Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mundaneness lurks. Art helps.

One thing that happens with the again and again of staying alive in a fairly stable situation is boredom. One thing that helps with that is being able to know more and more of what you know, and being able to communicate with someone what you really know, and not the blah-blah of consensus reality, that works and leave out much, including many people's hearts.

Being able to communicate what you really know can come out as art and help others know what they know and breathe deeply at the same time. Being able to communicate you really know can also leave know evident traces beyond the communication of the moment.

That communication can make the people involved feel better. It can also help the air below the air. The intangible shared space we live in, where what you know feels possible or feels like it's the wrong shape and size. Communicating in any form the true inside you knowing improves the shared reality for everyone, whether there is any five senses record of the communication or not.

Intangible means not feelable by people who limit themselves to the five consensus senses. Even people who do limit themselves in that way can feel pushed in from all sides or freed by brave and beautiful communications happening intangibly. We are always building the heart of the world.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In the New Testament, the story of Jesus' activities is told four times, in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In John, and not the others, there is a person referred to repeatedly as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." No name, just "the disciple whom Jesus loved."

Conservative Christians are sure what that doesn't mean.

I am not sure. It might mean Jesus had a clear best friend. It might mean that after Jesus died, someone wanted to sell the idea that he was Jesus' best friend, even though he wasn't. It might mean that Jesus who walked among jostling crowds and healed people, body and soul, got to sometimes spend time with his friend and feel great, body and soul.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I didn't know what the question was, but I knew the answer was do nothing, say nothing, and generally nothingize.

Monday, November 27, 2006

In the front room of the cafe, Egyptian music was playing on CD. In the back room, two guys were playing bluegrass. As I walked between rooms, I felt a common root of the musics. "There not much happening in this little town, so we will play many notes fast, and that will be what is happening."

There is much time for practice in such still small towns, and in the many notes game, practice makes beauty.
I'm not well-placed to hand out cut flowers or cut gems. My kind of thing is sometimes, "Here's a fact that, if you hold it in the light right, gleams like it's all worthwhile."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The opposite of revenge exists, like being kind to little kids, and they grow up and are kind to each other. Revenge happens after; unrevenge sometimes happens before. The child is treated kindly and doesn't do horrible things that inspire revenge.

It might be good to find ways to show that kind of action in art forms more. Or maybe it is in itself an art form, and that's it. Its existence is all that's needed; no further comment necessary.

Your work is valuable.
You don't have to be there. You are there.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Admission Day, what the heck. We could admit stuff. Until about 15 year's ago, Admission Day was a holiday in California. There at the end it was just a government and bank holiday, but a holiday none the less.

Letting California in as a free state and letting other places in as slave states was part of the deal that put off the Civil War a bit longer. Admission Day used to be a real holiday in California.

When Thoreau wrote "Civil Disobedience," he was writing about his response to the way California became United States territory. By a dirty little war, the Mexican War, take the land because you can.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Are we there yet? Yes.
Tool is a thug. He's been running a farm with immigrant workers without papers and being mean. Now his boss has him bodyguarding the boss's corrupt biologist and maybe killing.

We don't know if Tool has killed anyone before. It doesn't seem like a stretch from where he is, but it may not have come up before.

Carl Hiassen who grew up in Florida, lives in Florida and worked as an investigative reporter in Florida, writes fast moving merry myseries in which he gives the impression of being a cynic.

But he's not. Tool, a character in the Hiassen novel "Skinny Dip," is redeemed. He is changed. He is clearly and believably on the way to living a better life.

The way Tool is redeemed is believable inside the novel. Tool meets a nice old lady, nice but not dumb. He has gone into a nursing home to steal the kind of pain killer patch he is addicted to and that she has on. He has on a white coat, though he doesn't look like a likely doctor, nurse, or medical helper. He looks like a thug.

She is fine with giving him her patches, and strikes up a conversation with him. She finds out he is currently working as a bodyguard and she clearly has sensible ideas about what that might means, since he looks thuggish. She likes him. She tells him to be good.

He goes and see her several times, to get painkiller patches and because he likes her. He remembers that she said she liked watching birds and is happy when he finds on the TV a nature program about migrating birds.

He hasn't before been in the habit of noticing what people like and trying to give it to them.

