Posted on December 8, 2013
Who doesn’t like to chew the fat? Ok, I know, I know. There are whole cultures that try avoid the stuff.
Who doesn’t like to get into the nuts and bolts of a thing? Ok, I know, I know. There are whole cultures devoted to purposely not reading owners’ manuals.
That said, if you’re one that doesn’t mind a little technical lard or you’re just looking for something to read, you might enjoy having a look at a Canon 70D camera review I did for Looking Glass Photo.
Posted on December 7, 2013
Posted on December 6, 2013
In the grand scheme of things, we’re really tiny, which is what helps us to think big in the first place. We look around, see large, and want to feel large too. So we put our tiny brains through huge paces and come up with something like Giza, or the Great Wall, or even something as seemingly ubiquitous as the Interstate Highway System, or at least we used to.
We still do but our approach has changed. It’s gone backwards. Now a days, when we try to make things grand we start by thinking really small, like quantum particle small. By concentrating on the super small and how it works we’ve managed to come up with such grand things like a radio-tracer chemical that, once injected, can map out someone’s brain in three dimensions, or pair of glasses that’ll give us a weather forecast. Sometimes we’ll flip things around. Take the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, a twenty seven kilometer long ring used in many cases to study the tiniest matter we can think of. Isn’t that grand?
Of course sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. A lot of us spend ages looking listless for something we think is grand when much of the time it’s staring us right in the face (see above).
Other notable takes on the theme
Posted on December 3, 2013
Posted on December 2, 2013
Last year, my daughter and I embarked on a photography scavenger hunt set up by Looking Glass Photo in recognition and celebration of Small Business Saturday. Now, you’d figure with all the hustle and bustle of moving to a new location, building a new website from scratch, and furiously promoting their new store, that the folks at Looking Glass might want to take a little breather. You might also think that an eleven year old would have outgrown scavenger hunts by now. You’d be wrong on both counts, obviously. Like most small businesses in Berkeley, Looking Glass Photo knows more than a few contortionist’s tricks to keep pace with the acrobatics of local commerce, and like most eleven year olds, my girl has a reputation to keep (she actually won the “Best Picture” category last year!). Yet unlike the previous hunt, a little more effort was in order.
So last year, the basic premise was to get twenty five shots out of fifty possible ideas between the hours of 10:00am – 5:00pm. This year LG upped the ante. Now it was thirty shots out of sixty with serious extra credit if you made it to forty, all in the same amount of time. As if that wasn’t enough, the cherry-on-top challenge for us was the inclusion of my eight year old son (Mom’s out of town on a business trip).
One thing is for certain. My boy is a homebody. Sure he’s creative, he loves sketching, painting, and sculpting (he’s known by the entire staff of the local art supply store as the kid who regularly cleans out the store’s Sculpy clay provisions), but if given a choice between making things at home or going out for … well … just about anything, he’ll choose home every day of the week and twice on Sunday. How was he going to handle the ins and outs of an all day scavenger hunt (and with his older sister to boot!)? Could he make it? The silver lining? My son’s insatiable curiosity for the visual.
Cameras in hand, we got off to a late start at 10:30am, but thankfully Looking Glass is a stones throw away from Berkeley Bowl West were it was fairly easy to find “a grocery item you wouldn’t know what to do with.” From bakers and bookstores to butterflies and bartenders we motored our way through town. I’ll admit to, at first, harboring doubts about whether or not this would be an old hat repeat of the previous year. I kept up a brave face. I didn’t want my son to see an exploitable weakness, but as time went on and locals played along in our hunt, I knew this wasn’t just any old rerun.
Still, somewhere after the socks and strangers wearing hats, my boy’s feet began to drag and his head began to sink. My daughter, sensing a potential lull in spirit, whipped up her knack for strategy and reassuring tone to shine the light revealing the map and method for catching the last five items we needed to finish.
Although we’d left a half an hour late, we got back to LG with a half an hour to spare, each of us with thirty items. We must have looked a little worse for the wear as the good staff took pity on us and tallied our digitally scavenged trophies in record time with little hassle. A conversation I was having was interrupted half way through, not by the usual grumbling and moaning kids do when they’ve had enough, but by a raucous game of possession where the prize was a comfy chair. I saw smiles instead of grimaces leading to a grin of my own. As we headed back home, the conversation was filled with “do-you-remembers” and “wasn’t-that-the-funniests.”
