Thursday, December 17, 2020

Searching for old friends

 Please contact me with a comment here

Jackie Barceloux

Doug Shaw

Larry Parker

Dwight House and Village of Arts and Ideas people

Tom Alexander

Friday, December 11, 2020

Bruce Sterling’s 1999 novel, “Distraction”, reminds me of today

Written more than twenty years ago, this sci-if novel about politics in the near future is prescient. Oddly enough, it echoes with Trumpism and social media influence on politics. While I prefer Gibson’s novels, this one has unique resonance that made me finish it.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

30 minute video discussion of an Auden poem on suffering and the ordinary

 A discussion of Auden’s poem about suffering and the ordinariness surrounding it. The commentators/readers are superlative and bring forward what Auden was up to, pointing out things I easily missed.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Headshot for application as synth-tech for Kraftwerk (1980)


New Wave Purina pet chow sales rep? (1980)


When I began to work for NASA Ames Research Center’s Climate Modeling Group, I put one of these pictures on my desk. The young guy who trained me complained that I was an egotist for putting up my own picture. I was so shocked by his cluelessness that I didn’t respond, but afterwards wished I’d said something about self-parody and not taking oneself too seriously.

History of Claymation and its takeover by Nike CEO’s son

 A friend tipped me off to this story of his college roommates development of Claymation and the takeover of the whole deal by a would-be rapper who is the son of Nike’s CEO/Founder.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Current musing on my meditation practice and experience

Buddhism has a lot of lists. One is the Three Times: the Past, Present and Future. Up to a few years ago, the first and third dominated my meditation practice, in the form of regrets, nostalgia, rehearsing and speculation - all repetitive distractions. In later years the Present became more prominent, as physical sensations - aches, pains, and especially discovering that I habitually clench various body parts without much awareness. In the last year I meditated much more as I committed to and established a reliable daily practice; now I find it easier to return to the simple awareness of the present. My personal process is now much more direct - awareness of drift usually leads to an immediate return. I think my experiences and experiments with methods during previous decades have led me here. For example, experimenting with degrees of tight and loose attention led to what now feels like a happy medium. And the decision to  “donate my thinking time” to my teachers helped overcome the tendency to make exceptions for thoughts or feelings that felt special or compelling. Now I find myself falling into a reliable pattern: thoughts which arise cause release and dissipation. Who knows what’s next?

Note for another post: Unfinished “work” of various sorts and excessive to do lists/Burn leaving no ash: antidotes inner and outer

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Cautious victory

 While I share the positive feelings around the defeat of tRump, I am not euphoric. 70 million people voted for him after witnessing his actions and words for four years and they are not going away. The Reeps in the Senate will do everything they can to block Biden. There are more than two months to go to the inauguration, during which all sorts of mischief can be accomplished, by tRump, by the Senate and by the MAGA fanatics. I saw a guy buying American flags and black dye to color them; he is not going to go along with the mission we are pursuing. Neither are the Facebook fascists calling the election stolen and Biden a fascist. I am not convinced that violence will be avoided nor that Biden’s cooperative approach will work. Well, we shall see...

Thursday, November 5, 2020

I encounter banal evil

 As I ate lunch last Saturday I overheard a conversation between two men, one of whom I vaguely knew. They openly marveled at the details of the Hunter Biden scandal story, mentioning child porn, political corruption, and story repression. While I see this routinely online, it was different to hear it directly. What struck me was the banal ordinary quality of the conversation, the way in which they assumed it was all true and well known by everyone. They off-handedly voiced support for Trump too. Because I was acquainted with one of the men, I was surprised and brought down; he is my age, a former punk musician from two bands I knew back in the Eighties, a nice guy and a hard worker, yet fully bought into the Earth 2 narrative. As I mulled over the conversation I was overcome with alarm, a sudden feeling that the Blue Wave would not happen and that perhaps Trump would win. Clearly Trumpism is more widespread than I and my friends believe. This feeling was prescient and borne out by the election (partial) results. I am very sad and discouraged by this, the ordinariness and ubiquity of something abhorrent.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Increasing discipline

 I am well into the second six months of my meditation program, so I can comment with confidence on new developments. After the first six months of 40 minutes/day every day I missed two days due to illness (violent allergic reaction to an antibiotic), but began a new program: two periods of meditation/day, usually for 40 minutes the second time. I also began to sandwich a 40 minute treadmill session between the two. This practice is inspired both by my experience in the previous six months and the report that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey meditates two hours/day. I feel on the right track. I have also lost ten of the pounds I gained during lockdown, via increased exercise and restricted carbs. The next step I am considering is an hour of book reading each day. Onward...

