Saturday, February 28, 2009

The End of the Day

The day was very nice and slid into an equally nice evening. We went
to a panel with McG and the cast of the new "Terminator: Salvation"
movie (including the very beautiful Moon Bloodgood). It was a good
panel all in all.

After the panel ended we wandered the exhibit floor briefly and then
decided to head out and get some dinner. We wandered down Mission,
stopped at Artists Alley (a commission gallery showcasing the work of
about thirty SF based artists) and then had dinner at Little Joes on
Mission. I had a simple plate of gnocchi marinara washed down with a
bottle of Pelegrino.

Then, back to the hotel. This picture is the SF Chronicle building on
Mission, kitty corner from Little Joes. We got back to the hotel and I
took a sauna and a swim and am now deeply relaxed and settled in for
the evening. I suspect I am moments away from a deep sleep.

Tomorrow is the last day of Wondercon and then the trip home. It has
been an excellent little mini-vacation.

Wondercon - Exhibitors Floor

The is a photo of the exhibitors floor at Wondercon. Saturday tends to
be the peak day where tens of thousands of people flood the Moscone
Center seeking all things pop culture related. You name it and it is
probably out there on the floor somewhere. We wandered the hall and
visited the Artists Alley. At it's peak movement in the exhibitors
hall is a slow zombie like shuffle. We're back in the Esplanade for
the JJ Abrams Star Trek presentation and panel.

Zack Snyder "Watchmen" Panel

Wondercon 1

I started Saturday with the Lumberjack Special at Mel's Dinner on
Mission Street - ham, eggs, potatoes, pancakes, fruit, coffee and
orange juice. From there we came over to the Moscone Center to start
the day with a Watchmen panel with Zack Snyder, the director, and the
movie cast. It's a quiet zoo. I will send a picture in the next entry.
A beautiful day here in SF.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, February 27, 2009

Inside the SF Marriott

This weekend is San Francisco with friends. Staying at the SF Marriott
on 4th. The organizing principle is Wondercon and a mini-vacation. Of
course being downtown SF traffic was very stressful.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Green Tea at Seto's

Beautiful & Brave

Twilight falls
Day fades to night
One lonely ghost
Carries on the fight

Giving up is easy
When no ones seem to care
The sad songs we hear
When no one else is there

Every sorrow has its cost
Every dream something we lost
Everything we gave
Once beautiful and brave

We first fall in battle
In the provinces of lust
We cling to what we love
We love what we must

We know how it feels
When brittle dreams break
We tremble all alone
In the beds that we make

Every sorrow has its cost
Every dream something we lost
Everything we gave
Once beautiful and brave

Every night slowly ends
Surrenders to the sun
Every tired heart
Slowly stands to run

The lonely ghost of love
Lies down to wait
Like a young colt
Trembling at the gate

Every sorrow has its cost
Every dream something we lost
Everything we gave
Still remains
Beautiful and Brave
Beautiful and Brave

("Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave." Rainer Maria Rilke)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Close Call

This was my response to the prompt on One Minute Writer (the link is over there on the right hand side).

A Close Call

She had brilliant green eyes
She had a smile that illuminated the world
She smelled like sin and sunshine
We dated but...
I worked to many hours
I introduced her to a friend
She married him
She took him
Top to bottom
Left him weeping in the dust
And staggering under
Seven years of debt
Seven years of heartbreak
I kept a friend
I kept my heart
I kept my money
But I still remember the smell
Of sin and sunshine

Some Photos From Last Weekend

I uploaded eleven photos centered around the weekend at Santa Cruz. Here is the link to the Flickr photo-set.

Santa Cruz California Set

Storm, Approaching

I took this with my iPhone coming out of Johnny Rockets at Westgate
last night. I love the coiled power in a storm.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Bath

He slips into the bath tub. The water is hot, very hot and slides over him. He closes his eyes and leans back against the porcelain. He feels the heat penetrating his body and feels the pain slipping away. It always astounds him how immersion in a tub full of hot water strips everything away and makes the world pure and clean.

The water smells faintly of iron. He lays there until the world is lost in the sensation of the bath. He rolls his head and hears the popping in his neck. He straightens his knee, the damaged one, feeling it stretch. His finger tips find the piece of metal embedded in his right hand, between the first two fingers, that he has never bothered to have removed. He traces the line of the scar where it went in. He remembers closing the wound with an improvised butterfly of utility tape. He feels the slow rise and fall of his chest.

He counts each breath until he loses count. He opens his eyes and notes on the wall the sweep of the sun and the passage of time. He considers it odd the memories that lie in the bathtub with him. He splashes his feet and wishes he had a little yellow duck. No bath is truly pure without one. But this bath is close enough. Most of his life close enough has been good enough and he has made his peace with that.

And Today

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain. I love that sound. I woke from a dream of a friend of mine. She was in her garden and was upset that the local school's marching band was marching through her garden every day. In the waking world she lives near a college, so there was a natural (if tenuous) connection to her garden and a marching band.

I took a shower, drank a cup of coffee, ate a bowl of cold cereal (Special K) and dressed for work. Because of the rain I dressed warm - blue jeans, shirt, sweater, boots and my light raincoat. I stopped for a cup of coffee on the way into the office.

