Lonelier

29 June 2017

Dear J—

If you’re of the old-fashioned type you call a person whose wife has died a widower; what do you call it when, by some strange coincidence, all your friends have abandoned you on the train? Yeah, I know, the whole concept of wife versus spouse is rooted in some gender-based construct: why we have some nouns associated with mascline and feminine constructs is beyond me, but I personally suspect there’s some lingering influence from the Germanic languages.

The guys I usually talk to are all on vacation through the Fourth of July, meaning today and the next day will be somewhat quiet, and next Monday as well, though having the Fourth fall mid-week makes it somewhat less convenient for those of us working and hoping to stay employed. I have not planned out my vacations well this year, and there’s no such thing as requiring continuous coverage, but that’s how it goes when you’re an unrecognized expert in your own mind. LIke I said, people don’t talk to me often for a reason.

Well, at least it’s a chance to mourn more broken keys on the keyboard and try to figure out what parts I might need to keep it in good repair.

Mike

Remember

26 June 2017

Dear J—

So remember this: when the San Francisco Chronicle‘s website SFGate is running stories about how it is to move to other places, well, I’ve been to some of them, and yes, just about anywhere is cheaper to live than here. Today’s article – talking about moving to Sacramento – notes the disparity in median home prices, with Sacto coming in at $300K and SF at $1.2M. Median home price. I’m trying to remember what it was when we were looking, casually, three years ago and I want to say it was much less than that but I was also looking around Visitacion Valley, which isn’t the most amazing neighborhood, either (and hasn’t shot up as stratospherically as others near here).

I understand the competitiveness and at the same time don’t fully understand it, either; if people just took a moment, stepped back, and considered this house rather than a house, well, you’d think that things would be more sane. Then again, I read a story about a family who felt compelled to buy a fixer-upper just for the space in Toronto (expanding family) and waded into a nightmare of home renovation, over budget and behind schedule (really, what construction project hasn’t?) and realize that no one is very incredibly rational when it comes to this stuff.

Mike

Sacrifice

19 June 2017

Dear J—

Was it this last week or the week before that my bike decided that it needed several blood sacrifices? It has been a long while since I had the chance to write, as the Mondays appear to be the last holdout now. The tracery of scars on my shins tell me it was probably two weeks ago that I flew over the handlebars and landed with what the car behind me said was a gnarly crash, but who knows now?

There’s a lot of everything that makes it not so simple to spend time by myself, between people talking and family asking; I’m pulled in several different directions at once and my word, does it hurt to be stretched out. If you don’t get to practice your chosen craft, then how do you respond? By sulking, because that’s the way to ruin, isn’t it? If you know you shouldn’t and yet you do, well, how do you work to intercept that before it becomes an issue?

The grace to accept things that can’t be changed is the primary vessel, isn’t it? I’ll have to be thinking over that one a bit.

Mike

Elbow and Shoulder

7 June 2017

Dear J—

This week keeps slipping by, and I haven’t even gottten to the good part yet. Monday on the way back to the train station to go home, I picked up a drywall screw in my rear tire – it’s strange how that happens, but luckily this one came in almost sideways, piercing a pinch of tread and obviously enough that I was able to spot it within a minute of dismounting after feeling the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa as the wheel went around. I thought that was the extent of my bad luck that day but then I went flying after I locked up the front wheel on the way home after reaching San Mateo.

I’m still not sure what happened other than to note my response to “hey, the wheel is locking up” is apparently “squeeze the brake harder.” I need to install a rear brake, and I need to do it yesterday, in fact. Too much coolness for me, perhaps, between the clean lines, greater speed, and single brake.

Mike

Influencer

6 June 2017

Dear J—

The thought that I could have anything more than the merest influence on the outcome of sporting events being played by professionals in far-flung cities from here is laughable and yet here I am thinking that well, if I participate greatly in the schadenfreude that is rooting against the Penguins, or wondering what I need to do to make the Giants win more frequently, well, that thought preys on me though it’s probably who knows what kind of leftover secondhand guilt going on.

Let’s think about it for a second. If I believe in this completely, then just by reading all the sad Penguins fans twitter accounts, that’s going to cause the team to bounce back and close out the Predators? I keep having flashbacks to 2009, but c’mon, that was eight years ago and you’re not as superstitious as that, are you? Are you?

Mike

Donut Day

2 June 2017

Dear J—


Happy National Donut Day (which I swear I did not know until just now, when Steve-the-conductor told me. More than anything I think donuts are primarily a social food: you get more than one unless you’re an unrepentant misanthrope, and you share them with someone you know, whether that’s friends, family, or just coworkers. Which is also why I don’t understand why people don’t spontaneously bring donuts in to work more often. perhaps they are not soft in the head like me and want to save their money. That’s more plausible than not liking donuts, because for as many people who say they don’t like them and swear they never eat donuts, there sure aren’t many leftovers at the end of the day.


Friday light again and there’s just not many people onboard; we have lots of ways to handle this but the simplest, most straightforward is this: hi, would you like to have some donuts?

Mike

Playoffs

23 May 2017

Dear J—

Well, it looks like the Penguins will have a chance to advance to the Finals tonight and I predict they’re going to run into the same kind of overwhelming indifference that meets any kind of favorite, whether it’s the Patriots or the Yankees. It’s not going to stop them from winning, mind you, but I’d honestly prefer to see Nashville–Ottawa in the finals. Of course, I also have a deep and abiding grudge against the Penguins so let’s not forget that either.

We’re getting close to the end of part of our project and there’s a good deal of work still to be done; work deferred from other projects and work that needs to be done to finalize what we’re doing here. Of course I’m not interested. Of course. This was about the time of year last year that I flaked out while working from home and chose to be going to hike on the mountain, right? Sounds good to me.

Mike

Rolling Tetanus

19 May 2017

Dear J—

Well, from the wreck I rescued from a backyard in Redwood City to this: several hundreds of dollars later and no doubt a fair amount of time and effort too; I present “Rolling Tetanus”:


Congratulations! It’s a bike that will tempt precisely zero thieves! There’s a couple of reasons I assembled the bike, not the least of which was because I could; it started out with a rear wheel I shouldn’t have bid on at auction but there I was with an internally-geared hub but no bike to put it on … hmm. From there it was a matter of picking out a suitable frame off Craigslist and then off to the races, dollar-wise. I picked up a few finishing parts while thinking of possibly riding it last week, for Bike to Work day, but didn’t quite make it in time, though I don’t think it would have helped much, if any. So here I am and there you are and welcome to it, right?

Mike

Discharging

17 May 2017

Dear J—

Teething issues that we should have resolved several days ago keep cropping up and I’m getting discouraged; we will get through this, of course, and soon, but still, I’d rather not have to be dealing with them at this hour. Can we redesign and replumb? Well, yes, but … aargh. You know, I should have ordered two of everything many hours ago. Years ago. Weeks ago. Whatever. Contingency plans go out the window when you’re having too much fun, if that’s what you want to characterize this as.

Mike

Bike to Work (yesterday)

12 May 2017

Dear J—

Yesterday was Bike to Work day here in the Bay Area and I took them at their word; 31-some odd miles later and three hours, being and old slow man trying to pace myself in lieu of the attempted sprint I try most mornings between Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. I was remarkably unwinded when I got there; the worst part was actually on Bay Trail, when I flew through clouds of gnats so thick that it felt like passing through rain. I probably  could have gone a bit faster, but this all worked out quite well, though I admit there’s a heaviness in my legs this morning that I’m not fond of. Life, or what you make of it, right?

Mike