When he sees a nurse from the Dominican Republic being kind to the old lady, he realizes the nurse could be the sister or daughter of some of the farm workers he has liked to beat up and he realizes that he really isn't in shape to go back to his old supervisor gig, after his body guard gig is over.

The basic bad guy in "Skinny Dip" is the corrupt biologist, Chaz. He doesn't like nature and bumbled into being a biologist for the state with luck and connections. His real boss and tools boss is a big farmer who hires him to fake the results of his water testing.

Using the kind of fertilizer his boss uses kills the lowest part of the food chain in the Everglades, the part that looks like gook. It therefore kills the Everglades, a complex river of grass and animals, and replaces the complexity with cattails. Cattails near the Everglades are a sign of humans killing an ecosystem.

The bad biologist works for the state, takes samples of water near the bad farmer's farm, and lies about how much fertilizer is in the water.

He is also a convincing expert witness is cares not a whit about accuracy.

The bad biologist has gotten in trouble because, like so many Hiassen characters, he is not only bad but stupid.

For a while, the bad farmer thinks its worth it to protect the biologist from the possible results of his stupidity by having Tool bodyguard him. Then the farmer decides the biologist would be better dead, and order Tool to kill him.

But Tool is in the middle of being redeemed by the old lady who likes him and tells him to be good. As the biologist runs away across the Everglades, Tool aims to miss him on purpose and does and the biologist gets away into the Everglades, of which he is terrified. On his own, he would only go there in a Hummer.

As they drive away from the non-murder, Tool and his boss, the bad farmer, stop by the side of the road and get in an argument.

The boss loses track of the fact that Tool is younger, bigger, stronger than him, and yells at Tool. Tool stabs him to death with one mighty blow with a piece of wood right there by the hillside. The guy had been pushing him to murder someone and he did.

The way Hiassen has set up the plot, Tool killing the guy who is making money by being mean to people born in other countries who don't have papers and by killing the Everglades looks a lot like part of Tool's redemtion.

At this point Tool has the biologist's Hummer, $500,000 in cash that the farmer was carrying around (there's alot of loose cash in Hiassen's South Florida), and an affection for the old lady.

He goes and springs her from the nursing home and asks her where she'd like to go. She says Canada to see the north end of bird migrations. And they're off.

Meanwhile, the biologist gets a truly appropriate fate that has been set up by several plot threads and which is left largely to the reader's imagination because it is icky. And so well deserved. We have spent a lot of time with this guy and his comeuppance seems about right.

Hiassen doesn't describe what a wound like the bad farmer dies of would be like in real life. He does describe with some vividness what the death of the Everglades is being like. Sometimes it's cat tails and sometimes it endless parking lots, shopping strips and samey houses.

Hiassen's novels, which are funny, could pass as being unrealistic. Though whenever I think that some wildly eccentric and often stupid character is unrealistic, I can feel Hiassen, the former investigative reporter, saying, "Oh no. Real life is odder than this."

This is the part where we didn't have the US-USSR nuclear war. This is the part where, maybe, we don't kill the environment. In the midst of the yucks, Hiassen might offer some hints.

He's a generous guy, Hiassen. I have given away much of the plot of "Skinny Dip," but there are still acres of plot I haven't touched, like why it's called "Skinny Dip" and the many adventures the wheeled suitcase filled with half a million in cash had before it joined the Canada bird watching excursion.

"Skinny Dip" has more attempted murders than murders, partly because the bad guys are dumb and think everyone else is as dumb as them. The Everglades isn't dead yet. Those that aren't bad and stupid just need to figure out what good and smart is like in action. Not just cat tails and houses, but a future with an enormous amount of texture is what we owe the kids' kids' kids' kids' kids.
It used to be that the traditional Christmas Day activity in New York City was rioting. Often in the nineteenth century on December 25, working class and poor white people would liquor up and go to affluent neighborhoods and to black neighborhoods to cause destruction and maybe hurt people.

"'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse." That is the beginning of a poem by Clement Moore that was part of a conscience campaign by affluent whites to change Christmas to a family holiday and keep people inside.

It worked. Often by the end of the 25th people are drunk and crabby by they are inside and the whole outside is quiet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Egg nog is nourishing, sweet, and sometimes intoxicating, as we can be to each other.
There is an Annie Street in San Francisco. It run parallel to New Montgomery and Third, between those streets.

