Posts Tagged ‘local’

Water Choice

17 February 2011

Dear J-

Going north we pass through the restored wetlands at Del Mar — you climb up a big hill once you’re past Carmel Valley and when you’re back down to sea level you’re at Del Mar before climbing back up to Solana Beach and points beyond. Usually after it rains in the mornings there’s a low fog bank hovering over the wetlands, clnging to the earth like a favorite blanket clutched tight at night. Earth, sea, and sky all merge into a unifed whole and remind us that the promise of spring, daffodils and irises, blustery March and thawing snowcaps is just around the corner. It is the last stretch of undeveloped land until you get up into the Marine base at Camp Pendleton.

Of course when it’s raining hard enough — or mistily enough, as yesterday — you get the disconcerting feeling that someone’s trying to drown us with the air become water and the betraying earth refusing to drain it away (some of the puddles and potholes that form after late winter rains around here, with the ground already saturated, are subject to their own tides, it seems). I remember that first winter spent going back from Boston to Davis where it seemed every time I touched down in Sacramento it kept pouring down, forming my first impressions as a city ruled by rain. Those who’ve moved here recently might say the same even with clouds and mist giving way to sun today.

We grew up away from water, J-, and I wonder if that hasn’t influenced where we ended up. In Davis during rice season they’d flood the Yolo Causeway. I would drive to work thinking I was somewhere amongst the Florida Keys, I-80 a narrow ribbon bisecting water as far as they eye could see. Crossing the campus at Berkeley I’d make it a point to linger on the bridges across Strawberry Creek. Boston and Cambridge are divided by the Charles, and everything I did, photographically, that first year had to do with water water everywhere. We make funny choices unconciously guided by fate or fortune, but isn’t it all always right?



Think Wide

14 January 2011

Dear J-

I try to pick my news feeds from the robotic (Google) and the presumably human (Yahoo) so that my results are neither swayed by search engine optimization noor human tendencies, but I have noticed that they tend to return all kinds of stories about sex and violence. Snce they provide a pretty good echo of each other, perhaps they are both web-crawling spiders pulling the most popular results from various trusted sites. Lots of stuff about Tucson as well — no surprise, given the geographical proximity, but little about the mudslides in Brazil or flooding in Queensland which have claimed more lives with horrific force. The other story that’s starting to pick up some steam is Silvio Berlusconi, a politician who can’t keep it in his pants but isn’t crucified for it (compare the treatment to Cicciolina, who served a couple of terms in the Italian Parliament on the basis of her contributions to pornography, and you get the idea that Italy has a much less Puritanical view of virtue than us Americans).

The so-called Chinese stealth fighter took some test flights, not (I think, despite protestations to the contrary) coincidentally with US Defense Secretary Gates’s visit. There’s an impractical practical joke I used to read about and itched to implement: you and a buddy roll up on either side of a car stopped at a red light, then slowly start creeping forward, making the driver/victim think their car is rolling backwards. The panic as the brakes have seemed to fail is supposedly the payoff but I wonder about it as a metaphor for life here in the US. Sure, life is good: TVs and computers are cheap, broadband is getting good deployment, and opportunities for college are everywhere (even if they are for-profit institutions). I wonder if it’s not a bit of a soporific keeping us from realizing that the rest of the world keeps moving forward, or even that there’s something else out there in the rest of the world or heck, even the rest of the country.

When I interviewed for my current job I asked about travel, knowing that we’d soon have our hands full with figgy and thinking that I might not want to. My old boss replied that there was as much — or as little — travel as you wanted; one of the perks or disadvantages of this job is being able to go on audit trips if you want. I’ve been able to go on a couple — first up to Sacramento, which was nice to see the old places, then out to Alabama, where I’d never been before. I tend not to think about life outside the ZIP Code unless I’m forced to so I’m trying to reoirient myself into a more external focus. Travel via news is one way, and the more you think about what life is like elsewhere the more you understand how things work locally.


Soul Sister

3 March 2010

Dear J-

There are some days that I wake up full of ideas and suggestions, and unfortunately, more days that I get up with some song in my brain on endless repeat (Train’s Soul Sister has me missing Mister Mister, Broken Wings and Tina Matthews) driving all rational thought from my head. We have two particular bits of infamy in the local scene; again the UCSD situation rears its head (one symbol of intimdation — a noose — might be construed as a mistake, despite the mealy-mouthed convenient apology issued, but two means a trend, and not a joking one) and Chelsea King, whose disappearance appears to have come to a tragic conclusion.

