October 28, 2014

Island Home Companion - The News from Fernside Island

ZW: Well it’s been a quiet year in Fernside Island, my home town, out there edge of the San Francisco Bay. As this is our inaugural show, I’ll have to fill you in here with a few details about it. Fernside Island is the third island of Alameda, California. Those of you from the Bay Area know about the main island of Alameda, but few tend to know about Bay Farm Island and even fewer know about Fernside. You see, there was an incident, it happened about 1948 I believe, when the State transportation toll authority commissioned a report on the potential of building a second crossing over the San Francisco Bay. The first option would have been building the exact same bridge right next to itself, to help relieve congestion. But it still meant clogging up the same areas of the city, so the Toll Authority considered clogging up another part of the city.
And that crossing would have would have gone through Alameda. Possibly through Bay Farm and very likely through Fernside. And as we all know, the government is usually kindly there to inconvenience us, to ruffle our feathers and then all of a sudden, before you know it, it does nothing and you’re left in the dark wondering if your house was suddenly going to turn into a bridge pier overnight. When the toll authority stopped contemplating malicious plans to turn our front gardens into a work site, they forgot about Fernside and incidentally, so did Alameda. But in any case, we here in Fernside island are usually left to our own devices. We have an unobstructed view of San Francisco from our homes, the sea grass tends to make up our lawns as opposed to crab grass and we usually do most of our business on bikes.
An engineer by the name of Ralph Mastick living on the northern tip of the island had found one day sometime back in the late 1950s that when he was about to jump into his car and drive over to the car ferry dock that it was nowhere to be found. Instead, in his front drive, there was a depression of sorts. Somewhat car shaped, about six or seven feet deep and at bottom of course, was his brand new Buick. Now most normal people would file an insurance claim against the car but no, most Fernsiders (as we call ourselves) tend to be a blend of genius, eccentric and down-right stupid. You see, what Mastick decided to do instead of what normal people do was dig a ramp down into the depression so that he could drive the car out. At first, he tried a forty five degree angle and this he decided was simply too steep for a seventeen foot car to drive out of so he took it a step further and did the calculations and found he would need a fifteen degree angle. Now, some of you who are clever know that the ramp would be somewhere around ten feet long. Now for an engineer, that would have been sufficient, but Ralph see, decided he’d take it a step further and dig a thirty foot long ramp, effectively making it a nice gentle one and four incline.
So he set to work, his mind completely focused on getting his Buick out forgetting that digging in the middle of the street required permission from his neighbors and of course the city, but being the methodical man that he is figured that he could do it over a weekend before his neighbor, one Marion Little would be back from staying with her sisters in Sacramento. Well, when there seems to be any sort of digging to be done, it seems to attract men to the hole. Sort of like flies to a pie absently minded left out to cool and forgotten until two days later. Well, if we keep going with the metaphor, in two days time, you find that you haven’t got any pie to eat, just a pie tin and what basically are the remnants of hard work with no reward. Well Ralph tried and when he started to dig, he found that suddenly, he was surrounded by the men in town, all watching him, smoking cigarettes and telling dirty jokes. Now Ralph isn’t one to be left out of any sort of male bonding experience and it quickly turned into a barbecue when Ted Ferguson down the street brought over his brand new charcoal grill and the pit became a sort of hideout. Just deep enough to not be visible from a distance so if wives looked down the street from the intersection, they’d see a strange curl of smoke, wisping up, smelling strangely of hot dogs and
hamburgers. Late into the evening, Ted’s wife Lucille looked out the front room window to see where Ted had disappeared to the entire day and could only see that column of smoke coming from the darkness. She couldn’t be bothered to try to figure out what it was, so she figured he must have been down at the Beachcomber bar and hotel.
Most of us tend to find that one day of fun usually turns into two and before you know it, while the ramp was finished in the first few hours and the car driven out and parked at the end of the cul-de-sac, but those boys found that they enjoyed their fortress. As many of us know from our years of childhood, we tend not to continue maturing well into our late twenties. But it seems that these guys here in particular wouldn’t reach their mature vintage sometime until 1973.
Well, Sunday evening rolled around, and by this time, a wind started to pick up and to explain a little about the street that Ralph lived on, he lived at the end, his nearest neighbor was Marion whose house was about thirty feet away and at the end is Ted’s house. On the other side, it abuts the sea wall and the beach below. So they had all gone to bed and what they didn’t know, since Ralph was a mechanical engineer and not a soils engineer was that the sea wall only went down four feet. Well, suddenly, the sea gave way and pushed its way into the seven foot deep pit. Well, an exceptional high tide usually scares most Fernsiders and that was what happened to have occurred so suddenly, this forty five foot hole with a gentle thirty foot ramp became a forty five foot hole with no gentle ramp and about five feet of water. It sort of sucked out the material that made up the ramp. Well, while they dug, they contented themselves to throw the dirt over the sea wall, thinking that they’d just pull it up later and fill in the hole.
On Monday morning, Marion had left Sacramento at seven AM in the highest of spirits after seeing her sisters Edith and Alice who had decided to host a Tupperware party while she was visiting and Marion made the trip in good time driving herself in her little Nash Metropolitan full of Tupperware with the lids on everything. Her car ferry had docked at ten a.m. and Ralph was still asleep, nursing a hangover fueled by greasy burgers and in his dreams, he dreamt about his car, and the subjects of dirty joke concerning a show girl and a nun, were sitting in the back seat. Well, Marion made the short drive to the northern end of the island to go home when she passed by Ralph’s Buick at the entrance of the cul-de-sac and she looked at it. Puzzled as to why it would be sixty feet away from Ralph’s front door when suddenly, she had to stomp on her brakes to avoid driving down into what looked half of an Olympic sized lap pool.
The street was gone, but the sidewalks were still there and so were their houses, but where the road should have been it looked all caved in, full of water and she could barely make out at the far end, what looked like Ted Ferguson’s brand new charcoal barbeque floating, slowly bumping against the sides of this pool. Now, a Nash Metropolitan doesn’t weigh too much, but when loaded with Tupperware all bristling with Edith and Alice’s country style cooking, it starts to add up and Marion, not exactly a sprig herself found that the earth began to shake and she looked to her left and right and caught Ted’s eye who just happened to be looking out his kitchen window with a cup of coffee when all of a sudden, the earth disappeared below her car and it dropped, it dropped into pit and suddenly, the forty five foot hole became a fifty five foot hole.
The look on Ted’s face could say it all, one moment, he watched the Sea Foam green car waiting at the edge of the pit and suddenly, there was nothing save for the white hard top of the car and an audible screech. Quickly bursting through the back door, he ran up to pit thinking there still was a ramp, but there wasn’t one to be seen. The amount of earth that the car had managed to subside, pushed a
considerable amount of water to the far end towards Ralph’s house and the tidal wave hammered against the earth, pulling a lot of it back with it and suddenly, you could feel the anticipation when suddenly, Ralph’s detached garage decided to take up diving and crashed into the water. Now, in turn, the garage not please with being uprooted from its decades of solid footing sent a wave back. By now, Ted was in the hole helping Marion out and the water was rushing towards them. Their screams were eerie when the wave pushed them over and when they came out again, they were caked in mud.
By this time, Ralph was disturbed from his sleep and ran out of his kitchen door to see what was causing all the noise. Ralph’s kitchen door opens straight into his drive way. Bearing in mind, if his garage was gone, pretty much his driveway would be too. When he caught sight of the Grand Canal that had formed itself overnight, he didn’t think to look down where he was walking. Well, very quickly, two people sopping wet turned into three.
They quickly had gotten out, and all three of them were fortunate that whoever built their houses had known that a deep pile footing would be best. So while the road was gone, their houses were fine. Now, something on this scale obviously won’t go unnoticed in town and pretty soon, the children of the islanders enjoyed having this new swimming pool and the word got around until the city realized it had to do something about this.
Now, since the Mayor of Alameda didn’t want to have much to do with the folk on Fernside so naturally, the community came up with a little body of councilors to help resolve issues. Don’t get me wrong, Alameda still throws money at us, they just don’t like having an extra seven hundred people to deal with. But anyhow, the councilors had this huge problem on their hands and their first priority was getting Marion Little’s car out of the hole. Unfortunately, if the weight of one car could barely be handled by the ground, it certainly couldn’t hold up a crane for that matter. So these councilors (one of who was Ralph by the way) came up with the idea to extend the ramp. Just like Ralph had done in the first place.
Well, they got her car out okay, but it was absolutely ruined, luckily all the heavy country foods in their little plastic containers had survived so Marion wasn’t too broken up the day they managed to get the Nash out. Her insurance covered the car so she could afford a Cadillac if she really wanted, but she realized that she might need a speed boat more than a car.
The city councilors had set aside enough money to dig up the ramp to get Marion’s car out, but they somehow had forgotten to put a little more aside to fill up the hole that was left behind. They probably put Ralph in charge of that part, but anyways, the hole kept growing in size until they lost three streets and gained three canals in their place. Very quickly, people got rid of their cars on the island, bought up golf carts or scooters or what have you weighing under a ton. So what we once called the Silver Coast we’ve renamed Little Venice. We don’t mind, so much as long as the people up there do. They’re just like us except they use boats more and the fact that they started building buildings to look more like Venetian buildings helps bring a crowd every so often to put a little bit of tourism money in our pocket.
So that’s the news from Fernside Island where the women are clever, the men not so much and the children are equal opportunity dreamers.