The first part of Annie Street off Market isn't a street for cars anymore. It is a sitting place and growing plants place that isn't particularly well taken care of. Out in the neighborhoods, places like that, unpaved right of ways the city calls them, attract neighboring gardeners and become nice, but downtown isn't like that. Or isn't like that yet.

More upscale people are living downtown and it would be sweet if some would come down from there perches and make the beginning of Annie Street nicer.

When I first noticed Annie Street I thought it would be amusing to live there and have that be an address, but it isn't a place with residential addresses.

People do live on Annie Street, in a way and briefly. It's along one side of the Palace Hotel, the old grand hotel where President Warren Harding got sick and eventually died ahead of the scandal breaking.

So in a period of moneydom, I would rent a room at the Palace and ask for it to face on Annie and live on Annie for a night. After checking with Local 2 about how the Palace treats its workers compared to other local hotels.

Even if I had a ton of dough, it probably wouldn't be worth it to live on Annie Street for a day. I could become a gardener just to fix up Annie Street a bit, but probably not.

When I lived near citizen tended unpaved right of ways that looked like parks, I helped the citizen volunteer gardeners by picking up trash. I like doing that because it's easy. Gardeners don't like doing that because it isn't gardening, and it can make them feel their efforts are for naught.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The iron bears of Market Street, which people see and don't see all the time, make us strong.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

[Libraries are closed for both Thanksgiving, Thursday, and also the shopping holiday, Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. I probably won't be on line those days.]

Used to be Thanksgiving in the US was the last Thursday in November. Now it's the fourth Thursday in November, which is often the last. But not always.

At the beginning of FDR's first time when the economy was flat on his back, his idea was try anything, especially easy stuff to start the engines. Thanksgiving as the last Thursday was quite late so he made it be the fourth Thursday to extend the Christmas shopping season.

Some people who didn't like change or didn't like him called that the Roosevelt Thanksgiving and observed the other one instead. So with things quite bad all around, there were two days of thanksgiving--couldn't hurt.

Friday, November 17, 2006

When the Soviet revolutionaries went North to try to make the Northern nomadic people the Soviet idea of modern, they viewed shamans as the equivalent of priests--professional religious people who should have no power.

One Soviet revolutionary working in the area said that was hard because it was hard to distinguish between a shaman and a regular member of the tribe who knew how to play the tamborine, in fact, most or all men of the tribe he was working with had tamborines and beat on them in the evening. They were also very important to shamans.

Shamans in that tribe also didn't seem to be professionals. They didn't seem to get supported like Russian Orthodox priest.

The reason the Russia revolutionaries fixing Siberian tribes who didn't know they needed to be fixed wanted to know who was like a priest is so they could take away their vote in voting for the local Soviet, the worker's committee that was supposed to run everything. The revolutionary working in the tribe where all men had a tamborine and it was hard to tell who the shaman was didn't disenfranchise anyone.

Some people in the tribes didn't want to vote. It seemed to make the people elected superior to others. It also had no effect on the whether or the availibility of game to hunt and eat, so what was the point?

--Information from Arctic Mirrors: Russia and the Small Peoples of the North by Yuri Slezkine
A city is good for the brain because it is so clearly impossible to know what's going on. In a small town, I might also miss vast regions of going-on-ness, but people having similar styles and there not being very many of them could fool me into feeling knowing.

Much good stuff is happening, some bad stuff, tons in the grey and fertile middle, and in all those categories, much that I am not even qualified to see, whether I'm looking or not.

Maxine Hong Kingston writes in an essay about running into her aunt in Chinatown. Her aunt worked at one of the hotels as a maid, and Kingston asked about her salary. Having heard how low it was, she assumed it was some obscure hotel, but upon asking found that no, it was one of the world-famous glamorous ones.

She was curious if her aunt knew the word "maid," her job name in English. She said it and her aunt didn't even hear it. Kingston writes, if you don't know the word, you don't hear the word.

The city for me is rich in things like that. I don't know, so I don't hear, see, feel, smell, taste, not having been prepared.

The Kingston essay was in a book of essays about language. I read it because I was hanging out in the 400's at the library, 400's being language, and just a touch of folklore, in the Dewey Decimal system used in United States public libraries.

