Hit By Car

24 February 2017

Dear J—

Did I tell you I got hit by a car the other day? That makes around ten years of mixed-mode commuting (first bike to vanpool, now bike to train) before the close calls turned out to be prophetic. I stopped at a 4-way stop to let a car go through, and as I was proceeding, the car behind them went without stopping. Fortunately I had only gotten halfway through the intersection, so when I say hit by car, it was more like the front edge of my front tire rattled along the side of the car. Still, though, I remember getting a decent whack from the side mirror as the car continued to barrel through the intersection.

I let loose with a big loud swear and watched them come to a stop on the other side; a lady got out and after asking if she knew it was a four-way stop, she asked if I was okay and for some reason that defused my anger; we hugged (I think she was feeling shaky) and I won’t take stop signs for granted. First stop lights and now thais. I’ll be following all the rules in a matter of weeks.

Mike

Everything At Once

23 February 2017

Dear J—

I seem to save these things up and get slammed with it all at once; there is a shed load of stuff to do at work and sometimes it feels overwhelming enough that I don’t want to deal with it. Nope. There’s enough as it is, and I keep adding to the list when I should just be chipping away at it every so slowly. The more you know.

It’s easy to add items to a list; easy and simple and somewhat counterproductive, as you find yourself starting to look at it and get overwhelmed. We’re ready to move on, I think, and that just means a bit at a time. One step. A little bit, crack the ice, as it were. We find ourselves making excuses when we should really just be running on ahead.

Mike

Rainy Pause

22 February 2017

Dear J—

I hear it’s your birthday today, so happy birthday, first of all. I hope this finds you well and satisfied; we personally have been butting heads with figgy over how much and how thorough she needs to be with a report attached to a science project needs to be. She’s going to be ten years old in a few more months and that’s what’s most surprising to me, that ten years should have passed so quickly, although I suppose they say that’s what happens as you get older.

I haven’t written for a while because I switch to a different bag when it rains: it’s got seam-sealed zippers and a big yellow cover that I really ought to wash now that it’s gotten muddy and dingy. The rains this year have been remarkable and remind me of that year I was flying back and forth between Boston and Sacramento. I suppose it was the depth of that which kept me going, not necessarily the phone calls or other forms of communication.

I remember I told you that theVet was a strong woman, and I’m blessed to have been surrounded by strong women all my life, from my mom to my daughter to my wife to you, always challenging me to do better than I thought possible. so I’m writing on your birthday to say thank you and Weiss you well over the coming year.

Mike

Funny Face

1 February 2017

Dear J—

I still think it’s strange how the locality of a tragedy – the 9/11 attacks – somehow transformed the legacies of Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush into effective leaders. Giuliani, as you recall, is the one who has been shooting off his mouth this week about how President Trump asked him to come up with a “Muslim ban” that would be legal and defensible, ergo the country-based immigration ban that got rolled out over us last weekend, even as Administration officials have vigorously denied any existence of a religious test.

This seems like cheap, mealy-mouthed excuses and the cracks are beginngng to show (I hope) as folks call up their members of Congress to ask what they’re doing about it. The intent is clearly written in the religious minority exemption and the known statistics of the seven countries named. It is pathetically transparent, and appears to be typical of the hasty decision-making we can come to expect over the next few years. Would that there would be a world to enjoy after that.

Mike

Most

31 January 2017

Dear J—

I’ve managed to teach my kids the “most annoying sound in the world” scene from Dumb and Dumber, so at least I have that to my credit (or debit).

Let’s talk about the ban. Last Friday, three days ago, President Trump issued an executive order suspending entry visas for people from seven different predominantly Muslim countries, with allowances for priority for religious minorities from those same countries after a period of evaluation. First off, let me express how difficult it is to say anything remotely nice about this and secondly, f— this. Seriously. It is morally wrong and completely wrong-headed to think we have gotten to this point, to think that simple measures which don’t even address the issue of homegrown radicalization or, you know, exempting folks from the very same country that’s actually responsible for terror attacks in the United States.

I was under the impression that nothing much would change – yes, he is the president but thereÆs no way he could upend the world and yet here we are, a week and a half into this and it’s far worse than I had dreamed. I just, I can’t imagine where we go from here.