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Temperament lessons

 While watching the confirmation hearings I am reminded, by way of contrast, with an incident during my law school year. Barrett is a very cool customer, not icy but very calm. This is admirable and unfortunately a strength for someone whose views I oppose. Once the local District Attorney, Jill Ravich, substituted for my law school professor. She has a reputation for biting off the heads of people around her, including staff, but I wasn’t aware of this at the time. I said something unwise in beginning a response to a question she asked of me. She immediately ridiculed me and my anger flared strongly. Although I remained silent, it was obvious I was containing my temper. She let the silence sit until she finally said not to take things personally. This was good advice and the right response would have been “point taken”. I said nothing and felt good that I had not expressed my anger. Much better to do that than what Kavanaugh did, but best of all to be like Barrett. Point taken!

Friday, October 2, 2020

War on the Home Front: Redding, California as a center of opposition to COVID regulations

 Redding is my hometown, where I grew up. It is at the north end of the Central Valley, where the hills rise to border the valley. It is also home to a globally powerful Baptist Church with political aspirations. It is Trump territory, for sure. I hope this story does not portend more of the same, but am afraid it does.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Marking six months of daily meditation practice, a lifetime record

 What once seemed difficult and remarkable is now the norm: I meditate at least forty minutes daily, without fail. Now I consider meditating twice a day as a possible new goal, as well as similar discipline for exercise. While I have gone on retreats of two to six weeks of meditation in past decades, for a total of six months of full time retreat, I always lost momentum after returning to regular life under the pressure of work. Now that I work part time and the quarantine is in effect, I have found it easier to sit every day. My main practice is dzogchen trekcho. I find this very effective, for want of a better word. Many thanks to my teachers and to my wife of nineteen years, who is very supportive! Several friends have reached out for help starting mindfulness practice and I am doing what I can. I recommend two books called “How to Meditate”, one by Pema Choden, who is one of my primary teachers, and one by Kathleen McDonald, who was a friend in college who went on to become a Buddhist nun. I recommend a friend for remote meditation instruction, Lori Wong, who trained at Spirit Rock, among other places. Let me know if you want more information.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Historically Black Owned Colleges update

The writer and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott was formerly married to Jeff Bezos and is the third richest woman in the world as a result of the divorce settlement. She pledged to give away the money to good causes. One focus of her giving is racial equity. She has so far donated $587 million dollars to this cause, most of it to HBOCs, as documented in A post on Medium. Blessings to her for her generosity!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Credit where credit is due

Dave Winer posted on Facebook a critique of the saying that “A man’s success has lot to do with the kind of woman he chooses to have in his life, “ noting that the reverse would not sound so good. He commented that it is infantile to be dependent on women. Rather than converse further on his thread, I am writing here. While Dave’s critique is true in the absolute sense (and even then only in the hetero case), there is the relative truth as well. I do credit my wife with a lot, but as a member of the community of support that helps make my life a success. Among the latter I include Dave himself, with all our volatile history included and the fact that he always lives alone and is a New Yorker while I am a married-19-years Northern Californian through and through. Some irony here... Further irony in that I am in a long-term argument with a close friend about his obsession with relationships with women, with me trying to get him to be independent. Life...

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Saturday, June 20, 2020

“When They See Us”is important to watch

This Netflix docu-series describes what happened in the famous case of five black teens who were falsely convicted of rape and assault in NYC. Also watch the “making of” documentary “Oprah Winfrey Presents: When They See Us.”

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Dr. Doom

h/t Henry

30 day meditation challenge, Part 2

I managed to meditate daily for 28 of the last 30 days, the second segment of my challenge. I did also sit extra to (more than) make up for the two missed days. Inspired by reading that Jack Dorsey sits two hours a day, which is three times more than me, moving forward I am adding more time to my challenge, a second sitting for at least fifteen minutes.

For those who want to pursue something related, see an online course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and/or Pema Chodron's book How to Meditate.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Prince and the Revolution Live

body work

This Old Guy (me) took a couple online classes from Ruby on basic breathing, stretching and movement. While I have a long way to go to catch up to the beginners, I recommend these classes, which I would characterize as science-based. It would of course help if I took stretching and my cousin Janet or Kevin and Marc's friend, Ron, both of whom are my age. Who else here is doing anything like this?

the world of curating and creating neo-vintage

I finished William Gibson's novel, The Peripheral, last month, a very satisfying effort. And it was an effort, as it required a bit of re-reading in the first half so I could understand context Gibson only gradually unveiled. The primary element was the development of a sub-culture he explored in previous works, those who create new objects with a backstory of authenticity, supplied via deep study. I find echoes of this in Architectual Digest's descriptions, such as this article.

