Posts Tagged ‘san diego’

Want to Ride

15 February 2011

Dear J-

I read in the half-awake dreams of this morning that another bicyclist was killed recently in the neighborhoodClaremont Mesa and Genesee — by a street sweeper who fell asleep. Ignore for the moment that that’s a terrible intersection to ride through — I have done it on occasion, but only passing north to south along Genesee (there’s people who ride along Clairemont Mesa but that’s way too risky) — and focus on this: I can ride as safely as I can, wear as many bright colors and run lights all the time and it’s not going to matter. Bike versus car and the best the bicyclist can hope for is injury. It puts a huge crimp in my ambitions to shift away from a car and towards a bicycle for neighborhood errands.

I know, rationally, about all the share the road signs and ways to make yourself safe and visible. But the paranoia hits me every so often, as it does when the guy got hit by the police car while trying to get into the left-turn lane at Genesee and Governor* and I want to give it up, it’s too risky, right? And this last guy — not only in my neighborhood but riding at the same time of day as me — it’s like there’s a fender with my name on it out there. It need not be foreordained, does it? The more miles pile up the more comfortable I feel. I slip back into bad habits that are inconsequential in nonexistent 3:30 AM traffic and make far less sense at 3:30 PM.

So use the paranoia. Get a mirror, make it work for you. There’s helmet-mounted lights available now too, and helmets both reflective and obnoxiously fluorescent that can be had. Stick with roads with less traffic, which usually have more interesting cars parked alongside to boot (I switched a portion of Genesee out of my regular rotation and have discovered a classic Studebaker and a Porsche 914 with Civic headlamps). I think I’ve even found a way around having to deal with the intersection at Balboa and Genesee (by crossing Balboa at Mount Everest instead). I have to be confident to pull this trick off, putting the bike back onto the road safely.



* By the way the city was supposed to release the accident report on that, which they never did. I’ve rationalized it as that bicyclist’s own stupidity for crossing traffic without looking but I’ve done it myself and at the same intersection, no less. You want to compare stupids?


Two Places

6 February 2011

Dear J-

It’s museum month in San Diego, which means that if you head over to a Macy’s and pick up a “passport” brochure you’ll get discounted admission to most of the local museums. So I had my head set on going to the USS Midway today but those plans were soon shot down by our chief executive, who kept insisting on going to the kids’ museum, the kids’ museum. I wasn’t pleased initially but remembered the fun we had at the museum yesterday — Museum of Man — which was one that we wanted to go to, but not one that figgy had approved. We left that one early yesterday, accompanied by several screaming fits so harmony was an overriding concern today.

Yet the funk didn’t fully lift from my soul until a few hours later, as she’s running through the newly remodeled Kid City (it’s still the same Kid City as before but with fancy-schmancy wall decorations and a big set of pneumatic tubes to send various plastic balls around) and I realize that this was absolutely the right choice today. Let’s see, which would she rather: to run around a kid-sized world or to crawl through the steel bowels of an old warship? Right choice, all around.


Withdrawl County

27 December 2010

Dear J-

I know there’s roughly as much truth in the Letters to the Editor as what you’d typically find scratched into the side of a public bathroom wall, but there are some grains of reality sprinkled throughout the chaff. One caught my eye the other day, with the author vaguely fomenting secession over the repeal of Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell*, muttering about how history would tell of a turning point. I’m inclined to dismiss it but for another person — this time at work — talking about the imminent collapse of the federal government and that we should all be prepared.

Okay. I don’t seriously for a moment think that the feds are going anywhere and even if California thinks of withdrawing from the union it would be crushed without DC breaking a sweat. Yet it is true that the frustration level is high and conservatives, fresh from having to apologize and accept the neocon agenda of the past eight years, have picked up the limiting vocabulary of hyperbole and exaggeration. Now with a limited mandate imposed by voter frustration that seems to come in waves (this is no different than the term-limit mania of twenty years ago, and is likely to result in the same: ineffective elected officials) the rhetoric gets revved up.

