Category Archives: Paul

The Wrong View

When last we left our plucky hero, he was at a business “meet & greet” on the 20th floor of a huge skyscraper in downtown LA. The view was great!

The instructions to get to the event were detailed. Someone I described them to said it was like being in a Bond film.

Enter the parking garage here, here, or here. Park on this level. Take the elevator down to this level, not that one. Walk out into the center and take the second escalator up. There’s a relatively obscure, unmarked door next to this store. Security will let you in when you show them your ticket with the QR code. They’ll send you up on the elevator.

Okay, whatever. It’s a secure building. I follow the instructions, park, elevator, escalator, see the well-marked store in question and the unmarked door next to it with security. Security lets me in but never asks to see the QR code on my phone – whatever. 🚩 There’s a table set up there with folks with a list of names and a stack of markers and name tags. I give them my name, they give me a name tag to fill out, then they send me to elevator H. There are about a dozen elevators, but they have no buttons for up, down, or any of the floors. There’s a card reader, so if you work in the building it will let you go to your allowed floor, but if you’re a visitor you go to wherever security has programmed “Car H” to go.

The doors open and I step out into a party, just as expected. I spend the next three hours schmoozing, swapping stories with folks, taking a tour of their very nice, very new office. I have a couple of Diet Cokes (I’m driving, no booze) and a couple of “things on sticks” – shrimp, meatballs, and so on. I tell everyone I talk to about our mission at The ALS Association Golden West Chapter, and I listen to what they do. It’s a civil and structural engineering firm, big projects like the new SoFi Stadium, new terminals at LAX, hospitals, skyscrapers, and so on. 🚩 I hand out business cards, have several people interested in getting a team together for our LA Walk on November 12th. There are a couple of people who have family or friends who have been afflicted by ALS. I was a social freakin’ butterfly. I had fun.

I was invited to the event by our banker, who I talk with on the phone all the time, but largely because of COVID I’ve never actually met in person. All night I’m peering at everyone’s name tag – no sign of her. 🚩 And I thought that there were going to be speakers or guests with some talks about the economy and non-profits. At first I didn’t think anything, figuring we would be social for a while and then have the speakers, but it never happened. Whatever. 🚩

Finally it’s wrapping up and winding down, so I go looking for where the parking validation is. I figured they would mention it because the detailed instructions were quite clear that our expensive parking would be validated. But the couple of folks I talk to don’t know anything about that. 🚩 Maybe it’s at the table by security downstairs. It takes forever to figure out how to call the elevator so I can go back down, but when I get down there the table is deserted. Okay, whatever. I follow my trail of breadcrumbs back out from the unmarked door, down the escalator, across the plaza, into the elevator, back to my car. I pay for parking and figure out how to get on the freeway home.

About 45 minutes later, just as I was getting off the freeway near home, my brain goes “click!” (I could actually hear the sound.)

No! That can’t be!

I get back home and the email invitation is still on my computer screen. Park, elevator, escalator, store, unmarked door. QR code, speakers, offices on the 33rd floor.

Oops. (When did you figure it out?)

I’m glad I had a good time! I’m glad I was a social butterfly and handed out business cards and chatted and ate things on sticks! But I was at the wrong freakin’ party. I had crashed someone’s “new office open house” instead of going to the bank’s meet & greet with a side serving of economic talks.

On the one hand, it’s almost hilariously funny. The Long-Suffering Wife wants to know if I’m going to have a side hustle crashing parties. My boss agreed and thinks I should go crashing random parties downtown and handing out business cards. Our banker thought it was the funniest thing that she’s heard all week. Everyone agreed that the story made their day.

On the other hand, it’s been a while since I’ve felt this stupid 🥴 and embarrassed 😳. I’ll live.

In retrospect, how many red flags did I miss? But while there were several, they all happened separated by time, noting to connect them necessarily, with none of them being sufficient by itself to force a “stop, wait, something wrong here!” moment.

I’m familiar with the concept. There have been a number of aircraft accidents that happened in a similiar way, a series of small mistakes which added up. None of them enough to cause an emergency, but when several folks make mistakes, misunderstandings, with no one having the big picture, all of a sudden they all combine to have someting catastrophic happen. (Look up the “Gimly Glider,” Air Canada Flight 143, an early 767 that ran out of fuel while cruising at 35,000 feet over Canada in 1983.)

