Petaluma Passion

The first time I was in Petaluma, about fifteen years ago, I recognized the guy standing next to me. We were browsing through sheet music bins. I had to sneak another look. Yep, it was Tom Waits. He could be called a “cult” artist.
I was and still am in that cult. So, I had that star struck frozen tongue that wanted to say, “Don’t mean to bother you sir, but I thank you for the years of enjoyment from your songs, both sung and played by you and others, your fine movie acting and your great soundtracks from so many movies.” That’s what I wanted to say.

Instead I caught his eye and grunted, “Hey, thanks for the great shit you’ve done.” He looked at me like a stray dog that needed kicking to get away from his leg. He did grunt in his deep growly voice and move to another area of the store. Don’t blame him.

Petaluma is less than 40 miles north of San Francisco, and about five hours from Bakersfield. It’s in the heart of the wine country, Sonoma County.
That puts it close to the half way point of our yearly jaunt up to Arcata, California.

Petaluma is an incredible town. It’s built on a solid layer of bedrock and the devastating 1906 San Francisco earthquake left the town untouched. So, the downtown area of Petaluma is filled with gorgeous old buildings, quaint shops, gourmet dining and wonderful people. Unlike Bakersfield, the river meandering through town actually has water in it. It empties into the San Pablo Bay, San Francisco Bay and the Pacific. That’s why we love it. I can’t imagine anyone driving through Petaluma and not wishing they lived there.

And that’s what our good friends did the first time they saw the city. Fell in love and moved.

How lucky for us to have great friends in Petaluma. She owns the award winning antique store, “The French Hen.” Petaluma is an antique shoppers dream. Now you know the best store in town. Don’t miss it.
French Hen
Maybe you’ve been there when they have the yearly “antique fair.”
Petaluma Antique Fair

Her husband is the honorary spokesperson for Petaluma, so called “Petaluma Pete.” You can find him playing his honky-tonk piano all over town at various street corners. We’ve been friends for thirty five years. How we met is another story for another time (but it is a good one).
Petaluma Pete

I would love for you to meet him. The best way is to listen as he dons his tux, white gloves and bowler hat to serenade the sidewalk shoppers.


Petaluma Pete has been pounding the keys on the Petaluma streets for eight years, but he does more than make music. He has a “YouTube” kids series. He talks to kids about the local police (coffee with a cop), he tours the architectural marvels of the city and he also promotes the city nationwide.

Check out the Top Ten Reasons why a business should relocate to Petaluma. (And listen to some great honky-tonk piano)

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Into the Valley of Dearth Wrote the 600

The other day a friend asked me how I decide what I’m going to write three times a week. Good question. Wish I could answer it.

We all have a “thing” about numbered milestones. Six hundred is a cool number.

Today is the 600th time I’ve posted words and sentences and a few ideas and weird thoughts to this blog “Bako Heat.” At least five hundred of those times I had no frigging idea what I was going to write the evening before post time.
Frustrated writer2

Sometimes, like the past couple of weeks, there is an air of depression, anger, bitterness and frustration everywhere. Some fanatic thug ruins, kills, desecrates… whatever… and the 24-hour news cycle, the morning fish-wrap and every radio newsbreak is a constant reminder. So, when it’s time to write something my brain is overloaded with sadness, anger and vitriol.
frustrated writer
Then I just write to hear myself. You certainly are not interested in more of the same crap you’re getting everywhere your ears and eyes travel. I will try to do better in the future. It may be difficult because there are about a dozen or so candidates who are bound to piss me off with their unbelievable remarks (like the Trumpster), but I will try to keep this blog lighter, happier and a refuge for those who don’t mind serious stuff or funny stuff,  just anything but politics and religion.

My main love of writing is fiction. I love to make stuff up. I love to play God and create people. I love to write novels, short stories and flash fiction. I also love to write songs.

