Sunday, June 16, 2019

Beach with the hippies

Manu, me, Andres, Arturo, and Monse
(From left to right)
"Can I go to the beach too?" I ask.

"Sure," says the manager at my hostel. Arturo takes me in a van, which has a mattress inside.

I wave hi to the people passing by.

Art says, "Stop doing that. We're in a van. They'll think you're trying to kidnap them."

Soon, a Portuguese girl comes with us.

We drive to the beach.

There, an Argentine, named Andres joins us there. He's surprised that I've been to Argentina. We talk about it.

Then we all swim and play in the water. We have with us banana bread, wine, mescal, and beers. Some of them smoke weed. I stick to the wine.

And that's all we do. Play.

I remember when I was a kid, I played a lot and loved playing. Then somewhere along the way, authority told me playing all the time was not a good thing.

Especially in America - it's all about work. How boring.

So, I'm playing again.

Actually today, I've been invited to a full moon festival. I wonder how it's going to be.

Happy Father's day to everyone!

I miss everyone at home. See you soon, but first: More playing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Re: Breaking News - Whistleblower lawsuit filed against Michael Taylor, Ricardo Pacheco, and Robert Tafoya

Baldwin Park Council Member Ricardo Pacheco,
also General Manager of West Valley Water District
Baldwin Park’s city attorney, former police chief and a city councilman have been accused in a lawsuit of engaging in a bribery and kickback scheme in their roles at a Rialto water district that has cost ratepayers about $1 million.

. . . Article on the San Bernardino Sun
Former Baldwin Park Chief of Police, Michael Taylor
also Water Board Member of West Valley Water District
Baldwin Park City Attorney Robert Tafoya,
also General Counsel for West Valley Water District

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Sharpening the mind

Sharpening the scythe
by Antti Faven 1928
I bake in the sun, tanning, at the pool. I do my reading there. When I feel hot, I'll jump into the blue water. I enjoy watching the beautiful birds of paradise flutter and hear them sing around me. They look like living gems. A pair has built a nest nearby, and it's an amazing sight to watch the father and mother bird take turns hatching the egg.

One thing I notice here is how fresh and clean the air is here. It has the sea breeze crispness to it when you breathe it in. I feel like my lungs are cleared up and cleansed.

I finished my book on killers. Too academic, too much fluff, but still insightful. It's not something that would be easy to finish at home, because of the dense nature of the material. I generally bring more difficult reads with me on my holidays.

Now, I'm reading something that is the exact opposite of my first read. It's Father Gregory Boyle's second book on gang members who are reforming or have been reformed. He's a great writer, but this book is not as good as the first one. Also, I find flaws in his theology. Nonetheless, no one can deny the incredible work and suffering he's invested in reforming the lives of Los Angeles's untouchables.

The food here is incredible. So much so, I've decided that the cuisine in this region has made it into my top five favorite cuisines. I keep telling my mother what I eat and she says, "Is that all you're doing, eating? And eating?"

I love the raw clams. I like the slices of beef ribs still on the bones. I rip the flesh off with my teeth and enjoy that ungy-rich taste that only comes with meat off the bone. Maybe, it's because I'm also tasting the flavors in the bone.

They grill the meat here on charcoal - which is fanned to scorching temperatures. The result is delicious meat kissed by smoke, air, and fire.

I told my mom - "I keep eating the beef ribs, because you stopped making them." I remember again the rich ungy flavors licked off the bone. Mmmmmm.

Unamused, she says, "Eat as much as you can then."

But I exercise some self-restraint.

I need to run today on the beach at sunset. There's no feeling like the wet sand on your feet, while you're running with an expansive amethyst sky above you.

The experience leaves me feeling like I've been running inside a watercolor painting.

Anyways, I'm recharging my mind. I solved a complicated case.