I got to the office just about dawn and was sitting there in the parking lot on a telephone call watching the sun come up. It was an unexpected reward. The storm was breaking up and there were patches of blue sky peeking through the gray and tumbling clouds. The high altitude wind was skipping the clouds across the sky at a good clip. The sun would periodically break through and everything would light up, white, gray, gold, orange, blue. It was simply beautiful.

Then, a wild turkey came out of the bushes to the right of me and proceeded to wander across the parking lot. There are trees in little concrete islands in the parking lot and those trees drop some sort of small black berry (tip - never park under the trees). The turkey wandered from tree to tree and seemed to be sampling the berries as she went.

So, I sat there in conversation watching the beautiful storm scattered sky and the wild turkey. It was a beautiful twenty minutes or so. Then, I headed into the office to start to the day. My schedule is fairly light today so I am looking forward to a productive day.

I think one of the great gifts God has given me is the ability to revel in the ordinary. We live in a magical world, full of simple beauty and astounding mystery. Somewhere along the line I learned to simply stop and stare in amazement. I couldn't help but notice this morning the number of people who pulled into the parking lot, got out of their cars and headed into the building without ever looking up at that stunning tapestry of sky unfolding over our heads.

So, where ever you are, who ever you are. Stop. Look up. Take a few minutes and peek into the corners of the universe and see the simple mystery of it all.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

After Santa Cruz

Pierre and I left San Jose about noon and drove down to Santa Cruz on Highway 17.  It is about a thirty mile drive from Pierre's house, maybe a little less.  The drive up over the summit was smooth, but traffic was backed up for the last mile or so into Santa Cruz onto Ocean.  So, we took Highway 1 north and came around from the other side of town.  We ended up parking in the municipal lot behind the soccer fields.  It is one of those unattended lots where there is a machine that takes cash or credit cards and they charge five dollars a day for all day parking on weekends.

I slipped a five dollar bill into the machine, got my ticket and walked back over to the car to put it on the dash.  As we walked out of the parking lot there was a young couple standing at the machine.  They asked us if we had change for a twenty as they had discovered that the credit card portion of the machine wasn't working.  We didn't, but I had an extra five, so I gave it to the young lady and told her I would buy their parking ticket for the day, consider it a gift from the universe.  She was very excited about that and thanked me and insisted we high five.  She told me that I was a good human being, which made both Pierre and I laugh.

From the lot we walked down to the municipal wharf and from there over to the Beach Boardwalk, about a mile all in all.  We walked by a skate/bicycle park and commented on how we wished they would have had those when we were young - our obstacles and ramps tended to be improvised in our childhood, and the modern parks just look like they are a lot of fun. We walked past the soccer field and it appeared to be a father-daughter league playing.  

We went into the Boardwalk through the Arcade on the west end and that turned out to be a mistake. The entrance to the festival was at the main entrance to the Boardwalk so we had to make our way through the crowds (and it was crowded) to get to the entrance so we could pay the eight dollars for the sample kit.  A sample kit is a small paper bowl, a napkin, a spoon, a ballot and five tickets to sample chowder.  The bowl itself is about half a cup in size, so it is ample enough and many of the booths actually provide their samples already in a small bowl.

We wound our way through the crowds in fits and starts, stopping and moving and stopping again. (I have some pictures, but they are not on this computer, so I will load them in another entry.)  Once we had our kits we started back down the line, sampling the chowders as we went. Because of the impending threat of rain they had placed the majority of the booths in those places of the Boardwalk where there was an overhang or a roof, which unfortunately meant that it was more crowded than necessary.  

The chowders however did not disappoint.  All of the ones we sampled were good - some of them were just better than others.  The chowders were pretty evenly mixed between New England and Manhattan styles. In my opinion (and the one I voted for as best in show) was a New England style, very simple, with a great little bacon taste that was enhancing and not overwhelming.  Pierre agreed and so we both cast our votes for the same chowder.

Basically, we spent two hours wandering around, sampling chowder and talking with strangers. We fell in with an older couple from Capitola as we moved down the aisle and enjoyed the conversation, spending the better part of an hour standing, walking, sampling and talking with them.  One of the things I always like about festivals, being an outgoing person, is the fun of talking to strangers.

Once we were through sampling we got some frozen yogurt to cut the chowder after taste and then headed in the arcade. Pierre and I are old video gamers from way back, being the leading age of the video game generation.  The arcade there at the Boardwalk has some classic video games as well as a lot of new ones and we spent the better part of another hour there, remembering our childhoods, dazzled by the flashing lights and the beeping noises.  It was a lot of fun.

Satisfied, we walked back to the car and drove home.  The drive home was a smooth and quick run up over 17 back to San Jose.  I dropped Pierre off at his house and then headed home, picking up my nephew and heading over the P&W for groceries.  My nephew Tom has a new recipe for a scallop mushroom risotto that he wanted to try.  It turned out excellent.  It was a day filled with food related pleasures and good company.