Once we got home the kids called Mom and the day’s events were recounted. Looking through all our shots killed all my previous doubts about same-old same-old repetition, save two. As it was last year, Berkeley is still eclectic in its small business offerings, and winning official prizes mattered little at the end of the day. What did become apparent this second time around was no matter how long you’ve been here or how well you think you know the city, hunting through Berkeley is never the same twice.
Note: The images above were taken in collaboration with my daughter and son.
Posted on November 29, 2013
Well, we don’t really have a choice in the matter, do we? There has been, is, and (relative to our existence) there always will be light! Even if we don’t think there’s light, there’s light. “What kind of nonsense are you spewing now,” you ask?! Well there’s a lot more light than just what you see around you. UV, infrared, all sorts of stuff on the spectrum we just don’t see, but it is there. Still, we do have a thing for the light we can see.
Like moths, visible light gives us the impression of safety. If we can see stuff, we can understand stuff. If we can’t see stuff, we’re not sure whether or not there might be something there that’ll hurt us. Still, unlike moths, we get light. I don’t just mean we collect it (although we do do that), we understand it. We know it’s fast. We know it can bend. And, as previously mentioned, we know there’s light even when we can’t see it. Most important though, we can play with light, and we do.
Other notable takes on the theme
Posted on November 22, 2013
Posted on November 21, 2013
Posted on November 21, 2013
Posted on November 20, 2013
Posted on November 16, 2013
Posted on November 15, 2013
Myopia made the layers seem endless regardless of the blue sky peeking through. Wood is a funny substance. It’s both rigid and malleable. Push a bit and it bends. Push hard enough and it breaks, but not without the sacrifice of scrapes. She tries to stick an arm through hoping on the off chance to find clear empty space at the end. The tips of her fingers brush against dying leaves and branches.
Winter will come soon. It’s her best chance of breaking loose, but the cold will bite in shivers and sap her strength. She almost made it out last year, but a deep gash and cramped muscles kept her tangled at the edge. When Spring came, the budding greens pulled her back in. She’s at the heart, the center of a wooden cage. All she wanted was some shade, a break from the pounding heat. She dosed off all Rip Van Winkle like. She woke up startled by the stratum of claw branches. The path out of sight, the warm still air swapped for a cool hard wind, and a panicked sense of purpose supplanted the lazy carefree freedom she’d known before.
She sits. She stares. She tries to think. She’ll gather her strength one more time. She’ll either break through or she’ll feed the roots with blood and decorate this prison with her bones.
Other notable takes on the theme
Posted on November 13, 2013
They came out in droves, gardeners and cooks, restauranteurs and shop owners, and most important, parents, children, and citizenry concerned about the possible loss of a source of pride, namely the local school district’s Garden and Cooking Program. Last night (November 12, 2013) the North Shattuck Association kicked off the Taste of North Berkeley fundraising event in an attempt to help mitigate the financial damages done to the Garden and Cooking Program by drastic State and Federal funding cuts last year. Smiling bands of people hopping from place to place in the dark along Shattuck avenue made for an eclectic, if not electric, atmosphere for most of the evening. That said, whether or not the festivities achieved its main goal is a question that can only be answered with time and patience.
Butternut squash soup, Turkish pickles, hand-rolled sushi with tempura, ice cream with jalapeño, fresh baked puff pastry, wine, and even beer. This isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill shopping mall food court faire. If you looked at the prices of the regular menu items in some of the participating eateries, you might think the event smacked of elitists offering drippings to the poor. After all, at $30 a head for the price to sample all these goodies, this wasn’t exactly a cheap affair, but that’s the point. It’s not supposed to be cheap. It’s supposed to raise as much money as possible, which is supposed to go to the people who teach the entire socioeconomic strata of students that make up the public education system. And, who better to get to participate, then the restaurants that offer the kind of food people should be eating regularly rather than ol’ soda and a bag of Funyons diet. The people who shelled out the $30 realize that cheap eats don’t necessarily always equal good ones. The restaurants that gave up their time and money to participate weren’t just looking for more media exposure, they know the difference a decent education in food can make in the lives of those who might not otherwise have the option.
Posted on November 8, 2013
A habit can be good, bad, ugly, or just plain innocuous. I smoke. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it, although lately (and especially living in California) I have experienced attempts to shame me about said habit by others. Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on smoking, it is a habit, and, in my case, the most prominent one that comes to mind.