Next, I need to write some letters before I leave. That's important.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Checked Out; Playing Now

 Boys of Summer - by Ronzo Weideman
I dipped my feet in the blue pool at my hostel. Next to me, a lady in her mid 60's is doing the same thing. On the recliner is my book. I've read half of it. It's hot here. 80F / 27C. The local dog, a small pug, stays with me - asking to be petted. I left home, again. I had to.

For 8 months now, I've been wanting to leave East Los Angeles, where I was born and raised (unlike Bel Air). 8 months ago, I was in Stockholm, meeting new friends - and partying it up. People were lovely there.

After 8 months though, I just needed a break, especially after working through and solving my last case. In the words of Louis Brandeis - it was time to unstring and restring the bow of the mind again.

Even though I was leaving only for a short while - it was a hard-good bye. People in my boxing gym seemed sad I was leaving. My clients seemed sad too.

And even my cat, Jeh Pan, knew I was going. He refused breakfast and his treats the morning I left. I don't ever remember him doing that. I wondered: How does he know I'm going away? Is it the luggage? Is it that it was early in the morning? Is there an emotional signal of me checking out mentally? He knew, when I was leaving last time. That was in July of 2018.

The night before, I took my mother out to eat. I said my goodbye to her then too. But I'm just going away for awhile, no? Perhaps, I guess one never knows with me. Do I even know with myself?

I packed just one small suitcase. I brought only three books with me. I only bought a one way ticket. I don't know when I'm coming back. It was kind of scary for me to just buy a one way ticket, but I had a strong spiritual sense that was what I was meant to do.

My plane was late by 30 minutes. I wish they let us know earlier. I could've slept more. Sleep is good, and people who know me know I hate mornings - especially really early ones.

The plane was full. A family sat next to me. A little kid sat in the middle. I watched Mary Queen of Scots on the plane.

It was ok. I liked the scenes showing the Scottish Highlands. The movie definitely had a pro-Scottish agenda and portrayed Mary as a martyr - instead of the traditional English view of her as a traitor. Into thy hands, I commend my spirit. I kept wondering why they didn't show her dog, which she hid in her dress, bark in agony, after the axeman chopped off her head. Bloody Mary - they say - for a reason.

And she also wasn't as beautiful as the movie makes her out to be. Historical records say that when the executioner picked up her head, he only picked up her red wig. And the head rolled away from him. Perhaps - the Scots are disputing this account too.

Who knows what really happened? I wasn't there then.

When I stepped out of the plane, the air was warm and humid - not like the cold and bizarre May-weather we were having in Los Angeles.

Oh - there were so many tourists at immigration. That took awhile. But because I didn't have any checked in luggage, I made it out of there airport quick.

I hopped on the local bus. The locals stared at me. I could feel them scanning my skin. I was the only Asian person there. Some Argentinians buskers came in and played music, but it was too loud for me to tip them anything. I didn't enjoy their music.

The police pulled over the bus. We had to change buses. It cost 20 minutes.

Manta Rays (c) Wikipedia
At the hostel, I met an old friend - same one who joined me at the pool later. She's currently processing and analyzing scientific data on Manta Rays.

We talked for hours. It's been years since we saw each other last.

She's a vegan. The local restaurants that served vegan food was closed. So, she made me lentils for dinner.

Then, I told her all about my sabbatical. She told me all about her journeys through Ireland and Holland. She told me all about her role of becoming an elder in society.

She said, "People don't celebrate eldership or peace."

I told her, "Our society worships violence. Not wisdom or peace."

Lentils and broccoli
I think the most important thing she told me so far, was about conversations. She said - "Remember; in a conversation, you're either trying to one-up somebody, or you're trying to share with them. Next time you're in conflict with someone, remember that."

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Update on Rafael's and Tuttle's case - Hope Springs Eternal

Superbloom in CA (c) Dana Stein
The heavy Californian winter rains ignited a super bloom of flowers all across our state. Philip Fischer - Warren Buffet's mentor once wrote that there are a burst of flowers, when heavy rain follows a drought. (He uses that analogy to describe buying stocks in drought, easier said than done, though.) The super blooms in California only confirms this phenomenon. Even when you look at our backyard, all the trees are thriving with flourishing green and strong leaves.