In the evening I settled in and Tom and I watched a movie on HBO "Taking Chance" with Kevin Bacon.  It is an HBO original and is the story of a US Marine Lt. Colonel who is escorting the body of a marine killed in action in Iraq home.  It is a pure tear jerker, very well done, with an outstanding performance by Kevin Bacon.  It deals with a heart rending and delicate subject without being either maudlin or exploitive.  I would recommend finding it and watching it, but only if you want to sit there for an hour and a half and choke back tears (or cry).

Today (Sunday) has been a very quiet day with intermittent rain.  I have spent most of the day just relaxing, though I went out for a couple of hours to run some incidental errands and wander Westgate with an Orange Julius. It it mid-afternoon as I write this and I have been watching...UFO Hunters on the History Channel.  It is a cheesy program but, there are some days where cheesy programs are the perfect complement. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today I Am Going To Santa Cruz

In about an hour I am driving over to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf for the 28th Annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off. The cooking part of it started at 10:00 AM, but the good part, the public tasting, starts at 1:00 PM and runs to 3:30 PM.

I am going to go with my friend Pierre, his wife having decided to stay home and take advantage of him being out of the house to try and clean her den. (For the record, Helen has been trying to clean her den for eight years. Apparently, there is some sort of alternative universe hidden in her den and when things are removed, other things magically appear.)

We are going to be skirting a big Pacific storm blowing in from the north, but we should be ahead of it and back into the Santa Clara Valley before the rain starts. I hope! I also plan on taking my rain coat, just in case.

The festival itself is pretty popular, but we're hoping that that promise of inclement weather is going to keep the crowd under control. Additionally, if it is too crowded, we will adapt and improvise. We're good at that.

I was the picture of a ghost.

I had a strange dream last night that is staying with me as I start my
Saturday morning. I dreamt that I was the picture of a ghost. Not that
I was a ghost, but that I was the picture of a ghost. I am going to
have to think about that one for a while.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Return of the Sun

Broken California Sky

Where does a smile go?

"Where does a smile go, or the upward glance, the sudden warm movement
of the heart? Yet that is what we are. Does the universe we dissolve
into taste of us a little?" Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Second Elegy"

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yet Another Day Of Rain

The rain that has filled the landscape and soundscape of the last several days continues to fall. It is barely sprinkling right now and there are three sounds in the apartment - that faint hiss of the light rain on the balcony cover, the ticking of the clock in the kitchen, and the faint clacking of the keyboard as I type.

Work went smoothly and quickly today, about half the day in meetings and the other half working a wide variety of customer support items. Today also marked one of the best parts of being manager - merit increases. I met with most of my staff today and will meet with the rest tomorrow to give them their raises. I am happy to say that everyone got a raise and that the raises, even at the lower end, were decent ones, even in these times.

Working in the defense and government contracting industry we are immune to some of the normal commercial pressures - we build products and provide services to demand. That is the customers agree to buy certain goods and services before we even begin to work - consequently we do mostly contract work, as opposed to commercial companies that first create the good or service and then try to sell it. We sell it before we even start work. It is not all upside though - we just move on a different cycle. In our business cycles when a contract ends (when the good or service is provided) or when there are major contracts that are delayed or cancelled, we expand and contract accordingly. In many ways this cycle is rougher than the commercial cycles in that we are more closely tied to our customers. As I wrote in the previous article about Meng Shih, we live very much under the waxing and waning of Heaven.

After work I came home and took a nap, then met my friend Tony at Frankie, Johnny, and Luigi's II in Westgate West shopping center in San Jose. I had the New York style lasagna and Tony has the baked rigatoni. We both had the minestroni and I chased dinner with a small slice of carrot cake. After dinner we drove up to Fry's Electronics in Sunnyvale and Tony picked up some printer cartridges and the soundtrack to "Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles".

Then, it was home for the evening. I listened to the rain and watched TV (I had recorded "Chuck" and "Heroes" on the DVR from last night). I web surfed for a while, just idling through the interconnected links of various blogs. Now, I am winding the evening down, trying to spark the creative flow and do a little writing. One of the things I like about online journaling is that often it serves as a good spark to get the creative thought processes rolling in another direction.

We've got an event coming up here this coming weekend that I am looking forward to - the 28th Annual Clam Chowder Cook Off at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk this coming Saturday. If the rain lets us, I am going to swing over there with my friends Pierre & Helen. The quality of the food is simply astounding to me - some of the finest clam chowders imaginable will be on display and it's a chance to just hang out at the municipal wharf and the Beach Boardwalk. I missed last year (I simply missed it, forgot all about it until I read about it the week after). I am looking forward to it and may go rain or shine, though shine will definitely be better.

I've been reading Christopher Moore's "Fool" - his satirical take on Shakespeare's "King Lear" the last couple of nights. Typical of more it is simply twisted, pointed and very funny. I consider myself a huge Christopher Moore fan - I've read all of his novels and count some of them as the funniest books I have ever read. My personal favorite is "Island of the Sequined Love Nun", followed by "The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove". If you have never read Moore the RUN, do not walk, to your local bookstore and buy everything that has his name on it. You will not be disappointed.