To be clear, I should make a distinction between the habit and the addiction. First off, I am, without a doubt, addicted. I’ve got no rose-colored glasses about this. I can handle a couple of hours without lighting up, but anything past that and my palms get sweaty, my knuckles turn white, and the urge to lash out at even the slightest inconvenience presents itself more and more. On the other hand, there’s the habit. A smoke after a wonderful meal, a smoke with a good alcoholic beverage, a smoke when trying to work out the complexities of a difficult situation, these moments have very little to do with the addiction. I can, and do, participate in these other activities without the urge or need to smoke. But add the cigarette and they become moments that just plain feel right, irrespective of the need for nicotine. “Ach! You’re just making excuses. You’re just trying to justify your addiction!” Maybe, but ask any former smoker if they miss the feeling of having a cigarette coupled with another favorite activity they engage in, and see what they say.
Which brings me to the “(s)” portion of the “Habit(s)” title above. Very rarely do we have just one habit, and very rarely do we keep our habits separate. In my case, drinking coffee is a habit (definitely NOT an addiction) and smoking is a habit (see above regarding my distinction between addiction and habit). Marry the two and you’ve got yourself a “compound” habit; having a smoke with a cup of coffee. That’s just my example. Listening to music while jogging, humming and brushing your teeth, chewing on your fingernails while futzing around with your smart phone, munching on chips while watching your favorite show. We are creatures of multiple and complex habits. That’s part of what has led to us becoming seven billion strong as a species. Good, bad, or ugly, if we restricted ourselves to a bare minimum of tightly controlled habits, we might be better off, but we might also carry around a nagging feeling of missing out on something.
Posted on November 7, 2013
Posted on November 1, 2013
It’s been a long day and a longer night. The howls, cat calls, and laughter melted away by time, distance, and the high pressure sodium amber glow. Turn the corner and down the street. The low moan drone of the traffic off in the distance is broken only by the one two march of footsteps. Pounding feet rhythm chase thoughts, previously swarming, to crouch down in a corner of the mind trying hard not to be seen or heard. The place is empty and the cold is sinking in. Eerie images of people nearby, unseen and ready to move in, flash from imagination, to the possible, to the probable, to reflex questions about how much further it is to go. The closer the distance, the more the air squeezes in. Nerves become frayed. It’s just up ahead. Move a little faster. Clamber quick up the steps. Drop the keys from a careless fumble. Look around for the direction of where it might come from. Freeze at seeing the long shadow. Wait for the hammer to drop. It doesn’t. All is both well and yet unwell. Hurry in. Get under the safety of cover. Hope the sleep comes to wash the feeling away.
Posted on October 30, 2013
Orange and black and ghostly white. Tricks and treats, ghouls and witches and movies about teen serial massacres by (usually) a man in a mask. French Toast. Wait, French Toast?!?!
Yes, French Toast a.k.a. Pan Perdue, the Poor Knights of Windsor, Arme Ritter, basically any old bread soaked in milk and fried in some kind of fat. These days not what you might think of as typical Halloween treats, but French Toast was all the rage back when Halloween (then All Souls Day) was a celebratory feast to commemorate the souls of the dead back in Medieval Europe. Halloween wasn’t exactly an official celebration then, but All Saints Day (the day after Halloween) was. It seems a lot of folks back then, while thinking highly of their saints, also thought the dead deserved their own commemoration. And not just any kind of dead, but those trapped in purgatory. Some places held feasts where dishes like French Toast would be served.
It wasn’t always so festive. For example, in 1634 on the day before All Saints Day, A massive storm hit the North Friesland coast of Germany (then Denmark), not just killing thousands of people, but permanently altering the coastline itself, sinking large swaths of land into the sea. Ghoulish to be sure.
When the Protestants and Calvinists came along, being heavily orthodox in their views of church practices, they discouraged if not outright banned the celebration of the dead. This lasted for several centuries until a revival of All Souls Day in the early nineteenth century British Isles. On All Souls Day people used to go around “souling.” They’d go from house to house praying and singing forgiveness for the dead stuck in the infinite between. As a “thank you” the soulers would get soul cakes, something not unlike short bread or biscotti.
With an influx of Irish and English immigrants to the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century, so to came the modern version of souling which had incorporated elements of mummery into the festivities. Over time, souling turned into trick or treating and mummery turned into costumes. Curiously, what started out as a celebration where adults were the main participants, over time and for a long time, children became the focus. Over the last two decades though, adults have jumped back in to share the in the revelatory costumed glory.