January 15, 2014

Welcoming in the New Year

Every time I think about the start of the new year, I can't help but hear that little song that Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed on her youtube channel Hellogiggles.

I know as a big butch manly man, I can't help but smile whenever I hear these two performing in this case. But with nothing better to do than to watch videos of celebrities singing and playing instruments at the same time, I've decided to reflect a little on the past fifteen days of this new year so far.

Falling out with RideShare
I no longer side with the cause of ridesharing. You may recall from an earlier post, that I was indifferent. It was handy granted on my friend's birthday getting from SOMA up to Polk street for a night of drinking. But the fare then was eleven dollars. I had to use it to get my drunk friend from SOMA back to the middle Richmond and guess how much a normally 25 dollar fare ended up costing me? EIGHTY FIVE DOLLARS. Let that sink in for a moment, since i've had fifteen days for that to soak in. Lyft and UBER decided to launch peak pricing new years eve that night, charging unsuspecting riders an additional 175% of the normal fare for tip. Granted, if I was a driver working that night, I would have been more than pleased to find someone to drive around and then make a boat load of cash.

But that night, I wasn't a rich financial banker or someone loaded with money because of my startup. I'm an ordinary twenty something with no money. I remember a time when it seemed like every twenty something was in the same predicament that I was in and now, everyone seems to have boat loads of cash. Where's my cash? So I'm very well hoping that the MTC does something about this ride share problem to help the cab company. At least the cabs didn't charge that much.

Itchy Hometown
Coming home, I've met up with friends from New York and realized how much I missed them and missed people who were musically talented to be around. I'm a little reticent to find people to live with in the near future if they're not musical. Worse off if they love music, but only top fifty stuff! I might just opt to live in a cardboard box, but I hear even those rents are going up in San Francisco.

So what does that mean, you met up with some people from New York? Well, I think if anything, it shows how much I'm growing tired of living in the bay area and itching to move far away to somewhere new. For me, I'm hoping it will be a welcome change. As much as i've enjoyed living here in the bay, being spoiled by its moderate weather, progressive fundament, it's become all kinda old and stale. I've been toying with the idea of moving away to Portland or to New York City now, but I'm just edgy trying to contemplate whether or not I could even afford to live in New York. I'm fairly certain, if I find a job in Portland, at least there, I can afford the more moderate rent. To give you an idea of how expensive rent is in New York, The rent on a one bedroom apartment there can rent me an entire house and pool in a nice neighborhood of Portland. So there's that.

My friend from New York, Darrell, has been slightly itchy himself to move back home to the Bay Area to start up a guitar company along other things. Neither of us know anything about building guitars, but dammit, we'll give it our best try if anything. Besides, the quality and craft of a novice guitar maker probably will be a lot less controversial than what Gibson has been doing lately. I like the idea myself too, living up in Sonoma, with all the rolling hills, having a little farmhouse dedicated to building guitars and stuff. I see several acres of land, rolling brown grassy fields with a a few horses here and there, and several farm houses, one for Darrell, one for myself, and the rest for others. Then a large warehouse for guitar production and a kinda nature center deal for recording music.

Romance? Pfffft...
So if you know, i've always been complaining about the lack of a significant other in my life. My mind this past holiday break has been dancing back to this one person at school in Berkeley, but I have no idea how to read her. I don't even know why I would want to date her. She postulated that question before we parted ways for the holidays, but I gave it a lot of serious thought and I still cant answer that question. I still feel a desire to date her for some reason, but I can't explain why. There are a few people in the world, that when you meet them, you don't need a reason, but you want to learn as you go along. There's nothing wrong with that, I think, but who knows.

So those are the three big topics that have been plaguing me the past fifteen days. So maybe some change would do me a world of wonders.

December 15, 2013

DRM: The Sort-of Necessary Evil

As a citizen of the 21st century who lived in the 20th (which usually means most of us), we have come to see one of the greatest changes in technological life styles. Into a society made up of families that own multiple cars (mine owns four), a personal computer for each person and a larger social network tied down into a new found closeness with apps, competitive games and video chatting on demand. We no longer leave a voice mail asking someone to call back but instead text them to see what they're up to that they can't pick up the phone. Literally banging on the door and yelling talk to me now. We are more than happy to criticize behind the anonymity of the internet and not fear the consequences of speaking out.

It's all good and bad, but I speak to you all today as an Artist both in the performing and the visual sense. I think my emotions were most stirred earlier in the week when I came across an article describing the burgeoning change in a sexual society and they used an image. This particular image was obviously an image drawn by another human being and then posted proudly on their Flickr account. But looking at the image citation, it cited: Image Source: Flickr. You can't begin to imagine how many shades (more than fifty I guarantee you) of wrong this is. The fact is that this is individual art and yes while it is hosted on Flickr, is not something that Flickr made.

