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

Atmospheric River

6 January 2017

Dear J—

They say an “atmospheric river” is headed our way tomorrow night, and that residents are advised to pick up sandbags. We live in the equivalent of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward – land reclaimed from the Bay by fill and protected by a levee that’s been said to be inadequate; personally I see it as fine (there’s the Bay Trail on top, leading up to Coyote Point and down to the shore; what else could you want?) but I see the point: everyone’s houses are built with raised foundations because the ground here is squishy in the summer and soupy in the winter.

The last few days in fact have been somewhat disruptive, schedule-wise; first the rain to start the week out, then yesterday I had a flat which I began to change before realizing that if it was a slow leak, I could probably just fill the tire up and go (didn’t help to have the wheel off the bike before I realized this, though). Today was the first day I made it to my usual stop in Burlingame and that’s the sort of week it’s been. To be topped off with the atmospheric river, which I like the phrasing of, as it’s quite poetic and descriptive all in one.

I just may not like what it leaves us. 

Mike

Overexcited

5 January 2017

Dear J—

The last couple of nights I’ve been reading one of the library books with sarcastic undercomment – the same book, mind you, just with potentially deadly scenarios that no one seems to want to explore. For instance: adopt a stuffed tiger? Well, that tiger’s going to eat the family. Or, since it has a broken leg, perhaps it’s the tiger’s turn as the meal. You get it. The laughs are a little more forced now and there may be another book in my life for tomorrow, which only goes to prove that you can beat an old dead horse.

It also ramps the kids up just before bed which doesn’t work out so great – one of my bare toes got trod on last night and that threw the whole character of the thing off and ended on an oddly sour note. You understand why bedtime should be quiet time, right?

Mike

Flawless

29 December 2016

Dear J—

Growing up we used to go into the arcade at the university and watch people play for about an hour or two on these so-called half days, when you would get out of school early to facilitate parent-teacher conferences. It’s not clear that’s what they do on these minimum days – once a week! – but there you have it: get out of school early, walk over to dad’s office and eat lunch together (usually the Alleyway Grille but sometimes the sandwich shop upstairs, which would serve Chex Mix on the side), then walk downstairs and visit the arcade for a while before heading home. Those were different days and a different place, too: walking from here to there, letting yourself in the door when you’re seven with your own key? Responsibilities. And trust, too, but not just trust in the kids, trusting your community too.

I do trust our neighborhood, come to think of it: we have a fair amount of crowding but on the whole I think that if you’re going to live in the city, you might as well live in a city that predates the automobile. Nowhere is the difference clearer than when I drive into Foster City – operative word drive because you can’t get from here to there without driving in that town; and while the folks I’ve met there have been uniformly nice and polite, I can’t help but feel some contempt for the dependence on fossil fuels as they cruise up and down the wide boulevards and winding byways to park in gigantic lots and shop and big boxes.

That’s unfair, of course: we do a lot of shopping at Bridgepointe, which is as big-box as it gets and the closest Target to where we are, so yeah, guilty of contributing to that; on the other hand we do have a corner grocery (which we use in emergencies and snack situations) and a few local restaurants we could try out; I’ve had luck bicycling around town too, if not just walking to and from downtown. that’s why I consider the term flawless as it applies to us: who’s got it better than us?

Mike

Memorably

28 December 2016

Dear J—

I’m not sure if you’ve seen Moana yet, assuming you take your kids to the movies. We make a production of it, our family, something that I never did growing up: get the big popcorn, two trays and share it, with those little white bags of bulk candy on the side too and a pack of dried ramen for me (I’m partial to the chicken flavor, though beef has its appeal too but shrimp and ‘oriental’ are right out as too salty). Anyhow. Moana. I’m convinced that Lassiter and crew are doing fine work at Disney and there are very important messages coming out of that studio.

On the other hand we’ve also been to watch Storks and Sing! and those are perfectly adequate movies to pass the time and entertain the kids but that’s it: what you see is what you get. And I’m sure that talking animal movies are fun for everyone and filled with funny sight gags (a soapy koala in a Speedo?) there’s no deeper message going on and yet how can these be so memorable to the kids where they’re not talking about Moana every single day? I know, I don’t get it. Maybe I’m not meant to. Life is unfair.

We went to watch Moana on opening weekend and I saw a lot of kids dressed up in grass skirts and leis, perhaps thinking this would be some fun Hawaiian adventure, and sure, there are elements of that, but I dunno, they may not get why that’s not what the movie is about. Man, look at me getting all flustered. On the other hand maybe I’m glad people went in with preconceived notions and got challenged while watching the film; it can’t be anything but good to have folks watch beyond the shallows, can it?

Mike

Since Before

27 December 2016

Dear J—

Since last we conversed, Christmas has been and gone and I hope you and yours had as much fun as us. We went out to Korean food with my parents, who were initially skeptical that we had ordered enough but then ended up begging off the last few pieces of everything once we were settled in: dumpling soup, spicy chicken, beef shortribs, and the seafood pancake filled with green onions which my dad leaned over and asked was this the same as the green onion pancakes he used to make and I said no – you could taste the bits of scallops throughout, plus it had a lot more egg.

It’s almost enough to make you think everything is normal but they’re still frustrated with the mobile phones (I need to get them a new one and I’m thinking that will be around $300 each for something modern) and besides which there’s the matter of considering a move (both thinking it’s time for Taiwan which seems fraught with potential) because of the eventual future, which is now and here and I’m still not convinced they’re choosing to help themselves as much as possible.

In any case – at any rate – it’s not unusual to be worried about these things at my age, is it? My parents have had the relative luxury of both having more siblings to care for their parents and generally speaking, distance from health issues; I still remember waiting for my mom coming back home from my grandpa’s funeral and not spotting her because she’d gotten her hair cut short in Taiwan; that happened suddenly and isn’t this your duty and obligation versus how your father must have doted on you, his daughter, growing up like how I seem to have infinite patience and understanding for one but not the other and how does this even begin to figure in to where I was as a well-rested person and now in the gloaming dawn of the week?

Mike

Familiar Reluctance

7 December 2016

Dear J—

I have a familiar reluctance in the mornings: it’s warm under the covers, and the night is still dark, and I don’t want to get up and go. So far, though, I’ve been able to get up on time every time and I intend to keep it so: go to bed at a reasonable hour, get enough sleep (they say that insufficient sleep is bad for the heart and mental processes and, well, yes), get up and go. Plus I actually look forward to these rides, though I’m not sure if that’s unfounded optimism following the grim task of waking up and extracting myself from the throes of the alarm clocks (four separate alarms and counting–I’m pretty paranoid about them).
Tomorrow and Friday it’s supposed to rain all day and that that does for the ride I’m not sure except maybe I’ll cut it a bit shorter in the mornings and evenings; no point in sitting in wet clothes all day or all night, right? There are options and solutions.

Mike

Cool Rain

6 December 2016

Dear J—

Tomorrow’s supposed to be even colder in the morning preceding a storm in the early evening; I may have to break out my heavy gloves (I have three different pair, and the medium pair I wore this morning did not feel entirely adequate to the task, though perhaps that’s an exaggeration fed by how late I was running too). Although let’s be honest: how heavy do the gloves need to be when you’re in California? Even counting the Donner Party, we’ll be fine here by the coast, although I wonder what it will be like in the hills this weekend.

Yes. Am already looking for the weekend after one day of work, such is the price of my silence. The fellow who used to get on at Millbrae has been boarding at San Carlos and other notes include my concern (and still no act on) my plan to get everyone’s phone number to check up on things.

Mike

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