Sorry to have been out of touch. Sometimes real life has a way of painfully intruding. Making it worse my particular interruptions bordered on the boringly banal rather than the particularly profound.
Even within this banality I gathered important life lessons. Real loved ones (be they family or friends) step forward to help (if only with constructive criticism) . Those merely skirting the edges of your life run for the hills (making the whole process almost worthwhile). You best show strength with restraint (besides driving your enemies crazy). Being able to face a mirror with both your sense of humor and inner conscience intact is priceless.
Still I designed this blog to bring me joy and hopefully amuse my occasional readers. Thus no matter how exhilarating I may find certain battles, none will enter here. Instead I plan to plaster my pictures, blather about my web-based journeys, and ruminate on my obsession de jure. All best to satisfy my ADHD riddled mind.
My impulsive need for disclosure requires me to conclude with the following. Staying true to all parts of my personality – including the creative side – only strengthens me. I urge you all to nurture all your favorite parts as well. Feeding our strengths and happiness allows us to more easily stand by each other. Having achieved almost a half-century (gulp), I now realize the only thing we take and leave behind is love
Obviously it’s a rhetorical question since the hills generally offer the best views, freshest air, and (often) greatest safety.
Rather than launch into a screed regarding scarcity of resources, I’ll reveal another not-so-hidden secret to San Francisco. Our abundance of hills opens these benefits to the masses. All it takes is a willingness to climb or a SF MUNI pass. Moreover, you generally don’t have to go very far to find a sudden view. The ones to my left and right are only just outside my apartment door. Remember too, I can focus my camera to catch particular aspects of the picture. However, my eyes benefits from the whole shot.
Or I can take a few more steps up a short hill to find pictures of Sutro Tower. It’s an icon for locals and our communication venue. Someone once pointed out it looks like a clipper ship if you get underneath it (especially on a foggy night).
Still if you want the best views, it’s best to make the effort to climb some higher hills. When my health improves I’ll cast the proverbial wider net. In the meantime, I’ll cheat and stick to local venues like UCSF (one of the great teaching medical centers in the country if not the world).From my house, I can walk up the back entrance to both its buildings and gardens.
UCSF’s location on the semi-steep hills of Parnassus Ave provides stunning views of the Golden Gate Park, the Bay, and various local neighborhoods. Most people tend to avoid it, however, because it’s a cold, foggy, wind-tunnel. Eh it’s why us Sunset Natives love it (after all conditioning makes us curdle at sight of sun or is it we are vampires :)) It’s part of why – sadly – many of its practitioners are fleeing out to Mission Bay‘s better weather. Of course it probably has something to do with earthquakes as well.
Given my obsession with buildings, I appreciate what great views it provides of Golden Gate Heights and the Sunset. Though I can’t help but think of another native’s friendly gibe at me years ago. No matter how much some of us (e.g. me) may seek to flee the Church, we always tend to live within the sound of church bells. The pink imposing building in the lower picture is St. Anne’s Catholic Church and School (nope, not my alma mater). Nor does it skimp on views of the beautiful Craftsmen Houses in the area.
I whiled away the last hour or more on blog design. Confident a new theme, color scheme, or header picture would magically transform my blog into a high-end magazine knockoff, I grew frustrated as reality intruded. Namely, no quick set of clicks could suddenly elevate my work to match professionals. After all they poured years of sweat into learning their various trades, developing a host of innate talents, and acquiring multiple influences to inspire them.
In the past my Attention Deficit Disorder (“ADD”) inspired ineptitude would result in me tossing my hands up in despair and walking away from a host of creative projects. My mom on seeing the “look” would tease “out, oh better let the Wookie win.” My longtime ex-partner – her already too small house littered with my failed projects – more accurately described me as lacking discipline. My ex (a gifted musician) knew with practice comes, if not perfection, at least competence. Inside I saw only a fulminating frustration destroying another set of dreams. Fortunately I have inattentive ADD so I could quickly let it go after my initial outburst. Unfortunately, this ADD type made me forget to pick up after myself (gulp; remember I said “ex.”🙂
Then I discovered – relatively late in life – the virtual world of computers. Here I could save documents without running out of space, redesign pages without tearing them up with erasures, and manipulate hosts of objects without censure. Once again my childhood dreams of world domination resurfaced – if you follow this blog, you will see these dreams reappear on an almost weekly basis. :). Suddenly I could physically create documents resembling my inner designs. This greatly aided every job I went onto hold, whether complex or mundane, paid or unpaid. Moreover, I more easily tracked things, which previously disappeared along with the paper scraps holding them.