In a few months Novel #3 will be finished, edited and published. I need more time for #4. I need more time for music. I need more time to make stuff up.

So it’s time to cut back on the three times per week of this blog. Starting next week I will post to this blog on Monday and Friday. Hope you keep reading.

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We’re Number ONE!

Condé Nast names Charleston No. 1 U.S. city for fourth year in a row

Hold on to your sun hats, Charleston. Readers of Condé Nast Travelerhave voted Charleston the No. 1 city in the United States for the fourth year in a row.

“The people of Charleston are honored to once again be named Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice No. 1 Top U.S. City,” Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said in a press release this morning from the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “To be recognized for the fourth consecutive year is truly a testament to Charleston’s vibrant culture, genuine hospitality, and wonderful people who make it such a special place to both live and visit.” (From the Charleston City Paper)

One year ago my wife and I visited Charleston, South Carolina. Why not? Conde Nast ranked Charleston as the #1 City in the USA. It was the fourth consecutive year. Not only that, Charleston was ranked #2 in the World by Conde Nast Traveler 2014 Reader’s Choice Awards. Yes there were only eighty thousand voters, but still…why argue about Venice, Paris, San Francisco or whatever?

Charleston is known for its well-preserved architecture.
I agree, the architecture is magnificent.
Charleston is known for its celebrated restaurant community and mannerly people.
I agree, the food is incredible and the people are nice.
Charleston is known, according to Conde Nast, for its “rich history.”
YUK! That’s stretching things in my opinion.

The AME church, site of the devastating racial hate crime last week, has been a famous land mark since its inception. It was founded by a “free” black man, Denmark Vesey. Mr. Vesey won a lottery and was able to buy his freedom. He didn’t have enough money to buy his wife and child’s freedom. He founded the church in 1818 and it became the second largest AME congregation in the nation with 1848 members. The city’s white clergy supported the church but the city fathers would occasionally shut it down for violating slave laws regarding the length of their allowed services. Rumors started circulation about Denmark Vesey talking about a “rising” of slaves in 1822. Supposedly there was going to be thousands of slaves rebel and slay their owners and then sail off to Haiti and freedom.

No uprising happened but as the word leaked out about this supposed plot, Vesey and five slaves were arrested and found guilty by a secret court appointed by the City of Charleston. They were hanged in July of 1822. The town folk were not satisfied and pressured the City to arrest more slaves. The city appointed a group of Magistrates and Freeholders and they investigated further and arrested another 131 men. They hung 35, including Vesey, convicted 67 of conspiracy, and deported 31 men, including Vesey’s son.

A report was released afterwards called “An Official Report of the Trials of Sundry Negroes.” Unfortunately there wasn’t a shred of evidence about the rebellion, just the rumors.

Next month I’m going back to Nashville, Tennessee, another one of my favorite cities to visit. I’ll be driving south from Indiana on Interstate 65. Right on I-65, just outside Nashville, this ridiculous scene greets each driver.

Nathan Bedford Forest2

Yes there are 13 Confederate Flags surrounding that very ugly sculpture. The ugly guy on the horse is supposed to be the famous Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forest. His mother wouldn’t recognize him.

Nathan Bedford Forrest 4

The sculptor was by a white supremacist leader who was also a lawyer. Jack Kershaw was the lawyer for James Earl Ray, killer of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The flags and the ugly guy on the horse are on private property so the embarrassment of Nashville about this place can possibly be forgiven.  You see, Nathan Bedford Forrest was also famous for being a founder and the very first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. As much a symbol of hatred and racism as their beloved Confederate Flag.

But Nathan is also honored in many more Tennessee places that could remove his name and likeness.
LIKE HERE:                                                                AND HERE:

Nathan Bedford Forest State Park        Nathan Bedford Forest High

Basically these two cities and many more across the SOUTH hang on to their statues, flags, license plates and other memorabilia that cause great pain for a large segment of our population. I think the rest of our country is trying to send them hints that it’s time to be nice, thoughtful and respectful.

