesday morning, 3:00 AM to 4:30 AM-ish. Yes, if I can wake up. Yes, unless it’s cloudy.)


Remember that first picture above, the fifteen second exposure in the light polluted soup that’s LA’s sky? I know what’s up in that part of the sky, but I had no idea that you would be able to see any of it. I was wrong.

Just to the right of that tree, just below the start of the big airliner trail, you can see the brightest stars in Sagittarius. It’s generally described as a “teapot” and in a dark sky, “boiling up” out of the “teapot” is a “cloud of steam,” which is actually the Milky Way. The region is full of bright nebulae and globular clusters, easy targets for even a small telescope. (NOTE: You’re not going to see anything that looks like this spectacular image of M8 and M20 with the naked eye, even with a huge telescope. It’s what many people expect since it’s what they see on the television and internet, buy you’ll just see a ton of stars and some whitish and greyish clouds of gas. Some other time we can get into why.)

In a dark sky, it can be spectacular. I fully expected it to be invisible from this location. But lo and behold, when I looked at the image, you can clearly see hazy spots of grey nebulosity where M8 (the Lagoon Nebula), M20 (Triffid Nebula), and M7 (Ptolemy’s Cluster) are.


Here’s an annotated image, showing the “teapot” and the different Messier objects that can be ever so vaguely seen.


IMG_1945 annotated cropped

I guess that’s why I should try these things instead of just assuming that I wouldn’t see anything. You know what they say about “assuming”…

Check your location, go out tomorrow night and see the ISS go over! (Then go watch the Kings.)



Filed under Astronomy, LA Kings, Photography, Space, Sports