We had a wet and dreary winter indeed. And, it was spectacular, the way that California flooded. There was so much rain, the huge sink holes formed in the streets.

But as with most dark winters, it does feel like a part of you is dying. The trees lose all their leaves. The hens molt, lose their summer feathers, only to regrow winter feathers. They stop laying eggs.

It's almost like Death's touch ceases and decays everything around you.

But with the spring, we're reminded that hope exists and persists, especially this year.

I've been really busy with two cases. I'd like to share. And end with what I've been learning this spring.

Rafael Valdez's Case

Rafael and Joy Valdez with two children.
I started working on this case on March 25th, 2019. Seven weeks later, I've put in 182.5 hours into it. The labor has been well worth it, and I've mined hidden gems.

The summary of the case is that my client was pulled over in a traffic stop. As a result, he was eventually put into ICE deportation proceedings. He is married to an American woman and has two American children. Because of legal complications, he could not obtain residency.

In September of 2013, he was deported to Mexico. In the meantime, the ICE prosecutor who deported him - was charged with forgery. He's been disbarred and has already served his sentence in prison. In June of 2018, Chief Counsel (the director of ICE prosecution) was convicted of the identities of those he deported for cash - in a complicated scheme that involved getting loans on these stolen identities.

The question remained: Did he steal my client's identity?

My factual investigation has found that it's 99% likely that he has stolen my client's identity.

The next steps therefore is to reopen up this case, and I'm hopeful to get him back.

Tuttle's Case

LA Times here. But the problem in this case, was that I didn't get paid my attorney's fees, which are mandatory.
The three city officials, who sued Tuttle,
Ricardo Pacheco, Monica Garcia, Manuel Lozano
(From left to right)
In this case, if you don't remember, the Mayor Lozano and Council Members Ricardo Pacheco and Monica Garcia sued Greg Tuttle for a restraining order, because he was reporting on how they were misusing city money to go to conferences of corporate lobbyist. They lost the case. You can read about it in the

I appealed. But the California Court of Appeals - in a flawed and disappointing opinion - ok'd me not getting paid, even though I won. Not only that, they allowed the city council to collect costs on Tuttle.

So, Lozano's attorneys - Daniel Barer and Jimmy Gutierrez - filed a memorandum of costs for $1,700 against Tuttle without any proof of why it's so high.

Let me ask you - does this make sense? You win a case against vindictive government officials - who are trying to shut you up - and you end up having to pay them. This is our modern court system.

Retaliation appears to be the trend by Mayor Lozano. For winning the open records case against the City, the City Attorney, Robert Tafoya filed close to 10 failed sanctions motions against Julian Casas - my client. Then, in the second record's case, Tafoya sought costs, which is barred by law. For affirmed appeals, the City attempted to seek $714.32 in costs.

The court gave them $6.56.

But this also appears to be a national and international trend. Government officials use the courts to retaliate against individuals who seek to keep them accountable. Here's a good article on the subject - Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters. Also, a judge jailed an activist for asking for financial records. Even in South Africa, a government official is threatening to sue a renowned journalist for exposing corruption.

There needs to be a change in law, to only allow governments to collect costs in frivolous lawsuits when sued.

In any event, I filed a motion to dismiss these costs yesterday. It took work. But hey - Jesus once said: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

I've never really understood this verse, because I don't know what the kingdom of heaven actually is. But I do believe the enemy certainly blesses you; she teaches you what you don't know about yourself. So, we press on.

Insight for This Spring

Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son
I caught up with someone, recently. I took him out to eat. He's returned, after struggling with his own demons. That struggle might not be over.

But he wants to get back on the right track - the road of the straight and narrow. I just listened. Important to listen.

I think I'm learning that life is full of surprises. Hope and promise can just appear out of nowhere some times.