Finally I have to give my own tourist report of Charleston and Nashville.
They are both places where you learn to walk very slow in the summertime. The humidity is overwhelming. You will feel your sweat pouring down your back and legs and with each breath you take you swear you are sucking in a small creek (pronounced crik).

My advice: Go in the late fall, the weather and the cities are beautiful. Just be aware that the white guys who run most of the South have their own ideas about States’ Rights, their own ideas of history and what the Confederate Flag stands for.

John Quincy Adams

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I’ve never been a big Pope fan, any Pope.

But, I like this Pope. I wish he wasn’t coming to America. Too many haters here. I hope he stays inside his bubble-top Pope-mobile and stays safe.

His Encyclical on Global Warming certainly riled up the ignorant, didn’t it? One of the dumber of the national writers is Rich Lowry. He sometimes says things I can’t believe he thought out before he wrote them.

Last week Rich Lowry was going out of his mind about the Pope talking about Global Warming. He said in his column the “Pope has gone off the rails.” Rich Lowry is another one of the people who always say, “I’m no scientist, but….blah blah blah, then basically say that 98% of the world’s scientists don’t know what they are talking about.

Here is my favorite Rich Lowry quote from his “pope off the rails” column. He said, “The best thing that can happen to developing countries now is that they follow our (USA) example of economic growth driven in part by cheap energy.”

HA! Can you imagine the rest of the world following OUR EXAMPLE?

If we look at the world right now, 2015, the entire globe is living at 15% over the bio-capacity of the earth to sustain us. In other words, our current infrastructure, arable acreage, cheap energy costs, ocean and forest resources, along with many other significant measurable needs is NOT ENOUGH TO SUSTAIN US. We are 15% over capacity.

Now let’s have the undeveloped countries follow our example. Our (USA) per capita footprint of using the earth’s resources is the largest on the globe. So, if the rest of the world follows the advice or Rich Lowry we would need FIVE PLANETS to sustain us. That’s FIVE EARTHS!

I think we need another Encyclical from the Pope. This one needs to talk about the other REAL problem we face. OVERPOPULATION!

Okay, Pope Francis, please start working on that other Encyclical on

Thank you.

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On this date in history, June 19, 1972, the Supreme Court issued another (among a long list) stupid ruling. After a three year battle through the court system the Supreme Court stated that baseball was NOT a big business (packaged with liquor sales, broadcasting rights, and peanuts and cracker jacks —and therefore was exempt from anti-trust laws.

This ruling was based on a fight by one player, one of my favorites at the time, Curt Flood.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood is shown, March 1968. (AP Photo)   Original Filename: AP10031807428.jpgvia Flatbed 1

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood is shown, March 1968. (AP Photo) Original Filename: AP10031807428.jpgvia Flatbed 1\


There was no such thing as free agency at that time in baseball. When a player signed with a club that club had exclusive rights to that player until he died or they decided to trade  him.

Curt Flood signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1956 and didn’t play a lot and struggled at the plate when he did. The Reds traded him to St. Louis in 1957. For the next twelve years he was one of the finest center fielders in baseball. He was also one of the best hitters in baseball, seven times hitting above .300, once leading the big leagues in hits and seven times the most base hits, seven times gold glove fielder and on the all-star starting line-up three times.

In 1969, the Cardinals traded Curt Flood to the Philadelphia Phillies. Privately Curt Flood believed the Philly fan-base was loaded with racist fans and he didn’t want to pack up his family and move there. So he sent the following letter to the baseball commissioner, Bowie Kuhn–
December 24, 1969

After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several States.

It is my desire to play baseball in 1970, and I am capable of playing. I have received a contract offer from the Philadelphia club, but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decision. I, therefore, request that you make known to all Major League clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season


He was asking for “free agency.” What?  No way!  Unheard of up til now. Since the establishment of major league baseball, a player was tied to one franchise for life…period. When your contract was up, they either gave you a new contract or traded you. You had no choice in the matter.