This wasn’t catastrophic by any means, more a comedy of errors. Still, it’s a good warning to listen to those odd little warnings and 🚩 instead of passing them off with a “Whatever!”


Filed under ALSA Golden West, Los Angeles, Paul, Photography

An Uncommon View

Well, not for the folks who work there, of course! But for me it was a chance to admire a view I rarely get.

On the 20th floor of a skyscraper at 7th & Flower in downtown LA. A block away, on Figueroa, the tallest building is the Intercontinental Hotel. For reference, the Music Center is off to our right about six blocks, while the Arena (aka “Staples”) is off to the left four blocks.

It was cloudy & gloomy, but the view was still great.

Looking north. A lot of these buildings have pools and restaurants on top. They’re apartments and condos, not just office buildings.

Peering off into the distance is Hollywood. Through the haze, just above and slightly to the right of the black building in the distance you can see the Hollywood Sign.

I was here for a work “meet & greet” event. I had a good time, talked to a lot of nice folks. Just one… little… problem…

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Filed under Los Angeles, Paul, Photography

Fifty Years Ago Today

I was in Florida. And it turns out I wrote a pretty decent account of that trip ten years ago today.

So read this!

The tl;dr version – I was 17, somehow got permission to take time off school, made it from a small town in Vermont to Florida, and saw the last Saturn V launch when Skylab launched on May 14, 1973.

It was quite the adventure. You know how they say you learn to make good decisions by living through the bad decisions you make? That trip was FULL of bad decisions, and decisions made out of ignorance. But it was spectacular, definitely changed my life.

Apollo Command-Service Module (CSM) training simulator, seen on the Kennedy Space Center tour a day or two before the launch.

The Saturn IB up on stilts to use the Saturn V launch pad, with the Apollo capsule that would take the Skylab I crew up. It was supposed to launch the next day, but due to the damage the Skylab took on launch it took eleven days of desperate work to figure out how to save the mission and prepare for the rescue. The Skylab I crew launched on May 25th, but I was back in high school in Vermont by that time.

The final Saturn V, with the Skylab spacecraft on top.

In some ways for me, the most simple but amazing fact is that in 50 years I’ve never been back to KSC to see the new museums, the space shuttle Atlantis, or a launch. I’ve been to five NASA Socials (see that “search” box?), I’ve finally seen a launch out of Vandenberg, I’ve been to the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, to the associated Udvar-Hazy museum at Dulles, to a ton of air shows, flown in P-51 Mustangs and a B-25 and a B-29 and done aerobatics in an SNJ and a bunch of other planes with the CAF, and even got my own pilot’s license (gotta get current and get flying again, but that’s a different rant)… But I’ve never been back to KSC.

It can’t be that hard to see a launch these days, SpaceX is launching about once a week or more, ULA has the Vulcan coming online soon and they’re still launching the last of the Atlas missions, Blue Origin is getting ready to go orbital soon.

Gotta fix that. Soon.

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Filed under Paul, Photography, Space, Travel

The Highlight Of *MY* Ahmanson Season

We’ve seen a lot of great plays over the last several years at the Ahmanson. “2:22” earlier this year was great. “Come From Away” last year was unbelievable.

Coming up later this year are some more that I’m really looking forward to. “Into The Woods,” for example. And while nothing’s official for next year, there are lots of interesting rumors and possibilities.

But tonight? Tonight, at long last, is the one I’ve been waiting for since about 2020.

Over 50 years ago (jeez freaking Louise, that CAN’T be right…but it is) we read the play and listened to the soundtrack in an American Studies class when I was a junior in high school. I was in love.

Then there were plans to do a production of our own as our Senior Play. I wanted the primary part of John Adams so badly that it hurt. I practiced and memorized and listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times … and we did “Harvey” instead. (I played Dr. Chumley, it was a tremendous amount of fun. But it wasn’t “1776.”)

I’ve since seen it once on stage, probably 20+ years ago at a small theater production in Hollywood. Then this revival hit Broadway a few years back and I’ve been waiting. It was supposed to be here in the 2020-2021 season, but that got canceled due to COVID.

But tonight…

“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace, that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress! And, by God, I have had this Congress!”

If our lead is suddenly ill at show time, put me in Coach!

