Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

By Darryl Manzer
"Way Back When"
The Signal
Sunday, October 15, 2006

"Computers: work of the devil himself, his best project ever."
— Agent 661

ust to let you know, I'm back. Hope you missed me.
    First, I want to thank all of you who sent e-mails, cards, and phoned me. I truly appreciate your sympathy, concerns, thoughts and caring, following the passing of my brother-in-law, Dan Tibbitts. My family thanks all of you for the many ways you helped us and continue to help inside and outside of the SCV.
    I've been having some major computer problems.
    Both desktop PCs decided to crash within a two-week period. One went before we traveled to Hawaii, and the other decided to join its mate on the day after our return. Both are in the shop, getting major surgery, although I think at least one of them may never return. Our home office-FROG looks bare without them.
    "FROG" is East Coast for "Finished Room Over the Garage."
    But even with the laptop, I can see that normalcy has returned to the SCV. The blog sites are heating up again as the election draws near. I thought the children were learning to play together, and WHAM! The wars of words continue.
    "Mommy, they called me a Nazi," and "I am not a communist" once again are being bantered about the Web. You've gotta love it. And all this time I thought those two political views were dead.
    Big news: Newhall Land has a method of naming the developments it is building. It seems an internal memo was leaked that lists words that can be picked at random to use for names.
    We always wondered 40 years ago how they came up with "Valencia" and "Old Orchard." Now we have at least a little inside knowledge. Remember, folks — to quote a former editor of this paper — "Valencia is a thick-skinned orange," and there never was an orchard where Old Orchard is now located.
    In the case of the latter, it was once an onion field. Just to set the record straight.
    In another item of local interest, during a recent meeting of the executive committee for the Cemex mine opposition, the normally reserved Councilman Bob Kellar was heard to raise his voice about the support your congressman, Buck McKeon, isn't giving to the city of Santa Clarita with respect to the proposed mine.
    I had to read the e-mail twice to make sure I read "Bob Kellar" and not "Frank Ferry." He was even reported to have blasted Laurene Weste. Gotta love politics.
    Y'all know that Congress passed the law that allows a fence at our southern border with Mexico. Yep, the fence can be built — they just neglected to fund it. Where can I donate?
    The president of Mexico wants to have the United Nations stop us from building the fence. We'll do that just as soon as Mexico takes control of its side of the border with us. Fair enough?
    This next election, I've already decided how to vote. This time it is really simple. I am not voting for an incumbent, Republican or Democrat. Period.
    You see, the way I figure it, all the Republicans are trying to do is to "turn a new page" and the Democrats want us to "pull out." Either way, we've all been betrayed and need to get new folks to represent us at whatever level of government we are voting for in November.
    I truly think it couldn't make things worse. Not at this juncture.
    I almost forgot to mention that y'all have a major scandal brewing in the SCV. It seems your local William S. Hart Union High School District and its Facilities Foundation are making lots of money on real estate speculation.
    I don't know for sure, since the books of the foundation aren't open to review by outsiders. Something surely smells in that arena, and it isn't from what Mr. Hart used to ride in his movies. But it smells and looks a lot like that stuff.
    The past three weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me and my family. Off to Hawaii for work and vacation, then the call at our hotel about my brother-in-law's death. Then a flight to Los Angeles, the funeral for Dan, the flight back to Honolulu, and five days later back here to Virginia.
    I'm tired of airports, hotels and travel in general. I was just informed that I may have to return to Hawaii, and there is even a trip to Long Beach coming up. So much for retirement.
    There are still some sights I want to see in Hawaii. In all my trips there in the last 39 years, I've yet to tour the Hawaiian Royal Palace.
    I did get to ride on a submarine and highly recommend that you folks do the same, the next time you're in Honolulu. Atlantis Submarines will give you a 45-minute underwater tour off Waikiki, where you can see all kinds of fish, sharks and sea turtles, plus some shipwrecks and man-made reef structures. Safe, clean and comfortable little submarines take you beneath the sea. It is worth every penny it costs.
    We did it because I needed information on those boats for the current work I'm doing for the Navy. I'd go again and pay full price.
    We did get to the USS Arizona Memorial and to the National Veterans Cemetery in the Punchbowl crater. As we stood in those two spots, I couldn't help but think about the sacrifice those folks made for our country. I also couldn't help but think that they would be appalled at the voter turnout during our recent elections. I know I'm appalled by such apathy.
    So come November, in memory of those buried in the hull of the Arizona and at the Punchbowl — and for you, too — get out to the polls. They paid the ultimate price to make sure you could vote. Or will you be too busy or lazy or uncaring of their sacrifice to vote?

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley and eventually relocated to Boulder City, Nev. He can be reached at His older commentaries are archived at; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].