I also recognize the same fear of the unknown that powers the hate groups of my youth (those being the now mercifully defunct Aryan Nations of Hatin’; er, Hayden Lake) at work here in San Diego. Even in the city there are pockets of idiots, but outside there’s a rugged survivalist mentality that would do any shack-dwelling hillbilly proud. Is it too late to dial back the hate?


* DADT seemed like a good compromise at the time but had the effect of muzzling an entire group in Big Brother-like repressed paranoia (anything could be construed as a Tell) just because folks might be uncomfortable with homosexuals in close quarters. Get over it: you should either be flattered or glad to be so delusional that someone finds you so attractive.

Lame Duck

14 December 2010

Dear J-

I know it’s too easy to be a critic of someone who creates, but it’s perhaps too fine a point to criticise opinion pieces, given that they are by their nature somewhat light on research and heavy on inflated language and supposedly persuasive arguments. That said the more I read articles by Tim Sullivan, one of the two headlining sports writers retained by the Union-Tribune, the more I’m convinced that his intimidation through erudite language (c’mon, he’s writing for the sports page) conceals a decided laziness and intellectual dishonesty. Today’s column could have been written at any point in the last six months, while Vincent Jackson, the number one wide receiver for the Chargers was mired in a contract holdout: it’s filled with endless speculation on how much his contributions mean to the team (not just as a reliable target — he also provides a decided distraction and blocks well on running plays). Here’s my beef with it: there’s all kinds of dry facts that anyone with a pulse and access to Google could come up with; there is some skill in how he wraps the facts up but it feels like he’s phoning it in, no effort.

Look at it this way: there’s nothing wrong with the article. It meets the requirements — it’s readable, the point is clear, and it certainly presents verifiable facts. But here you’ve got one of the two most important sports writers in town, which would and should give you unprecedented access to people and back stories that no one else would have — all it would take would be a few phone calls if not a visit — and you could pull all kinds of quotable materials, or explore the backstory in order to paint one or another of the parties in a better light. But perhaps it’s just U-T policy for all writers to carefully toe the line and not stir the establishment pot. I’m glad that the article did call into question the judgment of AJ Smith, the Chargers GM who’s essentially taken the hard line of refusing to negotiate with Jackson based on his behavior issues off-field (several DUIs) — there was the tone of conciliation taken, couldn’t we maybe get some help here, look at how much better they are when Jackson plays — the U-T sports page has been trumpeting the genius of our local sports GMs and fluffing their party lines.

All I want is an article with enough research and insight to show me why, without having to resort to telling me why. There’s enough crap articles out there that don’t need any amplification; I’m frustrated that rather than acting as an independent watchdog opinion pieces are usually just mouthpieces for establishment views. It may seem like frivolous complaint but I can’t — or worn’t — easily forgive the laziness wrapped up in ten-dollar words. It’s ridculous, and I just don’t want other people to be fooled by his schtick — lbut when it comes down to it it’s just pathetic. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that they do nothing more than point out the obvious, but I’m still waiting for a pleasant surprise from the hometown newspaper. I’m starting to understand why new media keeps displacing newspapers; the sports pages and opinion sheet are both filled with the kind of obvious drivel everyone already knows and doesn’t need pointed out again.


September Change

12 September 2010

Dear J-

As usual we went out for breakfast and then on to one of our two usual spots in the rotation: last week was Sea World so this week we went to the Zoo. It took me a couple of minutes to put my finger on it but finally it dawned on me that the crowds weren’t as thick today. Right. We’re now in that post Labor Day mode when all you see around here is generally locals and snowbirds.

I suppose it’s an artifact of school schedules that brings crowds flocking into the region during the Summer; you’d think that with the weather we have around here more folks would come during the cold months, but both of the times we’ve been to Hawaii have been during the summer too so I have no cause to call the kettle black. It’s been an exceptional summer for us: never scorchingly hot aside from a handful of days, no rain, just about what I’d want for edgy year. Yet I walked outside and there was the promise of change and cooler days yet to come in the air. We’re headed towards the Solstice and it’s remarkable how much a flip of the calendar page can affect your mind.

