New To Do

5 December 2016

Dear J—

Things I keep intending to do, but haven’t gotten around to yet:

  • Listen to the entire Moana soundtrack (59 tracks with leitmotif and interstitial passages)
  • Finish reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, the other adult novel by J.K. Rowling I haven’t plowed through yet.
  • Get more sleep, especially since progress on Borderlands 2 has ground to a halt.
  • Stop committing myself to so much after-bed activities, like video games and television series (hey, Breaking Bad is not going to watch itself).

Let’s take a moment to redidcate ourselves to the full pursuit of consumption and avarice in all its glory this holiday season. Or, as the case may be, perhaps NOT.

Mike

Warm Days

2 December 2016

Dear J—

Of course it’s completely the opposite right now; we have the bay breezes and other such measures sapping warmth from everyone, but I did get out this morning and feel what felt like a balmy breeze coming in off the water down from the airport. We have plenty of opportunities to freeze otherwise so perhaps the warming trend for the year has already started? 

What does the magic 8-ball say? Don’t count on it? Sounds right.

Mike

Keeping Up

1 December 2016

Dear J—

Although it induces a nauseating amount of deja by in me to say so, I don’t keep up with people I don’t see very often. Just don’t. Can’t say why, either, other than that if the opportunity isn’t there, I don’t make much of an effort (okay, no effort) to reach out and touch someone, so to speak. The last time I did that, in fact, was when I joggled that guy on the elbow when we were coming up to Palo Alto station because I was convinced he was going to miss his stop; he nodded at me in a not unfriendly way but didn’t say anything and from here on out we’ve dubbed him the “don’t-touch-me” guy. 

No, not literally touching someone. What I should do is get the phone number of people I ride with to make sure they’re doing all right and being safe. I don’t see you for a few minutes hours days weeks whatever, there probably should be some contact to ascertain that. We’re not terrible people. I try not to be. We just get busy with life and, well, everything else I guess. Out of sight out of mind and all that.

Mike

The Crude Crud

30 November 2016

Dear J—

Did you ever listen to Mr. Larson when he was talking about amusing kids? His theory, since demonstrated by numerous examples, is that everyone under the age of 10 or so is inordinately amused by the word toilet or other bathroom-related nouns. You go ahead and try it out. We have a tradition in our family to make “bathroom” style books by substituting pee and poop for other staid nouns. Go ahead and try it.

I will not eat green pee and poop.

Of course you have to modify the propositions as required to make some sense. It does not sound like much but can work wonders if you’re stuck reading the same book over and over again. We should probably go to the library more often but what we have time for is all we have time for and that’s that. We are perhaps not the most refined family on the block. 

Mike

Falling

29 November 2016

Dear J—

Here in northern California you can almost see the mercury falling in real time. I suppose it’s not cold like how it gets cold in Cheney or Boston, but still, you know, cooler than soCal by sure. Or at least soCal as I remembered it, but didn’t I have to face cool temperatures and jackets and gloves and frosty windshields there too? My memories of San Diego are fading and I wonder what the kids would think of it now.

There’s a new mural up by the train station and I keep meaning to take pictures of it: before much longer, I think. The old one was a stagecoach racing the train and the new one, which seemingly went up overnight or at least as far as I can see, soon thereafter, is far more abstract but I’m deciphering elements of San Mateo in it, specifically downtown and Central Park, which makes sense: if the train station is your gateway into the city, then why not brag about all the stuff we have here? Who’s got it better than us?

Going from living in San Diego (really, the suburb of Claremont Mesa, which used to be well outside the city when it started and still exhibits all the dead-end planning and lack of charm and walkability of most post-war developments) to here were we should walk but don’t because it’s too cold or windy … what has changed?

Mike

Very Long

28 November 2016

Dear J—

It turned out to be one of those extra-long long weekends: four days, two kids, and a wealth of experiences: Thanksgiving with my folks; then the day-after with my cousin (and a couple of Disney flicks on video); Saturday with still another; and finally Sunday, which we had to ourselves and spent at the movies and walking around with me awkwardly yelling at the kids for not doing exactly what I wanted and why can’t they hurry up and be adults and reasonable about all my crazy demands anyway? Not fair to punish them for not being me, you know? Isn’t that always the way, though?