Halloween isn’t the only ritual to honor the dead. The early Celts of Ireland had Samhain, The Japanese have Obon in August, Cambodians have P’chum Ben, and in Mexico, an native Oaxacan ritual honoring the dead in late November was eventually molded into today’s Dia de los Muertos, usually celebrated after All Saints Day.
These days in the U.S. it’s more about the pageantry than actually remembering the dead. Candy, costumes, Jack O’ Lanterns, black cats, you name it. It’s all about reveling in the scare and sweets. And while people might not think about those who’ve died as much, the need to scare still serves the purpose of making one think about death, even if only for a day and with a smile and a chuckle.
Posted on October 29, 2013
Last weekend (10/25/13) I had the opportunity to attend a brand new festival not more than five minutes down the road from where I live. Billed as a “festival of ideas,” Uncharted was a two day gathering of thinkers, innovators, and “infovores.” The themes ranged from social (with topics like “How the rich think” and “Bridging social groups”), to political (“The Constitution is broken”), to technical (“What’s next in digital fabrication?”), to ecological (“Don’t mess with mother nature”), to controversial (“Are we born racist?”).
With a description like this, you might think the festival would be a par for the course, have a seat and pay attention speech fest of experts waxing authoritatively and charming about their chosen fields. Yet unlike events that might fall into such a category, Uncharted gave attendees the chance to really rub elbows with those graced the stage. An attendee wasn’t just limited to signed copy of Mollie Katzen’s latest cook book, they could ask her specific questions about which foods pair best with which seasons. After listening to Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton frankly map out his studies on the discriminating human behavior, you could ask him if he thought there was a difference between a racist and a bigot. If you were instead looking for something to do, there were interactive workshops held by Jump Associates that sought to shift attendees’ perspectives on how to approach creativity.
All that with coffee and pastry in the morning and perhaps a glass of wine towards the evening, Uncharted proved to be a refreshingly active event rather than a tediously passive one. If you can make it to the San Francisco Bay Area around this time next year, make sure you plot a course for Uncharted 2014.
Posted on October 28, 2013
Dear Uncle Pete,
I’ve got a problem. I’ve noticed for the last couple of months that my partner has become less and less interested in the time we spend together. After putting it off for over a year, we finally agreed to sign up to Netflix. I always wanted to catch up on the TV shows I’ve missed over the years, but my partner, who didn’t like TV that much, thought it would be a waste of time and money where we could be doing other, more active things.
After watching an episode of a popular show towards the end of the third season last May. My partner was so enamored by the show’s plot, characters, and theme and wished they could’ve watched the whole thing from the beginning. Seising the moment, I brought up the idea of signing up for Netflix again, teasing that it would be possible to watch all the previous seasons commercial free. The cherry on top was when I said we could watch together whenever we wanted to. Twenty minutes later we were sitting on the couch bathed in the warm glow of my laptop screen with popcorn and champagne.
Things started out fantastic. Watching together sparked hours long conversation. We each had something to look forward to. Time went by and I started to notice my partner getting more and more into the menu of shows and movies. Then came the iPad.
My partner bought one on a whim, installed the Netflix app, and since then has been as possessive as a five year old about anybody touching the thing. I don’t mind not using the iPad. That’s fine. Now though, I come home from work to find my partner five episodes ahead in a series we started watching together. Despite all the promises about it being ok to rewatch the episodes and not dropping any spoilers, I couldn’t help feeling neglected, cheated, and inferior.
The final straw happened a week ago when I caught my partner pretending to go to the bathroom for the usual reasons, but instead was sitting there watching Netflix on the iPad. We were supposed to have dinner and sit down for a cozy night of together time, but instead I cried foul, screamed deceit, and spent the night weeping into a pillow while my partner feigned apology for awhile and eventually turning back to what has now become my tablet of current grief and heartbreak.
The Netflix account is billed in my partner’s name. If I even mention the topic, my partner gets defensive and blames me for coming up with the idea. What do I do?
- Canceled Tension
Dear Canceled Tension,
It’s fairly obvious that you’re not a huge fan of crime shows whose themes are based on characters using reason and logic to solve problems. Are you really trying to tell me that after writing your letter, you didn’t take the time to reread it out loud to yourself? And, if you did, are you trying to tell me that the answer to your problem didn’t leap off the page and kiss you?