Tomorrow looks to be a day almost entirely devoted to meetings so I am going to try to go to sleep early tonight (and yes, I will slip in some reading as I fall asleep) and head into the office a little early so I get a chance to get some work done before I fall entirely into the rhythm of weaving in and out of meetings.

Excerpt from The Ninth Elegy

And so a hunger drives us.
We want to contain it all in our naked hands,
our brimming senses, our speechless hearts.
We want to become it...

Rainer Maria Rilke
"The Ninth Elegy"

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, February 16, 2009

Drain In Winter

Broom, Resting

Stairs, Descending

Fierce Storms, High Winds And Tuscan Lamb Stew

I woke this morning to the sound of sheets of rain spilling off the roof. On the drive in to the office KQED said "Fierce Storm, High Winds". California is running into another year of near drought conditions, so the rain is greatly appreciated.

Yesterday was a day that was infused with rain. I woke up from sleep to the sound of rain and lingered in bed listening to what I consider to be one of the finest natural symphonies. I simply love the sound of falling rain. It is both primal and soothing.

I spent a lazy morning, followed by a lazy afternoon, which in turn flowed into a lazy evening, all of it with that constant symphony. I spent the day in conversations (online and in person), reading (I started "Fool" by Christopher Moore and I spent some time reading "Good Poems for Hard Times", edited by Garrison Keiler). I watched a movie ("The History of Violence" with Viggo Mortenson and Maria Bello). I spent some time playing my guitar - mostly just fun, sitting there trying to play in a matching tempo with the rain.

I cooked a Tuscan lamb and white bean stew (the stew made an appearance in one of the two poems I also wrote yesterday). I ran to the grocery store to get the necessary components of the stew and stopped at Kragen's auto parts store to get one of those extensible hanging rods for the car - you know, the ones that fasten between the two hooks and allow you to hang items on coat hangers there - I have been meaning to get one for a while, mainly for use when traveling and when going back and forth to the Laundromat.

I swung through Tuesday Morning looking for a new Dutch oven - they had some nice ones but they were way overpriced - unusual for Tuesday Morning. I stopped at DD's Discounters to continue the hunt for a new Dutch oven and found the exact same model for a fraction of the cost - which led me to suspect they were simply mispriced at Tuesday Morning.

I got home and I spent about an hour prepping the stew. The first part of the prepping was preparing three garlic bulbs (diced), a medium sweet yellow onion (chopped) a medium green pepper (chopped), two tomatoes (chopped) one tomato (pulped) and about two tablespoons of rosemary (diced fine). All told, it takes about an hour to prepare the menu and then an hour and a half to cook it.

With the constant accompaniment of the rain, the Indigo Girls (Retrospective) on the stereo, I was able to wholly immerse myself in the art of cooking, losing myself totally in the moment. I am one of those cooks who liked to prep everything first and then cook - it allows me to focus on the cooking part of it and reduces the incidents of error that happen if I cook and prep at the same time. So, let me go into detail on that Tuscan lamb stew.


1 lb. Lamb (I used a lamb shoulder, cut in about two inch cubes)*
3 15 Ounce cans of White Pinto Beans
1 Green Bell Pepper (chopped in about one inch squares)
1 Sweet Yellow Onion (chopped in about 1/2 inch squares)
2 Fresh Tomatoes (chopped in 1 inch squares)
1 Fresh Tomato (Pulped)
3 Garlic Cloves (diced fine)
2 Tablespoons of Rosemary (diced fine)
1/4 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon of Coarse Black Pepper
4 Cups of water (or broth of some sort for a more distinct flavor - I use water).

*You might look at one pound of lamb and think that is not enough, but, really, it is plenty for a stew. You could add more if you want - or substitute virtually anything for the lamb - chicken, sausage, beef, or Tofu. You can also make it a Tuscan bean soup by just skipping the meat. Overall, I like this recipe, so I have used all different kinds of meats in it over the years, including no meat at all.

Step One:

Chop the green pepper, onion, garlic, basil, and tomato.
Pulp the other tomato (I usually just quarter it, put it in a bowl, and use a potato masher).
Cube the lamb and trim the fat.

Step Two:

Heat a Dutch oven (or a stew pot) to medium high.
Pour in the 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
Add the lamb and brown it until brown on all sides (about five minutes, turning to brown evenly).
Then, add the pepper, onions, and garlic.
Cover, leave at medium high, and cook for an additional five minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Step Three:

Drain the white pinto beans then add them to the Dutch oven.
Add the chopped and pulped tomatoes.
Add the Rosemary.
Stir it all around to get it mixed in well.
Add four cups of water (or broth).
Turn the heat to high and bring it to a boil, let it boil for about five minutes.
Then, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer (just bubbling lightly along) for an hour.

Step Four:

About five minutes before you are ready to serve, add the tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar and the black pepper, stirring both into the stew. You can simmer it for as long as you need to coordinate the meal itself, but do not add the vinegar and pepper until you are ready to serve it or eat it. Don't worry, nothing bad will happen if you add it too soon - the Balsamic taste will just gradually fade and become very subtle - it is best when it has just that bit of vinegary tang to it, which is why five minutes before serving is about the right time.