September means school again and the end of those long lazy days of summer. It’s the last part of the year; it starts the Fall; it’s a month, like March, full of transitions and change. It’s put me in mind of the changes from the last nine months and those left yet to come before January. These months of flux are always my favorites, and I’m looking forward to what we have to wreak.


Market Creek

17 January 2010

Dear J-

Eager to use our passes (here’s a tip for you San Diegans out there: you can use your Birch Aquarium membership to qualify for free admission to the New Children’s Museum), we flew through our breakfast this morning (Crest Cafe, hearty and reasonable) and headed downtown. As it turns out, they’re open every day at ten — we got there at five ’til — except for Sundays, when they open at noon. Loath to leave our not primo but reasonably close parking, we wandered around downtown for a few minutes — we hadn’t been down by the Convention Center before, and I enjoyed imagining life amid the bustle of downtown, modern towers rising past our walled-off waterfront (seriously, how come we can’t actually walk down to the harbor except on the Coronado side?) for roughly five minutes, until figgy started careening into the street, as she is wont to do.

So in order to kill the remaining couple of hours we found ourselves hitting on the brilliant idea of buying a couple of trolley passes, riding the rails and extending the train theme for the weekend. As it turns out the novelty of the train worked on figgy for roughly five miles, in which time she was entranced by the movement and noises of clashing rails, riveted to her seat and watching the world go by. After that, though, as always lately, she grew tired of it — first standing on the seat, then lying down, then standing and holding the pole, then asking to be picked up, then sitting on my feet and finally lying down on the floor and threatening to roll down the stair well and out the door in the face of tough skater teens and other babies on the trolley.

Meanwhile we stopped off at Magnolia’s restaurant off Euclid Avenue for our fix of good Southern cuisine (figgy picked at her mac and cheese and honestly who could blame her in the face of corn bread, fried okra, and red beans and rice?); surprisingly, the area made for an interesting photographic experience, brightly-colored architecture and decorations making for a setting that reminded me of Riverfront Park again, for some reason. We went back to the museum and took lots of pictures but tonight my head’s back in Spokane, walking paths obviously man-made but somehow harmonizing with the natural features; we are reminded of the oddest things by the smallest reminders, aren’t we?


Spin Cycle

29 November 2009

Dear J-

So if you want to go someplace touristy in your hometown over a four-day weekend, save it for Sunday: for this Thanksgiving, Thursday is reserved for family, Friday is filled with desperate folks looking to escape the shopping crush, Saturday is left with people trying to wring the last drops out of the weekend, but Sunday is a travel day for most and everything is pretty deserted. We completed our trifecta with a trip to the Zoo today; our original plans involved sticking around to see the lights, but they told us they wouldn’t be on for another two weeks.

It’s been a long time since we had four days off together in a row, it’s almost like re-learning how to function as a team. We work at cross purposes at times; we pull like mismatched oxen as we each have separate ideas as to what’s best. Through it all we’ve spent more time laughing than not — yesterday, for instance, we stood in line to meet Santa at Sea World, where she declared, “That’s Christmas; Christmas is wearing a hat.”

At some point, unnoticed, she’s turned into a little kid. There are small things we could work on, but by and large we’re well past the point of helplessness. One of the things the unnamed they tell you is how quickly it passes, blink and you miss it. After all, it is one of those things you have to experience for yourself to understand, right? We spin in cycles, we repeat every lesson our parents and their parents learned; the wheel revolves in silent amazement.