We went to Moana yesterday which features a protagonist who defies her parents and instead of the blinding rage that engenders in me, I need to realize that well, for starters, it’s just a movie, but more importantly, these are kids and good kids at that – sweet and friendly – and they’re not always going to want to do the same things as me and being a sulky little boy about it isn’t going to help. We made an acronym years ago, theVet and I, in response to seeing public bullying – GOYBS: Get Over Your Bad Self. Remember?

Mike

Aftermath

23 November 2016

Dear J—

I texted theVet the night of the election, saying that I was stuck in Chicago and Trump was leading and everything was terrible, therefore I needed pie. Let me be the first to observe there is no pie at the airport unless you count the fried-burrito-style pies at McDonald’s, and when you’re looking for pie, that just won’t do.

For those of you who voted for Trump: hey, I understand, I honestly do. The last eight years with Obama must have been as maddening as eight years of Bush Jr were to me. There’s a lot of thought about how-could-we and how-did-this-happen and really, what’s happened is our country has seemingly divided overnight through these fault lines that were always there but patched up under a thin veneer of politeness. There’s many who will claim they voted for Trump not because they’re racist, but because he represented a change to the political establishment. I come from a county that deposed a sitting Speaker of the House (Tom Foley) in favor of a political neophyte (George Nethercutt) when term limits were first being bandied about. 

You want to change the system, I get that. But look what you’ve done: there are white nationalist rallies out in the open; proposed appointees are already being scrutinized for their prior records and it’s not coming off well (and yet with no control of the Senate, there’s nothing that can be done to keep them from ramrodding through an attorney general, for instance, who has referred to blacks as “boy”). You don’t get to change the system by blowing it up or letting crony politics happen. You’re acting out of anger, which is like carrying a coal close to you so that you can give it to your enemies: who gets burned first?

Mike

Repair Strategy

3 November 2016

Dear J—

I’m contemplating buying something that I know is broken just so I can fix it. Which sounds crazy. Andy is. But at least it gives me something to do with my time instead of browsing for more things to buy or taking an after-dinner nap so that I can stay up late playing games. There is not enough time in the day; I think we can all agree on that, can’t we? There’s a fair number of photographs I still need to get through development, and then there’s the ones I should be sharing on fah-chay-bookh (read that out loins in an exaggerated accent) but also I need to turn in a draft of the Case and …

Not enough hours in the day, I suppose. On the other hand, I also don’t need to be staying up late playing games: I mentioned that before, havcen’t I?

Mike

Driving On

1 November 2016

Dear J—

Last week I drove into the south Bay for the first time on a weekday in what seems like forever; I’d forgotten, of course, what a pain it can be with the traffic which last week was also compounded by the first rain in a while. I’m pretty spoiled for not having to deal with that when I’m on a bike/train commute, since there’s really nothing otherwise to keep me honest in terms of dealing with other motorists. Were they always this aggressive? Is it just here or everywhere else as well? then again there was that crash course in Korean driving etiquette a month ago, where our colleague showed us everyone has a dash cam, everyone uses their blinkers aggressively and unsteadily. 

Everyone. It’s too early in the day to be dealing with these absolutes, isn’t it? Absolutely.

Mike

eBay Seller Regret

11 October 2016

Dear J—

I bought something on eBay the other day – one of those lenses that attaches to your phone, comes with its own sensor, etc. Good price. Seller started the auction at $50 and there were only two bids by the time the auction ended, so it ended up selling for $61, quite reasonable for what was a fairly expensive ($250) piece when new. Interestingly, the order was canceled and paymen refunded, then the auction was relisted at $185. Call it seller’s regret, but if you’re going to list it at a low price then you should own up to where it ends up, though I’m sure there’s no recourse for me. Perhaps if it had been something I needed or desired, then perhaps we could have worked something out but as it is that seems like a way to game the system. I hope the $185 auction does not ever sell.

Mike