Simply saying image source: Flickr is not enough, you've bypassed the entire train of human creativity that led to the image being hosted on Flickr in the first place. In no way did the image hosting site have any hand in the creative process of coming up with art other than hosting it. This "citation", and I use citation very wrongly, forgets about the artist altogether and then on top of that, displays his work and not even hyperlink to page or the photograph itself. So that article, crowned by a lovely image to accompany the prophetic words it might have had to say is guilty of depriving someone of the recognition they fairly deserve.

I think what drew me to the article that someone else linked in the first place was the image that popped up on the Facebook feed. But then when I saw the copyrights not even properly managed, I refused to read the article. In no way was I ready to read something where the first thing was plagiarized. In my disappointment, I closed the article and thought about copyrights and then Digital Rights Management or DRM for short.

For those of us old enough to remember a time when there were other programs other than Spotify existed (the name of which I'm blanking on right now) you would download a copy free onto your computer and then the DRM was renewed each time you accessed the file. I remember whatever it was called, I used the software extensively when I was a sophomore at Berkeley and I was angry the day it closed down leaving me with all these useless music files protected by DRM. So I did the next best thing any somewhat tech-savvy person would do: torrent music.

Now, plenty of us are more than happy to pay the price on Apple's iTunes store and buy a copy of the music or even go down to your local music store and find a CD with all the songs you want. Now, herein lies my problem. If I'm looking to buy one song in particular, that's a benefit for iTunes or Amazon since they offer one by one pricing. But what if I want more than one song on the album, then I usually have to end up buying a CD with one or two songs I like and the rest I don't. If I go into a hard copy store, if I want one song, I have to buy the whole CD. No big deal, sometimes CDs are cheaper, but I end up with this stack of CDs I never use unless I have my car with it's already antiquated 6 CD changer.

The issue surrounding DRM over music is a hazy one, while we would love to support the artists who make music, we generally don't want to pay for it. Their rights being handled by a major label company means the artists get a small percentage of what goes all together into the CD sale. If I were a recording artist full time, I'd certainly want the process streamlined and then a higher percentage, but most certainly I'd also want a bejewelled toilet and a wider audience range, but that is unlikely.

Leaving music into art and photography, we enter a world rife with plagiarism and straight up stealing. I recall on Instagram a few months ago, I posted a photo I took of my Loar guitar and mandolin, Recording King Banjo and no-name fiddle with the hashtag: bluegrass. Lo and behold to my surprise some ballsy 14 year old girl in the middle of nowhere takes the exact same image and calls it her own. On Reddit, I might understand but on Instagram where everyone is taking unique photos every day, you have to go and steal one of mine. Naturally, I got all my friends to spam the account and turn her life into hell for stealing images.

I learned the copyright problem about a year ago when I produced an image similar to an Ork map for the sleepy little town of Alameda. Normally, you would never see a map for so small a town but being from there, I thought my fair little island city deserved one. I did one for my own uses and showed it off. Fast forward several months, I'm working quietly on a few drawings in my home studio when I get a call from my last boss asking if I had sold the rights to my image to the clothing store down the street. I replied that I hadn't and then drove into town to see what he was talking about. There it was, basically my exact same image being sold on the front of t-shirts and hoodies. I was furious, I was livid and I was helpless.

I consulted a copy of the California Civil Code on intellectual property. By exposing it to the world, I allowed it to be used. It was the one time I was hard up with nothing to gain but a slice of humble pie. Someone else took my design, modified it a little bit and then was reaping the profits. I sincerely hope he rots in hell for that.

So next time you write an article and you quote someone, use an image from a publicly contributed website (cough: Imgur, Flickr, Photobucket) make sure you get permission or at the very least say who you got the image from. Cite properly, cause "photo credit: Flickr" just doesn't cut it. Ever.

November 13, 2013

Rain Washes Those Who Wish To Get Wet



I recommend having this open in a tab in the background: http://www.rainymood.com/

I admit it, i'm a sucker for the rain sometimes, but there are those moments that you get to yourself that you just have to sit down and savor. Right now, I have four windows that look south. Four windows that get a view of a basketball court, the back end of a sorority, an apartment where people are noisy and the rear of a fraternity. So I get all kinds of noises, sex, screams, laughs, loud music. But all that disappears when the grey clouds roll overhead, and those little droplets of water come shooting down from above. Oh yes, the rain. It washes away the chalk marks on the ground, and wets the earth. That rain.

But when it rains, people don't want to sit outside, people don't want to bring their expensive sound systems outdoors so they can shoot some hoops while bothering other people. Everything stops in place, and people change. People carry their shodden umbrellas and shake them towards the sky, they explode in size, the ones held low by the short people are jabbed into tall people's eyes and tall people shake off the excess at the shorties in revenge. That rain.

All becomes quiet, the average pedestrian doesn't find time to walk about in this fashion. There's not the chance to wander around town looking to get lost. Here be the real folks who want to get wet. Here be the folks that stand in solace, letting the water beat down on them from heaven. Then out come the couples who like to get dressed up in cold weather gear, bring out their matching umbrellas and walk together blocking up the sidewalk and keeping any people who are socially inept from getting past. That rain.

Sometimes, it's not so bad, if you have the windows open and you have a large enough of an overhang, you can listen to the rain as it falls down past your window, and then curse your decisions for "air" as it also sends in every single spider, fly, mosquito and moth into your little domicile. That rain.

Maybe it sucks, maybe it doesn't, but I know it's there.

October 27, 2013

Hints of Growing Fall

I think this might be a supplement to past entry, Thais Deep 

Living in California, you almost forget that there is a Fall season in between the summer months of endless daylight and the winter months of endless night. Every small moment in between, you start to notice as the party invitations start to increase where you dress nicely and the ones where you bring a bathing suit stop coming. But we in the golden state forget sometimes, once the days begin to grow dark and the winds pick up, that this is one of the wonderful times of the year. Now, we arrange rides with friends up into the mountains to go pumpkin picking in October or start to collect apples to start brewing cider.

The kitchens change just as dramatically too you know, the Pimm's is put away, the silver julep glasses are wrapped up in old newspaper and stowed away in boxes to be pulled out in May and with the seasons, come the change of produce. The older folks start to store corn to dry out to make the cornucopias and the younger folks start to stock up on body-revitalizing whiskey. The season of the hamburger is no longer here and with all the time spent indoors, extra time and care goes into the cooking of meat, smoking of turkey and preparation of vegetables and fruits.

Personally, I think I love the change in weather the most. No longer do I sit in my office chair working sweltering under the heat sticking to it but with a blanket over my shoulders, fighting those occasional leaks of cold air from the outdoors. Watching the wind swept trees sets into my head the romantic notion of what this cold blustery weather is best for. Staying indoors with a clear, steaming mug of apple cider with a stick of cinnamon poking out from it.

Now is when the time comes when friends want to go out for more dinners, hanging around in the cafe rather than on the patio, hands nursing an Irish coffee. Warm, silky and delicious as it goes down. The taste of Baileys mingles down your throat and fall when you're older than 21 is a godsend. My recollections of fall as an undergrad were running down to the grocery store that was around the corner from where I lived, picking up a jug of Santa Cruz apple cider, a box of mulling spices and running back to my place with my ex. Throw the juice into a pot, warm it up a bit, throw in a few satchels of mulling spices and let it brew for about a half hour. That was the best stuff ever, downing it, sitting on the couch with a romantic movie on and watching the sky go from steel grey to lamp black.

