Shining Summer

17 March 2017

Dear J—

We’ve had summer-like weather this week, meaning highs in the sixties and seventies and lows into the forties, making it quite comfortable indeed. That hotter stuff we get in September and October, I just call that the hot season. The kids are getting thick blood too, what with this weather like this, as they will volubly complain that it was really hot this last week when we got to wear shorts for the first time all year. 

This may be an issue if they choose to live literally anywhere else in the country, but weather is one of those things, you know: you get used to it after a while. This is not bad to get acclimated to, though you might have to carry a jacket in case you’re out after dark. Back in San Diego … the hot days would be almost unbearable by noon, and the heat hadn’t even crested, and the winds would fail. Perhaps that’s what would help, though both kids would be sweaty messes by the afternoons of really hot days.

By the way there’s a guy riding the car with me so far this morning: classic Stumpjumper, red, lugged with a unicorn fork and wide-profile cantilevers which look wholly original; I’m guessing late 80s? It’s not often that I see a bike even older than mine on the train. Dude’s up here to “escape the crowding” on the northernmost car; I hesitate to think what he sees in the afternoons.

Mike

Belay on Delay

16 March 2017

Dear J—

Belay is a nautical term that refers to rejecting or negating: belay that order means to disregard or not follow it.

I know I’m guilty of procrastination in the worst ways possible, but I dunno: I get home and all the ambition seems to leave immediately. It’s as if there’s not enough time to get through all the relaxing activities or research on the latest junk before I have to turn around and march back to sleep and the next day, though I know there’s at least an hour or two of me watching videos that I didn’t need to watch, not especially. So let’s belay the delay, all right?

Mike

Zip Down

15 March 2017

Dear J—

Well, it may be more information than you were bargaining for, but apparently I’ve been riding around and walking on the station platform with my zipper down (thankfully, that means only approximately half an hour of exhibitionism) so far this morning. That’s the way it is when I’m tired: small things distract bigly. You start out doing something and make a reminder to yourself as you’re going to “don’t forget, c’mon” and then of course what do you do (or not do?). That’s the way the life works. 

I’ve been exploring the Municipal Railway streetcar fleet and got hugely distracted last night after finding a fellow obsessive who posted appropriately licensed Creative Commons images on flickr yesterday: first you move the images to Wikimedia Commons, then you spend time organizing them into bins and that consumed a great deal of time, yessir. Distractions abound, though, and there’s enough work to justify not having to deal with them.

Mike

Anger Off

14 March 2017

Dear J—

I try to handle a lot myself instead of seeking the professional help I probably need for hoarding tendencies and anger management. I’ve been through enough touchy-deeply training at Edison, though, that I believe I can make an amateur, informed decision on what’s working and what’s not.

Anger with the kids – which extends to yelling at them – is sub-optimal for several reasons, not the least of which is this: it doesn’t work. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: “I just told you to stop” or “Why aren’t you listening?” And that’s a terrible thing strictly because most of the time they’re just being, well, they’re being a kid. There’s plenty of time to grow up and be an adult; we’re all in love with seeming prodigies but the truth is they wouldn’t be kids if they confessed they loved their coffee in the mornings and sat soberly at night like church deacons. Well, they’d still be kids, but they wouldn’t be the kids I love. Maybe someday when they’re adults I can point out the crazy things they’ve done but for now I’m just here to document and enjoy.

Mike

Much More

13 March 2017

Dear J—

The other day the senior guy in our group said he was waking up with nightmares of all the ways this particular project could be going wrong and yeah, I get that. There’s the awkward phone call we fielded last week and the project planning meetings we’ll need to go through this week and … well, there’s going to be a lot of different things going on this week in general. I’m still behind on some of the external-to-work stuff I’ve been dealing with, so that’s not going to help too much, either.

We walked up Telegraph Hill from the east on Saturday, an approach I’d never taken before (I went up the relatively less steep western flank last time, walking up through Chinatown and Little Italy) and I think the most notable feature was there were more stairs than you thought. You start out by ascending what seems like a sheer wall with concrete stairs in reasonable repair, but then you proceed through wooden flights in various heart-pounding views and just as you reach the top you spot the bottom of the next flight. And the next flight. And the next; Before long you realize how many more there are left to ascend, but at the top, the view is marvelous and your legs seem to ache that much less, don’t they? I know it seems like a lot now, but being done is its own reward, isn’t it?