Peak Day

14 November 2009

Dear J-

Today we tried something a little different; instead of the pass-controlled parks, I thought we should see what delights the neighborhood holds for us. The last couple of times we went on long walks, I had some way to tote the tot — whether a stroller or backpack, the longer we journey, the sleepier she gets. Indeed, she had a nap on my shoulder as we walked along; perhaps its the last remnants of the flu as it passes through our family (we headlined as the Coughing Trio all this week) keeping her more tired than usual. I’m used to seeing her with inexhaustible energy, after all.

We headed down to Tecolote Canyon after a few false starts (I was surprised we made it there, much less all the way out and back, given how big she’s grown without a corresponding growth in my muscles, still stuck with the scrawny frame of high school) and in contrast to the throngs we always run across in the Zoo and Sea World, I saw maybe five people those three hours we spent in the lungs of Clairemont. They are a taciturn bunch, the canyoneers; I spent the day saying more words to myself than anyone else — we smiled, nodded, and said hi, but we got no return greetings until after noon.

It’s an escape from the urban spaces we deal with every day, I suppose; we’ve got no problems that don’t dissolve under the sunlight as filtered through trees, dust swirling around your feet. My arms, laden with sleeping figgy, leaden with fatigue; my mind keeps flashing back to the contrast as the path threaded between clearing and copse, hot and cold, dark and light. We’ve been bouncing between health and sickness; I appreciate the peaks more after trudging through the valleys.


Playing Tourist

7 October 2009

Dear J-

For some reason I keep jumping the gun and thinking it’s already 2010 (now a real year to contemplate, not just a crappy sequel); it’s part of rounding up, here in the final quarter of the year.  All the typical signs are showing up — cooler weather (other places experience one last burst of summer — a false summer — here we get a week of cool weather and unpack the jackets, only to be hit by the dry, hot Santa Ana winds), Cal’s annual swoon on the gridiron, the Zoo clearing of tourists.

I know that tourism does big business down here in San Diego; we cross paths with folks in late-model neutral-colored domestic sedans all the time, doubly so as we go to the two most famous attractions here.   It’s interesting to see the tags hanging off strollers, trying to figure out where they’ve come from as they jockey for position in front of the topiay elephants or the “world-famous” sign.  I like seeing them around, but I also like going to the Zoo during the off-season and not having to jostle through crowds or shoulder past the congealed line snaking past the giant pandas.

I suppose that it’s luxurious to have an annual pass that allows us to pick and choose which things to see on any given day; I do not envy other folks with one-day admissions, who have to set a grim agenda and schedule for hitting all the canyons, up and down through the trees and glass.  Yet I wonder if the necessary evils of catering to the crowds — is it really a good idea to serve beer, for instance — are starting to take priority.  I’d be interested in comparing sources of revenue with the operating budget, and to see how admissions compare to concessions (the beer is insanely popular, from what I’ve seen).


Demand Recount

3 October 2009

Dear J-

It’s almost as though there’s a short checklist of things to do before the weekend is over in order to call it complete. We went to Sea World (theme park/tourist attraction, check) after heading out for breakfast (double check) and saw animals in various cute poses (on the list), throw a tantrum (several — dragging her away from the Forbidden Reef manta ray pool, explaining that the rides were not yet open for business), had lunch and dessert (yup), and watched a movie (mostly the Pixar repertoire now) before driving down that steep slope into sleep.

There’s a full moon tonight, which has traditionally been associated with lunacy and strange happenings. In some ways it’s no ordinary weekend — we have the Blue Angels passing over the house as part of the first-weekend-in-October Miramar Air Show; because of the hours I feel like I’m getting a late start on things and an early exit too. If we hold to a strict 28-day cycle, that means four weeks from now — Halloween — the moon should be full again; we should also be switching back to a more normal schedule with two full weekend days.

The Sea Lion Cries Tears 2361 -sm

All I really know is that so long as I can recount today I’ll be able to forge through the next four weeks on cruise control. We tick off our list not by rote or grudgingly, but at a roaring pace, exuberance as we growl in each other’s faces to pump up our excitement. So count them down with me. Four. Three. Two. One, ready steady go.