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Filed under Entertainment, Los Angeles, Paul

Ten Years Of WLTSTF

It snuck up on me. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I realized that today is the 10th anniversary of my starting this website.

I guess this is sort of a big one.

10 years.

3,653 days.

3,745 posts.

8,921 images. (90%+ are taken by me. The rest are images from the news, from cell phone screen captures, and so on.) To be perfectly honest, some of my favorite images of those 8,921 were posted yesterday. Still just a bit gobsmacked by that.

72 videos.

10 audio clips.

2,978 total comments.

75,498 total views.

49,522 total visitors to the site.

11,438 total likes.

1,827 followers (730 from WordPress, 703 from Twitter, 280 from FaceBook, 10 from Tumblr, 58 from, and 46 from Spoutible)

God alone knows how many words.

The last time I either was too busy or, more likely, simply forgot to post anything was April 10, 2020. Since they I’ve posted 1,115 days in a row.

In total there have only been fourteen days of those 3,653 days when I didn’t post anything at all.

I’m not only here (which is probably the most reliable source since I have the most control over the site’s existance) but also on:

  • Twitter (@momdude56)
  • Facebook (/paul.willett.56)
  • Mastodon (@momdude)
  • Post (@momdude)
  • Spoutible (@momdude)
  • Instagram (@momdude56)
  • Tumblr (pauljwillett)
  • Snapchat (pauljwillett)
  • Hive (@momdude)
  • BlueSky (waiting for an invite, but I’ll give you three guesses what it will be…)
  • Email (

I hope that at least a few of the 1,827 folks who get notified every day that I’ve posted something take a minute to look and/or read and get a moment of zen or pleasure from it. I enjoy creating it.

As always, I hope that in the next year there are many more occasions to share a pretty picture, a goofy story, or something clever.

As always, I hope that in the next year there will be many fewer occasions to descend into a venting rant about something stupid, annoying, or depressing.

As do we all, I’m sure.

As a lovely parting gift, couple of favorite pictures from the last year:

Stick around for the next year. It’ll be a slice!


Filed under Airshows, Astronomy, Birds, Christmas Lights, Critters, Entertainment, KC Chiefs, LA Angels, LA Kings, Los Angeles, Paul, Photography, Sports, Sunsets, Writing


Today was my sixty-seventh birthday. 🎂🍾🎁🥳🦆 I celebrated by going off to the Point Mugu Airshow in Ventura County with some family members and friends.

NOT the sort of thing you want to be driving through on the way to an airshow! I had doubts that we would see any flying, but we persisted.

When we got there about 09:30, it was quite…moist.

The Navy Blue Angels were there. So were the Air Force Thunderbirds! It’s something like only the fourth or fifth time EVER that they’ve performed together at the same airshow.

Thus the urgency to get out there – it’s like if the Beatles and Rolling Stones were doing a double bill concert. You would stand in the rain for that, wouldn’t you?

Our local CAF SoCal Wing was there with static displays (the SNJ in yellow, the PT-19 on the right in grey, others not shown) and our PBJ bomber, F6 Hellcat fighter, and Zero fighter all flying.

A Harrier on static display.

The business end of an F-18 Hornet, both for going fast and for stopping faster.

One of the local F-18s that’s stationed with one of the Point Mugu squadrons.

An E-2 Hawkeye on static display.

Despite my doubts, the CAF SoCal planes, a biplane aerobatic routine, the Red Bull helicopter performance, a California Air National Guard C-130 demonstration, and most importantly, the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels all flew.

It was spectacular!

It was amazing!

It was wonderful!

It was REALLY FREAKIN’ LOUD! (Which is really freakin’ great!)

Followed by the current leader so far for worst traffic jam of the year. From the time that the Blue Angels finished their show until I got to my car was 25-30 minutes. From the time I got to my car until I got onto the road outside the base gates, another 90+ minutes. From the time I left the base until I got to the 101 Freeway (normally 10-15 minutes) another 30+ minutes. (Worth every second of it.)

My thanks to those who sent birthday wishes. I had a great time at the airshow and took a gazillion pictures and videos.

If you don’t care about seeing any of those airshow pictures, this might be a good time to mute this website for the next week to ten days. Just sayin’.


Filed under Airshows, Paul, Photography

Sticking Out Like A…

There’s a reason that phrase sticks around.