Fortunately designers of all stripes helped me to plunge feet first into this world. Each year designers made computers ridiculously easier to use and more beautiful to view. (I have the bills to prove it.) College English professors hammered the need for structure,balance, and variety from the simplest sentences to the most complex paragraphs. (Building on the foundation the nuns laid – albeit heavy handedly – when I was a child.) Gifted designers like Robin Williams shared secrets in books like “The Non-Designers Design Book.” (Classically boiling down the great principles Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity to the easily remembered CRAP.)
Despite the wide variety of fields represented, all emphasized Communication. More significantly each placed the responsibility on the writer, not the reader for understanding the message. However unlike my punitive inner self flailing in frustration, each provided methodologies and tools making it possible. Much like WordPress created an army of bloggers, these folks birthed design for the masses. Still much like a CPR class won’t turn us into heart surgeons, none of us will replace a truly gifted designer. It’s okay; the CPR class might get you to the heart surgeon, and a WordPress blog may carry your Little League team through a season.
Of course, it also means once again my ex was right. Sigh. Yet another lesson learned too late. Or maybe just learned later. Until the end, none of us can know whether something is “too late” or “just later.”Also some of us can only learn the hard way. Or ultimately my rationalization skills improved.
Dan Morain of the Sacramento Bee reports on the plight of those living near tainted wells in Central California. Folks there cannot (or should not) drink the tap water, open their mouths while showering, or cook with the water. Why? Tests have proven almost all the wells carry one or more toxins.Thus many residents must drive to Fresno to buy jugs of clean water. Ironically most are Latinofarmworkers who gather the crops helping to poison these wells.
Morain rightly criticizes government officials and wealthy environmentalists for failing to act. Governments pass the buck (but not the money) between local and state governments. Large agribusiness fear litigation so ferociously lobby against the few legislative efforts. Out-of-Area Environmentalists focus on replenishing entertainment areas like the Bay and Delta, or funding Third World countries‘ efforts to purify their water. In the interim, grinding poverty prevents Central Valley residents from leaving.
Many residents rightly fear developing current and future diseases. One mother even reported one of her children developing mouth cysts.
Of course as Morain rightly admits none of this is “new.” As such most readers will just skim the story as they search for an update on the latest celebrity hookup. This indifference always blows me away since we all live together. We really have no reason to believe diseases developing from long term exposure to dangerous toxins (including soil fumigant DBCP banned since the 1970s) won’t spread like past epidemics.
San Francisco now enters our most glorious weather period of the year. End of summer and early fall represent our warmest and clearest months. It brings clear blue skies (minus the fog), toasty warm days (upper seventies), and explosions of people on the street. Only the kids forced back to school as summer actually starts and sweatshirt vendors unable to clothe tourists in tacky memorabilia get upset. Everyone else throws on what passes for summer gear and heads out the door.
This past week I wandered through the Tenderloin in search of color and found small gardens dotting the landscape. Among my favorites was a riotous gathering of colorful flowers guarding the entrance to a rest home. Granted flowers were unlikely drought resistent nor did the garden make space for veggies (all important considerations. But its jumbled beauty brought smiles to walkers passing on the street.
Other parts of the garden appeared “organized” but are no less lovely in their color burst.
In contrast, City maintained parks line up in cool geometric patters to maximize space. However, none skimp on color or texture.
Sometimes also plants just randomly shoot up on their own on City Property (how appropriate it’s a lovely purple flowering plant).
Sometimes too it’s just a colorful tree on a median joining those near it to grab the maximum sun and attention.
Nor should I neglect the federal government, which has added a lovely garden of metal and flowers to its Golden Gate Courthouse.
