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Squirrels: the film

It took much longer to get to UCLA than anyone had predicted. First, it's Los Angeles. Times are never predictable and traffic is always ready to be a problem. Second, Bush was visiting and Sunset Blvd was CLOSED to traffic in the vicinity of UCLA and therefore not a good option for travel. Finally, some people and map directions are too optimistic. Therefore, we arrived, at last, at Perloff Hall, more than an hour after we had agreed to be there. Nicholas and Jon met us outside.

We went through an exhibit of presumably student models - some quite interesting - and into a room that held many magazines, a large table, and chairs. Jon had added a projector screen and two carousel projectors. He inserted slides into a tray, one batch at a time, and we viewed them. They were from all over and of many subjects, from homes under construction to the redwoods in Sequoia to a picture of a large rock ("the roof", Nicholas proclaimed, meaning it must have seemed an interesting shape to my father, one he might want to use) to pictures of Hawaii taken from a plane. Both Nicholas and Jon saw the value and locked into the viewpoints. Nicholas said he thought he might like to use some of these actual photographs in the exhibit rather than hire a new photographer, as they are authentic. The construction photographs were especially valued, showing aspects of these buildings that perhaps are not apparent later. I thought about it then, that maybe finishing a building sometimes makes it less beautiful from a structural standpoint.

As time went on and the possible uses of these pictures started to become apparent, we talked of what next. Jon said that he, as a PhD candidate at UCLA, has access to the tools that he needs to complete his thesis, and among those tools is a mass scanner. He can scan many slides at once. He said he could scan all of them and transfer them to CD for all of us. At no cost, because that's what he does, that's part of his work.

We delved into the box of photographs as well and discovered hidden treasure: photographs of his family when he was young. There are so few of these! So Jon said yes yes he can scan those too.

At this time all of these photographs are the property of us, the descendents, essentially in the care of Karol as executor of her father's will. So I wrote up a short simple "loan agreement" that simply specifies that Jon is borrowing the slides and photographs and will return them. He and Karol signed it. I don't know where it went then! I think Jon copied it and so both he and Karol have copies. After we get CDs we can give the slides to the foundation and Karol can keep the original special photographs.

We spent quite a bit of time on this. Eventually Nicholas had to leave to catch a plane and get out of town. Couldn't wait. We chatted more and finally went to a nearby cafeteria and had a late lunch-early dinner together.

On the way to the cafeteria I noticed the size of the squirrels. They are massive! As big as cats! So well fed and so adjusted to people that they are everywhere and hilarious to watch. I thought about coming back with my camcorder to catch them in their various activities and then later edit those together into a story. Something goofy, depending on what they actually do. I had a hard time getting those squirrels out of my mind later, when we were heading home.  But we weren't done yet. There was still one more "activity" before we were released.

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Judith Lautner
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