At that same time, I was reading a book that listed British usage--different words and words used different in Britain. One was "yonks," meaning a long time.

Most British series that are aired on PBS are filled with characters who use RP, received pronunciation, also called, over there, speaking posh. Most people in the UK don't speak that way.

In one of the rare series where people speak non-posh, the one about a housewife who solves mysteries that are serious but aren't murder (an interesting choice) I heard a character, a few days after my adventures in the 400's, say to another character, "I haven't seen you in yonks." A long time. Kingston is right. If I hadn't read the word lately, I wouldn't have heard it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

All this "baby" stuff in love songs in English, but one of the learnings from the focus that falling in love brings is noting in detail another way to be an adult.
Usually if the music is suddenly better in the downtown San Francisco Muni/BART stations, it's better in one style.

One day there is excellent folk singing or excellent bluegrass, and it seems like some event has pulled people in from here and there in these style.

One day last week the music at the Montgomery Station was better, but not like that. In the main part, primary in BART terms, ten men and women in concert black clothes were singing, well, Baroque multi-part music. Eight parts? More?

In secondary, a man was playing great jazz saxophone. In the little short hall to one of the few downtown BART exits that doesn't go right onto Market Street, two guys were superbly intertwining bluegrass notes.

This happened on election day, and causes me to feel that there may be a real change inside the office changes that happened that day.

Musicians like more kinds of music than their hardcore fans do.

Politicians are always tempted to say "Your taste is holy, and the best there is." Sometimes they yield to the temptation, which may get them elected but always flirts with making walking down the street less safe.

Walking from one kind of skilled music to another of wildly different kinds is easy. Leaders have the option of showing how easy it is, moving from one kind of riff to another and showing people different riffs are okay.

In early America, voting wasn't all that secret and politicians liked to give people alcohol as they voted. Negative ads and divisiveness are producing of a kind a drunkness. Skilled dj's in dance clubs can segue from something that people love to dance to something they intelletually thought they couldn't dance to and if it's done right, everyone keeps dancing. Any kind of leader can do that, even politicians. Any person can be that kind of leader now and then.
God may be blessing American,

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Three quiet people on the trolley. They were peering out the windows intently, obviously looking for someplace specific they hadn't been before, but they didn't seem like tourists. No talking. Tourists talk about where they've been, where they're going, look at that, lots of things, partly because they are nervous and excited. They talk partly as a way of holding hands and feeling less scared.

These three looked and said nothing. Parents on the thirty/forty border and their twelve-ish son. They all seemed kind of Financial District, even the kid. Seriously serious. Then the son pointed to DXL, the skateboard store on Market St.

They got off at the next stop without speaking. I imagined that they had come in from the suburbs of San Francisco. I imagined them buying a skateboard for the son. I imagined him getting home and taking the skateboard away from the house and practicing skateboard tricks over and over and making noise.
If you are gardening and something arises that you didn't plant, you can call it a weed, or you can call it a volunteer.
I smelled skunk today.

I was three blocks from Golden Gate Park, so it wasn't mysterious, but it made me happy. We haven't killed all the animals yet.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jeanette Rankin, the first woman in the US House of Representitives, the first woman in any part of Congress voted against the US entering World War I. Now a woman leads the House, Nancy Pelosi, as head of a group of Democrats who largely ran on an anti-this-war platform.

When the change isn't just in body details or ethnic background, but in both style and substance things start to get interesting. Women as a group to date don't seem to feel the same drive to resolve things by physical conflict. When women get political power they sometimes seem to need to prove that they can be feisty like guys. But if we move beyond that, we might be actually changing --moving from the change of spreading the jobs around, a good thing -- to changing how things are done and what happens--which could be a better thing.
The way it's set up around here is that part of the time there is a lot of naturally occuring light outside, and you can see far. Other times there is little natural light outside and you can't see far. There may well be human-engineered light, but it won't help you see as far as when there is a lot of natural light. Sometimes the transition between the time with lots of naturally occuring light and the time with much less naturally occuring light is pretty.

