Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bobcat Housing Market

Quote of the Week:

"They are great neighbors, and as long as they don't want to baby-sit my kids, it's not a problem." - Scott Brown

A family of feline squatters has moved into a foreclosed home in Lake Elsinore. Residents of the Tuscany Hills development first noticed the bobcats about a week ago.
By David Kelly, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 5, 2008
With real estate values plummeting and foreclosed homes sitting empty, a family of bobcats apparently decided the time was right to pounce.

So last week, they slipped out of the parched foothills of Lake Elsinore and into a spacious, vacant home in well-groomed Tuscany Hills.

Residents of the development got their first look Aug. 27 when the feline squatters -- at least two adults and three kittens -- lolled atop a wall outside the Spanish-style house.

Someone called 911, reporting mountain lions. Four police cruisers showed up and officers ordered everyone inside. But soon they were out snapping photos along with the neighbors.

Bobcats are not known to attack humans, said Monique Middleton of Animal Friends of the Valley, which provides animal-control services.

"But are they pussycats? No. Can they do a lot of damage? Yes," she said. "They usually look for a food and water source, and there is an old koi pond in the backyard and that's where they are headed."

She said she expected the animals to move on in a few weeks, when the kittens are old enough to travel.

Tuscany Hills has been hit hard by foreclosures, and the house on Vista Palermo has been empty at least six months, neighbors said.

Said Scott Brown, who with his wife, Karen, moved here from Long Beach to be close to nature: "They are great neighbors, and as long as they don't want to baby-sit my kids, it's not a problem.",0,2286826.story

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Dad

My Dad was named Joseph John Papp, and he was born on October 21, 1937. He died on May 24, 1989 - the day before my 14th birthday. He'd been sick for some time before he finally succumbed to liver cancer, but even knowing months in advance that his condition was terminal didn't prepare me for what life would be like after his death. The utter desolation that washed over me in the days after his funeral mass and burial were like nothing I'd ever experienced.

I'll never forget sitting on the side of my bed, with my dad next to me, bawling my eyes out about how I didn't want him to go; this was a few weeks before he died. He was a very strict disciplinarian, having been raised Irish Catholic in Cleveland, and the oldest of three brother and one sister. Up until that point in my life, Dad was much more of an authority figure and provider than a friend, as our relationship simply hadn't matured to that stage yet. I loved him, just like my mom and brother both loved him, but he was still the guy who you didn't want to get punished by so better not to be bad, or at least not get caught being bad.

But on that day, father and son sitting side-by-side in a child's bedroom and struggling to understand the reality of death and its impending effect on our family, we shared a moment of admiration and sorrow and love that I'll never be able to properly describe to anyone, because it was something so personal.

Dad's dying devastated me and the sense of loss was more than profound. That day in my bedroom, he'd implored me to take care of my mother and watch out for my kid brother, but after he was gone I couldn't even watch out for myself.

I'd always had a fascination with bicycles, even though I had no idea that there was an entire sport built around racing them. It was my dad's death that opened a door for me into the world of cycling - in the weeks following Dad's passing, my Uncle Jimmy, Dad's younger brother by two years, bought me a black 12-speed Schwinn World Sport from Baker's, a shop in our town of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.

While I truly liked cycling, I pursued it so vigorously for two other reasons: it was a faster means to get away from the sadness and emptiness that Death had brought me, and I found several surrogate fathers through the sport who - perhaps unbeknown to them - helped me to experience some of what it must have been like to grow into young adulthood with a dad.

Alas, even the strongest cyclist on the best bike - even one who dopes - can't outpace Death forever...even if the chase takes place across continents.

When I left Italy in 2006, it was with the hope that I could quickly replace the support and sustenance I'd sought from cycling with something healthier and more stable: my own family. And by that I mean a wife, who I knew loved me very much, and eventually children. Unfortunately, as has been chronicled here and throughout the media, the high-stakes gambit that Yuliet and I made failed miserably at the hands of Fidel Castro, leader of one of the most evil totalitarian regimes to ever hold power in the modern era.

To say that didn't go according to plan would be an understatement, and it further catelyzed the reaction that culminated on the 31st of August this year, when my Uncle Jim died. Despite almost always keeping my head down and pushing the big ring, Death finally ran me down and delivered his package.