Step Five:

Serve it with fresh dinner rolls or fresh bread. If you dip the bread in the stew, it is great. I like to use a sweeter bread (sweet dinner rolls) because the taste combination with the stew and the vinegar and the sweet bread is awesome. If you drink alcohol, serve it with a hearty red wine.

Subtle Changes:

There are a few things you can do to change it up. Sometimes, I will use a can of white beans, a can of red beans, and a can of other beans (Lima, Navy, etc.).

You can also use a can of chopped tomatoes (15 ounces) in place of fresh tomatoes. I have a bizarre tomato fetish - I like fresh tomatoes - but only if they are very fresh. Otherwise I just find them too mushy. I suspect it is purely psychological.

If you are a vegetarian, use a vegetable broth instead of water, otherwise it is not quite flavorful enough. If you like Tofu get a pound of Tofu and cube it. Once the stew is done (but before adding the vinegar and black pepper), brown the Tofu in a skillet with olive oil, drain it and then add it to the finished stew, just before adding the balsamic vinegar and black pepper.

If you like garlic - instead of dicing the garlic, just clean it down to the individual bulbs and put them in whole. This will give you big garlicky chunks.

One of the things I like about this particularly recipe is that it stores well for leftovers. Just refrigerate the leftovers, then bring them out and put them in a pot. Bring them to a boil and at the point where they hit the boil, add another dash of balsamic vinegar and turn the heat off and stir it around.

So, that was your in-depth incursion into my moment of Zen cooking amid yesterday's rain storm. Just writing about it has made me crave the leftovers I am going to have for dinner tonight! It is still raining today and we are expecting rain throughout the week, so it is a perfect time for the comfort of a good bowl of stew.

Meng Shih

It was a subtle thing. A gift that silently slipped into a persons life. There was never any memory of it arriving, only an awareness that it was there.

It was passed from person to person for thousands of years, winding its way through a million subtle paths. Of old, the scholars called it Meng Shih - the waxing and waning of Heaven. He could not say where he found the gift.

Somewhere in his travels perhaps, the outer travels or the inner travels. He never possessed the gift.

He simply carried it and gave it way, like a post-modern Easter Bunny in an off the rack business suit delivering painted eggs and sweet chocolate.

He usually gave it in common conversations that slipped into a persons mind and like a seed blossomed in later times, often at the moment when it was most needed, for that was an essential part of its very nature.

To understand Meng Shih is to understand life, to understand the waxing and waning of Heaven, to understand the waxing and waning of all things. In an otherwise unremarkable life it was his lasting gift to the world.

(The above entry was my entry on One Minute Writer today - the link is over there on the right, it is a great web site, inspiring and interesting.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Two Poems On The Subject Of Rain

Rain I

We come in from a day
Wandering the city
A day that was marked
By a simple lunch
A Tuscan lamb stew
At a small restaurant
Enhanced by a red wine
Of an unknown vintage
In the living room
We shed our rain coats
She sits on the couch
With a dark wooden comb
She untangles her hair
In even strokes she
Combs the rain into her soul

Rain II

A crow
Sits petulantly
On the balcony rail
Watching the rains swirling dance
With bright black eyes that have seen
All those things the crows see that we do not
An eternity washed in rain

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I am falling like a hard rain
Like a hard rain in the night

I am falling like a distant star
Like a distant star in the night

I am falling like a firefly
Like a firefly in the night

I am falling like a hard rain
Like a hard rain in the night

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

White Flag - Dido

This is the song that was playing on the radio Sunday, it has been echoing within me for the last couple of days. The title below is a link to a YouTube music video.

White Flag - Dido

I know you think that I shouldn't still love you,
Or tell you that.
But if I didn't say it, well I'd still have felt it
where's the sense in that?

I promise I'm not trying to make your life harder
Or return to where we were

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

I know I left too much mess and
destruction to come back again
And I caused nothing but trouble
I understand if you can't talk to me again
And if you live by the rules of "it's over"
then I'm sure that that makes sense

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

And when we meet
Which I'm sure we will
All that was there
Will be there still
I'll let it pass
And hold my tongue
And you will think
That I've moved on....

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be

Tuesday Morning Visions

I woke up with a prayer on my lips this morning. They prayer was "Dear God, thank you for giving me another day to practice compassion and love."

I drove down Williams Road straight into the setting moon. Beautiful.

I listened to Rachel Yamagata on the drive in. Beautiful.

On north Mathilda I saw a flock of white birds rise up out of the creek bottom and do dazzling pirouettes in the pale light of morning.

I thought about friends and lovers.

It is an excellent start to a beautiful day.

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Winchester House

Just across the street from the CineArt's theatre in San Jose...

A Day In Five Parts

Part One: I wake in the gray light of the bedroom, curled beneath my comforter. Nothing in particular woke me. I was simply done sleeping. I linger for a while and then roll out and take a shower. I dress simply, blue jeans and a black button down shirt. I make coffee for the morning. I go online and journey into the Spiritual Insights chat room. As I sit there I realize I have fallen into an introspective mood. I simply read the chat for about an hour. I exchange pleasantries with a few people. I note the absence of a few people who always brighten the room. I leave chat. I write a journal entry. I respond to One Minute Writer. I gather my laundry.