That's it for now. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

On Sociopaths

Blue Crayfish
(c) eliteinverts
This Saturday, one of my fish was dying. He was struggling to live. His swimming made him look weak and feeble, as his fins were fluttering. He looked like a flying plane that lost a wing. I watched with pity, but what could I do to save him? If you think treating sick humans are hard, try treating an aquarium fish.

I suspect he's been dying for awhile. I fed him a dead bee. That was a mistake. A few weeks later, he stopped eating. I suspect that the bee's venom slowly poisoned this fish.

Then, my algae eater came and started nipping at his fins, making him swim even worse. Imagine having someone eat your body, all because your sick.

Then one morning, I saw him floating at the top of the water, still alive and struggling. I thought I should put him out of his misery. So I got some ice, put it in a cup with water, and put him inside. But even after all the ice melted, he was still alive. The fish's will to live was something else. The whole episode reminded me of a long and difficult discussion I had my mother about euthanasia, when my last cat was dying. I won't get into the details, but let's say my mother and I had very different ideas about what was right about the last rites of the dying.

Believe me, I felt bad I couldn't save this fish. But in this whole scene, I watched with great interest at this algae eater. It's not the first time I've seen him attack a dying fish. He ate the eyeball out of the last one. Funny thing enough, he also likes vegetables - where as the other fish don't. I was fascinated by his ability to hone in on the dying and the weak.

How does he do it? I suspect it's smell. The dying must give off a kind of smell, but the other fish don't smell it as keenly as he does. I once read about a grim ripper kitty who was anti-social with humans. Eventually, a retirement home adopted him, and he would visit a person two hours before his or her death. Apparently, grim ripper kitty could smell death on them, and he would stay with them until they left this earth.

And why doesn't this algae eater let these suffering fish be? Perhaps they would recover and be reintegrated with the community.

Nope. He goes in for the kill.

He's really the cannibalistic sociopath of the aquarium.

I've thought about getting rid of him, but at least so far, he hasn't attacked the healthy fish. Only the sick and dying.

For some strange reason, I've developed a relationship with him, as Will Graham and Clarice Starling have with Hannibal Lecter. I watch him and study him to see if I get clues into the defendants on my other cases, who I also suspect to be sociopathic. The only insight I have from watching the algae eater is what I've already told you: Sociopaths seem to be attracted to the weak and sick.

I went to the pet store to replace my dead fish. And there, I found a beautiful blue crayfish. I was like a kid at a candy store. I ended up buying four things, when I really should've only bought one.

When I put him into the tank, this blue crayfish immediately scurried around and through the crevices and cracks of the rocks. He knew exactly where to go.

After his journey through new lands, this crayfish pulled out part of a fish's body and started tearing it apart and eating it. He looked back at me with his black eyes.

Believe me; this primitive animal was fully aware I was watching him, and he was looking back and telling me something. He was so proud of what he found, and he wanted me to witness his catch.

We have a new member in the community that I suppose has his own unique role. I would've never found or fished out that carcass. Who knows how long it's even been there? It was eerie to see how happy this crayfish looked munching away at his catch.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Former Baldwin Park Chief of Police Awarded $7 Million

Former Baldwin Park Police Chief,
Lili Hadsell
The jury has awarded Lili Hadsell, the former Baldwin Park Police Chief, $7 million. Council Members Ricardo Pacheco, Susan Rubio, and Cruz Baca voted to fire Hadsell and replace her with twice-fired Chief Michael Taylor. The complaint was based on firing and retaliation for sex and racial discrimination. It appears that both Michael Taylor and Ricardo Pacheco perjured themselves on the stand, as text messages later revealed that they loathed and despised having a female police chief.

Given the high damage award, I predict the city will likely appeal the case. Since having Robert Tafoya as city attorney, the number of lawsuits and resulting damages have increased extraordinarily. He was appointed as attorney immediately after Hadsell was fired.

You heard it here first.