I’m sure there have been plenty of times in your life were you had wished you could blow through a stop sign or cut in front of a long line of people. I’m fairly certain that most of the time you chose not to. Why? Because, you thought about it and realized it might be more trouble than its worth. So then why not do the same with your letter? Look at it. Read it out loud to yourself. Read it out loud to your partner. As I see it the answer to your problem is right there and you don’t need me to point it out to you. Or do you? The fact that you sent the letter seems proof enough.
Simply put, your partner is right, you’re the problem. I mean Netflix addiction?! Really?! In a world of Facebook, internet porn, and online gaming (not to mention drug addiction or deviant behavior involving a car battery, some jumper cables, and candle wax) , you’re worried that your partner’s addiction to Netflix that you spurred in the first place is the problem? You’re a perfect example of that old Roma curse, “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Well, now that you’ve got it, you don’t like it. And you accuse your partner of being childish?! Why don’t you just plow through a line of pedestrians crossing the street just because you’re in a hurry?
In short, you broke it, you fix it. Or, if you can’t fix it, throw it away. Take a page from your partner and go do more “active things,” preferably without your partner. Show yourself that your capable of possessing a spine and do something that doesn’t have you drowning in a sea of toddler-esque emotional dependency. If your partner really cares, they’ll follow. If not, bye bye partner.
In closing, take some acting classes, audition for shows that’ll eventually end up on Netflix, and READ some Arthur Conan Doyle so as to avoid any further attempts to make yourself into a useful idiot.
Posted on October 25, 2013
Posted on October 24, 2013
“No, I’m not in the mood.”
“Ok.” Katherine takes Bill’s answer in. She keeps the smile going, looks at the parking meter a little off to her left, and decides to continue the conversation in her head.
You’re never in the mood. Every time I suggest an idea for going out, opera, ballet, a nice dinner, or even something as simple as a damn movie, you’re always “not in the mood.” You’re only in the mood when you come up with some screwy idea that has something to do with you reliving your legend-in-your-own-mind glory days. If someone’d have told me twenty six years ago that I’d be spending the rest of my life with a broken parking meter, I’d have laughed in their face. I’m not laughing now.
Bill doesn’t like silence when sitting out in public. “Kyle sent me an email this morning. He’s going to make it back for Thanksgiving with Lisa.”
Katherine looks back at Bill. “Oh, that’ll be nice.” She smiles just a little too much.
“Yes. Yes it will …” Bill’s idea about mentioning fixing up the now guest rooms trails off into Bill’s typical subtly stern face looking down into his half-empty coffee mug.
Shit. I’ve done it again. I’ve pissed her off by rejecting another one of her “night on the town” ideas. Why can’t she get it through her thick skull that I can’t stand to hear her constantly complain when we go out like that. Either the food is too cold, or the people in front of us are too noisy, or she constantly harps on about how much she misses having the kids around. It’s like she WANTS to go out so she can bitch about how bad it is or what she’d rather be doing. What’s wrong with just staying home and relaxing. You’d think we’d have earned it after all those years of being parents.
Bill is startled a bit. He looks back over. “Yes?”
“It’s almost three o’clock and I told Sandy I’d meet her at her office at three thirty. Do you mind if I go on ahead?”
“Oh sure, please do. Do you know when you’ll be back home?”
Katherine starts to get up. “I should be back by latest six. Why? Are you cooking dinner?”
“Scallops and risotto.” The lower part of Bill’s face creaks up into a smile.
“Ah! I can’t wait!” She leans in and pecks Bill’s forehead. She turns to go. “See you later.”
“ Yup. Oh, say a nice ‘hello’ to Sandy for me.”
“Sure. Will do.”
Katherine walks away. Bill decides to stay a little while.
Posted on October 23, 2013
Trudge up that road. Can’t see what’s up ahead yet. Keep going. It’ll be there. The jacket doesn’t matter, neither does the pullover, the pants, the shoes, or the socks. The cold bites through all that to the bone. The incline bites the muscles. Keep going. Here it goes up to the right. Here it goes back up to the left. No more dark ash sky. Light pale orange now. Keep going. It’s burning through.
Made it up high. Look at that lemon yellow burn through. Push that gray down to the flatland. It’s warm. Bones and muscles feeling better every second. Breathe slow. Take it in.
Time to go back down. Take that warmth with. It might help push the gray down further. Take the thin path back. Doesn’t matter if it’s not the road. Everything is downhill from here. Turn around and get one last look at the edge burning.