Mike

Everyday Anger

10 March 2017

Dear J—

If every day I have to ask myself “how is anger going to fix this problem?” then I’m pretty sure I’m not doing it right.

You can get from zero to mad just like that and by you I mean me, of course. It’s part of the impatience and betrayal I suppose I feel when I’ll say something that isn’t heard. Let me reiterate: “I told you so” is not an effective teaching tool. If I hate it so much when I hear it, then how do you think it feels coming out of my mouth?

Can we continue? Patience is at least as much about listening and not so much about lying in wait to ambush someone with “facts” to prove a point. If you (I) can be patient enough to get the ass-whooping I deserve at work then I for sure am patient enough for it at home. Can you be totally blameless and virtuous? No, and you don’t have to be: just be decent and human.

Mike

Downtown

9 March 2017

Dear J—

There was a letter to the editor (or a review, something like that which is one step above ‘anonymous internet comment’) which decried the ‘Asian invasion’ into San Mateo resulting in clogged streets and traffic backups in downtown. I … well, I guess I understand but it feels to me more natural to see a bunch of non-occidental faces now (the after care which we pick the kids up from is definitely minority-Caucasian, as is the school) and I would posit the writer is someone who probably has lived here for thirty or more years and slowly seen the changing tide of faces in and around the area.

It’s one of the reasons why we ended up back in the Bay Area after San Diego – not just for this delightful weather, which currently swings 20ºF between daytime high and overnight low, making it difficult to dress adequately warm (and cool) without a complete change of clothes in the bag. The demographics mean it doesn’t have the same feel as Boston, where I overheard plots to nike China, or San Diego, with the aggressively lax-bro surfer culture meant people spent most of their days playing their own internal movies.

Mike

Way Behind

8 March 2017

Dear J—

Chalk this up as one of the other things I feel way behind on: there’s the goal, let’s go for it, shall we? The one big thing I don’t like is not being caught up on the audits, so let’s spend some time in that persuasion today, shall we? Then there’s the data we’re getting, which has been a little bit off, every now and again, off enough that I can’t seem to know what I’m doing with it, or that I should even trust some of it.

Everything takes time, and time is not my friend at the moment. On the other hand I could have been reading over the papers I took home yesterday rather than frittering about with less interesting things like Netflix and YouTube. So it’s on me, too, but to have to be reading all the time, working all the time … is not so terrible, right? In a sense the work on Wikipedia is like a volunteer job (no pay, terrible benefits, no recognition) and the articles I create are some of the most obscure on that repository of the obscure.

Mike

Continue

7 March 2017

Dear J—

You wonder about a few things, here and there; who has been sitting in this seat long enough to completely crush all hope out of the backrest and cushion, for instance. The upholstery is new; I remember way back when, I used to have enough time to be taking BART to Caltrain and transferring by skate, and buying a ticket to what was then Zone 4, Palo Alto. Did we pass through this many stops? I honestly don’t remember any more.

That was back when I followed the advice of the small town: don’t get caught out in Berkeley after dark, like some sort of reverse vampire keeping you from any kind of activity. Yesterday I stayed at work a little longer and what theVet said was true: I have enormous patience for everyone except my family, which makes me nearly as rotten as possible. Now we have to make do with less and I have to remember how much is left in my tank and not to empty it before home. 

Mike

Long Gone

3 March 2017

Dear J—

You hear about people living well – and prosperously long – around here. I saw my friend John just now at the Burlingame train station; I hadn’t seen him in a few months and I wasn’t sure if it was because I was getting to the station so late lately. I used to get to the station approximately ten minutes early and waited and read my book, but lately, the situation has been I’ll stay in bed that extra ten minutes reading. I first met him beyond a nodding basis – he would walk by with a cup of coffee, and we’d nod to each other – when I found those pants.

There were a pair of abandoned pants, complete with phone and wallet but no man on the bench at the station and I asked him if there might be a large man sleeping off a drunk. He said no and we called the police to turn it in, but I had to take off on the train. He stayed to watch the pants (and a bag, with a couple of bottles of wine) until the authorities came to get them. Since then we’ve exchanged at least a few words in the morning and today I learned he’d been busy taking care of his 96-year-old mother the past few months and I can’t help but wonder at the ages I hear around here.

There is still a lot of life left ahead of us, should we choose to look for that, and many good years besides. 

Mike