Sitting in St. Francis de Sales Church on September 6th, with the few remaining members of my immediate family needing only a couple of pews to accommodate us all, I listened as Rev. John Vrana presided over James S. Papp's funeral mass. While the day was horrible enough with Uncle Jim's being gone, it was during mass that Death caught me, and ended a chase that had started a little more than 19 years and three months prior.

One of the scriptures read during the liturgy was Lamentations 3:17-26:

"My soul is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; I
tell myself my future is lost, all that I hoped for from the Lord. The
thought of my homeless poverty is wormwood and gall;
remembering it over and over leaves my soul downcast within me.
But I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: the favors of
the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are
renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the
Lord, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him. Good is the Lord
to one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him; it is good to
hope in silence for the saving help of the Lord."

I'm admittedly a wayward Catholic, but at that moment, the last lines of defense that I'd established to "protect" myself from the grief of my father's passing were broken. Death recognized his moment, which came when Rev. Vrana spoke the names of those family members who'd died before my Uncle Jim - including, of course, Joseph Papp. Suddenly I was a boy of 14 again.

I'm so sorry for not taking better care of my mother, for not being as supportive a brother as I might have been otherwise and for generally growing apart from my family as I raced around the world on a bike. But I now understand and can acknowledge that my own father's death nearly two decades ago haunted me, and influenced so many of those decisions that I made both consciously and subconsciously.

If I could have just one last chance to speak with Dad, I would tell him how much I miss him and love him, and how sorry I am for not having been a better man since he died.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008


High winds
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Monday, September 08, 2008

Graffiti Tracking System - Media Exposure

Web program helps South Bay police track, arrest taggers


By Mark Gomez, Mercury News, Article Launched: 09/01/2008 09:53:35 AM PDT

"Soon after joining the San Jose Police Department's anti-graffiti unit, Eric Hove saw a need for a more effective way to chase down the tagging crews and gang members who cause about $1.8 million in damage to the city every year.

So the computer-savvy cop did some research and found a Web-based program that he believes will make a serious dent in the South Bay's growing graffiti problem. Created by a Pittsburgh-based company, the Graffiti Tracking System will connect nearly every agency in Santa Clara County, allowing law enforcement officials to quickly and easily share information on taggers who often strike in more than one jurisdiction.

"Hopefully we can get a higher amount of arrests and better quality cases throughout the region and tie these people together so they get full accountability for what they've done," said Hove, who expects the system to be fully running this fall.

The Web-based program — which is replacing San Jose police's antiquated paper filing system — will allow investigators to download digital photos, receive e-mail alerts and more easily share information on the vandals who spray paint graffiti on sound walls, billboards and just about anything else in the public's view. Police track the taggers based on the signatures they typically leave with their handiwork, like artists signing a painting, which are often initials to represent a crew or a nickname for an individual..."
Full Article here

San Jose police arrest four alleged gang taggers

By Mark Gomez, Mercury News, Article Launched: 09/07/2008 08:11:56 PM PDT

"JBF, a street gang known for spray-painting its initials on sound walls, freeway signs and private property throughout San Jose, has long been a thorn in the side of the San Jose Police Department's anti-graffiti unit, causing about $200,000 in damage every year.

But San Jose police recently arrested four of those gang members after reportedly catching them in the act of layering spray paint up and down a sound wall near Interstate 280. Police hope the decision to file felony vandalism charges with a gang enhancement will put a dent in the citywide damage caused by members of JBF, which stands for Just Bustin' Funk..."
Full Article here.

On the Provision of Humanitarian Aid to Cuba

Another amazing post by MaT at Review of Cuban-American Blogs.
One-line excerpt:

"There is nothing more subversive we can do than feed and clothe the Cuban people and our success will be measured by how far we can extend our efforts on their behalf."

Another great line was: "Those who chastise Cubans for not rebelling against the regime should remember that the only victory within their grasp is to survive it."

Although I diverge with MaT when it comes to assigning significant blame to the US gov't at the macro level for the survival of the Castro regime, he writes insightful, powerful pieces on Cuba that trump most anything I could develop that isn't centered on personal experience there. So if you haven't already, be sure to sample RoCAB, where they "tell the unconventional truth, respecting no one who does not respect Cuba or the Cuban people's right to freedom."