Part Two: I drive down to the laundromat and load three machines. 24 minutes for the wash cycle. I text a dear friend whom I am thinking of. There is no response. I read "One Bullet Away". The timer sounds and I switch the clothes over to the dryers. 36 minutes to go. I go back to the car. I think. I write. I read. Then comes the moment I enjoy so much. I stand at a table and fold laundry. The warmth. The textures. The soft scents. I stand, I fold, I gaze out the windows and watch the wind swirl in the vivid green leaves of the trees across the street.

Part Three: I drive a few blocks to Boston Market for lunch. Dido's "White Flag" is playing on the radio. I sit in the car for a moment to let the song echo to a close. A young woman in gray sweat pants and a gray SJSU sweater walks by carrying an over-sized bottle of coke. A gust of wind buffets her and she drops the bottle. It hits the pavement and explodes. She leaps nimbly out of the way of the spraying soda. She stands there and looks forlornly at the bottle until it
stops spraying. She picks it up and throws it into the trash can twenty feet away - a clean and crisp jump shot. Lunch is chicken, red potatoes and sweet corn, washed down with iced tea. I drive home. I carry the laundry up to the apartment and put it away. I sit in my chair and write, bathed in the peculiar gray light of the impending rain. I am still restless. I decide to wander back out. I slip my camera in my pocket.

Part Four:  Lacking an organizing principle I drive over to Santana Row, to CineArts, to see "The Reader", with Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.  The movie is a mish-mash. I want to like it but, ultimately, I don't.  A pair of powerful actors in a movie that hits a half a dozen cliches that we have seen before - there is simplicity in movies and their is mock simplicity.  "The Reader" abounds with mock simplicity.  It tries to hard but lacks the underlying imagination to pull it off.  As I walk out of the movie theatre I get a text.  I read it.  No response is necessary. I walk back to the car and drive home.

Part Five:  I order a delivery pizza. I work on my other laptop, running scans, making adjustments.  I watch the last half of Juno while eating pizza.  Grosse Pointe Blank comes on so I settle in to watch a movie I have seen a dozen times, but still love.  John Cusack plays Martin Blank, a hitman, going home for his high school reunion.  I would rank it high on my list of favorite movies.  The evening is quiet.  The evening is reflective and introspective.  The evening is a meditation on complexity.  The evening is a meditation on the nature of our demons.

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Introspective Sunday Morning

I never quite know what starts a particular day in particular mood, but today I woke up and found myself quiet and introspective.  I am not introspective about any one particular thing today - it is more of just a general sense of quietude and self-examination.

I am working on my Mac laptop this morning.  (As a curious note of self-examination, I wonder why I chose the word "working" to describe what I have been doing this morning?)  I had a scanner running on my other laptop - STOPZilla - a spyware, adware killer program.  My friend Tony recommended it.  I have been having problems with the other laptop - something is funky either with the network connectors or with the laptop itself.  

Tony was telling me yesterday, in among the other conversations we were having, that STOPZilla had done a very good job in cleaning his computer up and improving the performance.  It does a very deep scan that takes a couple of hours.  I had kicked it off last night when I went to bed, but at some point in the night my nephew must have shut the computer down - so I have no idea if the scan completed successfully and cleaned the computer.  Since I am not really doing anything this morning, I have the scan running again.

I am sitting here right now, drinking coffee, trying to decide if I am going to do anything today.  I feel like getting out and wandering, so that is a good possibility a little later in the day.  I have to do a load of laundry at some point today, but it is not an urgent task in any way.  There is a certain zen cool that comes with doing the laundry and I think that is a good space to be in today.  (Following immediately on that thought, I thought it would be a good way to spent the morning - doing laundry and then stopping at the Sushi Boat in Westgate for lunch.)

My mind seems to be doing a sort of stream of consciousness thing this morning, so I might try and stay in that zone and just flow with the day.  It seems to be a good day for flowing.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Thousand Worlds

The phone rings and wakes me
She stirs
I answer quietly
Laying there next to her
In one world
Listening to another
She wakes
Her eyes are wide and expressive
But a mask as she watches me
She hears half a conversation
It ends
I smile
I turn the phone off
I set it down
I have not always made that choice
She smiles
She kisses me gently on the neck
Below my ear
Her lips soft, dry, and warm
She drapes her body on mine
I close my eyes
I breathe
She rises and falls with each breath
A thousand worlds
Today, here, now
This one

Other People's Coffee

I woke up this morning at about four a.m., after a solid six hours of uninterrupted sleep. I rolled out, ran through the shower, dressed and drove into work through a pounding California rain. At that hour of the day there is very little traffic so between the rain and the piano concerto on the classical radio station it was a beautiful morning. It was still dark when I arrived at the office. I crossed the parking lot with the sound of big rain drops popping on my hood.

It is Friday. The work week is drawing to a close. Today should be quiet here in the office which always provides a certain amount of thinking room, which I enjoy. I am certainly savoring the sensuality of the day - from the warm cocoon of my bed, laying there in the darkness listening to the rain falling on the roof, to the cascade of hot water in the shower, to the smell of a clean sweater, to the scent of rain filling the morning air.