A suggested soundtrack and an introductory essay that embodies this theme:

this article explains basic ZFS concepts well

Monday, May 4, 2020

sign of the times

Facebook served me an ad for a photography app that allows image manipulation. The ad featured "AI for masks" and my first thought was Hype for Fitting Face Masks"

Saturday, May 2, 2020

ZFS mounting tips

note to self: 40 days of solid meditation practice

Today marks forty days of meditating every single day at least 45 minutes. Now increasing my goal by a half hour. Over the decades I have usually meditated 3-4 times/week unless on formal retreat. The coronavirus gives a sense that time may be short, so I am applying myself to what is important.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

my time in the Black and White caravan

to be written

gonzo ride

In Progress Version

In 1971 I was hitchhiking from Cal Arts, where I lived, to the Bay Area. I had waited for a ride for a couple hours when gonzo came to me. A violet Cadillac convertible swerved to the side of the road to pick me up. Three seats were occupied, but they put me in the fourth and off we went. It immediately became obvious that I had not checked my ride first. They were passing around a joint, but the driver was clearly wired for sound - driving safely was not the order of the day. I quickly realized this was not the most secure group to be with nor the best for a traffic stop's questions and inspection.  I needed a way out . I began to look for a reasonable reason and a good place to hitch another ride. At the first opportunity I explained that I wanted to catch a ride all the way to Berkeley or San Francisco and they let me out. I had dodged another bullet,.

Dragnificent S1E1

This show was upbeat and had high production values.  The story line made sense: drag queens help a woman professional wrestler with a stocky build prepare for her wedding. Sound crazy - well, it was uplifting. We saw Bebe several years on from the person we have been watching as we finish S1 of RuPaul's Drag Race. Recommended.

Young London jazz scene

Stuart Edwards' playlist:

close call with death

Around 1973 or 1974 I was standing on Telegraph Avenue when a van pulled up. I was five feet seven and a rail thin 127 pounds, hair down to my waist. I was day dreaming when three young dudes burst from the van and headed for me. I was so startled that I didn't think to react or even know what was about to happen. As they ran toward me, a huge burly guy feinted toward them and they backed off and jumped in the van. It all happened so quickly that I didn't even thank the guy for saving me. It took me about five minutes to realize that they were intent on beating me at the least and possibly kidnapping me.  I then remembered the story of a woman friend, a model-beautiful blonde, who was abducted from there for a rape film and somehow managed to talk one of her captors into releasing her.

Life can be strange.

Friday, April 24, 2020

It's a drag now, for sure

So there are now four drag shows on TV, RuPaul's Drag Race, Pose, We're Here and Dragnificent. I am not a fan of Billie Eilish but her name inspired me to propose the drag name Will He Eyelash - feel free to take it and audition for future seasons!

Art Garfunkel and I ride freight trains in the early Seventies

This time of confinement due to COVID-19 prompts memories and musing on the nature of things. This is also fostered by contact with many long-time friends in thoughtful moods as well, courtesy of the internet. At the moment it occurs to me I should tell the story of me and Art Garfunkel riding the rails in 1971. First, however, I need to finally read Charley Sweet's version in his book, Going Home. I not only owe him this but look forward to it - his letters from afar, when he lived in Kyoto, were a highlight of the Eighties. He was kind enough to provide a MS-Word version so I could add comments based on my own memory of those events. I still vividly remember the headlights of the police car stabbing through the cloud of marijuana smoke. Ah, the good fortune all of us shared with that cop. I always wondered how Art avoided shitting his pants.

John Prine Tiny Desk Tribute

This is so moving, it brings tears to my eyes... The love is strong.
Homes and hearts.

Monday, April 6, 2020

more meditation

I spend more time meditating these days and less time posting and emailing. The urgent possibility of death changed my priorities. (note: I am not infected)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

East Bay restaurants support for Highland Hospital ER

Listening to DJ sets I have recorded, I realize they create a much better mood than my usual listening to political podcasts and watching MSNBC and Democracy Now. Not that I will quit keeping up with things but...

Dore Stein (KALW)
Larry Kelp(KPFA)
Dirk Richardson(KPFA)
Art Saito(KPFA)
Giles Peterson(BBC)

bootstrap the economy!