Monday, November 13, 2006

All these abstractions I think of and theories but still whether it's a rainy day where it's raining a little or one where it's raining a lot makes a huge difference to me. I think big and live little, inside nature who knows much more than I do, like how to water a whole region at once.
Actual on-going good news makes my torso be different--more solid, more relaxed.
Four friends were enjoying each other by means of talking in the sun on the sidewalk. One woman stretched a big stretch and kept her hand in a relaxed fist. The shadow of her knuckles at the top of her stretch exactly fit into the corner of a sidewalk square because it was a day when things found many ways to fit together.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

People have not yet gotten the relationship between the existence of automatic weapons and bravery.

So you bravely charge into the automatic weapon group and get cut down. So?

So you wield an automatic weapon and mow people down. So?

In World War I, the existence of automatic weapons gave defense a huge advantage. The generals of the time, called in one book about them "the donkeys" didn't want to know and didn't know.

They kept wanting to think that some other form of sending brave acting men out of the trenches into automatic weapon fire would have a different outcome.

Thousands of men, a generation of Europe acted brave in those charges and were supported in those charges by various offensive ideas and died anyway.

A young man in the street kills someone with an automatic weapons, maybe several people. So?

I don't think ideas of manhood have gotten the memo so men, women and children keep dying.

The lesson was available in the US Civil War. Picket's Charge, Battle of Gettysburg, the Southern guys took the fight to the Northern guys' territory. They bravely marched up a long hill into withering automatic weapon fire. So their bravery did what? Caused them to die.

But European military thinkers weren't into taking the US Civil War seriously. Famous military thinker Clausowitz said that war was mobs roaming the countryside occasionally facing each other. At first, it was. The first part of "A Red Badge of Courage" seems just like that. The Northern mob bolts to the rear in a scared mob way.

But later it wasn't like that. It was more like World War II. We the generals tell you the young guys to advance into automatic weapons fire. So?

Someone with a little less invested in old fashioned ideas of bravery needs to somehow think and speak about this in a way that can be communicated to young men.

Joe Marshall of the San Francisco Boys and Girls Clubs is having a conference on Urban Violence in Birmingham. He wants youth alive and free. Yes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The person waiting for the walk light was probably about ten.

His orange hooded jacket hung from his head and down his back, sleeves and all. He was treating it as a cape, moving himself so as to move the jacket.

Sometimes he flourished it like he was Superman and sometimes he made it jiggled it like he was a severely bored human being impatiently passing time.. He went back and forth between being six and sixteen.
Two interesting sports stories around here are ill-timed from my point of view.

I want interesting sports stories to follow when national politics or international happenings have totally got me down. Then I escape to detailed reading of the sports pages, instead of skimming.

But now I love much of the national news, Dems retake Senate and House, so the sports stories are wasted.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No outlet is what the sign at the top of a block of steep street said, but in San Francisco, that might mean no outlet for cars.

I felt a staircase coming on. It was morning and two people dressed for work rushed past me down the no outline street. For sure, there had to be steps.

Yes, the Saturn steps on Saturn Street in the uphill toward Twin Peaks part of the Castro. Lots of great plantings beside the steps. Civic participation, democracy in action is what those plants are.

From having lived near some steps that are administratively a street, I know that all the nice plantings that are done are done by neighbors. The steps are streets to the city government. They are under the Department of Public Works like the streets are.

DPW will help some with making the area around street/steps nice, but they are not Parks and Rec. Plants and pretty aren't their thing.

So people make those places nice again and again, all over the city. The only steps I've seen that haven't been lovelyized are surrounded by impossibly steep ground.

It's not just voting, democracy. It's people feeling they can make a move that they think betters thing. Where people can do that fairly easy it's like a different planet from where they can't.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In Jane Smiley's short, good biography of Charles Dickens, the single most useful part for me was when she write that it would be inappropriate from her to use a modern classification that didn't exist at the time and call Dickens manic-depressive.

What was useful for me is that she got the manic depressive idea in there.

Dickens is good, but he is a very bumpy read. So very one mood on one page and then a page later so very another mood. So realiitic feeling, even at this late date, on one page and so sentimental and corny seeming a paragraph or two later.

And, as his contemporary George Eliot pointed out, so much better at the outsides of things than the insides of people. He will describe some place, the Old Curiosity Shop, say, in detail that makes it realler as I read it than many places I've actually been. Then he describes Nell, who is beautiful and perfect and her grandfather who is a good person and a gambling addict and they are too simple to believe in when I pick up my eyes for a second and get away from Dickens' voice and his intense need to believe in his characters.