Since it is an off Friday for a lot of my co-workers, it a quiet morning in the office area. The only sound I can hear is the HVAC and the clicking of my keyboard. The one analyst I have working today went off in search of morning coffee. Sometimes the best morning coffee is other people's coffee. Then you can focus on that simple enjoyment.


This morning I woke to driving rain.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Gift From The Twilight Gods

Tonight's gift from the Twilight God's - a double rainbow. Beautiful.

Remembering Icky

Writing the essay about how my mother discovered there was no Santa Claus reminded me of…Icky.

In my mom's house in South Dakota are various mementos of our childhood - my brothers and my sisters. My mother is not particularly a "keeper of things". Many of our childhood memories went out the door in rummage sales as soon as they passed from our relatively short childhood attention spans.

But, sitting on a rocking chair in one of the spare bedrooms is Icky.

Icky is a doll. Icky is MY doll.

When I was about three, I had gone to Kresge's department store in Rapid City, SD, on Jackson Boulevard, with my mom. I was old enough to pick out my own present. Apparently, I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a big floppy doll with messy brown hair and big brown eyes.

My mother tried to encourage me to get some other toy, but my heart was set on that doll. (Being strong willed is definitely a family trait - we tend to know what we want and devil take the hindmost until we get it.)

So we got the doll and took it home. Once home, the doll unpackaged and in my arms, my mom asked me what I wanted to name the doll.


She tried to persuade me otherwise, but I knew what I wanted. I wanted that doll. That doll's name was Icky. That was the end of that.

Icky passed down through my hands to my sisters (who are both younger then I am).

Now, my sisters were notorious doll serial killers. Their dolls are long gone.

I like to imagine some archeologist excavating the old ranch site a hundred years from now coming on a succession of dolls buried in a cluster of shallow graves on the wind swept plains, surrounded by an honor guard of lost green plastic army men.

But somehow, Icky made it through the trial and tribulations of a household of wild little Indian kids and all their friends and cousins.

I like to think he is enjoying his retirement, sitting there in a rocking chair, on that ranch on the plains of South Dakota. I take a lot of comfort from that.

How My Mother Lost Santa Claus

I've been meaning to write this little tale for a while - I wanted to capture it because I found it sweet and touching.

Thanksgiving 2008 I am sitting in the living room of the ranch in South Dakota with my mother and the conversation turns to Christmas and from there to Santa Claus. My mother asks me - "Do you remember when you discovered that Santa Claus wasn't real"?

I thought about it for a minute and realized I have no memory of discovering that Santa Claus was not real. My mother found that amusing and commented that as an imaginative child, I most likely discovered Santa Claus wasn't real and just decided that was okay, because I made up all kinds of things that were not real. She also had no recollection of me discovering there was no Santa Claus.

Then, she told me how she figured out there was no Santa Claus. She was a young girl and she and her sister Marie were living with Grandma Valeria in Rosebud, South Dakota. My mother very much wanted a Kewpie doll for Christmas.

Well, Christmas rolled around and her sister Marie got a Kewpie doll, but my mother did not. She was heartbroken by it. Marie (being the older of the two sisters) tried to give my mother her doll, but my mother told her - no, Santa brought that for you, so it's yours.

Grandma Valeria of course saw how heart-broke she was and told her that Santa probably dropped the doll somewhere by mistake. Santa sometimes did that, and then he would back track, find the present and deliver it a few days late. My mom had a tough time swallowing that one, wondering how Santa could possibly find a lost present and know who to take it too, given the number of presents he had to deliver on Christmas day.

A few days later Grandma Valeria asked my mother to go back into the bedroom and remake the bed. My mother, being, I am sure, strong willed even then, refused. It was Marie's turn to make the bed, my mother had seen Marie make the bed, and my mother was not going to remake the bed.

Grandma Valeria insisted, Marie chimed in, and together they finally coerced her into remaking the bed. There, tucked in the bed, under the pillow - was my mothers Kewpie doll. My mother of course was elated and amazed. She had the beloved doll as did her sister.

But, a few days went by, and by that childhood process of logic my mother slowly figured out what had happened. She wasn't sure if, in house-hold chores she found package or wrapping or something, but somehow she deduced that what had happened was that the doll, ordered from a catalogue, had simply been late in arriving. She was a little saddened to discover there was no Santa Claus, but she was happier that Grandma Valeria and Aunt Marie has gone through that for her.

A Strange Start To The Day

Okay - let me start with two different things that bookmarked the beginning of the day.

First, I did not sleep well - I woke up on three different occassion through the night - once to the sound of something metallic being dropped, then to the sound of a slamming door and feet stomping down a stairway, then to the sound of a slamming shower door. And all I wanted was a good night's sleep, so that instantly made me start the day with a high level of crankiness. It is an "I want to bark at the first thing that crosses my path" sort of feeling. It has dropped down a notch or two, but that dial is touchy and it could spin back up pretty quickly.