On June 19, 1972, the Supreme Court ruled against Curt Flood. He had sat-out the 1969 season while the battle was raging in the lower courts. He received an average of four death threats every day. He never played baseball again.

Three years later, 1975, two players tried again for free agency. This time it was decided by an arbitrator. He ruled in their favor and today free agency is as common in baseball as cracker jacks.

The year Curt Flood wrote his letter to baseball, 1969, there was a collective bargaining agreement between the players union and management to raise the minimum baseball salary from $6000 per year (which it had been stuck there for twenty years) to $10,000 per year.

I believe it’s slightly higher now. ($509,000 with the average of all players being $3.82 million per year)

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Hard Not to be A Copycat

It was a typical doctor’s waiting room. An L-shaped arrangement of chairs. Just two of us in the waiting room and the receptionist behind the half-wall.

As I paged through a six month-old Sports Illustrated (not the swim-suit issue, damn it), I could hear the phone conversation the receptionist was having with a friend or relative. It seemed she was having problems with her sleep patterns and as she told the story she gave out a huge….awwwwww yawn, and said, “I’m so sleepy all day.”

The other waiting patient was flipping through her cell and immediately did a big silent yawn. I twisted my mouth and nose up and stifled my own yawn successfully. It left me very unfulfilled. I wanted and needed that damn yawn.

What the hell is wrong with us? Why can I make you yawn anytime I want to? And you me?

Ha Ha…most of you are yawning right now, just from thinking about it. Go ahead, nobody’s paying attention. Have a great big yawn right now…on me. Or as Archie Bunker used to yell at Edith, “STIFLE!”

I know you’re entirely too busy to research yawning so I’ll do it for you the best I can. I just want to know WHY THE COPYCAT YAWNING?
A sleepy yawn is fine.
A copycat yawn really sucks. It wasn’t in the cards at all until you opened your big trap and then I was hopelessly drawn into my unplanned yawn. I’m glad you didn’t give me your cold or your Ebola, but your contagious yawn was uncalled for. WHY!

There is one yawn expert I uncovered. His name is Robert Provine, a neuroscientist who tells us that yawning is “ancient” and “autonomic.” It stems from early evolution, even fish do it, and is wired deep in our brainstem, so it’s even more basic than a reflex. Whoa!

We’re not yawning to take in oxygen, that theory is outdated. We are probably, I say probably, trying to regulate the temperature in our brain. We do have triggers…like boredom, sleepiness and temperature. Scientists have discovered that sixty eight degrees is our “thermal window” for yawning. When ambient temperature starts approaching our body temperature we yawn less. And when ambient temperature goes down near freezing we yawn less.

Okay, got it. But what about that damn contagious yawning. That’s what I want to understand.

Scientists have found contagious yawning in humans, chimpanzees, baboons, bonobos, wolves, dogs and budgies. My friend says she can make her cat yawn, too.

So, do we all join in because a good yawn feels so good? No! Our copycat yawn does not happen on any conscious level. We can’t help it. When we are self-conscious of it, we control and stop it.

Studies have shown that seeing pictures or videos of yawning faces can provoke contagious yawning. What we might think of as the main component of a “yawn face”–a wide-open mouth–doesn’t even need to appear in the image for the trigger to work, “yawning eyes” can be enough to get us arching and gaping. If you yawn while reading about yawning, it’s not because you’re “picturing” a yawn. The response is more primal than that.


See what I mean? You’re doing it again.

It turns out there are many “possibilities.” Just what I thought, they don’t really know. BUT, they have figured all the possibilities  might be true.

One theory is an empathetic response. Our brains have a “mirror-neuron” system (MNS). So that part of our brain feels empathy for the yawner and we join in.

