The writing thing….
After 24 years of writing for newspapers in San Diego, Palm Springs, and Sacramento, I’m now freelancing magazine and newspaper stories, while working on a book of essays. I wrote a couple of novels 20 years ago, but they’re in dusty cartons on the shelf.

Most exotic sighting…
A large Brazilian woman, probably pushing three bills, wearing a tanga, or dental floss bikini, many years ago at Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janiero. I liked the fact that she was proud to show off who she was. Not an ounce of self consciousness, but a ton of confidence.

Biggest foreign faux pas…..
A few years ago my wife and I boarded a parked city bus in Athens, Greece early one morning, and the driver, a guy in a light tan jacket, gets out of the bus to pee or have a smoke or something until it’s time to drive the route to the airport. Well, we don’t have tickets, so I figure, hey, I’ll buy a pair from the driver. So the bus is filling up and I see the driver get back on. I say, ‘Hey, I need two tickets, please.’ And the guy has a concerned look on his face and pulls out his wallet. He fishes out a ticket and offers it to me. And I say, ‘But I need two tickets.’ And he only has one. So other people on the bus, very concerned and generous local Athenians, start offering me tickets they have. Meanwhile, my bride is laughing so hard, she almost falls onto a woman sitting with packages stacked on her lap. Then it dawns on me. Hey, that guy wasn’t the busdriver! He had on a tan jacket like the actual bus driver, to be sure, but it wasn’t him. So I pretended like nothing happened while my wife tried vainly to stop laughing.

About the Car….
I bought my 60 Chevy Impala in 1974 for $250 from a railroad guy in Bakersfield. I just needed cheap transportation, but to this day, it serves me well as an everyday car. I don’t know how many miles it has on it because the odometer doesn’t work. Never has. But the engine was completely rebuilt in 1979 by Gary Adams. He was a mild mannered but very facile mechanic in San Diego who grew up on a farm in Iowa rebuilding tractors and working on race car pit crews. Quiet , unemployed at the time, he was a burly red head with a beard, who once proudly compared his grease free mechanic’s hands to those of a concert pianist. He vowed someday to write tax cutting legislation. Still, I was impressed. He did the whole job for $700, and Chimpala, a.k.a. La Bomba, or sometimes just called “ The Chevy,” has been purring along ever since. She got new wheels and a nice paint job in 2001, and I put in new upholstery every 10 years or so. My bride wants me to buy a new car, but I’ve resisted. I keep driving the Chimpala because…. well, she just keeps on movin’ with authority.

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. A truly great human being.