Dickens might have been better at things than people because there was a lot about himself that he didn't want to know or didn't know how to know. He just got it out by writing intensely and with what seems from here very differing quality.

Going from the detailed description of the Old Curiosity Shop at the beginning of the novel named that to the description of the two people in the Old Curiosity Shop is like falling off a cliff. The shop and its many objects, the people less textured than many cartoon character.


Nell, who is a child, is beautiful and good. Her grandfather loves her but is flawed.

He loses the store because he borrows money on it and gambles it away. The guy he borrows money from is evil, and otherwise unmotivated. Long after all money is gone and Nell and the grandfather are wandering around England, the evil guy follows them to harass them though he has not motivation.

Since Nell is beautiful, his motivation could be some kind of sexual obsession, but that absolutely isn't there. Dickens also in this book creates a world in which there is much poverty but no prostitution. The whole world has to be without prostitution to protect Nell, who is beautiful and has a gambling addict grandfather from a rather obvious outcome in a world with prostitution.

It's not that Dickens never has prostitution. If you read "Oliver Twist" with the knowledge that prostitution is something that exists, it is fairly obvious that Nancy is a prostitution and Bill Sykes is a mean guy who lives off her earnings, while also doing other bad things. If you don't know that prostitution exists, reading "Oliver Twist" probably wouldn't clue you in, but it's there.

In the "Old Curiosity Shop," with Nell's beauty and her grandfather's intense gambling emphasized again and again, prostition doesn't exist.

Nell seems like some missing part of Dickens he is trying to reach out to through intensity.

"The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer" says for the first marathon the only goal is to finish.

To think of a certain time is ungood.

To think that walking part of the time is bad is ungood.

Most first time marathoners will hit the wall around eighteen to twenty miles in. Overwhelming fatigue will happen. The body can't store food for as long as a first time marathoner needs to finish the marathon, so the period of feeling bad that can happen to experienced marathoners is very likely for first time marathoners. If they were running fast enough to avoid the running out of stored food hitting the wall experience they would probably be stopped by injury.

At this point, the point is to keep moving. Walking with your head held high remembering the goal is to finish is good. Thinking of some time that you had made up to finish in and realizing that you won't make that time and therefore you have failed is ungood.

Your only goal is to finish. By walking, running slowly, keeping moving you are proudly moving toward that goal.

Success if finishing. The plan in this book involves training for sixteen weeks, never running more than four days a week and never running 26 miles and a little, the marathon length, in training, only running it on race day.

Two of the authors have trained many non-runners, and the only person who didn't finish was a man who didn't hydrate enough, drink enough liquids on race day. The object is to show people they can do what they think they can't do. If they are willing to do exactly that and work hard and not bring it extra ego goals. Finish in whatever time, maybe walking with head held high, you can do it.
Here are a group of women who aren't married, who spend a lot a time attending and helping out at their Anglican church. They probably have a small income and don't have to work. They may have a regular volunteering gig.

They also have insides and feeling and relationships. Their relationships do not involve sex.

Barbara Pym the novelist wrote like these women and their feelings and relationships mattered.

She also wrote as if their feelings and relationships mattered exactly as much as the feelings and relationships of people who perceived themselves as cutting edge intellectuals.

The equating of these kinds of people tended to make the single church women matter more and the intellectuals matter less than is generally perceived.

Her work was fairly popular when she was young in the fifites, very unpopular as the sixties hit (she couldn't get published) and popular again in the late seventies and eighties when she was older.

One criticism of her books when they weren't liked that was nothing happened.

I think a big problem was saying that the personal life and feelings of the kind of person who reviews books is no more important than the personal life of a single older woman who helps out at church.

She makes the case well. It is grounding and not necessarily easy to hear,
In the English Civil War of the 1600's, the rebel against the monarchy, who were radical Protestants won for a while. They ran the government. There was no king but a Protector.

But they couldn't govern over time. They disagreed with each other too much about religion and about how government should be. They just couldn't settle down and deliver that frequently dull thing that good government often is.