I've lived in different places over the years at Berkeley and I think this last place may be the most difficult to work with in this weather. Leaky windows, just drafts everywhere. So I have to find myself ways to keep warm. Electrically, or kerosene or mentally. I think by that last one, I have to mean keeping my head warm working on either my manuscript or working on a typewriter, coming up with entries for my typecasting blog.

But I love that everyone starts to dress a little bit more properly. Yoga pants, khakis, jeans, pea coats, duffel coats, anoraks, and scarves. Silk, cashmere, wool, poly blends, it's all good! It's fall and what matters most is you all stay warm and hold that special someone extra tight.

Rideshare - The Double Standard

So as an Architecture major, I have a special interest city planning and policy. A few months back, I had to sit in on a few meetings held by the San Francisco. It had several issues to deal with. The big elephant in the room was the prohibition of over sized vehicular parking and the even bigger elephant: ride sharing.

The San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority takes a great interest in making sure that all of the day to day issues that plague the city in terms of traffic and transit problems are met and resolved. But sitting there before the committee, was the main issue of the over sized vehicular parking and then public comment. I was sort of surprised that the director of the cab union or whatever it is was there personally to speak against the growing emergence of ride share in the city. Calling them un-regulated cabs basically.

Now here was an interesting point that I had never considered in the first place. That with all of the ads for lyft and side car and all sorts of ride share companies that I kind of forgot who this was really affecting. Cab companies and possibly the safety of the common Bay Area dweller. In my mind, the ride share system sat alone as possibly the savior and beacon for a growing future. I realize now that it's not.

As much as the mentality of we are looking out for our fellow brethren speaks out in San Francisco, I can't help but think back to those ads on Spotify saying Lyft drivers make up to thirty five dollars an hour. Here is were the word ride share is dirtied, sullied and basically almost ignored. This one company, and the myriad of others has done nothing more than added extra cabs onto the street. These cabs however aren't available to the public by just raising your hand in the air as if you were hailing a normal cab, to get a ride on these pink-mustachioed vehicles need to have a smart phone before hand as well as having the app to go along with it. The Lyft app gets you cars from Lyft, sidecar from sidecar drivers, and so on.

The bandy way of getting a cab albeit quick and simple to use is unregulated. Drivers are suddenly put into the responsibilities of their own life, the lives of their passengers and the safety of their car. I'm not saying most people don't have the insurance to cover all that, but with the costs and the way this nation is moving, more and more people are borrowing cars than owning one. Possibly with the sobriquet of "Norman No-surance". So do you know if you are in an insured vehicle whenever you have one of these stop in front of your house to take you to the airport?

Another thing the San Francisco cab fleet is required to do under the watchful eyes of the MTA is keep up with safety regulations. Is the car safe to be put into active service? If not and it breaks down, we can tow it to one of our garages and get it running again. I'm almost certain (since i'm not an investigative journalist) that the burden of the wear and tear on vehicles falls onto the shoulders of the drivers themselves. Or, if the car is running, but stuck with a deferred maintenance.

One of the reasons that the US Army was far more mobile than the German army during the second world war was every American soldier's ability to repair a vehicle. Up until that point, most families owned at least one car and back then was a simple enough time that someone could easily fix one with the right amount of mechanical prowess. Since the advent of OCS in cars in the mid to late eighties, cars have become even more complicated, almost requiring a masters degree to solve. Now, they're at the point where everything is covered in plastic with the assurance of: if it goes wrong, just bring it in and someone else will take care of it for you. You wouldn't believe the number of cars I've driven in the last 10 months that have had a severe amount of deferred maintenance on them. Dents, poor tire balance, broken seats, non-functioning controls. What keeps a person who treats their car as a purse with wheels or a demolition derby entrant from driving people to and from their destinations?

Taxi medallions aren't cheap. My uncle owns one. It certainly isn't a small investment for that matter. The city and county regulates the number of medallions that exist at any time. Naturally, medallions can only be afforded by major companies or people who could afford one. So now the Lyft gets around all of this by not requiring the medallion at all and not putting its drivers up to the same stringent requirements that all taxi drivers must follow.

Though, I'm pretty sure, of all of the cabs i've been in, not many of them have upheld the highest standards of traffic law. The cab companies when they argued their case of "regulate the unregulated" or else we deregulate need to take a lesson from this experience. For them to survive in this new era, they need to come up with a similar user interface to survive. The cab companies, if they come together, they can come up with an app that unifies all companies, based on consumer location rather than competition among each other. For them to survive, they need to fight the ride share together.

October 11, 2013

For the Love of the Typewriter

Over the last few years, I've kept up this blog, and I'm pretty sure i'm ready to retire it. It's a good memory bank of all my past experiences over the last seven years. Though there is still a part of me that doesn't want to retire it entirely. I still like to write my stories and then put it out for you all to read. But I don't think it gets the kind of readership that I would even want.

I'm thinking about opening up a new blog that will be typecast.

What is typecast?

I collect typewriters, there's no doubt about that. I've own three typewriters right now and a stenograph machine, two of which are working with a fourth on the way from Pennsylvania. I've owned two other typewriters since and those have gone away. My first typewriter ironically was something I owned briefly, for about maybe a day or two before I threw it out. It was a 1950's IBM electric that didn't work. I remember one of my teachers had known I had a thing for typewriters and allowed me to take it out of the storage bank where they kept all sorts of unused science equipment. I grabbed it, plugged it in and found that it didn't work. Brave Ms. Leslie tried to help me to get the thing to work, but that was to no avail. I think I found it frustrating and tossed it out into a trash can.

I recall a lot of my high school years whenever I was at my grandmother's place, there was mention of a long lost typewriter hidden somewhere in her basement. Her basement was a treasure trove of things from the 1950's and 1960s that as a child, I loved to dig through. I never found the thing though. My worry was that it was going to be an electric typewriter that I for the longest time never considered it to be a typewriter at all. I think on the basis of being electric.

Just before I left for college, there was a time when I worked for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, there was a typewriter that was in the office I worked in, it was an IBM Selectric II that I found worked marvelously. But to me, it still felt a little sterile to work with so I don't think I bothered too much.

In college, I wanted something a little different from working on the laptop which I had. I had been writing in this blog since 2006 and I wanted to get something that would set me apart in my work. So my freshman year, I put aside a little bit of money and bought my first typewriter. I have the receipt somewhere pinned up on my wall back home. It was a 1966 Royal Royalite that worked as if it had a mind of its own and never when I wanted it to. I think if anything, I never quite got the hang of working with it. It had a carriage shift and my weak little pinkies could never operate it properly so I had capitals all over the place but where they were supposed to be.

I think for awhile, there was something with my last ex-girlfriend who found that I had a typewriter and she had a typewriter as well, so the two of us would sit together writing on our machines.