Lemon yellow turning light pale orange turning light pale blue down into the ash below. Bones feel the chill again. Looks like the warmth was short lived . Keep going down. The gray will burn away and eventually the warmth will follow. Bask in it while it’s there, ‘cause the gray will crawl its way back up again at the end of the day.
Posted on October 22, 2013
Lucy stopped for the third time in five blocks. “If I don’t figure out what’s botherin’ me, I’m gonna be in an ugly mood. And, if I’m gonna be in an ugly mood. Wendy’s gonna have words with me.” She looked down at her shoes to see if maybe she’d accidentally walked out of her house wearing her slippers. “Nope, I put my walkin’ shoes on.” She tried to shake the odd feeling off and started walking again.
Every Thursday afternoon Lucy met her friend Wendy for coffee on Center Street. Wendy always called Lucy “Miss Lucy” on the account that Lucy originally hailed from Mississippi. Lucy came out west with her family when she was just ten years old. There was work to be had and money to be made. Lucy’s family knew anything was better than what they back on the riverside. She grew up hard but was raised right. Lucy first met Wendy just over thirty years ago when Lucy first took a job at the Post Office where Wendy had been working for several months prior to Lucy’s coming on. Wendy’s family came from Louisiana.
Lucy stopped again just half a block away from Center Street. “Lord! What has gotten into to me?! I swear somthin’ ain’t right.” She checked her watch. It was ten to four. She had more than enough time to make it just around the corner. “It’s not the time either. I hope I can shake this thing in time for Wendy or else she’s gonna have words with me.”
Posted on October 18, 2013
Ok, who’s Hue, how am I supposed to know him, and just what aspect of his personality do I share with him? And, isn’t it supposed to be spelled Hugh? I’m Pete and I don’t have a Hue (Hugh?). I’ve got a Paul, Bill, Al, Claus, Walter, Lucius, Clavin, and Hal, but no hue (Hugh). I do have hueS though, and plenty of them. Up there ↑ are the four major ones, Yellow, Blue, Green and Red. And, no, I’m not a two-legged sentient mood ring. I am someone who occasionally has difficulties finding exactly the right words to describe how I feel. Images come easier sometimes and here we’ve got four. I’ll let them do the talking, and if you’re lucky, Hue won’t interrupt.
Other notable posts on the theme
Posted on October 17, 2013
Posted on October 15, 2013
“This grove, that was now so peaceful, must then have rung with cries, I thought; and even with the thought I could believe I heard it ringing still.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson
Purportedly named after the novel Treasure Island, the manmade landmass hinged to Yerba Buena Island and laying apex between Oakland and San Francisco proper has a history as tangled and roller coaster as the story of its namesake. Name any type of large metropolitan public works project, and Treasure Island has probably seen some sort of iteration thereof. Given its checkered past and now questionable future, it’s very easy to see how the above applies to the island’s present condition and how it might still be applicable generations down the line.
As you slide down the side of Yerba Buena Island on Treasure Island Road and you look out, the first things that might catch your eye are the views. The Golden Gate bridge is off to the left with Alcatraz in the foreground, Angel Island out in front, and Clipper Cove with its small, peaceful marina and towering hangars off to your right. You might get drawn to the front gate of the now defunct Naval Base and the large crescent shaped Treasure Island Administration Building off to the right. You might see the gorgeous forty foot tall “Bliss Dance” sculpture by artist Marco Cochrane or be intrigued at the signs pointing to the nearby hangar home of The Winery SF. You might even catch one of the many wedding receptions that take place overlooking the skyline of San Francisco.
Stop there and you’ll probably think that you’ve found yet another San Francisco Bay Area attraction that helps explain why the cost of living here is as expensive as it is. Going further into the confines of the island over toward the northeastern side, you might find yourself wondering how a metropolitan area as rich as the Bay Area is, could possibly allow such dilapidation in its own front yard. Get out of your car and walk around a bit and you might further wondering why anyone would even want to live on the island at all.
9th Street cuts through the center of the island and is the main artery through the island. After hanging a right on 9th, you’ll come across some sports fields on your right hand side and some industrial looking buildings on your left. A little further up and you’ll run into the alphabet avenues, a series of cross streets named after various letters. Its around here where you run into a ghost town. Whole blocks of old naval buildings stand at attention in a crippled state, all boarded up, paint peeling, smashed windows, and graffitied. If you stand there long enough, you might get the feeling that you’ve wandered in on the production set of some yet-to-be-released post-apocalyptic movie. That said this section isn’t totally devoid of life. One of the still operational buildings on the fringe of the rows of abandonment belongs to the Life Learning Academy, a charter school for high schoolers who have tangled with the local juvenile justice system. The school’s motto “Stop. Think. Decide.” is colorfully emblazoned along the wall and looks sadly farcical in contrast to the school’s surroundings.