So some people called back the son of the beheaded king and everyone pretty much went along with it because at some point people in general are tired of intense arguments about government and God and just want to get on with their lives while those who want to do government do it without bothering other people much.
Going uphill to watch the sunset is a frequent activity in Berkeley, facing west as much as it does. Public parking lots uphill on clear days often have a lot of sunset watchers. Sometimes not. A friend of mine and I went up in her car to watch the sunset and were slowed a bit by seeing just one other car. We drove closer to catch it out. It was five guys in suits. I said, "I don't think they're going to hurt us right now."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Four men in business shirts and ties and suit pants sit down at an outside table in the Financial District. One says, "Let's talk about the numbers." They look serious as the beautiful day wafts around them.

Would it be useful to have one word for the things not included in the numbers? The beauty of a beautiful day, for example, the sound of a happy child playing a singing nearby and the events in life that have kept that child capable of being happy, the largely unnecessary beauty of colors, lots of things.

"Let's talk about the not-numbers." Someone in a group sitting down says that, and then what is said?
Being good at something that the culture around you says doesn't exist is hard. Humans have been bailed out again and again with skills that those saved can't see. Sending backward and forward a humble thank you for what I can't even understand that I don't understand.

Guardian angel behavior often comes from humans who are sneered at or who are good at being simultaneously talented and subtle.
I actually saw Alix Rosenthal this morning, as she handed me a postcard in favor of her candidacy for Board of Supervisors at the Castro Muni Station.

I didn't ask her either of the questions I have about her. "Do you have the slightest chance of winning," I wonder. Her incumbent opponent, Bevan Dufty, has refused to comment until the day after the election on a big district event, 10 people injured, 9 by shooting, at the big Castro Halloween party. His refusal to comment is symptomatic of a person who is absolutely sure he's going to win.

The other question "Are you a full-fledged lawyer? If so, why are you semi-closeted about it?"

Alix Rosenthal, who I couldn't vote for but probably would if I could, appeared on the scene as the party hearty candidate. Way into Burning Man, fearing that San Francisco is headed toward being less frolicsome than in the past, she was a candidate for well-managed fun. That seemed to be the whole thing.

Then, as time went on, it emerged that she had, as she said, "legal training." A very good thing, I think, especially in her case. When someone is running for office from an alternative place, I am concerned that they wouldn't actually want to do the government job they are seeking, which involves always, many meetings and being serious about pieces of paper.

So it slowly emerges that she works now as a Deputy City Attorney in Oakland. So she already does that meeting, paper life. Very good. She says it would be good to have someone on the Board of Supes who knows how to write laws, which is something she does in her current job.

Sounds good to me. At this point I perceive her platform as being, "Party hearty and write good laws."

Then as the election neared, she put out a newsprint flyer, the size of four pages of a tabloid newspaper, that comments on many city issues, like the city should be greener in its buying policies. Like the murder rate needs to be stopped or it will expand to other, non-poor sections of the city. The day after I read that was Halloween and there was the shooting in the affluent Castro involving youth from poor neighborhoods.

But nothing in the flyer about party hearty.

It said she graduated from the University of Virginia Law School. I'm almost sure she's a lawyer, but the way she doesn't talk about it would fit not having passed the California Bar, which is notoriously hard. Would Oakland employ a deputy city attorney who hasn't passed the California Bar? I don't know. Why doesn't she say the sentence, "I am an attorney," or however she wants to put it?

I don't know. Maybe she is a full-fledged lawyer, and in her Burning Man and party life she's gotten used to being coy about it.

Anyway, I like her, and can't vote for her. Interesting campaign, though. It looks like she started as a no-hope person trying a make a statement, and did better than she expected, partly because of existing unhappiness with the incumbent. Also did better than she expected because she's a perfectly reasonable candidate. She seemed genuinely happy to hand me a postcard, a feeling and skill successful politicians need. Common sense says she's lose. Time will tell, and pretty soon.
A miracle often is something being kind where you don't expect it, where you just expect business-like behavior or physics.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's still a miracle, long after I'm kind of used to it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Something about the way the man in the BART station sang it made me hear it differently. "Oh, Susannah, don't you cry for me. . ." What kind of man sings to a woman about not crying. A man who makes women cry on a regular basis.
The yellow at the edge of stairs is made to find what light there is. The yellow at the edge of stairs shines forth on a grey down louder than the other colors as if it reached behind the clouds and brought the sun down.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Riding underground public transportation may be a time to bless silently in an upward direction all that is happening at street level and bless silently sideways all the intelligence and metal and concrete that supports the street level events.