HOWEVER, other parts of the brain light up also during contagious yawning. It seems our amygdala (the fight or flight warning area) lights up when images of yawning are shown. We yawn at times when we are nervous and we yawn plenty before a big sporting event. Interesting, huh? We seem to be preparing our brain for swift action in response to a threat. Again this part is thought to be an evolutionary shortcut.

Like contagious laughing, contagious yawning can be a bond to a group and could very well be a feeling of safeness.

Whatever …
I don’t feel like yawn-bonding in a doctor’s office so I’ll continue to “STIFLE.”


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Here in the Central Valley of California (which is basically Northwest Mississippi), we don’t always pay attention to “smarts” with our elected officials. That’s not a prerequisite. Social and Cultural things are all we care about. Biblical social and cultural things.

So it was no surprise when our local state assembly woman, Shannon Grove, blamed our long treacherous drought on California’s abortion laws. That’s right. God hates us and is showing us how the dry parched heat of hell feels. Furthermore, to prove her point, she pointed out the long horrible drought in Texas ended when Gov. Perry signed a late-term abortion bill. God was fit to provide those parched lands with a thank-you water shower.

Never mind facts. Never mind truth.

Governor Perry singed the late-term abortion bill on July 18, 2013…two years ago. Two more years of draught followed the bill signing. I know God has a lot on his/her plate so these thank-you showers took a little bit of time. But, nevertheless God wrapped his Thank You Texas in a huge grateful display of an abundance of rain and flood water killing at least 31 people in Texas and Oklahoma. God also included thanking Oklahoma because they just passed their late-term abortion bill this past April.

Man, did the Malaysians get it wrong, too. They blamed tourists posing nude on Mt. Kinabalu for the earthquake that happened. If they would tune in to Pat Roberson they would find out that gay marriage causes those kinds of natural disasters.
Nude Tourists

OMG…speaking of Pat Robertson and smarts. Here is his greatest quote ever, delivered to rousing applause at the Republican Convention of 1992:
“Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.
Pat Robertson

You gotta love Pat Robertson!

I love it when a politician first clears the air by saying, “I’m not a scientist.” That means that the next word out of their mouth will be “BUT” and then some nonsensical total bullshit non-science quote is coming. No one is better at doing that then John Boehner.
In an interview on ABC about global warming he of course made the obligatory (I’m not a scientist) statement and then said: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide.” (Now that’s brilliant!)
John Boehner crying

Speaking of Global Warming,
today the Pope will be coming out with an ENCYCLICAL. Yes! Let’s hear it for Encyclicals. We hear that this will be a huge treatise on Global Warming. Climate Change. How we humans are screwing up the atmosphere by pumping to much energy (carbon) into the atmosphere.

And of course we have one of the Pope’s favorite Catholics, Rick Santorum (Please don’t google that last name) once again running for President while saying over-the-top stupid stuff.
Rick, who is not a scientist, is already warning the Pope in advance that he should leave the Science stuff to Scientists. Well said, Rick, we certainly know that you are far from scientifically inclined. However maybe you should check the Pope’s credentials. He is a scientist. He has a Master’s Degree in Chemistry and before he started Popen’ around, he was a Chemical Technician.

Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to believe the people with the SMARTS.

2014 Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to Korea Closing Mass for Asian Youth Day  August 17, 2014  Haemi Castle, Seosan-si, Chungcheongnam-do  Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Korean Culture and Information Service (  Official Photographer : Jeon Han This official Republic of Korea photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way. Also, it may not be used in any type of commercial, advertisement, product or promotion that in any way suggests approval or endorsement from the government of the Republic of Korea. If you require a photograph without a watermark, please contact us via Flickr e-mail. --------------------------------------------------------------- 교황 프란치스코 방한 제6회 아시아 청년대회 폐막미사 2014-08-17 충청남도 서산시 해미읍성 문화체육관광부 해외문화홍보원 코리아넷  전한

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