Mike

Flats

30 January 2017

Dear J—

If I write flats what I’m probably talking about is a flat tire; for the last few weeks I’ve had a slow leak in the rear tire that I’ve been dealing with by reinflating the tire periodically. At one point, however, it was going flat after less than four hours so I went ahead and changed the tire and tube. Just before that, I’d changed the tube, but the tube was either defective or I didn’t sweep enough junk out of the tire to make it hold air, as the new tube I had put in went flat almost immediately.

It could also refer to the terrain around here – mostly flat until you head west, in which case you’re getting into the ridges that define the rim of our world here in the Bay Area. 

Perhaps it means my mood lately, which is not to be mistaken for even-tempered, but rather un-excited; what prospects are on the horizon for us, what lies ahead? I’m pretty sure that’s speaking to me from a place of little sunlight and long nights, though, and the days are getting longer and warmer, aren’t they?

Mike

New Year

27 January 2017

Dear J—

I forgot to wish you a happy new Year of the Rooster, which is coming up and hopefully everyone’s enjoying their time off. What? Time off? Yes, but of course.  I guess I got mine last week while standing around with weird neck issues. You do what you can and have to, after all.

This is the moment I’m supposed to thank everyone who’s appeared this year but honestly, I couldn’t tell you unless you sat me down with a fat stack of printed sheets (not so fat this year, I guess) and read them out loud to me. There have been too many ideas – and names – to keep track of every single one. We make do with what we have rather than what we wished we had, so chew on that amongst your quiet selves.

Mike

Vulnerable

26 January 2017

Dear J—

We have spent every day so far this week in an audit and today’s going to be the last day, hopefully. I’m pretty sure he’s found everything that’s wrong – which is, honestly, a lot; I haven’t been maintaining the program as I should have in the wake of the three-audit bonanza at the end of last year – and that’s not going to be so very great. On the other hand I have old glasses on with a prescription that very nearly matches my current one, so my frames are not about to fall off my face, at least not any time soon. Or so I hope.

Every endeavor we undertake is fraught with peril and the threat of neglect, creeping, unbeloved neglect means that every little thing we try has the prospect of blowing up in our faces. How long would have been enough to be considered enough to fix all the traces before the auditor came? I’ll tell you now, that guess is too short. Of the three audits we went through, we generated responses for one (and never carried them through to completion), half-assed another, and the third? Completely forgotten. On me.

Mike

Last Week

25 January 2017

Dear J—

Last week was a bit difficult; the Saturday preceding that week I developed an achy neck which turned into a pinched nerve causing me to walk around stoop-shouldered until I had enough and went to urgent care, where they gave me a neck brace after x-rays showed no fracture, just “neck arthritis” as they put it. A week of muscle relaxers and ibuprofen put it straight and I’m back to work this week, thankfully. 

Except I’m back to work with broken glasses; the memory-metal bridge snapped last Sunday night and I’ve been limping along with a paperclip wire-wrapped substitute for now until I can line up another set. I’ve had nothing but poor luck with this optometrist – first the lens coatings broke down inside a year, then the wrong lenses were ordered as replacements, and now this, though I can honestly say I didn’t help it out by testing out the flexibility of the frames at odd times.

Mike

Dry Spell

13 January 2017

Dear J—

They have declared the drought in Northern California officially over, which does surprise me a little: just that much rain? I should be grateful to the folks all around us – sheltered as we are on the Peninsula, hemmed in on all sides by hills and mountains to the north, west and east. There are folks in Napa and Marin who got flooded out with what we considered a little bit of rain, but thinking about it, there’s just not that much opportunity for rain to hit us at the best of times, so there you have it.

The more you look at the landforms around here you realize why there’s always a fairly strong breeze where we live: it’s from the ocean and it comes either down from the Bay or funneled by San Bruno Mountain, a hulking rock of a thing that redirects winds around it: north into the City and south into the airport (and us).

All the same this last week has felt pretty soggy and I’m not sorry to see it gone. We have a lot to be thankful for and the threatened floods and torrents are no fun to consider.

Mike