I took a two year hiatus working in all sorts of weird jobs and when I moved back to Berkeley I brought my typewriter with me. I felt of all things to bring, guitars, books, bagpipes, I had to bring with me my typewriter. I left Berkeley with one and I came back with one. But six years of work on it, had left it in pretty bad shape, so I finally made the drop to upgrade my machine. I bought the Royal Quiet Deluxe from 1953 and then somehow, someone called me up telling me to come pick up two typewriters that they weren't using. One L.C. Smith that is still sitting on my shelf frozen and rusty. And a 1939 Underwood Silent Champion. The Silent opened my eyes again to the world of typewriters. Now, I think I might be on a collecting binge. I'm constantly on the lookout for a Corona 3 and an Optima, but for now, I happy with the Royal Quiet and the Underwood Silent.  I might use the Hermes Rocket for National Novel Writing month coming up soon.

August 06, 2013

The Charm of Details

So for those of you who've read a few of my stories, a few of my entries or even met me in general, you'll notice one thing I always like to put into the front: the little details in life which always seem to somehow wind up lost in the cracks. As much as I love Hemingway and the simplicity of his writing, I always found that what caught my attention the most were people who were more than capable of writing in such a way that it painted a lyrical image in my head. Using just the right amount of details to bring out vivid imagery in your mind. That's the beauty of writing, is that it can pull and entrance you into a world separate from your dull unimaginative life.

For example, take the following sentences:

"Charlie crawled through the exit of the hole and onto the dirt. He was more than pleased to be out of there."

So what's dull about this? Everything. From the lack of visual details to the plain words. There is a lack of empathy, a lack of passion in the words. Let's look at just the first sentence, immediately, we know Charlie was in a hole, and he climbed out. That's about as much as we can even draw from this. The second sentence, finally indicates that he did not like being in there. It took two complex sentences to indicate that Charlie did not like being in there. What was he doing in there? How did he feel in there? Why did he want to get out? So let's apply the magic of visualization to this.

"His eyes were sealed shut with the previous night's sleep as he tried to force them open. When they finally did, what he saw was almost as good as keeping them shut in the first place. Around him, was pitch black darkness. He began to panic, not knowing where he was trapped. All around him, the wet smell of earth plunged into his nostrils. He began to claw at the ceiling of his dirt tomb and it gave way, little by little, creating a pyramid of dirt below. The damp soil clogged his fingernails as he dug furiously until finally the sun broke through. With all of his strength, he pulled more down until finally he made a hole large enough from him to pass through. He heaved his body out half way and using the grass around him pulled himself out. He plunged face first into the grass and took a deep breath. He filled his lungs with the sweet aroma of air, freed from his earthly prison, and began to cry. Where was he now?"

Amazing what we can do to "Charlie crawled through the hole" basically. So it's okay to use those one dollar words to express ideas, just make sure you're using enough of them to make a 10 dollar idea out of them.

December 26, 2012

The Slow Death of Penmanship

There was one occasion I had stopped by a friend's office to help her out with a couple things and take her out to lunch and she was grading papers from her college level students. Naturally, the curiosity of midterms and architecture intertwined somewhat for me that I was compelled to leaf through a couple copies of student work. They were all hand written, since the technology hasn't quite arrived to print three hundred midterms at the same time from laptops with internet connections. But back to that moment then and there in the office, as I began to read through some of the students work, I noticed a consistent thing all throughout every single paper. Poor handwriting. Granted, I could have ripped a couple of students for incorrect themes throughout their papers, but to me, the penmanship was the most striking thing.

Perhaps about two decades ago, this problem would have been encountered less, with the difficulties of printing and availability of computer type processing. Today, at a time where one can live tweet and blog an entire day's worth of movies and what not from a cell phone, or wirelessly send documents to print at a touch of a button, certain things fall to the wayside and one of those things certainly are handwriting. The way we function and operate nowadays relies so little on the physical taking of notes in class, when we can digitally capture everything that is said, or quickly type it down. Heaven help the teacher or GSI when they have to grade hand written tests.

Handwriting somehow becomes one of those things easily ignored surpassed by more modern technology. Its understandable for technology to move beyond previous technology, but if anything, handwriting still is a necessary technology, surpassed in legibility, and distribution by typing and photocopying, there still is that necessary instant communication between two people. Just as well, say for instance, there are two people from different parts of the country, and between the two of them, comping up with a joint venture. No laptop, just a quick ideas brainstorm. Simple as that. Between the two of them, two young savvy professionals who spent an entire lifetime doing all work via computers, neither has a strict grasp over neat handwriting. Can you expect to see this venture lasting a bit if the ideas aren't clearly laid out?

You might say, well, maybe if they get their ideas out today, they can type it out tomorrow. Well, you can only pull out from your memory only so much, perhaps they'd forgotten a key component to their joint venture. In the immediacy of the events, there is a certain necessity that handwriting performs that it can capture quickly that you might lose in just typing.

If you look at a set of hand written notes of someone who does have fairly decent handwriting and compare it to a typeset of notes, notice a difference. A quick, neat scrawled out side note in the corner, ideas, relations of complexities, things of the like. A set of typed notes, and lets be honest. Parrots what the screen says. Students tend to write what they can see on the board, take in little to no aural response and add notes of their own. Facebook, twitter, youtube, email, all distract us. So that's one nail right there.

Teachers these days, I don't think they're helping all too much either. Albeit, when I attended elementary school in the late 90's, cursive and penmanship was still a very important. I can still recall writing on that thick, plush fiber paper, with the blue dotted lines and it had the texture of paper towel. Trying to write on it with a hard HB #2 pencil, made a light line and a deep crevice into it. I mean, it wasn't easy learning how to write on this swamp emulating paper, but over time, when we did graduate to wide ruled paper, suddenly, there was a world of things we could write, and even more so with college ruled paper.

There was however a wrong turn even I mistakenly had taken in my life. It was around sixth grade after four years of writing in cursive script and growing to resent having to connect my words, the teacher allowed us to print. By all means, my printing improved and eventually my script dwindled into nothing. Throughout high school, you could see my handwriting was fairly simple, not hurried, but in a way, lacking. It was plain, it was simple, and it looked childish. Unrefined for the use in a real world context, it had that charm of bent ascenders and sloping with a curlique descenders that allowed the illusion of childhood to be complete. This carried me through my first year of college when I made a major change in my writing.

My first year, I purchased with much pomp and circumstance a Koh-I-Noor rapidograph pen. Refillable. That of all the things was a new concept to me that I enjoyed. I did own my grandfather's Parker 51, but I ignored it for the most part. Now, my letters became increasingly technical. Resembling the sharp rakish lines of sans-serif fonts I had on my computer. I ran with it. On one occasion, I even wrote an entire month's worth of letters to my girlfriend at the time in Sweden using the rapidograph. It probably was the first pen I owned that, the ink changed the paper. When it dried, your fingertips could trace over the letterforms and feel literally what you had just written. She loved it so much at the time, she went out and bought pens as well just to write in a journal she was keeping for me.