A stupid, tiny little nick from cutting my thumbnail too close on my right hand. I’m so right handed that if I broke my right arm I would starve to death before I learned to feed myself with my left hand only. So now, nearly a week after my horrific thumbnail clipping incident, I still am extremely aware of my sore thumb every single time I try to type (and I’m typing all day long), or use my computer trackball, or try to get my phone or wallet or keys out of my pocket, or try to use a pen, or eat with a fork or spoon, or…

You get the picture.

How can one itsy-bitsy little nick cause so much grief and trouble even a week later?!

I swear, next time I go to a manicurist and let them do it professionally. I’m not sure how that makes sense, but this is ridiculous.

(Yes, I’m a whiny woosie boy. This isn’t news.)


Filed under Health, Paul, Photography

Persistance Awards

I’ve mentioned before (here) that WordPress gives you an “atta boy!” notification any time you post more than five or six days in a row. And, as a reminder, I’m easily amused, so it becomes a thing to keep the streak going.

With me, that can go on quite a while! I was at 420 days on June 4, 2021 when I missed the midnight posting deadline by a few seconds and re-started the streak. I was at 245 days in a row on February 5, 2022 when again, I missed the deadline by a minute or so – and started over.

I haven’t missed since.

If not for those two missed deadlines (and to be clear, I did post on those days, just not by midnight local time) it would be 1,032 days in a row. But I’ll take the 365.

Remember getting “perfect attendance” awards at school? Yeah, I was that kid.

And yes, I got beat up for it. *shrug*

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Filed under Paul, Writing

Paul’s Septuple Slit Experiment

If you’ve studied physics, or even have a casual layperson’s interet, you’ve probably heard of Young’s double-slit experiment. It’s an early exploration into the nature of light and demonstrates some effects of quantum mechanics.

Now in my backyard I seem to be accidentally creating a far more macro-scale experiment of my own.  Soon after it started to drizzle and rain lightly, I noticed that underneath this lawn chair it was still dry. Shouldn’t SOME of the rain drops get through the slits in the chair’s webbing, leaving wet strips instead of one big dry spot underneath?

There are seven openings in the webbing, so instead of a double slit experiment it’s a septuple slit experiment.

Underneath the far side (better seen in the first picture), between the front and back right-hand legs, there are seven spots or holes, spaced about right for the seven slits. I’m guessing that’s from the heavy rain recently, where water is accumulating and dripping down into the dirt from the seven straps?

I’m also guessing that I’m easily amused. But that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone reading this site for very long, now, should it?


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Filed under Curiosities, Paul, Photography

On To Super Bowl LVII

First of all, the most important question – why do we still use Roman numerals to identify the Super Bowls? What a stupid affectation!

Regardless, as anyone interested will know, my beloved Chiefs won an incredibly tough battle against the Cincinnati Bengals and won the AFC Championship this evening and will be going to the Super Bowl in two weeks to face the Philadelphia Eagles. That game is expected to be epic and practically a toss up, although the Eagles are favored by two points in the inital Las Vegas betting line.

I’ll need the two weeks to rest and recover. It was a high stress game and wasn’t decided until there was only eight seconds left in the game. It had a little bit of everything.

Suddenly, as January winds down, February starts to look busy. Possibly bordering on hectic. After an extremely busy December and January I was thinking there might be a chance to throttle back a bit, but there’s a family thing, and now the Super Bowl is more than just another game and might require a party (if the pieces can fall into place, primarily COVID related), and oh, did I mention, I applied for a three-day NASA Social in Florida for the Crew 6 launch currently scheduled at the end of February?

The odds of getting selected to participate in the NASA Social might be slim-ish, maybe 1 in 10? (A wild guess, at best.) But if that comes through, then A) I’ll have some truly fantastic things to share on this site for weeks and months to come, and B) when March rolls around I’ll need about a month’s nap.

It’s one of those “theory vs reality” things, also known as, “Be careful what you wish for!” In theory, it’s great to be getting to my age and still be really active and living life with gusto. In practice, it can be daunting and occasionally exhausting. However, when presented with the options (c’mon, NASA Social selection committee!!), I’m hoping I continue to come down on the side of the “YOLO!! LEEROY JENKINS!!” response.

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Filed under KC Chiefs, Paul