Second, I had a strange dream last night. I dreamt about a woman (no one I knew) who had an untreated STD. Her father was trying to get her to go in for treatment and in order to persuade her he had one of his waiters (obviously, they must have owned a restaurant) who was in a late stage STD. It worked, as he went through the graphic details of untreated STD's and convinced the woman to seek medical assistance. He (the waiter) however also took her through a transformative experience - and she ended up dedicating her life to being a live in companion (free) for individuals in the later stages of AID's. Then, the dream got weird. MTV was giving her some sort of appreciation award on a telecast. Except, in a vote of their peers, she was the award - she was being given to the music star who was most deserving as they battled AIDS. The decision of who received her was being made by public voting, like on American Idol. It was a very strange dream.

I think I am going to blame that one having been woken up multiple times through the night as well. The day is off to a strange start.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some Days...

Well, evening has arrived.  We've got a rain storm blowing in tonight according to the Weather Channel, so it should be nice.  Few things lull me to sleep like the sound of rain falling on the roof.  Dinner tonight was tomato soup and a cheese sandwich and, in a few minutes, I am planning to chase it down with some vanilla ice cream.

Yesterday was a long day at work.  We've got upper management out so the day was spent mostly in meetings, with some incidental work scattered in here and there.  One of our analysts was up from Southern California, so I picked her up at the airport in the morning and then dropped her off in the evening.  After I dropped her off I went to a dinner with the management team at Boce di Campo in Los Gatos where I had an excellent pan seared halibut and risotto.  We also played a set of bocce ball, which I had never played before.  None of us were any good, so the two teams were pretty evenly matched.

I got home late, after a fourteen hour day and was too tired to go to sleep, so I tossed and turned for a while.  I woke from a dream of one of our systems engineers telling me that I had to follow the process!  That is just a little too much work on the brain.  (Most of our meeting conversations were around process, so I am sure that is why it was on my mind.)

Consequently today was a day spent mostly in low gear.  I don't think I ever really tried to shift into any sort of high gear.  It was one of those days where I just sort of slowly moved through it, focusing on one thing at a time and then shifting on to the next thing.  All in all though, it was a pretty nice day and it appears to be closing with a nice evening.

I have a couple of subjects I was thinking about writing about tonight but the words are elusive, so I think I am going to let them wait for another day.  I made some rudimentary notes of my thoughts today so I will refer to them tomorrow and see if they make any sense.  A lot of times I will make notes around some subject I want to write about and then on another day - try and decipher what my notes were about!

Tonight then is going to be low and slow and involve vanilla ice cream and pleasant idle thoughts.

James Arthur Baldwin

“To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.”

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Taken or Liam Neeson Shoots A Lot Of People

Okay, I saw a second movie today, this time in the evening with my friend Tony. We saw "Taken", with Liam Neeson. I can sum the movie up with a subtitle. As we came out of the theatre I referred to the movie as "Taken: Liam Neeson Shoots A Lot Of People". That pretty much sums up the movie. There was a plot. I think it was Liam Neeson shoots people. It is a pure action adventure movie - nothing more, nothing less. Enjoyable pop-corn fare, if Liam Neeson shooting people is in your line of movies, then I would definitely recommend this one.

A Little Past 3:20 PM

It is a little past 3:20. I am sitting at a round table outside the
Barnes & Noble at the Pruneyard shopping center drinking a tall cup of
black coffee. The sun is shining brightly though I am sitting in the
shade. The floor beneath me is yellow brick paving stones. The table
and the chair are green wrought iron. There is a very slight cool

From head to toe I am wearing a gray sweater with a pair of thin
white horizontal stripes across my chest. Beneath the sweater a dark
blue casual shirt, with buttons. Blue jeans, worn and comfortable.
Gray cotton boxers. A broad brown leather belt with a simple D buckle.
White athletic socks. My old brown cowboy boots, propped up on a empty
chair. My watch on my left wrist. A simple silver wring with seven
Celtic spirals on my right ring finger. My sunglasses on the table top.

Somewhere in the distance one of the stores is playing music, but it
is soft enough I can not tell you the songs being played. People walk
by and shreds of conversation waft past with them.

They talk of movies. They talk of houses. They talk school. They talk
of family. They talk of washing walls. They talk of dresses.

Sometimes they acknowledge me as they pass. Sometimes a nod. Sometimes
a hello. Twice short and incidental conversations. The clerk in the
boutique to my left came out for her cigarette break and we exhanged
pleasantries. A man on a cell phone, engrossed is his conversation
does not notice his dog has stretched himself to the end of his leash
to sniff me carefully and let me pet him up the head.

A man stops behind me to light a cigarette and carry on an animated
conversation in Farsi about an injured friend who needs skin grafts.

I sit. I drink my coffee. Life flows around me.

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Waltz with Bashir

Waltz with Bashir

Powerful. All the hype aside I think there are few movies that deserve
the words "tour de force". This is one of them. It is a simple, spare,
animated movie about the one soldiers story of the Israeli invasion
of Lebanon and the subsequent massacres at the Palestinian refuge
camps by the Christian Phalangists in revenge for the assassination of
Geyamel Bashir.

If you go to the movie theatre with the intention of being
entertained, skip this one. If you go to the movies because movies
have the power to be transformative art, then make this one a must
see. There is a spare, unflinching, elegant, terrible beauty in this

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A Delicate Sight