My ex was one of those people who were very influential in my life. She made me appreciate the necessity of good type, good typesetting, good design, good work and good handwriting. Her letters always returned to me with her girlish squiggly scrawl, but it was readable. Just as she influenced me, I influenced her with my choice of excellent writing tools. I always kept on hand at my desk my Lamy fountain pen, a rotoring fountain pen and my Waterman which I kept on my person. These little hints thrown back and forth, we slowly improved each other's handwriting. Part of me wishes I could see the letters I sent her back then, but since then, we had long separated from each other not talking for four years now.

Perhaps its me, with my obsession with all things type and good handwriting when my friend came up to me at a dinner once asking me to do ten wedding invitations that were to be sent off to family. I could not say no, since this friend helped me in so many ways. When I started, I set down with several pieces of Crane & Co. stock and attempted to write in cursive. I could not. Baffled and panic stricken, I thought to myself: this can't be right. I love handwriting and stuff like this. Why can't I do it?

I had forgotten the cursive forms completely. I had lost track over the past eight years of how to write strictly in script. My daily scratch had evolved like some form of Frankenstein. I no longer adhered only to print  or only to cursive. It was this god awful abomination, that utilized cursive f's a wide variety of cursive and print s's and a constantly changing lower case a. I realized, this would not do. As fast as I could write, as neatly as I could write (when I have to write neatly or engross I can) cursive script was what I needed most for this wedding invitation. So I sat down, read through Tamblyn's guide and Speedball's guides, and worked back up. It took awhile, but I realized the necessity of good handwriting.

Pedal forward to today. I had gone to visit the classroom of the teacher who allowed me to stop using cursive. It was not quite the classroom I had left. Hell, it wasn't even the same room as before. But she was still there, and still the same awesome teacher I remembered. But before I could even postulate the handwriting question to her, I noticed something incredibly shocking. There literally were no pads of paper or journals around at all. Every single one of these sixth graders were using a laptop or an iPad, to watch lectures, things like that. The only time I saw pencils and paper being pulled out were to answer math sheets, and quickly scribble down assignments. Defeated, I walked towards the door after dropping off my business card and watched as the next generation of students entered a new era of technology and would drive more nails into the coffin of handwriting.

October 16, 2012

From the Journal of a Hypochondriac

The sort of gentle steam rose slowly from the cup of coffee sitting square in the center of the table. One lip of the cup was stained with the golden brown liquid it contained from where a mouth was pressed against it. A dirty spoon, still warm sat resting a few inches away slowly soaking a paper napkin through. Beside all this, precariously placed on the edge was a folded up newspaper, commuter folded open to the crossword puzzle in the Datebook.

A young, beautiful face stared down at the puzzle, her eyes scanning over the clues and blank squares in hopes of finding a new point of attack. Her long golden strands of blond hair cascaded down and the tips touched onto the newspaper and with a flick of her wrist, they sailed into the air and back over her shoulder where they would begin the slow descent down to the table again. Her right hand tapped nervously as she looked over this, her eyes darting from the clues to the coffee and then back again. She knew what this would be like. She would finish about three quarters of the puzzle, give up, toss it into the trash and then the next morning when the answers would be posted in the paper, she would feel an overwhelming desire to find the bin she threw it into and retrieve it.

Every morning, Lily went through this struggle and many more throughout the day. Jumping to quick conclusions and realizing her mistakes and trying her best to fix them or appease everyone, but mostly herself. When she finally reached the three quarters mark, she stuffed the paper into her leather side bag and continue onto work, leaving the cafe a faint memory until the next morning when she would struggle again.

Living and working in the city had always been a dream for her and when she finally got the chance to do so, she couldn't help but jump for joy, take a bunch of her girlfriends out for drinks and then question her choice in the morning while nursing her hangover. Lily had come from a small town on the outskirts of Sacramento, with not much to do with big city living and not much to do with small city living either. It was the sort of town where everyone knew each other by heart and where your personal affairs was everybody's business. The older ladies in the town were certainly more of the productive busybodies, spreading rumors around that Lily had met some rich executive and was taking her away to live in San Francisco. This she would not have. Out of sheer anger, she approached one group of them sitting on a porch and yelled at them: "I'M NOT A WHORE!"

That embarrassing fiasco certainly meant she wouldn't be able to return to town without coming upon the watchful eyes of the Cowden street old ladies. Her mother and father usually decided it was best to visit her in the city rather than she come out home. But it allowed her a new sense of freedom. One that she didn't have to deal with people anymore, or annoying busybodies around her. Now, she was a person living in the city! Now she was part of the many that would be sitting around in cafes drinking expensive coffee with laptops being watched as they wrote screenplays or created works of art.

Lily's job was personal assistant to Mr. Will Yeager. Will Yeager was the sort of man who had dropped out of college, but started his own business and pulled himself up by the bootstraps and through hard work made things happen. All by the age of 32. He was now 34 and running a successful design group in the SOMA district. She would manage all the papers for publication and under her careful and tedious scrutiny, edit them twice even after the editors have sent the papers her to be published in. Secretly, she would sneak in her own edits without telling Mr. Yeager.

It happened that morning, maybe about a half hour after the coffee shop and the crossword puzzle. She had just gotten into the office and started to settle into her small little half cubicle outside Yeager's office. She nudged around the portrait of her and her father, stepped briskly into Yeager's room and grabbed the pile of papers in his out box for her review. It would be another half hour before Will would get here she thought as she nestled into her office hair with a pencil and a new article. It was supposed to be Will's opening statements for the office's annual design newsletter publication.

Now the Yeats Annual was a pretty big deal in the design world. Every year, Lily would watch as boxes of three hundred magazines each would be shipped off to New York, Portland, Chicago, London, Pairs, Rio de Janero, Tokyo and elsewhere. She secretly knew that for the last four years at least, every single one of those annuals had some of her own little edits here and there. As she settled into the page, suddenly she found herself looking at a photograph of Will Yeager staring back at her with a cool confidence. She blushed slightly at his gaze and then realizing she was blushing at a photograph quickly composed herself again. Maybe Lily had read about ten pages before she realized with a slight cough, Will was looking back at her slightly puzzled.

"What're you doing with that? I thought you'd have taken it down to printing by now." Lily nearly overturned her chair by his sudden appearance. "I mean, you'll get a chance to read it in a week when it comes back from the printers." He leaned forward to look at what she was doing. "Are you editing... Lily. Explain."

"Hi uh Will," she tumbled over a stack of papers creating a chaotic mess on the floor. "I was just overlooking the editors work." "Well, you know that's why we have editors in the first place." "Well um, I guess I didn't trust their work good enough. I mean, obviously, this is going out with your face... I mean signature on it. It didn't hurt before." "What do you mean before?" Realizing the jib was up, Lily fumbled with the top drawer of her desk and pulled out the last five years issues of the Yeats Annual. She opened them up to him showing her neat handwriting in red pen scratched here and there left and right. He read through her edits slowly, slowly pondering each time he reahed a major place where she had left edit marks. "Well Lil, I gotta say, I'm glad you've been going over the editors work. You know, i'm surprised they haven't made any sort of stink that what they changed wasn't theirs. I mean this section here," he gestured to an open page nearly covered in red. "I think your changes here are actually better than the editors."