Friday, September 05, 2008

James S. Papp, RIP

JAMES S. PAPP, 69. Beloved brother of Joseph (deceased) (Marie), Joanne "Marie'' Jurkoshek (deceased) and Patrick (Patricia); uncle and great-uncle of many; loving son of Celia Papp (deceased). Funeral services Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008 at 9 a.m. at the funeral home and Mass of Christian Burial at 9:30 a.m. at St. Francis De Sales Church, (Snow Rd. at State Rd.). Interment Holy Cross Cemetery. Family will receive friends at THE YURCH FUNERAL HOME, 5618 BROADVIEW RD., PARMA, OH. (BETWEEN SNOW AND BROOKPARK), FRIDAY 4-8 P.M.

Death notice with online guest book is here.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hasta Cuando

I haven't written explicitly about Cuba and her suffering for some time, and that is not entirely without reason. Someday I'll return to that subject and that place, but until then, enjoy the best anti-Castro song and video I know of. Please note that the video shown below is not the original or authorized one. That is available here. Abajo Fidel!

Hasta Cuando
by Rey el Vikingo

"Somos latinos vamos a echar pa’alante
A esos impostores vamos a desenmascararlos Hialeah
A Fidel Castro y Hugo Chávez pa’ que aprenda ehh pa’ que aprenda ehh

Coro : Hasta cuando quien lo sabrá, hay que sacarlos por que el daño solo no se va
Hasta cuando tu vas a seguirnos separando, hasta cuando dime hasta cuando

En el 59 triunfo la Revolución, manos pa’arriba oh oh con devoción,
llegaste al poder a punta de cañón, y fuiste aplaudido por tu decisión (sinvergüenza)
Luego tiraste varios golpes bajos es normal, te habían hecho todo el trabajo.
El Che Guevara esperando por refuerzos que nunca llegaron como tu explicas todo eso (asesino) a ver a ver

Camilo Cienfuegos uno de los lideres queridos, apreciado y respetado,
que cuando tu hablabas te volteabas y le preguntabas " ¿Voy bien Camilo?"
que le paso ehh se te olvido ehh anda dímelo ahh nadie te creyó
Nos engañaste, nos dijiste que un viaje de la Habana a Camaguey se cayo el avión donde están las pruebas impostor, imposible que un viaje aproximado de 500 km no, aparezcan restos de Camilo noo, y tampoco del avión en que voló

Coro : Hasta cuando quien lo sabrá, hay que sacarlos por que el daño solo no se va
Hasta cuando tu vas a seguirnos separando, hasta cuando dime hasta cuando

Entre cielo y tierra no hay nada oculto, todo el mundo sabe que tu eres mas corrupto,
en el mundo entero que eres un embustero y con tu cochinada ya cagaste el pueblo entero

El pueblo cubano como ha sufrido pa’poder sobrevivir y llenar el vacío,
de los familiares que se marcharon y todo eso tu lo vas a pagar bien caro,
a los latinoamericanos tu engañaste dando muestras de una imagen que tu te inventaste
y a la hora cero y a la hora de la verdad todo era mentira todo era falsedad hasta cuando

Coro : Hasta cuando quien lo sabrá, hay que sacarlos por que el daño solo no se va
Hasta cuando tu vas a seguirnos separando, hasta cuando dime hasta cuando

Detrás de un extremista hay un oportunista, ya no hay quien te crea, no hay quien te resista,
yo no soy político ni me incluyan en la lista tampoco me callo mi punto de vista.
Ahora Chávez quiere hacer lo mismo que tu hiciste, pero se le dificulta el pueblo se le resiste
Venezuela no te dejes engañar no sean gafos se van a escarchar
Es como el pícaro con la señorita no tengas miedo mami na’ ma’ la cabecita
y después la embarazó, la maltrató y como una perra en la esquina la dejó
Mírate en mi propio espejo vivo fuera de mi país por culpa de ese viejo
hay cubanos en cualquier parte del mundo
¿por qué? deja que pase el coro te lo explico en un segundo

Coro : Hasta cuando quien lo sabrá, hay que sacarlos por que el daño solo no se va
Hasta cuando tu vas a seguirnos separando, hasta cuando dime hasta cuando

Por mas que trabajas de tu salario no puedes vivir tienes que inventar, todo es ilegal
eres un extraño en el único lugar que tu puedes estar, no puedes viajar
Los hoteles tu no puedes visitar, eso es pa’ extranjeros, no pal’ nacional
El poder era pal’ pueblo, tu prometías ohhh y a la hora de la verdad todo era fantasía"

Coro se repite 2 veces Hasta cuando quien lo sabrá...

Download the MP3 of this track, here.