I’m not particularly impressed by the apology issued by the student in question, which basically claims ignorance of the symbolism of a noose — quit acting uppity or it’s you next — and that it was made as a joke. You don’t put a joke on public display, and you generally don’t forget about it, either. I do appreciate that the student would take responsibility for their action, and I’m not sure what else can be done at this point. That said, the introduction and escalation — seriously, putting a Klan hood on Dr. Seuss? — speaks volumes about what those kids on kampus campus are learning, or not learning. It’s bad judgment followed by terrible decisions; there’s really not much more the administration can do short of closing the campus. Everyone must forgive; no one can forget.

I look at the massive search conducted for Chelsea King and wonder if there might have been a connection to the disappearance of another young girl last year, Amber Dubois; had the same effort be conducted on her part, would the suspect have been in custody earlier? Would we have had to talk about remote jogging trails and the promise of young people? It’s all hindsight, and it doesn’t change anything today; the would-haves of the world would fill the universe. The world I remember had me and my brother running around outdoors for hours and days without supervision and without consequence, but those days are as irrelevant as Mister Mister lately.


Prop 13

26 March 2009

Dear J-

Sick — again — and so I’ll limit myself to big words and simple thoughts.  Perhaps there’s blame enough to go around with water woes; one of the points I brought up before was that every new development has an excellent chance of being approved, and I believe the reason is Prop 13.  Prop 13 limited the annual rate of property tax rate adjustment.  Rather than allocating resources as needed, cities and counties seemed to keep spending at a pre-Prop 13 rate, reasoning that new construction — and the correspondingly higher assessed value — would make up the difference.

Well, growth without end has had other consequences:  sprawl, limited resources, and limited available land (you used to be able to put up power plants where needed, but no one wants a substation next to the house these days), all of which apparently escaped the modern planner/developer.  So now we’re stuck; we need growth to fuel the local governments, but it’s unsustainable, isn’t it?


Dark Side

1 January 2009

Dear J-

I’m still not convinced that it’s 2009, because all the old habits of 2008 are following me around:  stumbling into great deals that I feel a need to lock up just because the deal is available, not because the deal is needed.  I keep trying to tell myself that I’m past the point of buying things, but here I am looking for excuses and reasons to perform economic stimulus.

Though it was cold this morning, we managed to hit 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) by the time we left the Bay side of Coronado today; every other time we go, we usually head down to the Pacific side, where the Hotel del and ocean beaches line up as far as the eye can see, and maybe make it over to the shops.  It was nice on the sheltered bay side, with no shortage of San Diego views and a much less sharp breeze to boot.  The air was clear enough today to see both the Midway (CV-41) and Reagan (CVN-76) tied up across the bay from each other, sort of the alpha and the omega of the supercarrier, the Navy’s expression of surface warfare since 1942.  (I believe that Nimitz, CVN-68, was also there but we weren’t close enough to check the number).


We’re still finding new things to do here, seven years after making the move to San Diego.  Though we have our favorite places to do, we’ll take the occasional shortcut — aided by GPS — to try something else.  And we are always, always rewarded, not always as handsomely as today, but often enough to make it worth our while.  Seriously, though, there’s something special — different — about the attitude and pace of life on Coronado; if you’re in the area, might as well make a little side trip out across the bridge.  Now if we could just convince figgy to keep up on these marches of ours …


Local News

8 December 2008

Dear J-

Our big news of the day is that a military jet on a training flight — to be exact, an F/A-18 off the Lincoln — struck houses in the University City neighborhood of San Diego today around noon.  The jet reported experienced engine trouble shortly after takeoff, and was instructed to divert to Miramar; en route, the second engine cut out and the pilot, unable to get back to the ocean, aimed at a deserted canyon.  If you’ll recall, Miramar is the former home of the TOPGUN school

The local news has a small squadron of reporters deployed on the ground, one anchor in front of the main crash site and others, in descending order of importance, in front of other random sites:  one where the canopy landed, draped over someone’s side fence; one in front of the Naval Hospital, where the pilot was taken after ejecting (photos show he’s physically okay — he walked away from it).  The houses struck were gutted and the residents were killed.

I ride my bike near the crash site every day to and from the vanpool; I mumble under my breath at the thoughtlessness of city planning (there’s a bike lane that keeps disappearing and reappearing along Governor Drive) that’s warned me into religiously charging my lights and making sure I’m as visible as possible to traffic; I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to thread the needle with a fighter without power.  I’ve hiked in that canyon which is, aside from the railroad tracks, as deserted as can be.  I pray for the pilot’s continued sanity tonight.