"Will, please, I love working for you." "No no, this isn't what you think. What you did here is actually good and I'm thankful to have you do this. I'm going to have a talk with Stephen in editing and you might get his job soon." "I can't possibly do that. I mean, who'll make sure your lunch is made properly and..." he cut her off there. "Fine Lil, if you're happy here, you can stay here no problem. But I would think you'd make such an excellent addition to the editing team. I'm not going to fire Stephen, but maybe take you on part time during Annual season. But anyways, messages?" Lily thrust a stack of pink sheets of phone messages into his large rough hand. Will turned and walked into his office.

A cold bead of sweat rolled down her forehead. Editing? Those guys are a bunch of animals. Literally. She didn't like the thought of answering to anyone else but Will. Even then, she was basically her own boss working under him. All she had to do was every so often send in the reports he asked for, and return his comments to the departments. She pulled another drawer this time, this one filled with various medication bottles, one for anxiety, another for cramps, another for ADD, another for ADHD even though she didn't even have those conditions. She swallowed a handful of carefully chosen pills and relaxed back into her chair and opened Facebook.

"Looks like I'm going to be an editor for Yeager." she wrote into the status update.

July 20, 2012

That's not living...

I was sitting in the living room of my elderly grandmother's flat earlier today when I decided to run out and go grab a cup of something sugary at the Starbucks my friend Lauren works at. I'm still here as a matter of fact. I'm actually just starting to get settled into my table, working slowly on my drink made of about 80 percent sugar and with little to zero caloric value. But there was something that had happened moments before, moments that made me decide to get outside rather than just sit down with family around my iPad and start to write this. I somehow had motivated myself to go out spend 2 dollars on bus fare to get out here, and another three something to buy the damn drink, but here I am I suppose.

 So let's Tarentino this for a second. It was there in the living room, with the television on and set to the discovery channel. My mother and father both engrossed in some reality show about property value wars or something of a similar ridiculous nature. Anyways, just as I was about to lose interest, they go and show a commerical for the Toyota Venezia or something like that. I can tell you with a sound of assurance that it had a stupid pretencious sounding name like Engava or Romadallion. But they chose to show some attempt of a vaguely nerdy and dorky seeming girl. Like if you had an unliscenced copy of Kristen Schaal for your own commercial use. Big eyes, the slightly curly hair and glasses. "My parents just got into facebook, they have 19 friends, how is that living?" *cut to parents having fun mountain biking with other people* "I have 840 friends on facebook."

I know everyone has come to this realization, as well at some point. We as the most interconnected society, one of the most closely related and understood societies. We know more about ourselves, the human body, mind, space and just recently, scratching the surface of physics. Yet never before has there been such a degenerated society of people devoted to remaining so devoted to the introvertic comforts of home. We become so much of a society enticed by the comforts, and no longer the serendipitous nature of new discovery.

We much would rather find a restaurant recommendation on Yelp the first time than try a restaurant that you passed on the off chance that it might be good. We strive to find the information that we dont need to find with the least amount of human interaction possible. Perhaps someone ignorant might have said, "the restaurant serves heavily lamb and other gamey meats. If you don't like the sound of occasional plates being dropped and the entire staff mocking and ridiculing you." Curiosity strikes you, though rambuncous, and racous, the warm Greek staff let you smash a plate on the floor to the yells of OPA! You would have never known. Just from someone who happened to been in a bad mood on Yelp.

 Facebook, the bane of meeting people. Its great, having the chance to meet people, reconnect with old friends you might have never seen ever again. It's great for that. That and only that. It really is no true replacement for meeting people, seeing other people on a regular basis. I have met people who are odd, too lazy to go out when invited by friends, but angry at the same friends when he saw that the friends had posted amazing and fun looking photos of that specific outing.

 So live. Go out there and go see a friend, go watch a film, eat dinner with people, play and make music with others, and all that jazz.

June 29, 2012

Nature Hath Returneth

A happy object
once the pride and joy
of a family long gone

With all but
one, slowly finding its
way, to its triumphal return
into, a world ruled by gaia
earth.

Iron to steel,
steel to stamp
stamp to object
object to value
value to pride
pride to death
death to abandonment
abandonment to rust
rust to nature
nature unto itself.

May 21, 2012

Sounds of Happiness

Sam laid in bed, her chest rising and falling to the rhythm of her breathing. Rafe also was in bed next to her, but he was sitting up, sipping from a steaming cup of coffee with a copy of the sunday morning paper spread over the entire cover. He looked over to the clock on Sam's side of the bed. It said 10:45 in bleak red bars. He leaned back against the headboard and continued to sip coffee. As he shuffled through the papers, he read whatever article caught his eye. The utility company is to change out transformers in the north part of town, Local boy wins first at the county youth swimathon, Mayor caught walking wife's dog while wearing only fur coat and flip flops. How odd Rafe thought and looked back at the article title: Mayor's caucus on creation of new dog walk wears anti fur activists over his flip-flop. I suppose that makes a little more sense. When he tossed aside the metro section, he saw Sam roll over onto her chest and an idea popped into his head. Rolling the little audio cart into the bed room, the only sounds he made were his feet padding against the wood floor and the sound of the casters rolling. He plugged the cart into the socket and from the bottom shelf, grabbed a Charlie Byrd record onto the turntable and switched on the machine. Carefully dropping the arm onto the record, he waited for magic. Then it happened with a gradual crecendo as the tubes warmed up. "Blues for Felix" slowly arose from nowhere as it passed through the speakers slowly filling the room with the rich sounds of guitar and bass. Sam rolled around once more and this time buried her head into the pile of pillows on the end of the bed. With a muffled groan, she slowly came to. The sound she made could only be described similar to when an old man gets out of a chair. While Rafe looked pleased at the cart, he didn't realize that aims were being taken from the bed. As he stood with arms folded looking at the cart, a pillow knocked him in the head and he wheeled around. There sat Sam in the middle of the bed wearing only a tshirt and shorts with another pillow cocked in her arm, ready to be chucked. As he tried to approach her, another pillow sailed towards him and this one he deflected and tossed back at her. She smiled as she bounced with each pillow thrown. "Moin moin sleepy face." "Ugh, I want to sleep." "Sleep's so overrated silly face." "No it's not." She looked at him and tried to squidge her face into puppy dog eyes. "Yuck, don't do that. You know that turns me on so much." Rafe said jokingly. This time, she squidged her face even harder to exaggerate puppy dog eyes. Without warning, he pounced on her and kissed her all over. "Aaugh, stop. Okok, I'll wake up." "Haha, here, put pants on." He threw a pair of skinny jeans at her face. As they dressed, record kept going on the turn table. With each song, Mr. Byrd kept playing as the two milled around the room. Rafe tossed out the coffee in the kitchen sink. Sam collected the papers and put them in the kindling bin by the fireplace. When chores were finished and done, the record came to a close as they plopped onto the bed tired. The sound of the record needle on the finish track made a pleasing sound Rafe thought. The drone of the dust and the click as it rolled over the finishing guide, he listened to it keep going until the action finally decided to return the arm home. He rolled over to Sam and kissed her.