All the people on the train, bless them silently. Bless what makes the train work, the mechanisms and their makers.

Bless deep. The Earth is mostly down below the reach of our senses. It might not hurt to sit on a train a little way into our large home and bless its heart.
Shiny colors. Grumpy thoughts. It's raining.

But why grump? I ask myself. The sidewalks can reflect things today, which on dry days is beyond their ability. When concrete gets a new super-power, I might as well smile.
Bless. Bless
Bless. Bless.
Bless. Bless. Bless. Bless.
Bless. Bless. Bless.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Good things about Main Street and Central Street in San Francisco is that they aren't.

Main is off Market Street running in one direction, south, on one side of the Federal Reserve building as Market Street gets close to the Ferry Building and the Bay.

Crossing Haight Street, Central is one street in the downhill direction from Masonic. It's where the Haight-Ashbury shopping district ends really, though it kind of feels like it ends back at Masonic.

In addition to being not main or central, Main and Central Streets have in common a grey wall and money motif.

Main goes by the side of the Federal Reserve of San Francisco building which there manifests as a big grey wall. It ends in a fenced parking lot where armored money trucks come in and then go out the other side of the parking lot on Spear Street. People in the building behind the wall think about money in big abstract ways and also one dollar bills and their friends come and go.

Central and Haight has the Haight Central Market which has starting at the corner of Central and going along Haight Street a mural once a grey paint base. There's a little bit of wall and mural right at Central, then the door to the store, the a much longer bit of mural along Haight Street.

The mural is black and white and orange paint on grey. There are great big skillfully done drops of water in black and grey. There are jagged lines, graffiti art feeling, in black and grey. The large and numerous utility meters on the wall are painted orange which gives them a just-in-from outer space feeling that makes them more interesting than the average meter and are a reminder that meters are both common and odd.

That's all on the long part of the mural. On the short part right next to Central on the other side of the door, there's a big drawing of a rasta kind of guy who looks like he just moved his head and his dreads are still swinging. He looks like he's basically happy, not in a perky way but because he's found for himself a good way to live and work against what's wrong.

"Don't gain world and lose your soul. Wisdom is better than silver and gold," are the orange words next to him. He is like an excellent charcoal sketch, blacks and greys. His head is outlined, his hair is outlined in a thing band of orange, like his life intention gleaming.

The drivers of the armored trucks that go in and out of the local Fed can't go just go down some street cause it looks interesting. It is straight from one money place to another for them. It is lucky to have a life where you can make an unimportant byway central to you because it feels good.

The building of the Federal Reserve in San Francisco is secretly and openly not grey. It looks grey from across the street. It implies grey if you rush by its shiny sky reflections. If you look straight at it close up and can avoid reflections, the stone that it is faced with at sidewalk level is made of bits of black and white and what's that third color? The third color might be brown, might be pink, might be a bit like the pink of pink quartz that if you carry it in your pocket, it's supposed to help your heart.
Mark Salzman liked the kung fu TV show and that lead to learning some Chinese martial arts, learning about China to the extent of studying Chinese literature in college, speaking Mandarin and semi-speaking Cantonese, going to China to teach English, learning that China has many forms of martial arts, none of which are called "kung fu."

In his book about working in China, "Iron and Silk," he wrote, "In the West, Chinese martial arts are called 'kung fu' or 'gung fu,' but the word gung fu actually means skill that transcends mere surface beauty. A martial artist who technique is decorative but without power 'has no gung fu,' whereas, say, a calligrapher whose work is not pretty to look at but reflects a strong austere taste certaintly 'has gung fu.'"

Gung fu seems like a cousin in meaning of the ancient Greek word that is often translated as "virtue." To the ancient Greeks it meant doing what one was doing with great skill and in a way that expressed the essence of the task. Baker, potter, soldier, all could have virture because of their skill and the depth of understanding it showed.
To be like a kid learning what the possibilities are instead of like an adult knowing what the possibilities are.

Severe cases of adulthood lead to "I can't fit that into my pre-existing ideas, so it didn't happen."