Category Archives: Life as we know it

vistas

We have a nice view from our house on the north side of San Bruno Mountain. Actually, ‘nice’ is relative. When I was living in Pacifica, one of my near-daily treasures was looking out over the Pacific Ocean, usually on my way home from work when I went over the hill from Daly City on Highway 1. I liked to call it ‘the mighty Pacific Ocean’. I did a calculation once about how much of the Pacific a person could see from the coast on a clear day. It seemed like a lot but it was only something like one tenth of one percent. It’s a big ocean!

The only water in our view now is a bit of the San Francisco Bay. The view we notice is dominated by the San Francisco skyline which in turn is dominated by the SalesForce tower. I have to say that as weird as that building seemed when it was going up – the best sobriquet I heard was ‘the butt plug’ – it catches the light at sunrise and sunset in interesting ways. I started leaving my camera out so that I could snap a picture now and again to document the variety.

I’m going to include a few here with the warning that they might not look like much; they’re better splashed across a big computer screen. Nevertheless, here they are:

Yes, this one is shaken. I’ve got a tripod now.

And here’s a reference photo in normal daylight:

James Gleick again

I’ve been trying to read James Gleick’s latest book Time Travel: A History. I say trying because I’ve had great difficulty in recent months focusing on books. (I’ve had great difficulty focusing on almost everything since the lockdown, but that’s another story. Pandemic brain.)

I take a book from the library and then don’t read it. Sometimes I read a few pages and put it down and never come back to it. I’ve done better with Gleick for some reason but I still haven’t finished it and I am afraid the library is going to repossess it soon.

One problem is that Gleick, like Stephenson, is such a deep thinker that he requires good concentration to extract value from the book. with

Stephenson’s novels it’s a lot easier because there is a plot. Gleick is a science writer. One reason I liked his book Chaos so much was that it had a narrative. Time Travel, perhaps deliberately, does not.

Gleick shows that time is a concept that humans both understand and do not understand. Even the measurement of time, which we in Western civilization like to think is straightforward, is dependent on consciousness, which leads to memory, which for me today leads to Zach. Nowadays, I think of Zach as being in the past but his memory is with me in the present. In a way he is as alive in my memory as he ever was before when I was not in his presence.

The future we tend to take on faith. After Zach was killed I remember telling people in grief sessions that I had to rewrite my future without him. There was a hole where I had expected him to be. So the future we expect is not assured. This is hardly profound but Gleick presents it engagingly.

I haven’t finished the book yet but I think there is some humor in reviewing a book about time before finishing it. Gleick even comments on how books are time machines themselves in that the reader can go back and forth through the pages if s/he desires.

Of course, the memory of Zach is not the same as having Zach alive in our now world. I can experience Zach by reading his journals and getting wisdom from them, but experiencing his living presence would generate different wisdom. So, I am sad to not be able to experience Zach’s different wisdom in my now. I take comfort in doing my little part in transmitting his now static wisdom into the future.

two months!

Holy maroly, it’s been almost two months since I posted here. Is anyone still checking on me here? If you have been, thank you. I’m going to try to briefly explain what has happened.

Sepi and I moved into our new home Sept 1. It was her home for many years but she has only lived in a small apartment in the house for around 9 years. The larger part of the house has been rented to a succession of tenants. Our first day was spent ripping out the old carpet and hauling new flooring up to the main living area. Two weeks later, I moved myself out of my apartment. The floor wasn’t done so everything was provisional.

I worked on the floor as I had time but I was quite busy with work so it went slowly. It wasn’t until the first weekend of October that we cracked Sepi’s stored furniture in the garage and brought it upstairs

(draft from November 2018. Now I can let two months go by without writing about it. I still feel bad, but I don’t write about it.)

gifts

We’ve gotten a lot of gifts for our wedding but today I want to talk about some gifts we gave to others. Specifically, a gift we gave to our officiant, Willie Brown.

Willie, of course, is the classic man who has everything. Sepi and I had coffee on Sunday with another politician who knows Willie. We asked what she thought. She was a stumped as we were. ‘A tie?’, was all she could come up with.

We went to Macys, then Nordstrom, looking for ties without success. Even the nicer ones were made in China and I wasn’t going to give Mayor Willie Brown a tie made overseas. Sepi texted back to her friend our dilemma and got back an address in the outer Sunset.

Well, it’s Sunday afternoon after 3 pm. Our meeting with Willie was the next day. We didn’t want to wait the gift until the day of the wedding; there would be too much else happening then. So, we headed out to the Sunset.

In the Sunset nowadays there are mini neighborhood centers all over. This was one of them. A block with a hip restaurant, a gift shop, a church, a yoga place, a surf shop . . . and another little shop with what appeared to be more gifts.

I still had ties on my mind so I was puzzled when I went in. I didn’t see any ties! Well, I was here, I might as well see what they had.

It wasn’t a gift shop, except in the very broad sense of the word. It was the shop of an artist couple: a painter and her print-maker husband. Their paintings and prints were all San Francisco themed. Sepi liked the one that was an image of a bear holding a map of California with the slogan ‘I Love California’.

