Wynken, Blynken and Nod


Three side-by-side houses in SFO’s Sunset district last week.

One person commented that he had lived in one of these and that it had a 5′ by 5′ outdoor patio in the center of the house. Come to think if it, I remember such an inner patio in my friend Rod Lundquist’s mother’s house out in the avenues, it was like a light well with windows looking into it on all 4 sides. A pretty nice feature for houses that are built wall-to-wall.

The title popped into my mind and I just looked it up, nothing to do with houses, but a pretty nice opening stanza in this poem by Eugene Field, 1850-1895:

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
    Sailed off in a wooden shoe,
Sailed into a river of crystal light
    Into a sea of dew.

“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
    The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
    That live in this beautiful sea;
    Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

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On Top of the Golden Gate Bridge

21 years ago, I got to go up to the top of the southern tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. Three of us spent about 45 minutes up there, on a warm September night. It was one of the greatest thrills of my life, and also the first time I used a digital camera (a small Fujifilm model).

When I get some more time (if ever!), I’ll post the story, along with the photos.

And also, the story of my friend Jeff starting on the roadway of the north tower at dusk, going up along the cable (with carabiners attached to the handrail cables), climbing to the top of the northern tower, back down to the roadway, up to the top of the southern tower, and making it to the toll gate by dawn the next morning. Not for persons of the faint hearted persuasion.

Here’s what I wrote about it originally (the format is weird because this was when I was using Blogspot, and it’s not compatible with WordPress (or something like that):


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Drought in California

Photo of Lake Shasta in 2019 (when the drought was much less severe than now in 2021) by Bruce Warrington

Much of the Western half of the United States is in the grip of a severe drought of historic proportions. Conditions are especially bad in California and the Southwest, but the drought extends into the Pacific Northwest, much of the Intermountain West, and even the Northern Plains.

Drought emergencies have been declared. Farmers and ranchers are suffering. States are facing water cutbacks. Large wildfires are burning earlier than usual. And there appears to be little relief in sight.…


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Home Made from Old Bread Oven and Found Objects


I just saw that Shelter has a blog about builders who having fun building. I do that in France and sometimes elsewhere in the world, sometimes with my partner, sometimes by myself.

If you want to see, you can visit anarchitecturetomas2.blogspot.com

My partner and I restored an old bread oven in northern Drôme, France, that was damaged by the rain and exposure, extended it to make a small bedroom for a guesthouse. The idea was to create a room for lovers, close to the woods and far from the road. The special design with bottles is inspired from the wind and a feather because the guest house is called The Feather’s Inn. Most of the building materials were repurposed (tiles, bottles, door, wood), or found on site (earth, stones). The design is inspired by the local style of building with stones on the base and earth on the top, but adapted with a contemporary touch.

–Tomas Strac,
carpenter and big fan of Shelter’s books

Note: A unique small home on wheels by Tomas and Stephanie are one of the features in our forthcoming book, Rolling Homes.

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The $392,000 Lifeguard

The $392,000 Lifeguard: ‘Baywatch’ as Union Shop

Savvy bargaining has gotten them handsome benefits and six-figure salaries.

Being a lifeguard isn’t easy, but in Los Angeles it can be lucrative. Auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found 82 county lifeguards earning at least $200,000 including benefits and seven making between $300,000 and $392,000. Thirty-one lifeguards made between $50,000 and $131,000 in overtime alone.

After 30 years of service, they can retire as young as 55 on 79% of their pay. The Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association makes all this possible. Since 1995 the union has bargained for better wages, hours, benefits and working conditions.

Over the past five years, lifeguard captain Daniel Douglas brought home $630,000 in overtime alone. His total employment costs in 2019 were $368,668–$140,706 base pay, $131,493 in overtime, $21,760 in “other pay” and $74,709 in benefits.

In 2009 the city of Santa Monica signed a 10-year, $25 million contract with the county for lifeguard services. In 2019 the city extended the contract for five years and $17 million. There were no identified competitors and the contract wasn’t put out for bid.

To be sure, being a lifeguard isn’t all fun in the sun: Some are EMTs and paramedics, and some are part of an underwater recovery team and participate in diving operations. Some are marine firefighters with specialized training for fireboat operations. Some are on duty for 24 hours at a time — though they’re allotted eight hours for sleep, and if they have a call that interrupts their slumber after five hours or less, “the entire 24-hour period shall be counted as hours worked,” the contract states.

Still, they’re handsomely paid beyond what virtually all other EMTs receive. By comparison, the top-paid public lifeguard in Florida made $118,000, including benefits — though the pay goes further in the Sunshine State, which has no income tax. Even in New York City, the top-paid lifeguard made only $168,000.

Think of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association as the teachers’ union of “Baywatch.”


From Spike Bullis, ex LA lifeguard

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