Contrary to popular belief, San Franciscans like kids. We may not favor sharing SF MUNI space with strollers the size of mini-hummers. Nor do we possess wide swaths of land for expansive malls filled with mega theaters. However, just about every school based bond wins wide support. We book our recreation centers and public parks with back to back soccer and baseball games. Our cultural institutions open their doors for free on multiple days and sponsor youth oriented events.
This community concern and parental passion reaches it zenith, however, in the Tenderloin. There hard-working immigrant communities coexist with the hardcore homeless grappling with mental illness and/or substance abuse. In the Loin too often syringes litter the streets, urine permeates the air, and feces (from assorted mammals) turn sidewalks into hopscotch games. Much of this gets hidden from non-walkers by towering edifices paying homage to monumental egos.
Despite these obstacles, a quick look will turn up the some of the most vibrant and involved educational programs in the City both during and after school hours.
Volunteer organizations run day recreational programs, tutor students who often arrive not speaking English, and provide safe after school programs. Other groups provide financial support to these and other programs.
A clear example occurred last Thursday when a daytime showing of the Olympics headlined a community fair set up with free kid sized entertainment. Happiness both on the kids and the parents faces shone through the pictures (probably same expression appeared on faces hundreds of years ago in medieval times during Maypole Celebrations). ‘
All the pictures speak for themselves.
However, pay attention to a few things. One, its unclear if the pirate flag or the kids frightened the dragons more (regardless expressions on this arcade ride are priceless).
Two, the giant slide attracted the most users, but note the differing responses on the three children’s faces (joy, surprise, and fear).
Sheesh. We turn our back for a minute – remember we live and die with the SF Giants – only to find she skidded off again to “deep thoughts.” Talk about ruining a good time. She’s even talking politics again. While she glumly sorts through another spot of Vertigo (no, not the cool Hitchcock movie she always been too scared to watch), let’s clean this up.
Where’s our blog, you (and us) may well ask. Hmmphhh. Still negotiating. She tried to buy Buddy off with the red hat. Like one hat could ever be enough. Besides wait and see what we do to it during tomorrow’s St. Louis Cardinal‘s game.
We keep telling her sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll sells. Hell, we will settle for cute kitten or puppy pictures. Anything to lure a second (and less stingy) mommy in here. (Ooops, did we say mommy? Don’t get too excited, you will have to earn it to move beyond Guardian status.)
So we sorted through some of her remaining shots and grabbed the following.
Let’s start with a splash of color (at least she’s starting to pay attention to street items):
She even tried some weird angles (yes artsy technique needs lots of work but lets encourage her — though she probably could find a way to even make this political; shudder):
Like every good piece of fiction, each character suffered disappointment, overcame obstacles, and returned chastened. Regardless neither they nor the reader regretted the journey. Most, especially this reader, sought a pathway to return.
A life spent breathing San Francisco’s intoxicating smells – salty fog, innumerable spices, and perfumed humanity – doubtless contributed to this zest for adventure. Childhood’s culinary map included Chinese Dishes, Russian Piroshki’s, and (homemade) Greek Food; generally sold in nearby but still different neighborhoods. (Now it would be Thai, Ethiopian, and Indian, likely without as much travel but lessons still learned.) Prior to Proposition 13 – yes, I’m that old – museum, aquariums, and parks holding the world’s knowledge opened their doors for free. (Even now you can find a way to free days if you can fight the crowds.) Frankly today the babble of different languages, clashing customs, and the kaleidoscope of cultures make even SF MUNI an adventure. (Unlike some of my peers from the Outer Sunset, I — thanks to my mom’s early lessons — embrace San Francisco’s diversity.)
It’s why San Francisco continues to succeed through earthquakes, AIDS, and recessions.
Most of us came from somewhere else – or were raised by those folks from somewhere else – or wrongly get treated as being from somewhere else despite having families here going back generations. As such we know nothing forces us to remain stifled by custom or status quo. For those willing to remain so ignorant their stay is no longer pleasant. Or, on a happier note, food and/or persons from somewhere else often seduce them into knowing better. An honest look at San Francisco’s (California) history will reveal this has happened for centuries (when we used to pit ethnicities against each other, like we currently do with racial groups.)