(a draft from 4 days before the wedding. Amazing that I got even this much done. I was sure I had a photo of Willie and Sepi and the painting but I can’t find it.)

Christmas

I feel like I should recognize Christmas with a post. I don’t have much to say, though. I got out a couple of good posts last week about how I’ve been dealing with the season.

I did get it together to find gifts for

(a draft from December 2016. We’ll never know who the gifts were for! Could be a lesson there. BTW, this Permalink is titled ‘Christmas-2’ so there’s another post about Christmas somewhere.)

July 4th

I’m down at Mom & Dad’s on the evening of the 4th because I finally got fed up last year in Pacifica. Despite a ‘zero tolerance’ policy, Pacifica has more fireworks on July 4th than any place I’ve ever been to. Actually, last year was only the last straw. I had noticed from the first year I was in Pacifica for the 4th, that big bombs were common for days before the 4th. That’s in addition to the many ‘safe and sane’ fireworks everywhere.

This year it hadn’t been so bad but last night at around 11 pm a series of a dozen or so large explosions went off seemingly right outside my bedroom window. Thanks, assholes.

(a draft from July 2016)

Belief

I haven’t looked up the definition of belief. I wanted to try it myself. It’s hard to do without a circular reference. Here is what I’ve come up with:

’Belief is holding to be true something for which there is no objective truth.’

This definition is full of problems, I know, but I’m going to run with it. Belief is usually applied to religion, as in, ‘I believe in God’. I think most people would agree that it is impossible to find and objective truth about God, especially a Christian God (capital ‘G’).

But I don’t want to go down that particular rabbit hole today. Many people better than I have debated this issue without satisfactory resolution. I want to pivot to another kind of belief.

Typically, we say that something is true when we see it. Or when we can touch it. We have to be in the presence of our reality for it to be true. At the same time, we believe certain things to be true even when we can’t see them directly. I believe there is an airport on the other side of San Bruno Mountain because I have seen it many times and it is reasonable to expect that it exists when I can’t see it. Airplanes fly over my house all the time which tend to support the notion that an airport is nearby.

I woke up this morning with the knowledge that a belief that I had previously held was gone. I believed in the existence of democracy in America. I believed that at the root of our political system, the people had a voice and that our representatives in government were responsive to that voice.

Is there an objective truth to this notion? I used to think so but events of the past year have made me question that. I want to use the phrase ‘cognitive dissonance’ but that is hifalutin and I don’t think I can defend a definition of that.

When a large group of people act as if they are experiencing a different reality than me, I am at a loss to explain that. Anyway, I can only speak for myself. Today, in my reality, my belief is that we do not have a functioning democracy in America.

I’ve opened up this huge can of worms and now they have grown into snakes and crawling all over the living room. I think I’d better stop now. I’m not prepared to write a whole treatise on belief and perception of reality. I will continue to live what I hope is a righteous life. My seed is sown, for better or worse. I live to contribute my wisdom, if that’s what it is, can be transmitted to the following generations.

Wisdom or folly or silliness, I send myself into the future with these writings. I believe in the future.

Christmas

Christmas Day and I’m at home with Sepi. It’s going to be pretty much the same as the 200 or so days since the first ‘shelter in place’ in March. We’re not going anywhere. There will be a Zoom with the family this afternoon. There are always chores to do around the house but motivation is severely lacking. I’ll play the guitar a little. We may watch a movie later.

Everyone is hoping for a better 2021. I am too but I am tempering my expectations. Vaccine or no, masks and social distancing are going to be with us for a good long while. At the Symphony, we are among the few in the Local with a little work but it could vanish in an instant if the health authorities decide a full lockdown is necessary. Sadly, that is all too likely. Concerts with a live audience won’t happen until the fall at the earliest.

Merry Christmas!

just smoke

The day after my ‘heat and smoke’ post, the weather turned cooler but the smoke descended down to the ground and stayed there. Today is now the 5th day of AQIs in the high 100s.

I’ve become an expert in calling up the Bay Area Air Quality Management District website and checking the AQI map and data. Just now I see that we’re right around 200.

I went in to work on Friday but other than that, I’ve stayed in the house except for brief – really brief – forays outside to water the plants. I wear the N95 mask for that.

I’m beginning to feel like the inside of the house is starting to smell. Last night around dinner time, I noticed that the breeze was blowing for the first time in days. I thought that we’d have improvement by morning.

Nope.

Meanwhile, Ashley’s sister and her family have had to evacuate their home near Portland and are staying with Ashley in Washington. Their air is about the same AQI as ours but the forest around them isn’t on fire.

The TV weather people are making noises that there will be improvement by Wednesday but others are saying it will be weeks before it is better. When I go outside, the mask helps my nose and throat but it’s my eyes that are stinging when I come in.

Just like with the startup to the COVID-19 outbreak, I’m having to come to terms with the fact that I’m in a vulnerable group now.