April 19, 2012

The Variation of Land in California

Our great state of California is an amazingly varied place, with a possibility of being one of the most ecologically diverse states in the union. From the Klamath mountains to the Mojave Desert and everything in between, there is nowhere else in the state so varied within a boundary of ten degrees latitudenally and ten degrees longitudinally.

A recent image has been floating around the internet recently, depicting the State of California prior to its statehood. A massive lake now gone once was the southern end of the San Joaquin River. There would have been no difficulty in taking a steamboat from Redding all the way down the Sacramento to San Francisco or even Bakersfield! Imagine, hot, dry acrid Bakersfield sandwiched in between the Carrizo Plain, Techapi Mountains, Piute mountains and the Reenhorn mountains. Currently, it's a fairly decent sized city, pockmarked with tracts and oil farms. Imagine around here, one of the largest lakes in the continental US proper. (considering Lake Superior is split between the US and Canada. Drained away to feed agriculture. As sad as the loss of such a huge lake, the use of its waters for agricultural purposes the transformation allowed the central valley of this state to be used for growing vegetables and other food stuffs that now support the state. The concern of soil salination and wildlife is a major concern in contrast. But the last thing the state needs again is another Salton Sea.

When Leland Stanford arrived for his innauguration as Governor of the state, he was paddled up in a boat to the state capitol. Imagine, a city like Sacramento with Interstate five passing through it, massive tract home plots, city streets and the like, being swampy marshlands. The interruption of Nature by man is always ever present with diverting the existence of natural formation for human benefit. Back to the example of Tulare lake, the reason it disappeared was the damming of the headwaters of the Kern, Kaweah, Tule and Kings rivers. By establishing a system of dams to control flooding and allow portioning for potable water, agriculture and industry, the government in effect killed a major ecological beauty for the use of its people.

We should laud great pioneers for their ingenuity, to work the land such that people are capable of living off the land, even if that land was dry and practically unusable before. Brigham Young's arrival at the Great Salt Lake sparked a systematic irrigation of the land allowing the Mormons safe haven from persecution in 1848. Today, the city of Salt Lake City is a major flourishing metropolitan area.

We also cannot forget those who have moved tirelessly to preserve the same beauty of the land that we know today. The work of John Muir and convincing then president Theodore Roosevelt allowed for the the formation of the foundations for what would become the national parks system and the department of the Interior. Muir wrote of the mountains and the redwoods of the state of California, the beauty of the Yosemite valley and even wrote of other natural wonders of the state. His tireless efforts would preserve the forests and natural wonders for years to come.

Along the fault running from the Santa Ana mountains, across the San Gabriel and up through the Salinas valley and into the San Francisco penninsula, here the shape of the earth is caused by multiple faults running into one another. At fault for our conception of how plates and mountains work are: it seems that all mountains are formed by plates colliding and both being pushed up. That seems to be the basic concept we all embrace at least. Here along the San Andreas fault are various types of fault lines. Subduction plates, collisional plates, slip faults, etc. From this, we find the true forms of why the state's landmasses and mountains shape the way they do as we recgonize them.

A Brief Introduction to Subduction:

So what do we know about subduction? Perhaps, a few of you reading this may know, others might have looked it up on Wikipedia. In a sense, the entire earth is a constantly, rebuilding construction site. The core of this planet where the pressure and such is extremely high causes an extreme and intense heat. We know from basic physics and science that warm things tend to rise and cool things sink. So we have Magma being superpressurized and then it moves upwards. As it rises towards the surface towards the Lithospehere, it cool and creates variations in that part of the earth. Places where the lithosphere is thinner, will get pulled down, creating basins. Places where there is more variation and thickness, it tends to create land mass elevations. But back to the issue of Magma. When it is rebuilding, it creates the forms we know.

So at plate collisions whichever plate is cooler, that one will be pulled downwards and the hotter and lighter plate will rise, and actually float over. Where the lower one subducts under the other plate. With subduction, there are variations of the plate where you have the many types of fault interactions. Slip faults, strike faults, subducting faults, slip strike, etc. An excellent example of slip strike fault exists in Hollister, CA. There is one landmark that is known to many locals, and especially by geologists: a wire rail fence that stretches along a section of fault line that since its building in 1930, the fence has been stretch and pushed around showing the seismic activity exhibited since.

Back to California:

So what is it about this state that makes it an amazingly varied landscape. Every possible form of climate in the world exists here. The highest point in the contential United States, as well as the lowest dry land in North America both exist here in California, within a hundred miles of each other! From the head of the Klamath, following along the Cascades into Oregon, Washington state and ending somewhere in British Columbia. This range is marked by multiple mountains: Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Adams, Hood, Jefferson, Craters, Three Sisters, Thielsen, Crater Lake formation and Mt. Shasta. This protective covering and the shape of the lands prevents low hanging clounds from passing over this ridge, causing a temperate rain forest. Many of these head waters form along these ridgelines, causing the lush forests to have no trouble growing here.

From extreme climates also derives extreme life forms, the state also boasts some of the largest trees, tallest trees and oldest singular, non-recursive tree. The title of largest and oldest goes to a colony of Quaking Aspen in Utah. So how does the state of California get so lucky? Its hard to say, but with proper climates, good fertile soil and the ideal conditions to allow these extrmes to grow.

In conclusion, we can look into the shape of things to come. If the way things continue, the shape of California will continue to change for all eternity.

April 16, 2012

Memory of a Place

What we closely associate with most emotions and with our sense of place is through location, and the experience we derive from that location. Where from these places, we develop an attachment through sensory deviations, from working with a certain aroma, a certain sound or even the feel of a chair sometimes. So, it is safe to say, you give place to what you can derive from what you experience.

Say for instance, I worked in a cafe, the overpowering aroma of roasting coffee, the heat of steamed milk, the things all are associated with with those feelings.The way we recgonize our own home, the feel of our own bedding the warm feeling of home, and what not. It becomes in our nature to recgonize these things. If we encounter in a store, the same feeling of the sheets or the fluffiness of the pillows, then you see this as a comfort. But likewise, your sensory actions can work against in these terms. Where by finding only one aspect, we might not agree with all of them. I find everything in my room comforting, from the pictures hanging on the wall with one blank spot in a sea of picture frames, to a handmade fur throw, to the pile of drawings on my own desk. Say I went to IKEA and it just happened that one of these things was replicated with great accuracy there. Let's just say for instance: one picture frame missing on the display of picture frames. My mind recgonizes this as something similar, but at the same time, there is no fur throw in the picture frame section of IKEA. Nor are there a pile of my own drawings. Here is where I am only recieving a partial picture of a memory. Perhaps I might see this exact same thing if I should ever look at my wall and see the singular blank spot.

What we are to associate strongest are these feelings. That there in lies the greatest instance of power in our minds to make a sensory association with a certain particular event. When walking through Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, you are wowed by the sheer mass and volume of the entire building, and you will later use this as a form of association if you ever enter another church of similar volume or constrasting volume. There is no limit to this, we will always associate one thing with another just to compare. How would you describe the shape of this? Like a tea pot. How does this smell? Like coffee.

So in our work and in our time, we look for these small hints, that we can bring to the table, to make sense of the world. So next time someone asks you a comparative question, think about what sort of device you will use on your own to describe what are your biggest comparisions in life.