Posted on October 12, 2013
Posted on October 11, 2013
He lifts his head after stirring the sugar and cream in his coffee and looks out through the window of the café. The sun went down twenty minutes ago and the dim blue-gray illumination backlights the moody clouds. The holiday strings of lights draped throughout the interior cast their glow back off the window. They look like stars against the backdrop of the sky. He sips his coffee, takes in the scene, and starts thinking macro.
“It’s all so vast and it never stops moving, whirling and twirling in its infinite nothingness. Or, is it somethingness? Hold on a minute. Let’s take this step by step. There’s the planet. Outside the planet, there’s the solar system. Outside the solar system, there’s the galaxy. Outside the galaxy, there’s a bunch of other galaxies, nebulas, black holes, and ‘neverything else’ in between (yes, ‘neverything,’ that’s a good word for it). But, what’s outside that and does it have boundaries? It must have boundaries. Yes, it does have boundaries. But, what’s beyond the boundaries? Nothing? Surely there’s got to be something, even if that something is nothing. And what boundaries does that something-nothing have, and what’s beyond that?”
The same unanswerable question pin-pricks his mind into affirming his realization that he’s no astrophysicist. Frustratedly facile he blurts out to himself, “Leave it to Krause, Hawking, and the rest. They’ll figure something out and hopefully let us know.”
He turns back to his coffee, takes a sip, puts it down, and gives it another swirl with the spoon. The idea comes floating feather-like through his clouded encephalon. “A foundation is needed, and until someone can fully explain all of this, I’m going to have to reconcile this dilemma on my own. I hereby declare that, outside our known universe, we/it exist/s in a never-ending space filled with floating plastic spoons. The Spooniverse! Yes, the Spooniverse. But why spoons? Why not forks or knives? And why are they plastic …”
CERN would not soon be knocking on his door.
Other notable takes on the theme
Posted on October 4, 2013
If you’re one of those folk who, like me, are NOT a “morning person,” you will no doubt understand the sentiments below.
We of the “not-a-morning-person” variety do not actually believe that there is such a thing as a “good morning,” at least not in the literal sense. If forced to give a description as to what a “good morning” is, a “not-a-morning-person” will probably define it as one where the morning is slept through and, upon waking, the well rested “not-a-morning-person” looks at the clock and smiles at the realization that it’s actually somewhere closer towards mid-afternoon than morning. We’re the kind not too distant in comparison to cars that run on carburetors. We need a little warming up before we’re ready to give it our all. That’s not to imply laziness. Oh no! We’re usually the type who peak in the evening and don’t mind winding our way into the shank hours of darkness when most others are happily counting sheep in their sleep.
Those of the “morning person” persuasion may find this kind of behavior odd and even frightening, much the same way we feel about their circadian rhythm. That said, we are a kind lot and do what we can so as not to offend. Sadly, some of us are forced into the antithetical practice of having to wake early due to things like jobs, kids, and the like, but we try out best. In some circumstances we succeed to such a level as to be mistaken for someone of the “morning person” variety. We may even seem bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to those who have to cope with us in the morning. But, like former smokers who occasionally are filled with the urge to fill their lungs, “not-a-morning-person” people will always struggle horribly NOT to curl up and go back to sleep through those first few minutes of an early morning. We dream of slow-mo smashing of alarm clocks with hammers as “The Flight of the Valkyries” thunders away in the background.
We live with our burden, yet we live nonetheless. Do not look at us with pity. Do not look down at us with contempt. We are you husbands and wives, children and parents, lovers and friends. When we say good morning, we say it for you.
Other notable posts on the theme
Posted on October 3, 2013
“Iron Photographer” is one of the several ongoing series (this particular one being 182) produced by the good members of Utata, a collection of “Tribal Photography.” this particular series consists of three elements:
1 – a head (or at least part of one)
2 – something on the head that doesn’t belong there (the unqualified deep contemplation of homeownership in a 21 century industrialized nation)
3 – heavy post-processing (a digital tribute to the cutout animation of Terry Gilliam).